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The Sternglas Tachymeter promises good quality at a moderate price. Much cheaper than expensive luxury watches, but more durable than typical fashion watches off the shelf. I took a closer look at the sporty quartz chronograph in the timeless Bauhaus design. You can read the results here…
A third alternative
The idea of Sternglas founder Dustin Fontaine makes sense. For those who have been at a loss to decide between buying inexpensive timepieces with a short lifespan or investing a fortune in expensive luxury watches, Sternglas offers – at least in theory – a third alternative. Fair and affordable prices, coupled with good quality and packaged in a timeless Bauhaus design. This strategy, which has been pursued since 2016, is registering success. The watches of the company founded in Hamburg have made it into the shop windows and on the wrists of over 10000 customers.
In my case, some time has passed since I was able to hold the last Sternglas watch in my hands and photograph it. I personally still have fond memories of the Hamburg company’s Topograph. Now I am curious to see how the Sternglas brand and its watches have developed in the last two years.
My test watch, the Sternglas Tachymeter, was designed in collaboration with designer Nikolai Kampen. Internally, the chronograph with racing genes holds the record for the most elaborate dial. A whole 29 components are assembled per copy. Two model variants are available. Classic in black with brown leather strap or more technical, then with blue dial and red applications. The former made it into today’s watch review.
From the idea to the wrist
A sporty chronograph in a classic timeless design belongs in every watch collection (and model range). In Sternglas, the Tachymeter takes on that role. The confident, clear design is fun to look at first glance and also reveals the source of inspiration that designer Nikolai Kampen had during the design process, which lasted 18 months(!). A glance at the back reveals an engraved picture. It depicts the Furka Pass. The Swiss road pass lies at an altitude of 2429 meters. To ride it is considered very demanding and challenging. In an interview worth reading, Kampen describes the story he had in mind: “In this story, the daredevil streak of the character is very pronounced. He loves fast vehicles and nature. The person is in a car on the steep mountain roads of the Furka Pass (…).”
Doesn’t this somehow remind you of James Bond? In fact, the agent in the 1965 film Goldfinger drives over this very pass. By now, at the latest, everyone should have the scenery in mind.
The Sternglas Tachymeter on the wrist
Timeless and without signs of age? What applies to James Bond, I can also be said without hesitation about the Sternglas Tachymeter. What good is the advertised durability if the design of the watch becomes outdated or even a fashion sin after a few years? This danger never exists when you wear a Sternglas Tachymeter on your wrist. The functional black dial and the brown leather strap, with which I always immediately associate gloves of historical racers, are always a good and safe choice.
However, this does not at all mean that the Sternglas Tachymeter would look boring. Quite the contrary. The orange color markings of the second hand, pushers and tachymeter make the chronograph look sporty and masculine. Additional details like the different totalizers make the men’s watch even more interesting.
With a diameter of 42 millimeters, I would not call the Sternglas Tachymeter overly large or compact. Therefore, the men’s watch should fit any wrist. Also important here is the distance between the lugs (50 millimeters), which is crucial for how well the timepiece sits on the wrist. In my case, the Sternglas Tachymeter nestles snugly on my wrist. The accuracy of fit is due to the curved shape of the horns.
Those who have so far relied exclusively on mechanical or automatic movements should consider the advantages that a quartz movement brings to everyday life. Sternglas was able to realize a case height of just 10 millimeters for the Tachymeter. With an automatic movement including rotor, this sporty value would have been unthinkable. Weight savings also go hand in hand with this. The chronograph weighs just 77 grams including the leather strap. Not surprisingly, this has a positive effect on wearing comfort.
A premium level case
To put the moderate price range in more concrete terms: Sternglas charges 269 euros for its chronograph. However, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice high-quality materials and good workmanship. On the test bench, the Sternglas Tachymeter proves that quality doesn’t have to mean paying four-figure sums. Sternglas has chosen to manufacture a classic stainless steel case. The 316L stainless steel used here feels valuable, is finished to a high standard, and is extremely durable. If I didn’t know better, I would have definitely bet on a case from the premium segment. The surfaces are brushed. According to Sternglas, this is supposed to be another homage to the rough Furka Pass.
However, the theme is really taken up by the caseback. I already talked about the history and inspiration above. In terms of craftsmanship, the stylized scene has been implemented flawlessly and very cleanly. Sternglas relies on a so-called etched engraving, whose manufacturing process is very complex.
On the front, the dial is protected by scratch-resistant and durable sapphire crystal. Special praise goes to the double anti-reflective coating. I had not expected that. To keep the height as low as possible, a classic curvature of the watch glass was omitted.
Sternglas specifies a water resistance of 5 bar. At least, the tachymeter is protected against water splashes. I would be careful with further contact with water, especially if the case has already been opened once to replace the battery.
The movement of the Sternglas Tachymeter
Unlike some other manufacturers, Sternglas is transparent about the key data of its quartz movement. The Hamburg-based company expects the battery to last for five years. However, replacement after that is not costly. The quartz movement itself, a 0S20 from Miyota, has a rate deviation of +/- 20 seconds per day, a solid value. As the heart of the Sternglas Tachymeter, it controls all the important functions of the chronograph, i.e. small seconds, stop-seconds, date, 24-hour time, and minute and hour.
All complications are controlled via the fluted crown and the two pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock. Their operation was impeccable in the test.
Sternglas’ most elaborate dial
“The biggest challenge in this project was definitely to fit the high number of detailed things into such a small area,” Nikolai Kampen reports about the dial. Made from a total of 29 components, the dial is literally multi-layered and has been produced in a multi-layer design. Visually, this is noticeable in the three-dimensional structure. Small seconds and 24-hour time are embedded in the dial. To further emphasize the functionality, two of the dials are set off in light gray. Sternglas states that they based their choice of color on the Belvédère Hotel, which is also featured in Goldfinger. Readability is improved by the orange hands. This makes it easy to find one’s way around, which is extremely important for a chronograph and concentrated information. At 6 o’clock, a date has been elegantly embedded.
At the center of the design, however, is the eponymous tachymeter, which can be used to measure average speeds on a known route. In fact, you could measure speeds of up to 500 km/h with this. The tachymeter scale is read on a black aluminum bezel ring.
Finally, let’s take a quick look at the leather strap with pin buckle. During my testing days, I barely noticed it – which is a good sign. Nothing scratched or itched here. That’s how it should always be!
My conclusion about the Sternglas Tachymeter
All you really want to do is get into an old sports car, drive along the narrow winding roads of the Furka Pass, and wear a good watch on your wrist. The good news: the Sternglas Tachymeter is perfectly suited for this. Its terrain: a sporty coupe, a country road and speed. Visually, the German watch company offers a chronograph that fits perfectly into any everyday situation, without being boring for a second. The design is detailed, very functional and yet refreshing.
However, I am a bit more taken with the features behind the successful look. I can’t remember testing a watch in recent times that has such a good price-performance ratio. 269 euros is a price for which you get premium quality here. Materials and workmanship are on a high level throughout. Only for die-hard fans of mechanical movements is the built-in battery a small drawback. However, I recommend at this point: it’s worth getting involved with the quartz chronograph. In the end, you definitely won’t be disappointed!