Stowa. A brand we’ve been itching to talk to you about for a while. Why? Beautiful quality for one, and an honest and affordable price for another. No-frills. Just exemplary German rigour in manufacture, inspired by successful designs of the past. Let’s begin by looking at a piece that sums up everything we like about Stowa: the Flieger Klassik Baumuster B. What did I tell you? It sounds German, Ja.
In the footsteps of Stowa
Allow me to give you an idea of the mindset of those who create beauty in this company. Storz Walter. Take the first few letters of the first and last name and like magic, Stowa is born. The watchmaker established itself in 1927 in Hornberg, although its place of business was more popularly known as Pforzheim from 1935 and on.
Just before the 1940’s, Stowa had already created pieces worthy of our attention. A visible Bauhaus influence can be deducted from the curves, material, firm cold steel, and the uprightness of the markers. At ease soldier. Pieces known today as Antea, and other more imposing 55mm pilot watches, complete with warrior-like dials and pristine clarity.
Incidentally, the war had a direct effect on Stowa. In 1945 their workshops are bombed, and consequently are relocated to Rheinfelden. The destroyed workshops were later rebuilt. No, not even bombs can stop watch hands from turning. Stowa would make a few movements for Durowe as well as a number of pieces for private parties. The Seatime series, for example, is a vintage collection worth taking a detour. At this time Walter’s son takes the reigns of the business.
Since then, and particularly from 1995, it’s Jörg Schauer who takes over the company. Here is a perfect example of how Stowa is marked by the spirit of those who run it. Jörg Schauer was (and still is) an independent watchmaker, creating pieces on demand, and most importantly personally working on each Stowa piece in the pre-production phase. Props.
Stowa Flieger Klassik Baumuster B
Let’s get down to the facts. No more, no less. The Baumuster B (compared to the A model without hour markers at the dial’s center) has borrowed iconic elements of military watches, as well as other tool watches, that Jörg Schauer revived in 1997. Well done.
The piece sports a matt black dial in sectors, with the hours at the center and the minutes around the outer circle (graduated every 5 minutes). Above all, the dial is void of any logo or other annotations. This makes us think of watches we could’ve inherited, left to us by family members, provoking a bittersweet sentiment. Painful from a destructive war, but endearing with the memory of the one who never gave it up. These pieces were often fastened on fabric straps, or leather ones for cases with fixed lugs.
Here, the white dominates on a dial that aims to achieve the utmost clarity. It’s reasons are obvious. The SuperLuminova has been applied on the hour hand, the minute hand, and the seconds hand, as well as on all hour and 10-minute markers. Finding a point of reference will be relatively easy, whether we’re timing or setting a short duration, or planning a longer one.
The Sword hands are blued, an element we don’t really get. In our opinion more clarity could’ve been gained if the hands remained white against the dark dial, or if a lighter shade of blue was chosen, paying tribute to the original model.
The 40mm case is simple, brushed, just like the bezel, and holds a subtly decorated reliable ETA 2824-2 automatic movement. What else could we ask for?
Then, there’s the strap. Let’s not beat around the bush about this. At first glance, you think it can’t get any worse. Then I felt the strap. It’s probably always better to pass judgement after you’ve felt a product isn’t it? The strap is of soft nubuck, and makes us think of the old leather straps with rivets that equipped the old icons from the war. The quality stitching and edge dye are also commendable. Given its rarity today, when a strap is well-made it should be declared aloud.
At 930€ it’s more than reasonable for a piece with such finishes. This is a pure watch, made by a brand known for its rigour and its enthusiasm when creating authentic designs and working with precision. The whole animated by a Swiss ETA movement. All this comes at a certain price today. A pleasure to wear on the wrist, a bold spirit, a living piece that evokes real soul from the past. Approved.
Many thanks to Maison Cadot for the linen scarf, the Larry parka, and the Dany vest.