When one thinks of Stowa, there are a few watches that immediately spring to mind. Front and center are the iconic Fliegers, followed closely by their Marine chronometers and the Antea series. But there is another watch in Stowa’s catalogue that almost never gets mentioned, overshadowed by its more popular siblings: the Partitio Klassik. The Partitio is the hidden gem of Stowa’s lineup–a classically styled 3-hander that may offer their greatest value, especially given today’s favorable exchange rates for American buyers. As of this writing, the Partitio is 579 EUR excluding VAT (690 EUR with), which is approximately $667 USD.
The Partitio was first released in 2008, initially through the German retailer Manufactum before becoming a standard model in the brand’s catalogue. That inaugural offering featured a black dial, with the overall design very similar to a watch Stowa made back in the 1930s. In 2012, Stowa unveiled an update to the line featuring a white dial with parchment colored lume, as well as a choice between an “AUTOMATIK” movement and a “HANDAUFZUG” movement. The watch we’ll be looking at today is the more recent white dial variant with the manual 2801 movement. The watch being reviewed is my own. Let’s get to it.
Stowa Partitio Review
Case: Polished Stainless Steel
Movement: ETA 2801-2/2824-2
Lume: Superluminova Old Radium
Lens: Domed Sapphire
Water Res: 5 atm
Dimensions: 37mm x 47mm
Lug Width: 18mm
Crown: 5.5mm x 2.5mm
Price: Approximately $667
The Partitio comes in at a width of 37mm with a lug-to-lug height of approximately 47mm. By modern standards, the case is definitely on the smaller end, but for those of us who love smaller or vintage watches the size is just right. The case is also relatively thin coming in at 10.8mm, which includes the domed sapphire crystal. Looking at the watch from the top down, the lugs appear angular. When viewed in profile, however, you can see that the lugs are actually rounded at the ends, giving the case a slightly softer looker. The crown is signed with Stowa’s logo, as is the case back, which also features some of the specs and is secured via 6 screws. Overall, the case is simple and effective, capped off with an attractive high-polish finish.
Dial and Hands
The Partitio white features an incredibly attractive dial. It’s matte white with a fine eggshell-like texture, something not readily visible to the naked eye but is immediately apparent in photos. Contrasting the white of the dial is the Bauhaus-inspired hours track, generously coated in Old Radium Superluminova (the dial has excellent nighttime visibility) and outlined in a fine black border. It’s impressive how precise and delicate the outlines are, and how effectively Stowa was able to pack in the luminous material. I’ve seen watches with an asking price four times higher than that of the Partitio with printed dials that were half as good as this one. The crisp printing is extended to the rest of the dial, and everything from the insignia to the minuscule “PARTITIO” is done with exactness and care.
The charming Bauhaus-inspired typeface is one of my favorite features of the overall design. It’s well proportioned and gives the Partitio the appearance of a vintage timepiece. I especially like the way the 6 and 9 do not complete their loops. I also appreciate Stowa’s decision not to include a date window, which would have ruined the wonderful symmetry and simplicity achieved by the current design. The outer minutes/seconds track is arguably the only extraneous aspect of the dial, since it unnecessarily divides into markings indicating 1/5th of a second. I personally think this addition gives the Partitio an attractive field-watch quality that makes it much more versatile as a sportier piece, and not just a dressier one. Plus, it’s where the Partitio gets its name (“Partitio” is Latin for partition).
The attractive syringe hands are a perfect match for the vintage flair of the dial. They’re polished and nickel-plated, the latter of which gives them a softer appearance. The hands are also generously filled with luminous material, so they glow as bright as the dial. Another interesting detail is that the seconds hand has no counterbalance, a detail that you don’t often see on watches.
As previously mentioned, the Partitio is available with either an automatic ETA 2824, or a manual 2801 with hacking. Both movements are a great choice, as they’re known workhorses from ETA. Depending on the movement, the dial will indicate either “HANDAUFZUG” or “AUTOMATIK” underneath the insignia. For my money, I prefer the hand-wound version. There aren’t many affordable watches on the market with manual movements apart from those sporting larger Unitas calibers, so it’s always a joy to come across one that’s under 40mm.
Straps and Wearability
The Partitio comes with a relatively standard calfskin strap in either black or brown, though the only option readily available on the Stowa website is black. A quick email to Stowa will easily remedy that. You also have the option of getting an 18mm milanese bracelet, produced for Stowa by Staib, for an additional 140 EUR (114 without VAT).
The Partitio is a versatile timepiece that can be dressed up or down with ease. The lugs are a standard 18mm, so finding a great third party strap shouldn’t be difficult. For a dressier look, pair it with a darker strap like brown or burgundy in leather or shell cordovan. Burgundy looks especially nice since it is packed with warm tones that play off the parchment lume quite well. For a slightly more casual pairing, go with a leather two-piece in whiskey or even a nylon one-piece for the summer.
The Partitio wears extremely well. Due to its size and curving lugs, it rests comfortably on my 6.75-inch wrist and easily slips under a shirt cuff. It does, however, wear a tad larger than its measurements might suggest, mostly due to the white dial and the longer lugs, both of which add some presence to the wrist.
When we discuss value on worn&wound, it usually involves some sort of concession. With the Partitio, there is no compromise. From the case to the dial to the movement, Stowa got the details right. At it’s current asking price, I think the Partitio is grossly undervalued. Were another brand to make this watch, it would easily cost three times as much (though they’d probably ruin it with a wayward date window). Plus, the Partitio is wholly unique. Off the top of my head, the only watch with an aesthetic even close to the Partitio’s is the Nomos Club, and though I love that watch, it does operate in a different pricing bracket. Its versatility also makes it a great option for someone not looking to have a large and varied collection. Overall, I am extremely happy as a Partitio owner, and I suspect others are as well since it is a watch that rarely pops up on the secondary market.
The Partitio can be purchased directly from Stowa’s e-store.