Posted on June 06 2020
Want to Know More About Stuhrling Watches?
Blogging regularly about watches means that I can’t help spotting patterns.
Sometimes it feels like my tastes are narrowing. At other times the constant research involves disappearing down rabbit holes in the hunt for something new. Either way, patterns become apparent. The same brands, the same styles and the same colours crop up repeatedly.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that, in the niche hobby of affordable watches, there are common themes. Watches at a similar price point often have similar specifications. With only a handful of companies manufacturing movements for third parties, the same ones feature in most articles. Add my own preferences and I often find myself looking at the same watches repeatedly.
One pattern I’ve spotted has been that watches from Stuhrling have crept into my posts. When I’ve been looking at alternatives to a piece from a Swiss luxury brand there’s regularly been a similar styled Stuhrling model. So I've highlighted the odd watch of theirs as we've crossed paths. It’s now time to focus on the brand overall.
Let’s take a closer look at the Stuhrling Watches.
In an industry where companies can sometimes boast of over a hundred years of history, Stuhrling is a new face. They’re a little under twenty years old and claim to have sold over fifteen million watches in that time. Whatsmore, the watches that they launched the brand with were a tourbillon collection. That’s some feat.
Where are Stuhrling watches made?Founder Chaim Fischer is based in New York, but the watches are proudly manufactured in Shenzhen, China. I say proudly because the website features articles detailing the reasons for choosing China, including videos of the watch manufacturing process. That’s important to me. When I launched Northwind Watches I also chose a Chinese company to build my brands’ watches and it wasn’t always easy to explain the decision to a critical audience.
Many brands choose the same process as Stuhrlings. Watches produced in China but with imported Japanese movements. Most of the Stuhrling collections are powered by Japanese movements, including, for example, Chronographs using Seiko’s VK63 meca-quartz.
Maybe more interestingly, the glass used in their watches is called Krysterna crystal, something I was only aware of in passing. It’s a very tough and durable glass originally used in eye-wear and unique to Stuhrling.
With this in mind, I have a favourable view of the brand. They’re reasonably priced, using the components I’d expect at this price-point, and they have a number of watches that remind me of iconic Swiss designs. Exploring the brand further I came up with ten of my favourite watches. It’s satisfying to see a range of styles. My own tastes have meant that I’ve picked a few too many Chronographs, but overall, I think that it’s a fair representation of the best that the brand has to offer.
Despite some obvious differences, there’s a touch of the Speedmaster in the Preston. It’s a tidy, almost formal, chronograph. There’s a lot going on with the dial, its sub-dials and tachymeter. But with the simple colours and the plain Milanese bracelet, the design manages to minimize the impact.
The result is an attractive watch that sits on that fence between dress and sport. It works for me.
Powered by a Japanese VR32 quartz movement, and with 100M water resistance, the watch has decent specs. It’s neither under or oversized and, if like me, you enjoy the Speedmaster hints then this is a good place to start with the brand.
Stuhrling Preston 3975
Fresh from my foray into the world of vintage-style chronographs, I couldn’t resist adding another to this list. Like the Preston, the Chronopulse also houses a Seiko movement. This time the VK83.
Stylistically, this is more obviously vintage. It’s the little touches. The older lugs, dots as indices and those hands. That's before considering the Pulsometer.
What is a Pulsometer?
I’ll admit, it’s not a complication I knew much about. It’s an old, little-used watch feature than can measure a pulse. Simply put, the watch can be used to measure heartbeats per minute. In this case, the watch is calibrated to measure thirty heartbeats.
It all adds to the vintage appeal.
In keeping with this, it’s slightly smaller than the Preston and comes with a leather strap.
Stuhrling Chronopulse 895
The Forti is both similar and contrasting to the Chronopulse. Again, there’s a vintage aesthetic, but this time on diver rather than a dress watch. It scratches that itch for a dated style, but with those slight modern touches that have proved so popular with Tudor’s Black Bay and others. The second hand suggests that the Black Bay may have been an inspiration.
It’s a vintage divers watch, reimagined.
The case is reasonably modern-looking, yet without crown guards. The blunt hands nod to modernity, but the numbers, indices and lume flaunt the vintage. And to make sure we know its a sports model, there’s a Nato style canvas strap. It’s available in a few case variations, but I’m quite taken with this bronze coloured model.
The only downside for me is that I would have preferred an automatic movement. The Miyota quartz movement is a branded and reliable engine that powers a lot of good watches, so it’s my preference rather than a complaint.
Stuhrling Forti 3958
This Rolex Date-Just homage was one of the reasons for doing this piece. Stuhrling kept appearing in my blogs by chance rather than design. So when I wrote about the iconic Rolex design I wasn’t surprised to find myself on the Stuhrling website.
There’s not a great deal to say about this watch, other than the authenticity. It’s very much a homage to the Date-Just. For me, the fluted bezel and the cyclops lens are the most significant features. There are many watches that take the Rolex as inspiration, but few that include both of these.
This quartz model is authentic and I like that. It really is a very affordable alternative.
Stuhrling Lineage 3935
We’re back to spotting patterns. First I blogged about watches inspired by motorsports, then vintage divers, and most recently vintage chronographs. From the Monaco collection, the 1000 Chronograph is an impressive watch that fits in with those previous posts.
You don’t need the Monaco reference to see the racing connection here. There are the 1970s style cushion case, speedometer hands and that beautiful colouring. I’d maybe expect a racing strap, but the plain leather one works just as well.
As noted above, Stuhrling tends to use Japanese movements and this watch is no exception. This time it’s a Miyota Chronograph. There are some neat little touches. The signed pushers and the date subtly placed at 6 o’clock for example. Likewise the steering wheel design on the case back.
I'd wear this watch without hesitation, partly because it reminds me a little of a Citizen Bullhead I regret flipping.
Stuhrling 1000 Chronograph
Bullhead style watches are an uncommon sight. I’ve had the Citizen, been tempted by a Seiko, and have only encountered a handful of others. This alone makes the Torero worth a closer look.
Available in a choice of colours, and with the unusual case shape, this watch is definitely eye-catching. It may not be to your tastes, but it attracts attention. At 42mm it’s not overly large, but the rubber strap comes in at a whopping 26mm. Rubber is far from my favourite strap choice, but it’s not enough to be a deal-breaker. The design is so successful that I’d forgive the rubber strap and the slightly misplaced date window.
Compared to the price of a vintage Bullhead this is reasonably affordable - price always being a factor to consider.
Stuhrling Torero 894
The Depthmaster is a more conventional design. Colourful, but more conventional.
Although available in less colourful variations, it is this orange and blue model that I most like. Design-wise, there’s nothing I’d describe as unique or pioneering here. The indices are neat dots and there are Mercedes hands. It’s a fairly straightforward divers watch in the Submariner vein.
Where this watch scores additional points is in the higher specifications.
So far I've highlighted quartz watches with minimal or low water resistance. The Depthmaster is an automatic watch with a depth rating of 200M. Whatsmore, the movement is Swiss rather than Japanese made. Of course, the price reflects this. It’s the most expensive watch I’ve listed.
But it’s not expensive for a quality mechanical divers watch. There’s a screw-down crown, the Krysterna crystal and an exhibition case back.
Stuhrling Depthmaster 883H
The Concorso was first included in my piece on Rolex Daytona alternatives, where I noted it wasn’t quite a full homage. It is close. The major design points are present. It’s a classic style, often mimicked, and the Concorso does it well.
At 40mm it’s a very comfortable size. Although the styling is sporty, it will also suit more formal dress. It’s a major achievement of Rolex. The ability to design watches that aren’t limited in how they’re worn. A Casio G-Shock works in the outdoors. A Rolex Explorer works outdoors and at the office. But I digress.
Stuhrling has followed the Daytona template closely and with such an obvious influence this watch will regularly cross your path online. It's the kind of watch that appeals to me. Classic styling, good build quality and specs, and a realistic price-tag.
Stuhrling Concorso 665B
Minimalist watches bore me, but I’m a fan of Bauhaus designs. It’s a conundrum. I guess too plain and too modern doesn’t quite work for me. If the design is a little older and there’s a touch more on the dial, then I begin to pay attention.
The Essex meets that criteria.
Clearly Bauhaus influenced, and with Arabic numerals, the Essex is the chronograph take on the German design. It’s a similar theme to that used by Junghans, Aristo and others. It’s tried and tested. The minimal Bauhaus aesthetic, with the addition of a couple of sub-dials and some discrete pushers.
Of the variations, the gold case doesn’t quite work for me. Of the black and cream, I’d go for cream. With anything other than a chronograph I’d take black as my default choice. For vintage chronographs, it’s nearly always the cream or white dial that hits the spot.
This model is a couple of millimetres larger than my ideal for a slim and spartan watch, but it’s still in the ballpark. The specs are now the Stuhrling standards. A Japanese movement, Krysterna glass and some basic water resistance.
Stuhrling Essex 3911L
As with the Forti, the Cobia has a distinctly military look. Moreso with this khaki variation. Marketed as a diver, the blue and black models both fit that profile. My preference is for this crossover model that has the specs and shape of a diver, but with a case and dial colouring suggestive of a field or military watch. This is strengthened by the use of a khaki canvas strap.
It’s a reasonably bold look that isn’t for everyone. The legible dial has the logo and date window moved into the lower half, freeing up some space for the oversized indices. Like the rest of the watches on this list, I like it. There’s enough that’s familiar and enough that feels original.
Stuhrling Cobia 966A
Stuhrling watches have a couple of decades of work behind them now. In that time they’ve sold a lot of watches. More than I’d have guessed. They’ve produced divers, chronographs, and notably a collection of Tourbillon models.
They’ve taken a position other brands have shied away from, openly and proudly explaining why they use Chinese production facilities. However, as with their competitors, they’ve made most of their watches with Japanese movements, and in some cases Swiss-made ones.
In terms of design, there’s a mix of classic and homage styles, along with a selection of original creations. As an affordable brand, what they do works, and works well. I’d suggest taking a closer look.
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