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A Mike Stuffler Watch Review



- We owe all progress to those who do not adapt (Jörg Schauer) -​

Watch Brand: STOWA
Watch Model: Stowa Chronograph 1938
Owned Since: 18 September 2010
Written: February 2011



Introduction

As most of you know I collect mechanical watches for more than 20 years now and my special interest has always been the chronograph.
Therefore my collection consists of a lot of chronographs “ through the ages” if I may say so.
I love them all from vintage with movements such as Valjoux, Lemania, Landeron to contemporary chronographs from Sinn, Schauer, Damasko, Glashütte Original
What really fascinates me is the “Zeitgeist” they embody and the variety they offer to the collector (quote from my Schauer Kulisse 11 review and we will return to the Kulisse 11 from time to time in this review).


(Landeron 149)


(Valjoux 23)


(Valjoux 7733)


(GO 39)


(Valjoux 7750, modified to Bi-Compax layout)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v155/watchuseek/P1000288.jpg[/img)
(Valjoux 7760)

[IMG]http://i754.photobucket.com/albums/xx182/Uhren/union/Union26-31.jpg
(Union 26)

For a long time I have been searching for a none-sporty - none diver’s - none aviator like chronograph – a classic looking chronograph with kingly reluctance which would fit with casual clothing as well as with business dresses. The first one I bought was the Glashütte Original Senator chrono (see pic) which – without being a real pilot’s tool - emerged to feature a bit of Flieger design.
The second one was the Schauer Kulisse 11, again a chronograph with a black face. The Schauer Kulisse models have always been appealing to me but for a long time I shuned the investment. After years of hesitating – “a plan needs to ripe”, “money needs to come in”, “first things first”, “you have to have priorities” – I eventually took the plunge an bought one of the Kulisse chrnos.
However the wish for a real classic chrono never died and so I became a member of the “pain-in-the-ass-community” constantly urging Jörg Schauer to do a Stowa Chrono . Whenever me and other addicts met Jörg in Engelsbrand or Basel we tried to convince him that we do need a Stowa Chrono.

Project History

Elizabeth Dörr, a freelance jounalist, onece wrote “Jörg Schauer is a watch maker, not a watchmaker, but really a maker of watches” – a “Uhrenbauer”. That’s most likely the reason that the launch of a Stowa chrono took some years before the Stowa Chronograph 1938 materialized.
Here are some random pics of the “chrono project” which has been promoted on a German watch forum for some time but lateron died a sudden death (not going into details here).



















I would have bought any of those chronographs but, as I said, none of those came into existence.

Some more years of waiting followed.

Eventually in 2010 I had the opportunity to see the erl-king in the flesh at Baselworld.





Wrist shots from Basel 2010 (thanks to Bhanu, a co-WIS from Prague):




I was overwhelmed and I knew in a glance that this is the chrono I have been waiting for for a long, long time. I directly ordered the chrono not knowing how it will look like in the serial version.

In May 2010 Jörg decided to give the case a slightly different shape:



As you can see Stowa changed the case design to make the chrono appear more flat.

The watch

Case, Crown & Pushers

The case is made of 316L stainless steel. The watch comes in two versions: matt and polished.
Case diameter is 41mm, height is about 13,7 mm, lug width: 22mm.
The website states that lug to lug is: 50,2mm. I measured 49mm but I think it is right to assume that the lug-to-lug is about 50mm.

The Stowa Chronograph 1938 is very solid watch, a chunk of steel. It is beautiful finished, I am inclined to say that it is the “poor man’s version” of a Jörg Schauer Kulisse chronograph.







I think that the Stowa chronograph case got the same attention all Schauer watches get
I have got difficulties to distinguish any serious difference between the cases. However it should be mentioned that the case dimensions differ a bit and despite the Kulisse 11 got a 42mm case the Stowa looks and wears a lot bigger.

Visually the Stowa by far is the more solid lump of rock. And no doubt it is a heavy watch (104 gr with leather strap for the Stowa, 96gr for the Kulisse 11).
I tend to say that the case finsh is flawless.



With 13,7 mm height the watch will easily fit under every sleeve and can be worn with cufflinks too .The Stowa chrono wears comfortable and due to the curved down lugs - we already know from the Kulisse case - it will fit even smaller wrists The curved down lugs ensure a surprisingly good feeling.



The corrugated crown is signed with the Stowa emblem (see photo above) and appears to be a bit larger compared to the Kulisse 11 crown.

Cronw and pushers fit perfectly with the case and are easy to operate, the crown is easy to grip. Both, pushers and crown are not screwed down.
The display case back very much resembles the typical Schauer case back design, is screwed and engraved with some information regarding the watch.





The photos above imho show best what I meant by saying that there is some close resemblance.

The Stowa Chronograph 1938 case is rated WR 50m / 5 bar.

Dial and hands

The Stowa Chrono dial and hands are a homage to a pocket watch dial of the 1940ties.



Design of hands and font of the numerals have been transformed to the contemporary version and underline the classic look of this watch.





To the best of my knowledge I would describe the dial’s color to be crème. The very fine printed rehaut appears to be printed in black.

Due to the modifications done on the Valjoux 7753 there are only two sub dials , a permanent second on the left and a 30 min counter) on the right. Bi-compax at its best.
The dial printing is done in a traditional way. Every dial is fine-blasted, silber plated and imprinted 8-times in order to achieve the look it features in the end.
As opposed to most Valjoux 7753 equipped watches the Stowa Chrono does not feature that day/date window which is another contribution to its overall reluctant and most classic minimalistic and typical Bi-compax appearance.

The hands are slightly vaulted, polished and rose-gold plated and mirror the rose-gold plated raised numerals. No lume on the hands and no lume on the numerals either.
During day time the Stowa chrono is easy to read. All hands are in the right proportion. The minute hand is as long as it has to be, long enough to reach well into the minutes chapter.
Same with the small rose-golden central second hand.



The sub dials do take a backseat, they give the impression that their function is of less importance and to be honest I haven’t used them yet. The permanent seconds counter nevertheless is useful to see the watch is working.



Everything on the dial is emphasizing the “classicness” and classiness of this watch.

Crystal



The Stowa Chronograph 1938 is fitted with two sapphire crystals, slightly domed on thetop, flat on its back. You can’t see that the dial is slightly domed when looking on the top, you need a side view.

Leather strap

Out of the variety of straps Stowa offers (see online shop) I ordered my Stowa chrono with a grey croc strap (XL) which make watch and strap a perfect match.



I was really impressed by the look of that grey croc strap which made me ordering another one for my Antea LE.



The buckle itself is a solid one, much larger than the tiny buckle of my Kulisse11.
It does mirror the case dimensions and the look of the chrono. The buckle is laser engraved with the Stowa emblem and the Stowa lettering.



Movement

The watch is equipped with a modified (bi-compax) ETA/Valjoux 7753.



The ETA/Valjoux 7753 is known since 2002 and features
• Unidirectional rotor winding
• Coulisse-lever switching
• 27 jewels
• 28.800 b/h
• Hacking
• 42h power reserve
• 30mm diameter, height of 7,9mm

Both, the 7750 and the 7753, are known to be extraordinary tough and reliable. Gisbert L.Brunner, a well known watch maniac, described it as nearly indestructible; hopefully he’s right. In addition to that the 7753 offers a good cost-benefit ratio.
The Stowa chronograph comes with a display back offering some “insight”.





As you can see the movement is nicely decorated featuring
• Geneva stripes on the rotor
• Stowa gold lettering on the rotor
• Perlage (“circular grain”)
• Blued screws.
(You will find these features on the more expensive Kulisse 11 too).

Timekeeping has been extraordinary so far and is by all means on par with my Kulisse 11.
The average gain is +5/+7 sec/day on the wrist and on the watch stand at night.

However when I put the watch dial up on the bed side locker it performed less good (+ 10 sec/day). Now that I store it on the watch stand over night I am quite satisfied with gain and loss of my watch.

Box and Manual

The Stowa Chronograph 1938 came in the same unspectacular aluminium box the Stowa aficionados are familiar with. I have not been disappointed by this box, however a flagship watch would deserve something in leather.

Price

1700,-- Euro (polished)
1750,-- Euro (matt)
on leather strap. Deployment clasp available for 35,-- Euro.

Warranty

2 years + an exceptional after sales service

Summary / Conclusions

The Stowa Chronograph 1938 is the chrono I have been looking for since long.
The watch is a fine and excellent executed, classic timepiece.
Those shrinking back from a Jörg Schauer because of its pricing will find a less expensive chronograph with the Stowa Chrono 1938.As previously stated the Stowa Chrono is a well priced “substitute” with comparable (but not quite identical) quality.
I am convinced that the Stowa Chrono 1938 does not need to fear any competitor in its price bracket. Other brands sell less for a lot more money.

Mike Stuffler
London
 

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Bravo!
Another clean uncluttered dial and beautiful applied indices
 

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Thanks for a great review Mike. Well written posting on a very nice chrono.

I happen to have my eye on this model for an upcoming landmark birthday. My lovely wife is wondering what might be on my wish list. :) :) :) The black dial version with silver numerals was also an option until I realized that Stowa is looking at November delivery for those... but I think I prefer the silver dial version anyway. I like the sharpness and height of the numerals too. They've done a nice job embossing the markings on the dial.

I'm curious about the dial color as it's hard to get an idea of silver plating through photos. Would you say the color resembles the look of polished silver flatware? (hope you don't mind the questions... ) You mentioned it has a cream color, sort of. It's photogenic for sure.

Good to hear that the height of the watch is comfortable to wear, and the curved lugs would help. Did you measure 13.7mm? The Stowa website lists 14.7mm which is getting quite substantial. Bhono's photos show that it's a pretty good size.

Nice photos of the other watches as well, thanks.
 

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very very nice.

you know what. if the chrono came with blue hands and numbers, i'd buy it in a second.
 

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No wonder you're so big on STOWA! They are amazingly beautiful! I've never seen those models before!
I'd only seen pedestrian-looking ones (some might prefer to call them 'simple'), and was not convinced enough to go buy one based on their putative mechanical excellence alone - since so many are also excellent in this regard, AND look better.
But Man! Them's some good-looking STOWA's!! I;m def getting me one. Soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
No wonder you're so big on STOWA! They are amazingly beautiful! I've never seen those models before!
I'd only seen pedestrian-looking ones (some might prefer to call them 'simple'), and was not convinced enough to go buy one based on their putative mechanical excellence alone - since so many are also excellent in this regard, AND look better.
But Man! Them's some good-looking STOWA's!! I;m def getting me one. Soon.
Yep, that's why I am considering right now to order a black chrono 1938 with the light brown croc strap too but the date window is still bothering me (not much, but enough to go back and forth).



The dial looks like cacao brown in the pic. I would relly be interested how the chrono wouild lokk like with a "real" cacao colored dial ????
 

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Is this really 13.7 mm thick and more importantly fits easily under dress shirt cuffs as the review states ? I ask specifically because stowa website states 14 mm plus. Thanks for your help - this is critical to me
 

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It's 14,7 according to web site. However I wear it with single cuff with two buttons as I use to do with all my watches.
 

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Thanks Mike that's really what I'm worried about - I'm considering it as a dressy option.

I generally wear french cuffs with cuff links to work so that should allow even more room.

I think I'll go ahead and pull the trigger. I went today and looked in a couple of AD's at watches in a comparable price range and could not find anything which struck me the same way.
 

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Just came across this thread only by chance while I was looking for info on the Schauer and the 1938 chrono, what a stunning review, and photos, thank you Mike.
 

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Just came across this thread after looking for more info in Stowa watches. Mike, you have written such an awesome review and posted such beautiful pictures that the 1938 Chrono is officially on my "To-get" list.

Thank you, and keep up the great work.
 

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Excellent review Mike, you can get the "essence" of the Chrono 1938. :D
One of Stowa's best watches and definetely one of the few contenders for my next watch.
 

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Just to follow up my concerns on its height - I now own the creme dial 1938 and its a perfect match to my dress shirts - I have largish wrists so smaller dress watches don't really do it for me and this one has plenty of heft. That said, it fits under a shirt cuff depending on the fit of the cuffs - I wear strictly french cuffs with chain linked cuff links so no problems - if you prefer a tighter fit, you will have problems.
 

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very very nice.

you know what. if the chrono came with blue hands and numbers, i'd buy it in a second.
I second that, like the IWC Portuguese chrono.
 

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Great review and nice pics! My fiancé bought this watch for my wedding gift (I picked it out), thanks in part to this thread. Once she gives it to me I'll be happy to post a photo :)
 

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Kudos to Mike for the terrific original post. I recently ordered a cream dialled 1938 Chronograph when they were made available again and this review helped me make my decision. Mandatory reading for anyone considering ordering this watch.
 
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