In the last couple of months two of our favorite affordable German brands, Steinhart and Archimede, have both announced some new and exciting things that are very worth taking note of. Steinhart has made headway in the development of their self-labeled calibers, with the introduction of the ST. 5 automatic movement. UPDATE: Steinhart has also announced the Ocean Vintage One, which is the first watch to use the new caliber. Archimede has introduced a new dial and finish to their Outdoor’s line as well as a handful of additions to their very popular bronze pilot selection.
Steinhart ST. 5
Several months ago Steinhart took a big step forward with the introduction of their ST. 1 caliber. Not to be confused with a manufacture movement, the ST. 1 is a heavily customized ETA Unitas 6497-1. The gorgeous and intense finishing added tons of unique character to this staple movement, and gave Steinhart some bragging rights as they began fabricating movement parts. They put the ST. 1 in their premium Fliegers, which feature elegant sandwich dials, creating a more upmarket series within their product line.
Following up on the ST. 1 is their new ST. 5 (not sure what happened to 2-4) automatic caliber. One look at the finishing on this watch should make the hair on any watch nerd’s neck stand as it is utterly unique and simply cool. Rather than taking the typical approach of giving the movement a rhodium, gold or some other glitzy material coating, they went with a dark grey anthracite. Then, instead of the standard perlage, striping and graining they chose a radiating cubic pattern. I don’t mean this negatively, but it immediately reminded me of man-hole covers on the streets of NYC. The utilitarian look is very unexpected, and one that will work extremely well with their lines of Flieger watches and tool divers. Finishing it off is a gold tone rotor with a skeletonized Steinhart crown logo.
The movement itself physically looks very similar to an ETA 2824-2 / Selitta SW200 and features automatic winding, date, hacking seconds, 25 jewels and a frequency of 28,800 bph. They don’t specifically say what the ST.5 has as a base movement, and they do imply that the movement is their own, sourced from Swiss manufactures. Either way, it’s a 2824 clone, which makes sense as they’ll likely drop it into designs that were originally made for the 2824. Expect to see the ST. 5 in watches early 2014.
The atypical approach to decoration suits Steinhart very well, as there is something almost subversive about brand. They do their own thing, they make homage watches alongside of unique designs and they keep their prices absurdly low. With their own movements, they are pursuing autonomy that is quite rare for a boutique brand. According to their Facebook page, they are also near to completing their new headquarters/factory. So, clearly things are on the up and up for Steinhart and I imagine 2014 will be an exciting year for them. Now, all they need are a few more unique designs and some 40mm watches for those of us with thinner wrists.
Steinhart Ocean Vintage One
Just as soon as we put up this article, Steinhart dropped the Ocean Vintage One, which will be the first watch to use the ST. 5 caliber….and boy, is this an exciting new model. Clearly building off of the rampant success of the Ocean Vintage Military (OVM) mil-sub homage, they have based the new model off of yet another obscure, absurdly rare, fascinating and utterly gorgeous Submariner reference, the 6200. This model from the early 50’s featured a few extremely unique details, most notably the “Explorer” 3-6-9 dial, which gives the watch a very distinct look, even amongst vintage subs. The watch also lacked crown guards, had an 8mm wide “big crown”, lacked the typical text on the bottom half of the dial (some versions, anyway) and had a bezel with less markers than later versions. Here is a brief article with some great pics of the 6200 on Rolex Passion Report
Steinhart integrated almost every detail of the original as well as used a very dark, aged lume, which plays off of the graphite grey dial to give it a faux-aged look. It also sports gilt hands, which are accurate and very sexy. The case, which is a new design for Steinhart, is 42mm, giving it a modern size, such as they did with the OVM. It also lacks crown guards, a first in the Ocean series, has a high domed sapphire crystal, drilled lugs (much appreciated), and a curious red crown stem. Though the watch features the ST. 5, it has a solid case back, so you can’t see those cool anthracite bridges. Needless to say, this is one sexy beast of a watch, that like the OVM will almost definitely reach cult status amongst homage fans and piss off homage haters. Keeping with Steinhart’s always absurdly low prices, the Ocean Vintage One will cost about $530 (before shipping). Get ’em while they last.
A little over a year ago we had the pleasure of reviewing the Archimede Outdoor Automatic Sport watch. This svelte German-made watch impressed us with its subtlety and ease of wear. We felt that the 39mm barrel case with 200m water resistance, bold, yet restrained dial and fairly modest price of $750 made this a great daily watch for the more reserved individual. Fairly quietly, Archimede released a PVD version of the watch as well as as second white full-lume dial.
If ever there were a watch that made sense in PVD, this is it. The barrel case instantly transforms to something more stealth and aggressive. Paired with the black bracelet and black dial with white accents, the overall look is very tactical, a touch severe, but very attractive. The full-lume dial then adds a high contrast option in both PVD or steel. The lume also adds a practical element for low light usage. Prices range from $700 – $875 before shipping.
Archimede Bronze Pilot
More recently, we reviewed the Pilot 42H Bronze, which is a picture perfect sterile Flieger with the twist of having a bronze case. More typical of a dive watches, the bronze adds a unique character to the typical Flieger design. Coming in at $700, this watch also is a great value for a German made pilot. Archimede has released several new variations on this watch, some expected, others quite surprising.
First is the 42B, which has a “navigator” dial design, which features a small hour index towards the the dial’s center and a larger minute index towards the outside. This classic WWII design compliments the 42H, offering another accurate pilot design with the bronze case. The 42B is also available in a left hand version for an additional cost. Though essentially just a different dial in the same case (the hands are a bit different too) the navigator style does have a very different feel to it.
Lastly, Archimede has released the bronze pilot with blue, red and white dials, which I totally did not see coming. Also available in steel, PVD and titanium, these dials give the bronze Flieger a rather startling twist. The dark blue dial has a slight green/teal tint to it as well as a sunburst texture. The color looks great against the bronze, and I imagine would look even more in place as the case patinas. The red dial is bright and flat, featuring alternating white and black markers. This is a very intense look that brings out the warmth in the bronze. Then there’s a white dial with black markers. The most subdued of the three, the white nevertheless is quite bold within the bronze case. These combinations are certainly unexpected, and a interesting nontraditional take on the flieger. $700