Posted on April 09 2021
It makes sense. It's close by, friendly and has endless miles of beaches. After a cold UK winter, tens of millions of us head to Spain in the summer.
Sun, sea and watches.
I'm not the only one who wanders the resorts, with an ice cream in hand, looking in jewellers windows right?
A watch is a nice keepsake from a fun family holiday. And in Spain, there are two brands you'll see repeatedly. Festina and Viceroy.
I suspect that you're already familiar with Festina. But what about Viceroy? Let's have a look.
A Brief History of Viceroy Watches
I don't want to get too bogged down with the history of the brand.
They're a modern fashion company that makes watches and jewellery. It's an eclectic mix of men's, women's and kids watches - with a selection of pendants, earrings and bracelets.
But it's worth pointing out the brand's origins. The company was founded in Switzerland in the early 1950s. So the Viceroy name and company has a legitimate watchmaking heritage.
But, in 1982 the brand moved to Spain. It was bought by Grupo Munreco. That company name probably doesn't mean much to you. They own a couple of other watch brands including Sandoz and Mark Maddox.
Viceroy is now proudly and vocally Spanish.
I'll give you some idea of how that works in practice. They do watch lines for both Barcelona and Madrid football clubs, and brand ambassadors have included Antonio Banderas, Shakira, and Enrique Iglesias.
Currently, Spanish F1 driver Fernando Alonso is promoting his Viceroy watches.
They're a high profile fashion brand, that sells affordable watches. Bear that in mind.
Are Viceroy Watches Any Good?
I'll keep this simple.
You usually get what you pay for. Viceroy is a brand that tourists see in shop windows when on holiday. Of course, there's more to the brand than that. But it's a good way to think about them.
They do inexpensive quartz watches, sometimes endorsed by celebrities. For example, Melanie Griffith's promoted the company's 50th-anniversary collection. Often the watches are also referencing Spanish popular culture.
They market affordable watches to a young, mainstream demographic.
Judge the brand on that basis.
The 7 Best Viceroy Watches
That's what I've done here. I've picked out the most interesting models and the best designs - while also being mindful of the price. I've judged the watches against similar fashion brands that I'd see on the UK high-street.
Viewed from that angle, I'd say that the brand makes some interesting and stylish watches that deserve a closer look.
The unique style comes from the repositioning of the chronograph pushers to the top of the watch. It's cool-looking and good ergonomics.
Viceroy's Bullhead ticks a lot of boxes.
At 43mm, it’s mid-sized and it’s colourful, without being garish. The sporty aesthetic doesn’t stop it from being a smart-looking piece.
Of course, the price plays a big part in the appeal. It’s a little over £100, making it a very accessible watch.
If you're after an affordable Bullhead watch, your choices are limited. The Viceroy is one of only a handful of affordable options.
Viceroy Heat 46763-24
The Magnum is a more straightforward and conventional watch. This is a Rolex Submariner homage. It's a legitimate dive watch, and whilst not a bargain, still good value for money.
You'll have recognised the styling. The case, the dial and the hands are all reminiscent of Rolex's classic dive watch.
Viceroy's diver is a faithful reproduction. It has the same vintage Mercedes hands and neat dots for hour markers. In a nice touch, it also has a ceramic bezel.
With 200M of water resistance, this isn't a watch that only looks the part. This can be worn for diving and watersports. The quartz movement being a good choice if your watch has to take a few knocks.
The rubber strap is a good choice too. It's ideal if the watch is going to be submerged.
There's nothing original here.
Instead, it takes the successful design elements of an iconic dive watch and repackages them. It has the details right. Even the cyclops magnifying lens above the date window.
Again, it's not much over £100.
It's not the cheapest or the best Submariner homage, but it's still worth a closer look.
Viceroy Magnum 471031-39
You don't have to be an Atlético Madrid fan to enjoy this watch. That's just as well because I've been a Barca fan since I first visited the city in the early 1990s.
But I still like this piece from Viceroy. It tones down the football connection, using the team colours to enhance the design, not overwhelm it.
It makes for a tasteful watch. And the best part? It's 38mm wide.
You may think that is small, but I've bought a couple of 38mm watches recently and both are great. I'm wearing my Bulova Hack as I type this and have been alternating it with a Seiko of the same size.
I see the 38mm case here as a positive. Watches this size are unobtrusive and very wearable.
The watch is still dressy, despite the vibrant colours. To achieve this the dial is simple and the functions are limited to 3 hands and date.
And this a very affordable watch.
If you enjoy a bit of colour and like the football tie-in, this watch can be yours for less than £80.
Viceroy Reloj Madrid 42380-37
Most fashion brands sell chronographs. They often make me cringe. I can't help thinking that the brands believe that chronographs look expensive - particularly if they make it gold coloured.
And it's not an easy look to pull off. The dial is busy and the placement of sub-dials and markers really matters.
Viceroy isn't immune from this.
But they do some attractive models - it was actually difficult to pick out the best example. I settled on this model, the Icon.
It's a straightforward quartz chronograph that benefits from keeping things simple.
The colours, the sub-dials and the markers are all restrained. The simple use of blue, black and silver gives a refined aesthetic and the plain blue second hand adds the flair.
It's not groundbreaking, or even particularly eye-catching. Instead, it's a nice, subtle piece that would work well with a suit or smart casual clothes. And sometimes that's what you need. A watch that blends in rather than attracts attention.
Be sure to check out Viceroy's other chronographs. There are some interesting designs.
Viceroy Icon 42305-37
It's exciting when a watch company wears its heart on its sleeve. That's where Viceroy wins.
Spanish football clubs, actors and sports stars. The brand aligns themselves with their countrymen. They have a Swiss heritage, but they barely mention it.
I like that.
This watch is a great example. It's built around Spanish F1 driver Fernando Alonso. His face is on the box, his logo is on the dial and case back and it looks like a racing watch.
It's styled like a piece of machinery. I particularly enjoyed the distinctive bolts on the case. This tool watch vibe is enhanced by the bold steel case and silver numerals.
You can wear this watch if you're an F1 fan. Or if you're not. It's versatile and understated. Quite a contrast to Alonso's personality.
Viceroy Racing Fernando Alonso 47565-05
At £70, it's not a true diver. But it looks the part and that should be enough.
There are a couple of variations of this model, including a green option that is reminiscent of a Rolex Submariner 'Hulk'. But I prefer this standard black version.
It has a pleasing style that is recognisable, without being a clone of anything else.
The watch is from the Heat collection - Viceroy's sports watches. So it does have a sporty edge. They've achieved this by the use of bold numbers and straight, functional hands. It's simple and quite spartan.
The cyclops lens over the date window also suggests functionality. The impression is of a watch that has been designed to be legible.
The only touch of colour is the orange second hand - once more suggesting that the colour is there to aid reading the time, rather than for aesthetics.
The whole package works.
This is a very affordable and attractive dive style watch.
Viceroy Heat 401221-55
It has a brown case, an ornate bezel and a silicone strap. Together they create a very distinctive watch that catches the eye.
It's still an inexpensive piece, so bear that in mind.
But it's well-designed and memorable. Aside from the Bullhead, this is the Viceroy watch that most caught my attention.
You've probably found that it takes a minute or two to make up your mind on this one. The more you look, the more likely you are to decide that you do like it.
I'm the same. But I decided, yes, I like this one.
The specs are as you'd expect for a fashion watch that costs the same as a night out. It's a quartz-powered model in a 43mm stainless steel case.
The silicone strap is a nice touch, although they can look more comfortable than they actually are.
But overall? This is a handsome watch, albeit, not to everyone's tastes.
Viceroy Heat 471157-17
Like me, you've seen Viceroy in the windows of Spanish jewellers. But you've probably not got around to investigating the brand. That's understandable. Alongside fellow Spanish watch company Festina, they don't look as appealing.
But I'd urge you to take the time to have a closer look.
Despite the brand's Swiss roots, Viceroy is all about Spain.
They celebrate its actors and footballers. Its motor racing drivers and media stars.
I like that.
It gives the brand a unique selling point. Where it influences the watch designs - the Fernando Alonso models for example - you get something special.
You really do feel like you're bringing a piece of Spain home.
Of course, we're in lockdown. We're not getting to Spain this year are we?
But the internet lets you look in the Spanish jeweller's window now. So go and have a peek. You might be surprised.