Wanted to do a little review of the Stowa #fliegerfriday Bronze limited edition.
Since there were only 20 of these (and just 8 with the B-dial) I feel extremely lucky to have been in the right place and time to snag one of these.
We are all quite spoiled these days when it comes to choices in pilot watches. This particular piece somehow managed to check all the right boxes for me: historic brand, “sweet spot” 40mm diameter, bronze case, manual wind ETA 2804-2, and Baumuster B dial configuration.
I feel that many of these characteristics are features that enthusiasts grow to love and appreciate over time. Bronze is generally a material collectors seek after having experience with a number of steel sport watches. Similarly, the B dial variation fills the need for “something different” relative to the more mainstream A dial variant. To the uninitiated a manual wind movement might be viewed as an inconvenience, but with experience one discovers the tactile pleasure of ritualistic hand winding. Finally, the tie-in to #fliegerfriday is a clear nod to watchgeeks like myself who spend far too much time sharing and fantasizing about timepieces on Instagram!
All that to say that the specs of this watch really speak to me as a collector and enthusiast and after getting some wrist time with this Stowa I am happy to report that it does not disappoint. The details and finishing are all top notch. Some may prefer bronze that changes as it oxidizes over time but I quite like the warm hue achieved in this case and am content with not having it oxidize any further. I mounted the watch on a WWII era German ammo strap made by me and I think it suits the watch very well:
I asked if I could add an exhibition caseback to my order and Stowa kindly fulfilled my request. I absolutely love that Stowa went the extra mile to fulfill my non-standard request. I think this is the best way to enjoy the top finishing of the elaboré grade ETA 2804-2.
At 40mm the Stowa wears very comfortably on my 6.5” wrist:
I actually already had a watch very similar to this one: the Archimede Pilot 42B bronze with manual wind movement. I thought it might be useful to make some comparisons between the two pieces.
Side by side, the Stowa stands out with a warmer vintage appearance due to the darker bronze and “old radium” lume treatment. I might be in the minority but I like fauxtina lume and it compliments this bronze case really well. The hour and minute hands of the Stowa are slightly darker than the indices. I am not sure if this was a deliberate design choice but it does add to the overall vintage character since it is not uncommon for hands to patina at a different rate from the dial on certain vintage pieces. Both watches feature blued steel hands however the seconds hand on the Stowa is black. I do like the 42mm case size of the Archimede since it allows the B dial layout to breathe more and feels less crowded compared to the 40mm layout of the Stowa.
Both watches feature hand wind movements with exhibition case backs. There is nothing wrong with Archimede’s Selita SW215, but Stowa’s ETA 2804-2 has a clear advantage in finishing details. The geneva striping and blued screws look great, and I also appreciate that the non-functional date position has been removed from the elaboré grade ETA.
The case backs are both nicely engraved, but I have to give the nod to Archimede for designing a screw down case back that fits almost perfectly flush inside the case. With this low profile case back the Archimede is just 8.8mm thick compared to the (also slim) 9.2mm Stowa.
The crown is often overlooked but is such an important component for interacting with a manual wind movement. In this case both crowns are very functional and look great. The Archimede crown is signed and has a somewhat industrial aesthetic. I like the refined appearance of the Stowa crown and the more traditional onion shape.
From a functional standpoint, the lume on the Archimede is superior. With fully lumed indices the Archimede lights up like a torch. The lume on the Stowa is still good and the partially lumed indices add to the overall vintage effect.
On my 6.5” wrist both watches wear comfortably. In this B dial configuration I think the Archimede looks appropriately oversized as a large pilot watch. The Stowa maintains great wrist presence without looking oversized and invokes a much stronger vintage feeling.
In terms of improvement areas, there is some noticeable case discoloration inside each of the lugs. I am guessing this is a byproduct of Stowa’s case treatment process and would be interested to hear from any other owners if their watches have the same characteristic.
As much as I love the Archimede I decided to let it go in favor of keeping the limited edition Stowa. The vintage appearance, higher grade movement, and limited nature sealed the deal for me. I am happy to be one of the lucky few to get one and I hope the upcoming mass production models will satisfy everyone that missed out on this limited run!