Review: Stowa Marine Chronograph
So who is Stowa, anyway? Founded in 1927, Stowa is a German manufacturer of typically sober watches and one of the five (alongside A. Lange & Söhne, IWC, Laco and Wempe) to make pilot's watches for the Luftwaffe during WWII (that famous, simple pilot's watch design isn't just IWC's you know!) The brand has manufactured watches non-stop since its first and has become something of a well-kept insider secret.
At 41mm in diameter and nearly 15mm thick, the Marine Chronograph is very much a modern watch when it comes to size. The design, however, is far from it; based on a 1940s pocket watch from the Stowa archives, it is as sophisticated as any you'll see. Look closer, and the beauty is more than skin-deep, the white dial revealed as silver coated and the hands blued by heat, not chemicals. The dial print is amongst the sharpest I've seen. Everything about this watch has a feeling of craftsmanship, made in a workshop, not an assembly plant.
So how does a watch this well endowed command such a tempting price? Mainly, through lack of proper distribution—if you want a Stowa of any kind, you'll need to order it direct. But hey, they've sold watches for a long time and are very good at it, so no problems there, and the Stowa team are quick to respond and helpful when they do. It's also not entirely unexpected that the beating heart of the Marine Chronograph is from the Swatch stable—an ETA 7753 no less—but it’s a fine chronograph movement, easily and widely serviced, befitting of a watch of its practicality (a hand-winding Unitas 6498 version is available for die-hard manual fans too).
And that's it really. Try as I might, I can't find anything else even remotely bad to say about the Marine Chronograph. It's a rare gem, one of those watches that just does everything right in an honest and refreshing way. Rummage around the Stowa website and you'll find more tempting offerings, and soon you'll realise that it's possible to build a nice collection of watches for very little outlay indeed.
Watch Spec | Stowa Marine Chronograph
Case: Steel Dimensions: 41mm dia, 14.7mm thick Crystal: Antireflective coated synthetic sapphire Water Resistance: 50m Movement: Valjoux 7753, automatic Frequency: 28,000 vph Power Reserve: 40 hours Strap: Leather Functions: Time, chronograph Price: £1,450