This review is of a watch with a minimalist design, the Stowa Marine Original Limited Edition II. Part of a series of 120 (of which 80 were sold in the US) the Limited Edition looks almost identical to the regular Marine Original Black with Arabic numbers.
•Handwinding Unitas 6498 movement (time only — not even date).
•41mm by 12mm stainless steel case, brushed finish, 85g.
•Hand-stictched leather strap with pushbutton signed double deployant clasp.
•Applied metallic 12 instead of painted numerals (as with the normal Marine Original), and a serial number under the subseconds dial.
•Double-domed sapphire crystal, and sapphire movement cover.
•Signed 7mm crown (non-screw-down).
Read on for the full review.
The Stowa is quite a bit different from my usual dive-watch fare, and wearing it requires an appreciation of what I’d call restraint. The only thing on the dial is a small brand name, and even the caseback limits itself to etched text around its thin bezel. The case is just large enough to hold the movement, originally designed for pocket watches, with a thin bezel and railroad-track minute and hour tracks. The brushed stainless steel case hews to the same unobtrusive theme, superbly finished but understated.
Flip it over, and there’s a visual feast of color and movement waiting for you. Blued screws, vivid rubies, and the brass-colored balance wheel whizzing away. The movement has Geneva stripes, swans-neck balance, and etched-and-colored Stowa logo.
The dial is beautifully printed and very crisp. The applied 12 is only noticeable at close inspection; in most light it looks like the others. The serial number at six o’clock is minuscule.
The subseconds dial is circular grained, but you need a magnifier to see it. The printing is very well done with a san-serif font adding to legibility.
Timekeeping has been superb — within two seconds per day. That’s about as good as it gets for a mechanical watch.
Like the Orient pocketwatch, a handwind watch changes your sense of time a bit. I wind it once a day in the morning, and the winding is a bit meditative and calm. I like it, but it’s definitely something for the person who likes watches. Kind of the opposite of zero-maintenance.
The Stowa Marine Original wears beautifully on wrist with a profile that fits easily under sleeves. The contrast-stitched strap lends it a sporty look, but the austerity of the dial is more dress than anything else, particularly with the leaf hands. To me, this watch defines classic design.
The limited edition sold out quickly, even at $1460, but the non-LE edition is available for $1099. That’s not cheap although you can spend much more on watches with the same movement. The same base movement powers watches like the Omega handwind and Panerais which cost far more.
About the only thing I’d change is a touch of lume on the hands and dial. Readability at night would be nice.