A Purposeful Object: Classic Engineering VARIO

The recent trend of engineers turning their pragmatic and problem-solving minds to the topic of time, specifically modern timepieces, should come as no surprise. As much as watches are fashionable today, for most of their history they’ve been purposeful objects designed and built by the engineering minds respectful of function first, then form.

Recently we reported about a Los Angeles engineer co-designing a newly launched watch line. Now another engineer has set forth to offer a watch with similar elegant simplicity, the VARIO by Classic Engineering.

The classic VARIO packaging complements the simplicity of the timepiece.

The classic VARIO’s packaging complements the simplicity of the timepiece, a pleasant surprise upon opening.

Designed by Eduardo Umaña, a graduate of Swarthmore College, the VARIO comes across proudly bare of adornment, wearing minimalism as a feature itself. Machined in the United States and Swiss assembled, the components reflect a high quality to material and detail: a scratch-resistant, ceramic-treated aluminum case, sapphire crystal, Swiss assembly and movement, and interchangeable, vegetable tanned leather 18mm NATO straps handcrafted by Guild of Holland in their Amsterdam-based atelier. Chamfered edges across the top and bottom of the case remind us of the Apple iPhone 5 design, with the matte finish aluminum feeling almost neutral in temperature to the touch, whether worn in warm or cooler temperatures.


We asked Classic Engineering founder and designer, Eduardo Umaña, about the inspiration behind his newly released timepiece:

I visited Scandinavia over one summer and came back soaked in inspiration. As I was waking up one morning, soon after my trip, the design hit me. The rush of excitement was intense and I immediately started playing with the design specifics in my mind. After that, I materialized the design first in CAD, and soon after started playing with CNC mills and lathes, making prototypes of the case. I wanted to create a simple and elegant piece that would also be practical.


This is why I made the straps interchangeable, so the user could swap them to achieve a different aesthetic with ease. It has been a lot of fun to take something that was in my head to literally putting it on my wrist.


The NATO style strap design makes switching out color options quick and easy.


Reflective of its engineering parentage, Classic Engineering offers lifetime service, repair, or maintenance for their watches. It’s a standout feature aligned with the company’s commitment to reducing material waste and providing products to keep and appreciate for a lifetime.

Classic Engineering currently offers the classic VARIO in 9 combinations: silver, gold, and black cases, with natural, chianti, or black straps to match. Each complete watch style is available for $249, with additional leather straps available for $42 for those who can’t commit to one color combination.

Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at