“Mare e Cielo”
A Mike Stuffler Watch Review
Made in Germany: Stowa Marine Automatic
Watch review by:
Mike Stuffler, Hohen Neuendorf, Germany
Stowa by Jörg Schauer
April 2007, Hohen Neuendorf
“The chance to own something special”
-- Jörg Schauer --
I always have been fascinated that an enthusiastic watchmaker (and goldsmith) like Jörg SCHAUER – and without any doubt he is a real watch maniac – tried to enter the market with the strong will to establish a watch line of his own. But today I am not talking about the exquisit selection of Schauer watches, I´d like to review another Stowa watch - the Stowa Marine Automatic.
Jörg SCHAUER was born in 1968 in Altensteig/Black Forest, so maybe his enthusiasm for watches is caused by a special gene. In 1990 he established his own business, within 5 years he had produced over 400 timepieces. 5 years later (1995) the brand SCHAUER was launched. For the first time STOWA watches have been presented in 1997.
-- Jörg Schauer at work --
When he was searching for vintage Pforzheim movements in 1996 Jörg SCHAUER came into contact with the Storz family, at that time owners of the historical brand Stowa.
All started in 1927 with Walter Storz when he founded his own company meanwhile his father continued to run his watch factory at Hornberg/Kinzigtal.
In 1935 Walter Storz moved to Pforzheim and there he set up a new factory (1938).
At the end of World War II the building was destroyed completely and Walter Storz decided to move to Rheinfelden, a small town close to the Swiss border, and there again he started up the STOWA watch production (1951).
At the same time the building in Pforzheim was reconstructed and the production capacity of both factories expanded enormously. In the early 1960s Werner Storz, the son of Walter, joined the company and continued to manage STOWA´s business through 1996. Werner Storz was thinking about retirement when he met with Jörg Schauer and Jörg seemed to be the perfect candidate to take over the company.
So Jörg Schauer purchased the brand and marketing rights of “STOWA”.
In the following years STOWA and Schauer watches have been awarded with the “Goldene Unruhe” (by “UhrenMagazin”):
2000: “Kleine Schauer”
2002: Schauer “Edition 9”
2005: STOWA “Antea”
The STOWA production facility is currently located in a small village in the Black Forrest called Engelsbrand and you´ll need about 10 minutes to drive from Pforzheim, one of the former centers of German watchmaking.
--The STOWA building—
I named this review “Mare e Cielo” because I thoght that the STOWA Marine Automatic (“mare”) would be an interesting addition to the STOWA Flieger ETA 2801 (“cielo”) I already own.
2. The predecessor(s)
Most of the current STOWA models do have a historical predecessor. “Seatime”, “Flieger”, “Antea” and the “Marine” are based on historical STOWA models found in the company´s archives, some of which are now exhibited in the single room Stowa museum Jörg Schauer is running in Engelsband.
--Pics by courtesy of Stowa. The watch shown dates from app. 1960 to 1970--
The name of the STOWA Marine may be a bit misleading because you might think it is a diver´s watch but it isn´t at all.
In 1943 Stowa started to produce deck watches also known as “Beobachtungsuhren” (B-Uhren), or observer watches for the German Navy (“Kriegsmarine” – KM ).
The next three wonderful pics have been posted on Watchuseek by WUS-member SteveG.
Totally 288 watches have been delivered to the "Deutsche Seewarte" (where chronometer watches have been certified at that time ). After WW II Helmut Sinn (former owner of Sinn watches, currently owning Guinand) took over 2000 movements from an order which couldn´t be delivered any more.
Generally an observer watch was used as a secondary timepiece, to be wound and synchronized daily with the ship's official clock.
As a result, its prime requirement was isochronism, the consistency of timekeeping hour-to-hour, day-to-day, over months and years. It was of less concern that it might be a few seconds fast or slow each day, than that the rate remain constant. Thusly could be supplied a portable copy of the master clock (which required a dial-up position, and probably resided in the instrument room), a watch which required minimal daily attention to usefully provide the time at a remote location, and also serve as backup in case of a problem with the ship's main clock.
Since 2002 there have been some different models of the Marine. Even a “Marine Damen” (ladie´s Marine) was part of the Marine collection. The “Marine Damen” was equipped with an ETA 2824-2, the diameter of the 316L stainless steel case was 31mm. The hands have been coated in black.
The 2002 catalogue (which was a 2 page folder to be more precise) also contained a “Marine 6425 limitiert”. This STOWA Marine was limited to 200 pieces. The 40mm polished stainless steel case housed an Unitas 6425 handwinding movement (“Kleine Sekunde” - small second at 6). The sapphire crystal was slighly domed, the hands have been blued (thermic process). This extraordinary limited edition retailed for 1699,-- Euro (1799,-- Euro on bracelet).
And last not least there has been the (legendary) Bi-Compax Marine Chrono, an absolute beater in my humble opinion. Case size was 40mm too, hands have been blued, top and display back crystals have been made of sapphire. In 2002 the chrono retailed for 1399,-- Euro.
-- The 2002 Ladies Marine and Marine 6425 in the background --
So the current STOWA Marine is definitely not made for diving but a hommage to the former deck watches.
Stowa´s latest model - the Marine Original – is the very consequent follow-up in the development of the Marine collection. But this watch is worth a review of its own.
3. The watch
The STOWA Marine Automatic is available in different versions:
+ with black strap
+ with brown strap
+ with Millanaise bracelet
+ ETA 2824-2 in chronometer version (blued srews are included)
+ ETA 2824-2 with blued screws
I made up my mind to pull the trigger on the STOWA Marine with brown strap and blued screws.
Diameter: 40 mm
Height. 10,20 mm
Lug width: 20 mm
Movement: Automatic ETA 2824-2
Weight: 70 gr (incl. strap)
Retail price: 470 Euro on strap
Several surcharges will lead to:
520 Euro on strap & blued screws
599 Euro on mesh bracelet
649 Euro mesh and blued srews
669 Euro on strap & COSC movement
798 Euro on mesh bracelet & COSC
(VAT 19% included)
3.1 Case, bezel and crown
The Stowa Marine Automatic case is the same case we already got to know from the STOWA Flieger. The only difference is that the Marine case is polished (Flieger: matt, see my Flieger review).
The case is “Made in Germany” by leading German case maker Walter Fricker ( http://www.w-fricker.de ). The Fricker reference list is speaking for itself:
• Jochen Benzinger, Pforzheim
• Rainer Brand, Heimbuchenthal
• ETA SA, Grenchen
• Harer, Pforzheim
• Hanhart, Gütenbach
• Jacques Etoile, Lörrach
• Junghans, Schramberg
• Kobold Instruments, Pittsburgh
• Lacher, Pforzheim
• Marcello C., Würselen
• Mühle, Glashütte
• Robergé Genève, Le Brassus
• Nienaber, Bünde
• ORIS, Hölstein
• Eddie Platts, UK (Timefactors)
• Point TEC, Ismaning
• RGM, Lancaster (USA)
• Sinn, Frankfurt
• Schauer, Engelsbrand
• Timex, Pforzheim
• Temption, Herrenberg
• Tutima, Ganderkesee
The 316L stainless steel case consists of three parts: the upper bezel, mid case including lugs and a screwed display back (6 screws).
As already mentioned the case diameter is 40 mm.The polished case of the STOWA Marine for sure is an eye catcher in contrary to the matt satin finish of the Stowa Flieger case.
The lugs are coming straight out of the mid case and look very solid. They are curved downwards on both watches – the Flieger and the Marine - which is a benefit to the watch looking light and slim.
The shape of the lugs obviously is a benefit to those WIS with a smaller wrist. I think the 40mm watch will fit smaller wrists as well as the big ones.
Lug spacing is 20 mm, by my measurement – using a cheap electronic digital caliper - the lug tip to lug tip is 48,56 mm.
The watch feels very comfortable to wear and I recognized no problems wearing the Marine even under sleeves. Indeed I abstained from wearing cufflinks cause I wouldn´t hurt the polished surface of the Marine.
Through the flat sapphire crystal display back you can see the busy balance swinging. The edge of the display case back, which is mounted with 6 screws, is engraved with:
Made in Germany
The crown on the Stowa Flieger is signed with the laser engraved Stowa logo.
The crown itself is well executed, in the right proportion, easy to grip and operate and fits with the styling. The crown isn´t screwed in.
The case is water resistant to 5 ATM which is a clear and unmistakable sign to avoid any dive excursions.
Like the Stowa Flieger the Marine is furnished with a slightly domed sapphire crystal on top which can be seen in the pic above. The display back is made out of a flat sapphire crystal.
3.3 Dial and hands
I would describe the colour of the dial as eggshell-white whereas Jörg Schauer describes it as natural white (“naturweiss”). Anyway the chosen color is just beautiful.
The dial of the Marine is state of the art, the arabic numerals and the chapter ring with its minute strokes is as legible as it could be. There´s no luminous compound at all, so for sure not a watch for night owls.
The chapter ring can be used as a minute scale as well as a seconds scale; both hands – second as well as minute hand – have the right lenght to know exactly what time it is. 4.52 is 4.52, clearly readable and no “guessing” necessary. They reach the “minuterie” exactly where they have to.
“STOWA” is to be read under the 12 position. „Made in Germany“ is imprinted at the 6 o´clock position between the chapter ring and the numerals “7” and “5”.
The date window „moved“ from the ETA 2824-2 standard position at 3 o`clock to the 6 o´clock position. In order to avoid a disturbing effect of the appearance of a date window Jörg abstained from the numeral 6 and only placed a single bar.
On top of the single bar you´ll find the date window. The date wheel´s background colour is white too – another contribution to a reluctant date indication.
The small date numerals are printed in black without attracting much attention.
The hands of the Marine are styled in the way the old “Poires américaines” or “Poires à trous carrés pour montres anglaises” have been looking. All hands are made out of blued steel. The heating process they are blued with is supposed to be a thermic process.
As I already mentioned the hands have the necessary lenght, they reach the outer scale of the chapter ring which makes reading the watch a real and absolute pleasure.
You always know exactly what time it is.
3.4 Movement and Timekeeping
Sturdiness and reliability at a rather low price dictate a common and wide spread movement. So nobody will be really astonished to read that the heart of the STOWA Marine is an ETA 2824-2 which indeed is the most common automatic movement but imho there´s absolutely nothing wrong with it.
To the watch community the ETA 2824-2 is known as a well regarded and proven workhorse, rugged and reliable.
Most watch enthusiasts will have heard of the ETA 2824-2, due to the fact that almost all watch brands have an ETA 2824-2 fitted watch in their collection; however for those who don´t I`ll mention some of its basic specifications:
The ETA 2824-2 was introduced in 1982 by ETA (see: www.eta.ch).
The ETA 2824-2 measures 25,6 mm (which is 11‘‘1/2 lines) in diameter and 4,6 mm in height. The 25 jewels - movement beats at 28.000 b/h.
Power reserve: approximately 38-42 hours. The rotor winds up bi-directional.
The Marine movement comes with Glucydur balance, flat Nivarox spring, Incabloc shock protection with “Exzenter” fine regulation.
I should add that the Marine does not need any metal or plastic movement spacer.
The date position moved from 3 o´ clock (which is the usual date window position for an ETA 2824-2) to 6 o`clock.
Furthermore the ETA 2824-2 version of the STOWA Automatic I have chosen for was delivered with blued screws and the STOWA logo engraved on the rotor in golden letters. And you´ll find the engraving “Twenty-Five-25 Jewels Swiss Made” on the edge of the rotor.
Excursus: How to blue screws (according to the British Horological Institute)
- to blue a screw head you first have to clean it up, polish it, and then remove any oily or greasy deposits from the surface.
-holding the screw (by its thread) in a pin vice or lathe; cleaning the slot with a piercing saw or junior hacksaw; removing any burr with a pivot file
-polishing the head on a piece of crocus paper or 3/0-emery, supported on a cork or other flexible sheet.
- When the polish is to your satisfaction, wash it off in meths, alcohol, or other volatile solvent.
- Then, holding it by the threaded end in a pair of old snipe-nose pliers, slowly pass it in and out through a spirit lamp flame. Watch very carefully for the straw colour beginning to appear and continue until there is a nice deep purple. By this time, with a little experience, you would already have the screw withdrawn from the flame.
- As soon as the colour is right *immediately* quench the screw in water, dry it and rinse again in solvent.
Complicated? -- the whole operation would probably be completed in less time than it took to read this paragraph, and it is FUN.
If you have a *whole batch* of screws to get to exactly the same colour, take a piece of thickish brass plate, drill a number of holes clearance size for the screw thread in it, and drop a screw into each hole.
Heat the whole plate, screws and all, over the alcohol lamp, then when the right colour is reached (or just a smidgen before), upend the plate and tip all the screws simultaneously into cold water. I dewater the screws in white spirit, then dry (with a soft tissue, not a hot air gun - this could change the colour), and give a final wipe with thin oil to bring up the blue colour to its gleaming best, and stop any future rusting.
Timekeeping was really excellent during an almost 6-weeks-period. I usually do not wear my watches whilst sleeping, doing sports. So the average wrist time was about 10 to 14 hours per day, drinking sessions, desk-diving and gardening included.
In the beginning the watch almost run consistently at + 6 seconds per day and got settled in the end at + 4 seconds a day. I didn´t expect such an accuracy but I am very pleased with it. While this movement isn´t COSC-certified there have been reports from STOWA owener that confirm there watches perform within the chronometer specifications.
Due to the fact that the movement does hack time setting isn´t an issue at all.
3.5 Strap and buckle
Standard issue for STOWA Marine is a non-padded brown 20 mm leather strap with creme coloured stitching. „Stowa seit 1927” (“Stowa since 1927”) is printed on the back. The leather (according to the description: camel) is of decent quality, durable and comfortable to wear. For the first time on the wrist I thought it would be a bit too hard but almost the second day convinced me it is not.
The creme coloured stitches are exactly set.
The strap is fitted with a polished buckle and the STOWA logo engraving on it. The buckle itself is a very solid one and much better executed than the buckle of my STOWA Flieger. The buckle space is 18mm.
A mesh bracelet is also available and will underline the classic look of the Marine. I am not sure yet but I think I´ll change the strap later this year. I´ve seen pics of the Stowa Marine Automatic with a dark blue strap and this combo really caught my eyes.
3.6 Packaging and Manual
The watch came in an aluminium box wrapped in an outer white cardboard box. The STOWA box top is covered with a black textile fabric with the STOWA imprint.
The interior of the box is divided in two containments, a smaller one for the watch and the second one for the papers and a black STOWA travel purse.
There you´ll find a small, folded manual too.
Due to European regulations the watch comes with a 2 years warranty.
4. Final comments / Conclusions / Recommendations
Being reasonably priced the STOWA Marine was the right addition to the STOWA Flieger I already own. Both - “Mare et Cielo” - are a wonderful couple and both maintain a great price-performance ratio.
I consider both watches to be made for everyone and every day wear, the Marine for sure has got a more classic look. The Marine can be understood as a dress watch as well as a „homage“ to the desk watches of former times.
The Marine itself wears very comfortably and should fit every wrist. The perfect execution of the case, dial and hands make this watch a must have.
I am very happy to own both watches and besides they do have the same case dimensions they are supplementary to each other.
For 470 (or 520 with blued screws) Euro you will get a valuable, very fine made high class watch „Made in Germany“ with a swiss engine in comparable quality.
With every STOWA you own you own something special.
Thanks for reading and for every comment in advance. If there´s a question left don´t hesitate to ask. You know to find me.
My special thanks go to SteveG for his wonderful pics of the Marine KM deck watch. Other pics by courtesy of Stowa or made “inhouse”.