It’s impossible to talk about flieger watches without mentioning Stowa. Equally, it’s difficult to talk about Stowa without referencing the brand’s strong historical connection to the manufacture of these watches. Stowa were one of the original five watchmakers to produce the archetypal observation watch, or Beobachtungs-uhren, of the German air forces.
Although some of the original requirements have slipped to the wayside over the years as form surpasses its original function, such as the need for an anti-magnetic cage or the huge 55-millimeter diameter, the simple design of the Type-A dial has stood the test of time remarkably well. With room for only minor variations, Stowa has, among others, experimented successfully with some less historically accurate variants. A blue dial reminiscent of the IWC Petit Prince was an instant hit as a limited run in 2016, and recent months have seen bold reinterpretations in the form of the Verus and Weiss models.
Another slightly atypical “Flieger” (that’s with a capital “F”) model has been a major part of Stowa’s line-up for a longer period of time. The Stowa Flieger Classic 40 Ikarus (for the sake of simplicity I’ll just refer to it as the Ikarus going forward) takes the same form as the regular 40-millimeter Type-A Flieger, but features a striking and dynamic grey dial. In the words of Stowa’s Jörg Schauer, “the idea behind the grey Ikarus was to launch a dial version which is a bit more civil but with the same typography of the Flieger watches.” The result is a watch that is at least 90% flieger, but is also a little easier to dress up and stands out from the crowd a little more.
The current version of the Ikarus was launched over a decade ago back in 2007, then relaunched with a slight facelift in 2014. The very first version of the Ikarus was characterized by a lighter-grey dial and larger, bolder indices. Sightings of this model are comparatively rare, however.
As someone who can appreciate the appeal of a flieger, but is also generally unmoved by them, the Stowa Ikarus could be the perfect introduction to that style of watch. I’ve taken the opportunity to check it out in a little more detail.