My Watch: the Enduring Simplicity of the Stowa Antea KS, and Why I Won’t Flip Mine Anytime Soon

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When I first got into collecting watches, I was initially drawn to the sportier sort—primarily rugged tool divers and chronographs (one of my first big purchases was a Sinn 756, which I wrote about here). It wasn’t until much later that I began to appreciate simpler, dressier options. When I did, I realized rather quickly that finding a contemporary dress watch (I didn’t have the courage to take the plunge into vintage just yet) that ticked all my boxes—and on a budget, no less—was a surprisingly difficult task.

For me, there’s very little leeway when it comes to a dress watch. All the individual elements of the design have to be just right for the whole thing to work, because even the smallest off-putting detail can throw the entire design out of whack. And what I came across was mostly that—watches that were almost there, but ultimately ruined by an extra couple of millimeters or a misplaced date window.stowa-antea-ks-6Enter the Stowa Antea Kleine Sekunde. When I first learned of this watch, I was already a fan of Stowa. From what I read on numerous forums, it was a beloved brand that punched well above its weight class. And as a fan of pilot’s watches, I had my eye on several of the Flieger models, but I never really looked much past that collection. With my hunt for a dress watch, I landed on the Antea range.

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First, let’s get some background on the Antea. The Bauhaus design of the line dates back to the ‘30s and is, in fact, not unique to Stowa (fans of the Nomos Tangente series can attest to that). In 1937, A. Lange & Söhne (then called Lange Glashütte s/a) issued an early variant of the design. Lange’s dials were manufactured by Pforzheim’s Weber & Baral, which sold to numerous other brands, among them Stowa. According to Stowa’s history, they produced a similar watch in 1937. Records from the era show that Lange and Stowa were the first and third, respectively, to buy these dials from Weber & Baral, and an early prototype exists today in Stowa’s museum. In 2004, Jörg Schauer tapped into the brand’s history to bring us the Antea reissue. Though available in numerous setups, my favorite is without a doubt the Antea KS, or small seconds, a watch that in my mind transcends all trends.

stowa-antea-ks-5This is a watch I reviewed for worn&wound way back in 2013. The piece in question is from my personal collection, where it remains today. Being that I already did an extensive break down of the watch, I won’t get into any of the real nitty gritty here. No point in rehashing the same thoughts. What I will do, however, is discuss my ownership experience and why this watch won’t be leaving my collection anytime soon.

This past year I came into possession of a Nomos Orion, a watch that I had been lusting after for quite some time now. It saw a lot of wrist time in 2016, partly due to the fact that I was still enjoying the honeymoon phase of owning a new watch, but more so because it’s just such an easy watch to wear. As I’ve become less manic in my collecting, I have noticed that my tastes have refined toward a preference for simplicity. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my collection of Sinn chronographs and Seiko divers, but I find myself wearing smaller, thinner dress watches more often nowadays. Why? Because they’re unassuming and rarely draw attention. They’re easy to wear and slide right under a shirt cuff (an overused point of praise, I know, but one that’s very true). And frankly, there’s just a level of elegance offered by a nice dress watch that cannot be matched by its sportier brethren. What do I do when I plan on doing something physical? My Casio G-Shock is always ready to report for duty.

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On a 6.75-inch wrist, the 35.5mm Antea KS provides a clean, elegant look at a tempered size. That said, it’s not without presence.
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With the Orion planted on my wrist, I began considering flipping the Antea KS. The collection had once again ballooned quite a bit, and here I was with a new watch, and one that was not all too dissimilar from the Antea. I’ll tell you this; I came very close to selling it. But here’s why I didn’t.

The Antea is not like the Orion, despite what I wrote above. It has a harder quality—one that ties the watch directly to its early-20th century Bauhaus roots—whereas the Orion feels more like a modern creation. From the typography to the cylindrical case and angular lugs, the Antea also boasts an aesthetic that few other watches (and brands) can authentically claim today. The best comparison that I can offer is what dive-watch collectors fixate on when it comes to the nuances of different Submariner references. To the layperson, they’re all largely the same, but the devil is in the details for those in the know. For myself, the Orion complements the Antea; it doesn’t replace it.

stowa-antea-ks-9Now, the question I get asked most is, “how does the Antea compare to the Nomos Tangente?” It’s an unavoidable question with the two watches sharing an obvious and common heritage. That said, I do feel the intent underlying that question is one that attempts to reconcile the notion that the Antea may somehow be a compromise of sorts. In essence, “is the Antea a lesser watch?” Here’s my answer: Not to me, but it all depends on your priorities.

If an in-house movement is critical to your selection process, then the choice is clear. For me, however, the Peseux 7001 is a solid movement and paying more to get a Tangente with an Alpha caliber simply doesn’t add up, especially if you’re working within a budget. Plus, the Alpha movement, though undeniably great, is based largely on the architecture of the 7001. You’re not breaking new ground here.

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The Peseux 7001 is beautifully decorated with blued screws and Côtes de Genève.

Furthermore, when you compare the overall quality of the two watches, it’s almost impossible to say that one feels more substantial or better finished than the other. Both have high-quality printed dials, and both watches have rather simple cases in terms of construction and finishing, so there’s no real point of differentiation there. All that aside, I do prefer the dial design of the Antea KS with its uninterrupted Arabic hours index, whereas the Tangente’s dial design alternates between numbers and hash marks.

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At a hair under $900, the Antea KS is an incredible value for a German timepiece.

I’ve flipped a lot of watches since I began collecting, but the Antea has been one of the few constants in my watch box. In fact, it’s sitting on my wrist as I write this, and when I’m not wearing it, it’s often on the wrist of my better half (yeah, she steals a lot of my watches). I’m going to enjoy wearing this one for years to come.

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Ilya is worn&wound’s Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.

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  • error406

    Interesting. I’m not a horology snob, on the contrary, I’m quite happy to wear microbrands with Miyota or Seiko movements. But I do have a soft spot for design, and in my perception there is a major difference between the refinement and visual balance of the Nomos Tangente and Stowa’s Antea.

    • Svetoslav Popov

      Nomos is baby compared to Stowa. And yes there is difference, Stowe’s design is much more Bauhaus and almost identical to the historical watches. Not to open the theme about Nomos’ movements being too fragile and delicate.

      • smoothsweeper

        You should qualify your last statement.

        • Svetoslav Popov

          Well, just a general impression from reading around internet. I hope I am wrong.

      • Elijs Dima

        “Not to open the theme about Nomos’ movements being too fragile and delicate.” Well. This is interesting though. Are there any existing discussions or resources you could point to? Because afaik Nomos alpha caliber is just a self-built version of the peseux7001 anyway.

    • smoothsweeper

      I agree. I could spot that Nomos a mile away. Ok, not literally, but it seems more unique than the Stowa. It has an identity. Whether or not that’s worth an extra thousand dollars is a completely different matter though 😉

  • Anthony Dimaano

    I just purchased the Stowa Antea KS and I love it! There is a refinement and elegance to the design that is hard to find.
    In comparison to the Nomos Tangente, I do agree with the previous poster that the Tangente is overall a more refined watch, however, there are a few points where the Stowa excels above the Nomos.
    First, because of the size of the subdial and the style of the minute marker at 6, the Stowa’s subdial feels more balanced with the rest of the face of the watch. The Nomos has a blank “space” at 6 which I would rather not have. Second, I agree with Ilya that the uninterrupted numerals fills the face better – in a way that no matter where the hands sit on the dial, the dial never feels like there is blank or empty space.

    Overall, I chose to purchase the watch because there is a harmony in the design of the watch that is hard to find, especially at the price point that Stowa is asking.

  • Anthony Dimaano

    I should also add that the thicker lugs of the Stowa and more visual heft against the Nomos’ thinner lugs.

  • I agree it’s a visually gripping design, and on my wish list. What I did notice is that Stowa does not offer it anymore with a black dial in 35.5 mm, only 41mm. That’s too bad, I wonder why.

  • chenpofu

    Design aside, I wish more brands would do thinner, hand winding watches.

  • Elijs Dima

    One thing I like about Stowa’s handwound watches that Nomos still doesn’t quite nail, is.. well, the movement finishing. In particular, the way that Stowa movements have perfectly horizontal geneva stripes, aligned with the logo and the winding stem and lugs. Nomos (like so, so, so many other brands) does the stripes at a weird 30-40 degree angle that (to me) doesn’t make sense.

    That said, it does seem that deciding between an Antea and a Tangente is purely a matter of aesthetic preference. Construction-wise, both seem to be on par with each other.

  • Svetoslav Popov

    I own two Stowas, this might be the third one 🙂

  • Matt Rowe

    When I was looking for a new dress watch, it came down to this and the Smith’s PRS-36 (okay, it’s a little casual/sporty for dress but I don’t even own a proper dress shirt right now let alone any real formal wear). I went with the Smith’s but I wished I’d plunked down a little more cash and bought the Antea. I like the PRS, but the Stowa just exudes a simplistic utility and appeal…I can’t quite explain it other than I have watch envy!

  • jwso43

    The price difference between Stowa Antea KS and Nomos Tangente is actually quite small in Europe. A 35mm Tangente with a solid case back is 1380€, while the Antea is 1020€. Also, the Tangente comes with a Horween Genuine Shell Cordovan strap which costs 80€, versus Antea’s 20€ leather strap.

    • Elijs Dima

      True, but with these two watches, you really don’t want to settle for a solid caseback – the movements are both too good-looking. And the sapphire caseback brings the Tangente up to about €1500 or so.

      • jwso43

        Debatable. I’ve seen the 35mm Tangente and its display back in a boutique, and thought it was quite boring. Tangomat looks a lot cooler to me, but it’s all subjective.

  • YC

    I find myself in a similar situation as well, generally preferring dressier looking watches to my toolish watches nowadays. For days when I actually need a tool watches I wear my G-Shock.

  • Peter D

    Christ, why are people so scared of vintage? It doesn’t take courage, a leap of faith or any other garble. They work everyday and all year round like a modern watch.

    • Elijs Dima

      Well, vintage watches won’t have sapphire crystals, the movement will be worn (and possibly in need of service), the case will be scratched to hell and back, and in most crevices there will be years of accumulated human slime.

      Not particularly appealing, tbh.

      • Peter D

        Acrylic is much nicer than Sapphire, movements work just as well even if slighty worn and case restoration can make a it a hobby for those will to start getting stuck in, choose wisely and you won’t need to do anything more than polywatch and cape cod, service it whenever you want. Live in the knowledge you’ve preserved history, when watches really were tools.

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