The Stowa Flieger Bronze Vintage’s case is made of 92 percent copper and eight percent tin. The corrosion resistant and anti-magnetic bronze metal tarnishes irregularly depending on environmental exposure. As it does, each Flieger Bronze Vintage becomes unique. Stowa PR would like you to know that its bronze watch becomes yours. Is the new Stowa Flieger Bronze Vintage 40mm worth adopting?
Stowa Flieger Bronze Vintage Case
The new 40mm Flieger is a big step up from Stowa’s 36mm Bronze Vintage. But it’s nowhere near as large as the 55mm watches Stowa made for the Luftwaffe, or the 43mm Big Pilot watch manufactured by fellow former Nazi-supplier IWC. Even so, the new Stowa looks big, thanks to the thin bronze ring circling the crystal. The result is all dial, all the time.
The Stowa stretches an uncommonly long 48.6mm lug-to-lug. Fortunately, the bronze lugs curve downwards. On my relatively large wrist, the watch sits comfortably, without perching or sliding around. Equipped with the manual wind movement, the Stowa Bronze Vintage 40mm stands a dress-shirt compatible 9.2mm tall (the automatic option measures about a millimetre taller).
The Stowa Flieger Bronze Vintage’s matte black dial spreads as widely as possible inside the case. It’s an exact replica of the original Flieger, a watch that sacrificed any sense of style (other than minimalism) for at-a-glance-ability. The triangle flanked by two dots replacing the 12 – designed to help airmen tell up from the down – is the only flourish. Well in this configuration . . .
Stowa offers three dial options: no-logo, no-date; logo, no-date; logo and date. Stowa loaned us the no-logo, no-date model. Devoid of period incorrect branding or complications, the dial presents as a slab of matte black – as it was when it the Luftwaffe wrapped the enormous German timekeeper around their flight suits.
The Stowa’s diamond handset is heat-blued – the real deal. In the right light, at the right angle, the hour, minute and seconds hands pop against the black dial. The seconds hand is particularly long. It extends to the dial’s outermost edge, virtually kissing the outer track, creating a mesmerizing swooping effect.
To help pilots, navigators, gunners and bombardiers coordinate their murderous missions during nighttime sorties, the original Flieger spec mandated copious amounts of deadly radium lume. Today’s Stowa coats the indices with “old radium” Super-LuminNova – what horological cognoscenti call “fauxtina.”
The indices’ faded yellow look perfectly compliments the leather strap and bronze case. Equipped with contrasting whiter-than-white Super-LumiNova hands, the combination makes the Flieger a peerless nighttime read.
Stowa Flieger Bronze Vintage Caseback, Movement
Copper reacts to acidity. When in contact with skin, it leaves a non-toxic green tinge. Nicht so gut. To avoid freaked out customers filing lawsuits, Stowa fits their largest bronze Flieger with a stainless steel caseback. As you can see, a sapphire display window reveals the Flieger’s beating heart.
It’s a radical departure from the Stowa Flieger Bronze Vintage 40mm’s semi-slavish recreation of its historical predecessor. While the exhibition caseback caters to modern-day fashion, some might consider its application here as out-of-whack with the watch’s “aged bronze” antique vibe. What’s old is new is old is new? It works for me . . .
The movement comes in two flavors: an automatic ETA 2824-A2 (a horological warhorse if ever there was one) or a hand-wound, “refined finish” Sellita SW215-1 (for 20€ extra), complete with Cotes de Geneve stripes, blued screws and golden STOWA engraving. Right answer. If you’re going to look at the movement, you might as well have something nice to look at.
Both engines offer hacking seconds (it’s a Flieger after all), wound with a mini-me version of the original’s glove-friendly onion crown. Both movements are watersports averse; resistant to only 50mm. Both offer the same reasonable but not stellar accuracy: +/-12 to +/- 30 sec/day.
There are three “period” Flieger straps. The oldest, the B-Uhr type, has two rivets under the lugs. It’s often made of black leather (very much on trend in certain Berlin sex clubs). Then there’s the “Bund” with its signature leather cushion between the case and the wrist. Flieger wearers unmoved by historical sacrilege sometimes fit the watch with a NATO-type nylon strap.
Stowa pairs the Stowa Flieger Bronze Vintage 40mm with a brown leather two-stitch strap. The buckle is imposing and signed. Right answer – to the point where I’ll be refreshing my own Flieger’s strap with the new design.
Stowa Flieger Bronze Vintage – Conclusion
The original Flieger was a highly legible tool watch – and nothing more. The Stowa Flieger Bronze Vintage is true to form, though understandably smaller than Stowa’s old Luftwaffe-bound monsters. At least until you turn it over. I like looking at the decorated Sellita movement. If you don’t, don’t look.
I didn’t keep the loaner long enough to oxidize the metal case, but I have every reason to believe the “unique as you are” hype contains a large measure of truth. Or, in this case, a small measure of truth. Just enough to add a little ahistorical zing to an otherwise austere watch.
If you want a jumbo-sized vintage Flieger that looks more vintage than a faithful recreation – in an inauthentic kinda way – the new Stowa Flieger Bronze Vintage 40mm is your best, and only, bet.
Model: Stowa Flieger Bronze Vintage 40mm Price: 1,290EUR ($1533.52)
Case material: bronze (CuSn8), stainless steel caseback.
Thickness: 9.20mm hand wound, 10.2mm in automatic
Lug width: 20mm
Dial color: Matte black
Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal glass
Case back: Sapphire crystal glass, stainless steel
Movement: ETA 2824-2 or Sellita SW215-1 with Cotes de Geneva stripes, blued screws and gold script
Water resistance: 5 ATM / 50 meters
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Design * * * * *
Simple. Strong. Leaves a whole lot of room to the dial and the time-telling. The fontless no-small-seconds-subdial is the one.
Legibility * * * * *
Our publisher calls the Mondaine Railways watch the world’s most legible timepiece. Wrong. This is it.
Comfort * * * * *
There’s a special place in heaven for “proper” watches which are slim and sit close to the wrist.
Overall * * * * *
An authentically-dialled, inauthentically-cased Flieger for people who like their modern vintage watch to look older with age.
TTAW is a fully independent website. No commercial consideration provided by Stowa. The model was returned after review.