Sternglas Watches: Are They Any Good?

Dec 03, 2020
Sternglas Watches: Are They Any Good?

Sternglas is known for its beautiful Bauhaus-style watches. But its dedication to design goes so much deeper than that. They go above and beyond to make well-designed watches accessible to all. Theirs is a story of turning a failure into a triumph and continually pursuing excellence in their craftsmanship. Modern, minimalist, and made in Hamburg, Germany, Sternglas watches are getting noticed by watch lovers all over the world. But are they any good? Read on to find out.

Sternglas Watches: A Humble Beginning

From working at a small watch manufacturer to creating a successful watch brand, Dustin Fontaine, the founder of Sternglas watches, had tried, failed, and tried again. At the age of 16, he started his watchmaking journey by working at a small watch manufactory. There, he did simple tasks such as doing paperwork, lugging boxes, and attaching straps. It didn’t seem much, but it sparked an interest in watches for the young lad.

Dustin Fontaine, founder of Sternglas Watches
Sternglas Founder, Dustin Fontaine

Fontaine had a particular interest in minimalist watches. With this passion for well-designed watches, he started to wonder why designer watches didn’t come at more affordable prices. And so, he decided to do something about that. At the age of 21, Fontaine began to conceptualise and dream of having his own watch company that stayed true to the Bauhaus philosophy: good design should be made accessible to everybody.

He spent many late nights trying to design watches that met his high expectations but to no avail. Unfortunately, it is these high expectations that made his dreams crumble. He saw many watch brands that didn’t share the passion for watchmaking and love for detail that he had surpassed him. He started to become jaded and decided to call it quits.

A True Passion for Watches

In the meantime, he began to work as a web designer. Although the job paid the bills, Fontaine found that he wasn’t truly happy working in web design. Looking back at the dream he thought was dead, Fontaine swore that he would make it right this time around. In 2016, he decided to go all in. He gathered all his savings and energy and pulled up all his contacts and resources to make Sternglas Watches a reality.

Fontaine Examining a Sternglas Watch

He took a different approach this time. He decided to start small and simple with just one movement and one design. Fontaine turned towards crowdfunding to launch his small business, and his first campaign was a success. However, he encountered another bump in the road. He had chosen the wrong glass. He remedied this by choosing the highly scratch-resistant sapphire glass for his watches. To this day, Sternglas watches use sapphire crystal, which is one of the best features of these watches.

From a one-man team, Sternglas grew into a company of 21 creative minds and skilled hands. Sternglas also started partnering with several retailers and jewelers. The company continues to evolve while keeping the needs and wishes of its community in mind. From a failed dream to a second chance, Sternglas has truly grown into its own, providing well-designed Bauhaus watches at affordable prices.

A Quick Look at Sternglas’ Production Process

The Design

Let’s take a look at the intricate process of creating Sternglas watches. It all begins with a piece of paper. Before a Sternglas watch is produced, it first undergoes several hand sketches. In the conceptualisation of the design, different colours, materials, and textures are considered and experimented with. Because Fontaine and his team have a deep appreciation for detail, even the materials for the individual components are carefully thought out and procured. As a brand centred on design, Sternglas is not afraid of picking high-quality materials that exceed the industry standard for their desired price range.

Hand-Sketched Watch Designs
Hand-Sketched Watch Designs

From paper sketches, the team then proceeds with digital rendering. In the design stage, suppliers are consulted to ensure that the company’s desired design is feasible for production from the supplier’s end. Special partners are also consulted to ensure nothing is missed. Designs are reviewed, corrected, reviewed, and so on until everyone on the team is satisfied by the output. This is a process that typically takes four to six months, but it is all worth it in the end.

The Parts

Sternglas watches only use the best materials, which often means going beyond the industry-standard materials for their price range. And it doesn’t just stop at the procurement of materials. Each part of the watch undergoes a series of processes so that they may meet the high standards of the team.

The Case and Crystal

For the case, Sternglas watches come in 316L stainless steel for all the components. These blocks of stainless steel undergo multistep punching, milling, and polishing to get the desired design.

316L Stainless Steel Bezels on white storage
316L Stainless Steel Bezels

One of the mistakes Fontaine committed at the start was using mineral glass for the watch crystals. Although mineral glass is a decent watch crystal to have, it is not the best since it could still lead to some scratching. And so, Fontaine opted for another type of watch crystal and he has not regretted that choice ever since. Currently, Sternglas only uses sapphire glass for their watch crystals.

Anti-Reflective Domed Sapphire Glass Crystal
Anti-Reflective Domed Sapphire Glass Crystal

On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, sapphire glass scores a nine, with 10 being the highest score. This means that only a few minerals — such as diamond — are able to scratch sapphire glass. This makes it much more scratch-resistant and break-resistant than ordinary mineral glass. The synthetic sapphire is melted, molded, cut, ground, and polished to create a transparent crystal with a shiny surface. And it doesn’t stop there. Sternglas crystals feature a complex double curvature construction that not only minimises the optical distortion when viewing the dial but also makes the watch crystal even more resistant. Finally, the glass is double-coated with an anti-reflective coating to remove glare and ensure that the user can clearly see the dial without any restrictions.

The Leather Straps

For the leather Sternglas watches, the brand exclusively sources them from German manufacturers in the Bavarian Forest. The leather comes from calves and cows that were carefully picked out from the best Italian and German farms. Tanned leather is chosen instead of lacquered ones since the company wants to preserve the natural feel of the leather. The leather undergoes a complex tanning process to give it its desired colour while considering certain factors such as the external temperature and water hardness. The tanneries and the manufacturers work hand in hand to ensure that only the highest quality leather is chosen for processing.

Interchangeable Leather Straps on the table
Interchangeable Leather Straps

The whole process of turning cow leather into the gorgeous straps for Sternglas watches involves several complicated steps done by highly skilled professionals who have been doing their craft for decades. And, of course, Sternglas always has the users in mind when creating their watches. Each Sternglas leather strap is easily attachable and detachable, making it super easy for the users to swap out the leather straps on their own if they wish to do so.

Once each individual part is sourced or produced, it’s time to assemble. Sternglas watches are assembled in Hamburg where they go through a thorough final quality check. Everything is checked, down to the smallest details such as the case’s finish. Once approved by quality control, the watches are then carefully hand-packed and sent to awaiting customers.

What are Bauhaus Watches?

side view of Sternglas Bauhaus Watch

We’ve mentioned the Bauhaus design earlier and its role in the company’s design philosophy, but what is it exactly? Well, the Bauhaus was a German art school in the early 20th century. It would, later on, turn into this big modern art movement that focused on functional design. When translated literally, Bauhaus meant “to build a house”.

There is a lot of balance and harmony in Bauhaus design. This is why Bauhaus watches are often quite minimal, opting for a more balanced and cleaner look. The Bauhaus design puts the focus on the object’s functionality, keeping it simple and removing what is not necessary. For the Bauhaus watch, there is an emphasis on the readability of the dial. The design is often uncluttered, using clean lines and fonts. The bezel on Bauhaus watches are also often much thinner than usual, bringing the focus of the eye onto the dial.

Best Sternglas Watches

1. Sternglas Naos Watch

front view of Sternglas Naos watch

This handsome dress watch is perfect for those who prefer a slim and lightweight watch. The watch has a 38mm polished stainless steel case with just 6mm of thickness. It’s very sleek and would slide perfectly under any shirt cuff. The watch runs on a durable Ronda 714 calibre quartz movement. This watch has a domed sapphire glass crystal that is not only scratch-resistant but also anti-reflective.

The Naos comes in 10 variants: sunburst blue dial with premium black leather or Milanaise silver stainless steel strap; white dial with premium dark brown leather, premium brown leather, premium black leather, or Milanaise silver stainless steel; and the black dial with premium dark brown leather, premium brown leather, premium black leather, or Milanaise silver stainless steel. Its dial design is pretty simple with two thin hour hands, clean lines and Arabic numerals, and a small date window by the 6 o’clock position.

2. Sternglas Naos Automatik Watch

front view of Sternglas Naos Automatik watch

The Naos Automatik is quite similar in design to the Naos. However, instead of an analog quartz movement, this watch runs on the automatic Miyota 821A calibre movement, with 21 jewels and 21,600 vibrations. It also has a maximum power reserve of 42 hours. This watch is also thicker than most Sternglas watches, with a case thickness twice that of the Naos. Another thing that makes this watch different from the Naos is the transparent caseback made of sapphire glass, which lets you see the intricate movement of the watch. The watch has the same available variants as the Naos and a very similar dial design, with just an added thick second hand for the Naos Automatik.

3. Sternglas Hamburg Watch

front view of Sternglas Hamburg watch

This watch pays homage to the birthplace of Sternglas and takes inspiration from maritime-measuring instruments. The watch has a 42mm polished stainless steel case with just 6mm of thickness, making it quite a slim watch for the fashionable gentleman. It runs on the Ronda 715 calibre quartz movement. The watch is also water-resistant up to 50m, making it quite splash-proof. It has a thin bezel and a domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal, as well as luminous hands and dots that make it much easier to read the time in dim light. The watch is available in four variants: satined graphite with vintage nero, satined silver with vintage mocha, satined silver with vintage natogreen, and satined silver with vintage midnight blue.

4. Sternglas Topograph Watch

front view of Sternglas Topograph watch

The Sternglas Topograph is the perfect watch for those who prefer a cool black finish over the typical silver. Like most Sternglas watches, this watch comes in a 42mm stainless steel case. The case features a handsome diamond-like carbon (DLC) black coating, making it even more resistant. The watch also has an incredibly scratch-resistant domed anti-reflective sapphire glass crystal. Inside, it runs on the automatic Miyota 821A calibre movement with 21 jewels, featuring a maximum power reserve of 42 hours. It is also water-resistant up to 50 metres.

For the dial, the watch has a rehaut or a slightly raised outer ring, which shows the Arabic numerals for the minutes starting from 1 and ending in 60. It has clean white lines and Arabic numerals and it also has a date window at the 6 o’clock position. The watch has three thin black hands, two of which have white tips while the second hand has a vibrant red tip. This watch comes in four variants: black dial with vintage nero, black dial with vintage natogreen, black dial with vintage mahogany, and black dial with a DLC black metal strap.

5. Sternglas Zirkel Watch

front view of Sternglas Zirkel watch

A true minimalist piece, the Sternglas Zirkel is a prime example of elegance in simplicity. The watch has a 40mm brushed stainless steel case and a domed anti-reflective sapphire glass crystal. This watch runs on the automatic Miyota 9015 calibre movement. It has 24 jewels, 28,800 vibrations, and a maximum power reserve of 42 hours. Like most Sternglas watches, the Zirkel has a pretty simple white dial with a thin bezel, clean black lines and Arabic numerals, thin watch hands, and a small date window. It comes in three variants: a vintage nero strap, a vintage mahogany strap, and a vintage mocha strap.

6. Sternglas Naos XS Watch

front view of Sternglas Naos XS watch

The Naos XS is the smaller version of the Naos, which is already quite a slim watch. While both Sternglas watches have an impressively thin case thickness of 6mm, the Naos XS is only 33mm in diameter instead of 38mm. They both have a polished stainless steel case and a domes anti-reflective sapphire case. This watch runs on the Ronda 784 calibre movement. The watch comes in four variants: a white dial with gold hands and bezel and a Milanaise gold strap; white dial with silver bezel, blue watch hands, and Milanaise silver strap; a white dial with gold bezel and hands and a Klassik black strap; and a white dial with silver bezel, blue hands, and Klassic black strap.

7. Sternglas Edition Companion Watch

front view of Sternglas Edition Companion watch

With its clean design and exciting details, the Edition Companion makes for a versatile watch that can look great with either a formal look or a more casual shirt and jeans combo. It has a 38mm polished stainless steel case with a domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal. The watch runs on the automatic Miyota 821A calibre movement. It has 21 jewels, 21,600 vibrations, and a maximum power reserve of 42 hours. It’s also got a pretty decent water-resistance of 50 metres. The watch has a classic white dial with two sets of black Arabic numerals. It also has red indexes and a thin red second hand. The watch has a thin black hour and minute hands and a date window at the 3 o’clock position.

8. Sternglas Ivo Watch

front view of Sternglas Ivo watch

As a company that wants to give the best to its community, Sternglas not only listens to its community’s requests but tries its best to turn them into reality as well. The Ivo is a prime example of this dedication to customer satisfaction. This watch answers the community’s request for functional complications. The watch has a bigger date window and a small second sub-dial. It has a polished 40mm stainless steel case and an anti-reflective domed sapphire glass. The watch runs on the Ronda 6004.B calibre quartz movement. Aside from the date window, the dial is numberless, opting for clean thin lines instead. The Ivo comes in two variants: a smokey green dial with premium black leather and a classic white dial with premium black leather. For both variants, the small second sub-dial is in a high-contrast black.

9. Sternglas Chrono Watch

front view of Sternglas Chrono watch

The Sternglas Chrono Watch embodies functional aesthetics. It has large Arabic numerals for optimum readability, two cleanly designed chronograph sub-dials, and a slightly raised outer ring with the Arabic numerals for the minutes. The watch also has three thin watch hands and a small date window. It has a 43mm polished stainless steel case and an anti-reflective domed sapphire glass crystal. The watch runs on the quartz Miyota OS21 calibre movement. It also has two silver pushers on the side for the chronograph function. The watch is available in three variants: a white-black dial with vintage mahogany strap, a black-black dial with vintage nero strap, and a midnight blue-white dial with vintage mocha strap.

10. Sternglas Edition Roncalli Watch

front view of Sternglas Edition Roncalli watch

The Roncalli pays homage to the spectacular German Circus Theatre Roncalli. This watch has a stunning blue sunburst dial with a moon phase function that uses the Roncalli logo as the moon. The watch’s caseback and crown also feature an engraving of the Roncalli logo. It comes in a 38-mm polished stainless steel case with a beautiful champagne-gold and a domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal and runs on an analog quartz movement. This watch has a numberless dial with clean white lines, a date window, and three thin gold watch hands. It also has a slightly elevated outer ring and a classic black calfskin strap.

How to Set the Time on a Sternglas Watch

When setting the date and time, you must first be familiar with the three crown positions. The first and default position is when the crown is in rest mode. This position also allows you to wind the watch.

To set the date, pull the crown with one click. Now, you can turn the crown to set the date properly. Make sure that when you are setting the date you are choosing the proper date change point so that the date does not change at noon. Once done, push the crown back into the first position or rest mode.

To set the time, when in the rest mode, pull the crown to two clicks. Set it to the desired time. Avoid setting the time between 9PM and 4AM as this might damage the watch’s date movement.

Why Choose Sternglas Watches

Beautiful Designs

One of the things that really set Sternglas watches apart from their competitors is the brand’s deep passion for design and love for detail. Embodying the philosophy of the Bauhaus art movement, Sternglas offers well-designed watches that put the emphasis on the watch’s main function. The designs are both functional and gorgeous. Sternglas watches truly show excellence within simplicity.

High-Quality Craftsmanship at Affordable Prices

When Dustin Fontaine first dreamt of putting up his own watch company, he had one goal in mind: he wanted to make well-designed watches accessible to all. And so, Sternglas became a company that was not afraid to choose high-quality materials that went beyond the industry standard of their target price range. Sternglas wanted to give only the best quality to its community without worrying about the cost.

Easily Interchangeable Straps

One of the features Sternglas is quite proud of is the quick-change system of their straps. Sternglas has many handsome leather straps sourced from only the best manufacturers in Germany. And if a user wanted to use different straps for their Sternglas watch, they can easily do so. There’s no need to go to the store and ask someone else to do it.

Final Thoughts

Sternglas watches are high-quality watches with beautiful designs. If you want a watch brand that truly has its community in mind, then Sternglas is the way to go. Sternglas watches are well-designed, made of high-quality materials, and are reasonably priced.


For more watch brand guides, check out our ultimate guide to Glashutte Original.


Photo Credits: Photos courtesy of Sternglas Watches

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