Stowa Watches: An In-Depth Guide to the Classic German Watch Brand
In an industry dominated by Swiss brands, German watchmakers are often overlooked, with many watch enthusiasts and collectors sleeping on these timepieces. Although German watches do not have the same critical acclaim as their Swiss counterparts or the ubiquitous popularity of Japanese-made watches, they nevertheless offer very consistent quality. This has allowed a number of German watch brands, such as Sinn and Junghans, to slowly but surely carve a place out for themselves in the watch industry.
One great example of such a brand is the German watchmaker Stowa. Founded way back in 1927, Stowa watches epitomise a basic, consistent philosophy: tradition and reliability. The simple yet quintessential designs of Stowa watches are incredibly versatile, making them truly timeless pieces that are especially popular with the younger generations. With all that said, let us take an up-close and personal look at Stowa, including its history, what its watches offer, and what makes it such a classic German watch brand.
A Brief History of Stowa Watches
Stowa is a German watch brand founded in 1927 by Walter Storz in Hornberg, Germany. Back in the day, before the invention of wristwatches, pocket watches were incredibly popular as they were the only form of portable timekeeping available. Stowa capitalised on this, making a living selling top-notch German pocket watches. Then, when wristwatches were introduced to the world, Stowa quickly jumped onto the trend and started manufacturing its own wristwatches. One of Stowa’s earliest lines was the Antea collection, which utilised exclusively German Bauhaus-inspired designs.
Over the years, Stowa has introduced more timepieces. Each Stowa watch delivers consistency and quality that has allowed the brand to be awarded by several watch institutions in the industry. Today, Stowa has a total of four collections under its belt. Each Stowa watch series manages to be unique while also maintaining the same classic Stowa style.
Stowa Watch Collections
First off, we have the Flieger collection. Those who know a little German might be aware that ‘Flieger’ is a German word for ‘pilot’. As befitting its name, this collection offers a plethora of classic pilot watches. The Flieger consists of both quintessential pilot watch designs, along with more sporty, contemporary looks that are well-suited to modern preferences.
These Flieger watches also manage to incorporate the minimalistic Stowa aesthetic. As such, unlike many other aviation pieces, these Stowa watches still have simpler, easy-to-read layouts that do not come with chronograph sub-dials or other such complications. In fact, the most that you will see on Stowa Flieger pieces is a handy seconds sub-dial. Functional and highly legible, the Stowa Flieger watches are the perfect way to travel in style.
Another great watch collection that perfectly epitomises Stowa’s passion for simplicity is the Antea series. As was previously mentioned, the Antea series was based on the exclusive, German Bauhaus art style, which prioritises straightforward, minimalistic designs. As such, these Stowa watches typically possess very clean dials, bearing at most a small seconds sub-dial or a compact date aperture. With their simple, versatile aesthetics, the Antea timepieces can go well with virtually any outfit, be it casual or formal.
As you might have guessed from its name, the Marine collection comprises timepieces built for the ocean. Capable of tackling underwater missions, the Stowa Marine watches were commonly used by captains in the Royal Navy back in the day due to their timekeeping precision and sturdiness. The Antea watches are very reliable timepieces popular with both Navy and Marine personnel.
That said, it is important to note that, unlike watches such as the Rolex Submariner or Rolex Sea Dweller, the Antea collection is not exactly made for high-pressure environments. These Stowa watches typically offer around 50 metres of water resistance only, so be careful not to bring it to any of your deep-sea diving adventures.
Some patrons might be confused with this watch line, as the Partitio series offers models with designs similar to the aforementioned collections. However, the Partitio watches also share one unique feature that sets them apart from other Stowa watches: lume.
‘Partitio’ is the German term for partition, or division. This pertains to the Partitio watches’ ability to glow in the dark with their luminous hands and hour markers. Lume watches might seem fairly standard to many watch fans since most watch brands have already incorporated lume into their watches today, be it through lume coatings or through tritium gas tubes. This, however, does not diminish the Partitio watches’ usefulness. For those who frequently have to work in the dark or who take the night shift, the Partitio watches are an excellent option.
5 Best Stowa Watches
1. Flieger Classic 6498
The Flieger Classic 6498 is an impressive pilot watch that capitalises on Stowa’s historical ties to the aviation world. Back in the day, when planes were first being conceived, Stowa was one of the first watch brands permitted to manufacture aviation watches. Compared to the pilot watches of today, it cannot be denied that the Stowa Flieger Classic 6498 is a little outdated in terms of functions. For instance, it lacks the GMT feature that most modern pilot watches are equipped with. Nevertheless, the Flieger Classic 6498 is a fantastic recreation of Stowa’s older pilot watches. It boasts a nostalgic, old-school style that vintage watch fans are sure to love.
This watch comes in a 41mm stainless steel case, with a fine matte finish that was painstakingly ground by hand. This is coupled with long silver lugs, a sizeable crown at 3 o’clock, and an elegant leather strap in light brown. The lighter hues of this watch’s exterior are sharply contrasted against its matte black dial.
This dial has a grainy, textured surface that adds to its vintage look. It is filled with rectangular indices for the hour and minute tracks, white Arabic numerals in a neat typeface, and Losange hands that are outlined in blue, adding a touch of personality to this watch face. At 6 o’clock, you can also find a small seconds sub-dial in white to match with the numeric hour markers and indices. The hands and markers of this watch are all coated in Super-LumiNova C3, which illuminates the watch’s face effectively in the dark, allowing for optimal legibility.
This watch is powered by a Unitas 6498-1 calibre. This is a mechanical movement that provides 46 hours of power reserve. You can purchase the Stowa Flieger Classic 6498 for approximately $1,700 USD.
2. Antea Klassik 390
Since simplicity is what Stowa is best known for, there is no watch model that encapsulates the brand’s philosophies as completely as the Antea Klassik 390. With its clean, minimalistic dial and simple profile, the Antea Klassik 390’s Bauhaus inspirations are clear as day. This is an elegant and versatile timepiece that is capable of elevating virtually any style.
This Stowa watch is presented in a 39mm stainless steel case that is well-polished, giving it a lustrous gleam. Measuring just 9.20mm in thickness, this watch is quite slender, so it is not too heavy to carry around. It also possesses straight, slim lugs that add to this watch’s svelte look. A classic black leather strap is used to complete the Antea Klassik 390’s quintessential build.
The dial of this watch is clean and uncluttered, following a very straightforward layout. On the rim of the dial, you can find small indices for the minute track, Arabic numeral markers in a thin black typeface, and a compact date window at 6 o’clock. Aside from that, this dial also shows off long blued steel stick hands that sweep across the dial while also adding a burst of colour to the watch.
This watch is driven by a mechanical SW215-1 calibre. This movement comes with a substantial 42-hour power supply. In order to purchase the Antea Klassik 390, you have to fork out around $1,250 USD.
3. Marine Classic Chrono
Another great Stowa watch model to take note of is the Marine Classic Chrono. Chronographs are not that popular in the world of Stowa, so if you want something that’s a little fresher in terms of design, then this particular model is a great option.
The Marine Classic Chrono utilises a 41mm stainless steel case with a sizeable, polished fixed silver bezel and a sleek brown leather strap. On the right side of the case, you can find a chunky crown, surrounded by two short pushers. These pushers are used to navigate the chronograph functions of the watch. The crown also comes with deeply grooved, pointed edges, which allow wearers to grip and turn the crown more easily. With its screwed-in crown and the transparent caseback used to tightly seal the rear of this watch, this timepiece has a solid 100-metre depth rating.
The most noticeable thing about this watch’s dial is its chronograph sub-dials, which are quite unusual for Stowa watches. They are laid against a white backdrop, which also contains thick Arabic numeral markers and slender blue leaf hands.
This watch is equipped with the Valjoux 7753 movement. Those familiar with the watch industry may have already heard of this calibre, as it is one of the most popular, ubiquitous movements used by watch brands. Offering top-notch at an affordable price, the Valjoux 7753 movement is used with chronograph watches and offers a 54-hour power reserve.
The Marine Classic Chrono sells at $2,500 USD.
4. Marine Original Roman
For a more vintage-looking Stowa Marine piece, check out the Marine Original Roman. This watch comes in a 41mm polished stainless steel case, which perfectly complements its black leather strap and porcelain white dial. Compared to the Marine Classic Chrono, this white dial is emptier and follows a more straightforward layout, doing away with the chronograph sub-dials. It is furnished with a small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock, slender Roman numeral markers that add an old-school appeal to the watch face, and elegant blued steel leaf hands.
Since this Marine watch does not come with a chronograph function, it is powered by a Unitas 6498-1, which is the same calibre found in the Flieger 6498. It comes with a depth rating of 50 metres. This is not quite as good as what the Marine Classic Chrono offers but it is more than enough to withstand some downpours and a quick visit to the pool.
This watch has an estimated price of $1,700 USD.
5. Partitio Klassik White
Unlike the models mentioned above, the Partitio Klassik White has a more casual appeal that makes it great for everyday use. This watch comes in a 37mm polished stainless steel case, which makes it slimmer than the other watches listed above and great for those with smaller-to-average-sized wrists. Unlike most of the other Stowa watches, this timepiece does not have a transparent caseback to showcase its movement. Instead, it comes with a closed, solid stainless steel caseback that keeps any moisture or dust from leaking into the watch and a classic black leather strap.
Blending in well with the silver case is the watch’s stark white dial. It is decorated with simple, plain Arabic numeral markers and long syringe hands. As mentioned before, the Partitio collection stands out as they are the only Stowa watches that are applied with lume. The Partitio Klassik White is no different. The hands and markers of this watch are all coated in soft, beige-coloured Super-LumiNova Old Radium. This is an older form of luminescent tritium that glows bright green in the dark, allowing for optimal legibility at all times. Inside the Partitio Klassik White, you can find an SW215-1 movement, the same as the one used in the Antea Klassik 390.
This is the most budget-friendly watch on the list, retailing at just $900 USD. That said, the Partittio series is sold exclusively in Germany, under the Manufactum company. As such, despite its more affordable price, the Partitio Klassik White watch is not exactly accessible or easy to get. You will have to do some research if you want to get your hands on this watch legally outside of Germany.
As a German watch brand, Stowa is an underrated classic. Dependable and exuding a quintessential charm with its minimalistic, traditional designs, Stowa watches definitely deserve to be on your radar. Simply slip a Stowa watch on and you will instantly elevate your style, no matter what you are wearing.
All images courtesy of Stowa.Featured image courtesy of Stowa
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