I think the reason it's so prevalent is simple and obvious. It's what the company's best known for. First thing that enters your mind when you say flieger, you think the original five, which Stowa is one of. Kinda like, if you could only own one model from Stowa, a flieger would be the one to get. Not so for me personally, as I went a different route when choosing a flieger, and I would get the 1938 chronograph if I could only have one Stowa, but I think the Stowa = one of the original five mentality is what draws so many flieger purchases.
The STOWA Flieger is the WUS Gold Standard for a German styled pilot watch IMHO!!!!!!!
1. Iconic German utilitarian design. The dial is symmetrically beautiful, but highly functional.
The font is highly preferred by many.
2. Matt case with excellent fit and finish, with a reliable, accurate, and easy to service ETA 2824 beating inside.
3. Real heat blued hands that greatly add to the dials function and appeal.
4. Excellent price point that is hard to beat. I would also add the price point for extra straps is exceptional and they are very well made too.
5. Historical significance. The current Stowa Flieger is a modern interpretation, but we can trace its roots back to the original design. Its fun to tell people the history behind it.
6. Lume! Very good on the Stowa Flieger.
7. Customer Service is one of (if not), the best out there. Period! This can not even be argued! Not to mention the owner of the company has good rapport with the WUS community.
8. Highly versatile!
9. Ability to modify the design before purchase. (I.e. date, no date, label, handwind movement, engraving.).
Therefore, it is because of these points that I believe the Stowa Flieger has built up such a strong and dedicated following.
As per the Gold Standard, I would argue that many of the German pilot watches (similar iconic design) are constantly compared to the 40 mm Stowa Flieger! That is how I came to know about Stowa myself.
Many of the other Fliegers watches out there fail in one of the aspects that the STOWA exceeds. (Listed 1-9)
For example, many of them do not have real blued hands. But heat blued hands add soooo much to the watch!
And yes, you could say a huge 45 mm Flieger from I.e. Laco is very authentic.
But, I would say that you would still sell many more 40mm Stowa Fliegers. This watch could be worn just as easily to a business meeting as hiking in the woods.
The only downside is the wait, but even this has some advantages!
Definitely hard to say that one flieger has all others beat. With so many out there, where one is lacking, another shines. You're going to find that a Laco flieger, is too hardcore authentic for some, while this will be the reason a lot of others will buy them. You will find that some value a dressier more bespoke flieger, and at that point, a lot of Tourby fliegers will be sold. Some value a different kind of history, a 100 year case making history, and more options in a flieger, therefore a lot of Archimede fliegers will be sold (currently the XLH is sold out). So, again, what matters in a flieger to some may be of no importance to others. Just good to have so many high quality German made fliegers to choose from. If variety is truly the spice of life, than life is good for all lovers of pilot watches!
My addiction of watches began in 2009, and the first watch that I fell in love was the Stowa Flieger. When I saw these two pictures I was speechless.
I have never looked back ever since. Stowa gets everything right with their Fliegers. I have been paying close attention over the years with all the Fliegers made by different companies out in the market today, and I have to say that with the exception of Stowa and Laco none of the other companies have made the Fliegers right. The case proportion for one is quite apparent. If you look at a Stowa Flieger you will notice the case line and contour perfectly in sync and symmetrical. The case just looks "right".
The use of flame blued hands also deserves some discussion. I believe that nowadays only Stowa, Laco, and Tourby use them. They are absolutely exquisite and the chemically blued or worse the painted application are not substitution.
The brushed case finish is just unearthly gorgeous. The Stowa is up to par in the finishing department with watches that are priced much higher. In addition, the lume is insanely bright. Probably the brightest lume in a watch I have ever had.
There is no other way to describe the Stowa Flieger because it just feels different than all the other fliegers on the market today. It just feels so special.
Stowa and Nomos were resurrected when the Berlin Wall came down. Germany had a first class watch industry prior to WW2. Now it has come back and Stowa and Nomos represent the finest examples of this rebirth. It is a piece of history and is a fine example of the resilience of human ingenuity.
I will say, unequivocally that the Stowa Flieger is the best price point watch on the market. Nomos prices have gone crazy: They are acting like the USA home price market prior to 2007. I thoroughly enjoy wearing the Stowa Flieger. It is a fabulous substitute watch in my rotation. To give you an idea of how much I like it, here is my watch rotation.
1. Rolex Explorer 1, 36 mm
2. Rolex submariner date
3. Nomos tangente sport, sapphire back (has doubled in price)
4. Sinn 656, 39 mm. Has increased 50% in price.
5. IWC spitfire UTC
6. IWC Mark XV11
7. Stowa Flieger with logo and date, COSC movement mfg. date of 2009
8. Omega constellation, pie pan dial, 36 mm, De Ville, COSC certified, triple stamped.
9. Omega Sea master, 14 K, my father's and originally his brother's. All original parts and showing it.
Stowa fits in. A great time piece.
Now for the bad news. It is a high demand watch. Try selling one, and you will get stampeded, but often not by the right folks. Loads of shysters. Their moves are transparent if you think about things from their perspective. The best move is to delay payment hoping you all miss the non-payment and ship anyway. Sort of like bait fishing with a trot line. The perp hopes for the dumb one. Especially on some of the well known auction sites. That happened to me three times, and now I have decided to keep it. Glad I did.
In my old blurry eyes, it is not the finish of the Mark XV11, but good enough for me for the price. Doggone thing is dead on accurate.
1. Lum is outstanding. Not as sharp as Sinn, but better than IWC Mark XV11.
Now a question: My impression is that Stowa is now using ETA movements that are produced in Asia, (I think China). In years prior, 2009 and back, Stowa purchases Asian ETA movements and then did in house work on them. They are now saying on their website that this is no longer the case and explained their rationale in terms of maintaining the Flieger's price point advantage over their competitors.
There are no ETA mechanical watches produced in Asia. A myth which never dies. Stowa never ever said that mechanical movements have been sourced from Asia. If you read the faqs more carefully you'd know that Stowa mentions components but no movements which would be impossible anyway since ETA does not manufacture machanical movements over there.
It has been commented on various forums that ETA used to manufacture mechanical movements in China but no longer do so, and that some ETA movements on the market are assembled from residual parts stocks. There seems to be little basis for this story. ETA mechanical movement parts have only ever been manufactured in Switzerland. However there was at one time little restriction on the sale of ETA ebauches, so unassembled old stock may possibly still exist, particularly in Hong Kong.
ETA do own factories outside CH as we all know (ETA Uhrwerke GmbH Pforzheim, Beijing, Macao (Lanco, Endura, no swiss label though), Bangkok (Samut Prakan), Ipoh/Malaysia to name some).
Mechanical ETA movements are only available as swiss made (Mecaline).
The mechanical lines are not produced outside CH but in Grenchen, Fontainemelon, Gorgémont, Bettlach, Fontaines, Dombresson, Saint-Imier, Moutier, Les Bioux, Sion.
Chronographs are being made in Les Bioux (ETA factory no. 24).
90% of the quartz movement are made in 6 grades, Elegance (best of the best), Flatline, Normflatline, Normflatline Standard, Ecoline.
"Ecoline" is the most economic quartz movement, nobody will reparair - it will be just replaced. The very basic movement only has one screw.
Ecoline and Normline are available in a swiss parts execution. These are assembled in Malaysia and Thailand.
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