Good evening fellow WUS'ers. This is my first watch review. I noticed there was a lack of reviews of Schauer products so I decided to add one of my own.
I have had a Jörg Schauer Kleine Schauer now for two years and it has been my everyday wearer so this review speaks to durability as well.
The quick stats rundown
Features: Automatic winding, 3 Hand, Hacking, Date
Water Resistance: 5 atm
The box is utilitarian but handsome and sturdy. A paperboard slipcover holds a heavy black cardboard box, which contains the dark, wooden presentation box. The watch was on a pillow and wrapped in bubblewrap, it sat in one of the box's two pits. The other pit contained various literature and paperwork. The watch's serial card was personally filled-out and signed by Schauer himself, which further added to the appeal of the boutique, hand-made watch.
The case is traditionally styled, but with Schauer's Bauhaus sensibilities. The lugs angle downwards instead of curve downwards and their edges are sharp. (Not sharp enough to cut yourself, but you could break skin with them if you wanted to.) The strap bars are held in with screws on either side. The bezel is ever-so-slightly narrower than the case, and is screwed down into the case. The sapphire crystal is flat and flush with the bezel. Twelve equally spaced screws hold the bezel in place, a Schauer signature. The screw heads are not all oriented in the same direction. The caseback is held down by five screws and its edges are rounded for comfort. Around the sapphire caseback, the watch information is engraved, including the model name and the case number.
The finish of the case, bezel and caseback is not brushed, nor is it completely mirror-polished. It was deliberately left in the state before this final finishing takes place, as Schauer prefers to show off the high degree of case work that goes into a piece, which mirror polishing would obliterate. One can see the grain and the angle of the various files and buffing wheels he used. Overall it has the feeling of being milled from a single piece of steel.
The Hands and Dial
The dial is nearly completely sterile. It is pure white, without flaw. The numbers are small and are given minimal styling. The date window sits above the six (as is usual for Schauer designs) and is cut as small as possible. The only decoration on the otherwise pristine dial are "SCHAUER" and "GERMANY" written in very small letters between the seven and six, and the six and five, respectively.
The hands are perfectly black and squared-off. They do not have tails at all so as to give the impression of three lines of various thicknesses radiating from a common point.
After two years, the case and crystal are completely un-scathed. If it weren't for the replacement straps, one could easily guess the watch was brand-new.
The movement is an ETA 2824-2, which is common enough and its workhorse nature is well-known and appreciated. The finishing work Schauer has done on it is impressive. I have a Victorinox that runs off the same movement and it doesn't look nearly as well-made. All screws have been blued.
The standard ETA rotor has been replaced with Jorg Shauer's own. It's made of something called "German Silver" which is actually an alloy of copper, nickel and zinc. "SCHAUER" is etched intaglio into the rotor. The movement number is engraved beside it. The rotor shape is a plain semi-circle. One little touch that makes the watch stand out a little is the placement of the (unsigned) crown at the unusual 3:30 position. The crown is not a screwdown, but it does hack.
The movement in general makes very little noise, a testament to the degree it was finished. The rotor-winding does not seem to make the characteristic 'clicking' that 2824 rotors seem prone to. The hands sweep smoothly without any stutter. The date transitions quickly and smoothly as well.
After two years of ownership and near-constant wearing, the watch has averaged +4 seconds over two years.
The watch initially came with a, 18mm black calfskin strap which was very comfortable and soft. The strap was signed, the brushed steel tang buckle was not. It lasted a little over a year, which was surprising considering how quickly it became broken-in.
Aesthetics, Notes, etc
37mm is not a big watch by today's standards, and I'm not going to take sides on the "big watch thing". (I wouldn't tear a Panerai off my wrist if I woke up with one.) Objectively speaking, though, I have 6.25 inch little-girl wrists and the Schauer wears 'big' on them. The narrow bezel, combined with the bright, white dial make the watch appear much larger than my 36mm black dial, black bezel Seamaster. Only on my largest friends' wrists does the watch begin to look a little small. Even then, it's stark character stands out.
I would comment on the lack of a signed crown and signed buckle, but I can understand their omission. To add them would detract from the cleanliness and lack of ornamentation. The piece is meant to be the "essential" wristwatch. That which is not entirely necessary has been left off. (Plus, this watch won the "Goldene Unruh" in 2000, so people with more taste than me seem to like it.)
The ultimate aesthetic effect of this piece is that this is not so much a piece of jewelry as it is a small machine. This watch does not let you forget it is a mechanical thing operating within razor-thin tolerances. It reminds me of another German device which was styled around it's function: the Porsche 911, whose signature shapes are very much governed by its engine layout. (The usual response I get when I tell people the watch is German-made is "Yeah, it looks German." ) The watch is simple, direct, unsentimental and unsubtle. It could only be German.
Now as to whether or not this watch represents a good value. That answer is "No. Of course not." To be fair, no watch outside of a Rolex is a particularly good value and in this case, the Stowa Antea 365 is virtually identical to the Kleine Schauer, but costs half as much and still retains a good deal of Schauer's design signatures. As well, the Kleine Schauer is nowhere near as popular as his chronographs are. The value of the Schauer is the comfort in knowing this watch was personally made by the guy whose name appears on the dial. The warranty card was hand-written by him. All styling choices, all manufacturing choices were his alone; and it's built with the care that comes only from personal responsibility. Should something ever fail on this watch, it won't be the fault of one of his employees or suppliers; it will be his fault. Thus, every Schauer watch is a test of his reputation. Therein lies the increased cost and therein lies the reason I would pick this over the Antea 365 any day of the week. (Also, I didn't have to pay for it, because it was a gift from my darling wife...who has excellent taste.)