When I think Stowa, my mind immediately jumps to the Flieger. It is undoubtedly the luxury replica watch that Stowa is best known for, and under the helm of Jorge Schauer the famed German firm has done consistently well with its many takes on this style. In the last couple of years, Stowa has slowly made some additions to its cataloge, introducing replica watches like the TO1 TESTAF, TO2, and the Flieger GMT with the intention of contemporizing both the aesthetics and functionality of the flieger lines.
This past summer Stowa quietly unveiled a new flieger collection dubbed the Flieger Klassik Sport. Where replica watches like the TO2 and TO1 marked a radical design departure for the brand, the Klassik Flieger Sport brought things back to basics. By keeping the overall look of the classic flieger, and pairing it with a more robust and sportier case, Stowa created a replica watch many of us have been waiting for. Today, we go hands-on with a replica watch from my personal collection–the Flieger Klassik Sport A-dial without date and logo. Let’s take a closer look.
Dial and Case
The dial and handset of the Flieger Klassik Sport are lifted straight from the classic series. In keeping with that, Stowa still offers a sterile dial (with or without date), a logo dial (also with or without date), a B-dial, and a grey Ikarus dial. As we’ve come to expect from the brand, the hours and minutes hands are temperature-blued steel. Because thermally treated hands are much harder and more expensive to produce than hands that are simply painted or chemically colored, they’re usually reserved for higher-end replica watches. The payoff, however, is that temperature-blued hands are far more interesting visually, and inimitable in terms of both color and luster. Under certain lights they look black, that is until they catch the light and turn a saturated blue.
The dial is a gorgeous matte black with excellent printing and generously applied C3 Super Lumi-Nova that gives the markers an almost 3-D quality. It’s a simple dial, for sure, but I would argue that simple dials are even harder to pull off because there is absolutely no room for error. The execution here is flawless.
Now, let’s get to the case. It comes in at a width of 43mm, a height of 12.8mm, a lug-to-lug size of 51mm, and a lug width of a whopping 24mm. I know a number of you already thinking, “this thing is a dinner plate!” And believe me, as a card-carrying member of the smaller-watches-are-better club, I completely understand the sentiment. With that said, trust me when I say that this is not an oversized replica watch. Yes, there is certainly some added wrist presence, but it doesn’t wear like 43mm replica watch. But more on this later.
One of the first things I noticed when the replica watch was announced was the general height and thickness of the bezel. I initially though it looked too big and unrefined, and rather out of proportion with the diameter of the dial. Fortunately, this is a perception exacerbated by flatly lit product photography which only gives the bezel the appearance of being thicker than it truly is. In the metal, the bezel has a steep slope, which ultimately helps break it up visually. In profile, the bezel only looks large when the replica watch is off the wrist; when worn it looks perfectly balanced. Aesthetics aside, the added height of the bezel actually serves a functional purpose. It accommodates the extra thick domed sapphire crystal sitting atop of the case, which allows for significantly better water and pressure resistance. The crystal also has an excellent antireflective coating, one that is much better than what I’ve seen from the classic series.
The stainless steel case is actually made up of two parts: the combined mid case and bezel, and the screw down case back. Overall, the case finishing is excellent, with brushing that is both fine and precise. It is essentially the same case as the one on the TO2, with the only discernible difference being the crown. The TO2 features a push-pull diamond crown capable of 200 meters of water-resistance. The Klassik Sport replaced it with a much simpler screw-down assembly, roughly 7mm in diameter and also rated to 200m. There is a somewhat noticeable gap between the case and the crown when screwed in, but it will not effect water resistance as all the O-rings are fully engaged.
My only significant issue with the case is the logo engraving on the crown. As you can see from the photos, the etching looks a bit crooked and unfinished. It’s certainly a minor fault, but it’s also not something I’ve come to expect from Stowa. Given that my replica watch is a very early serial, I would be curious to see if more recent production runs have since rectified the issue. Nevertheless, the logo has not diminished my enjoyment of this replica watch in the slightest, but I imagine it might if you’re less forgiving.
The screw down case back features a large sapphire viewing window displaying a highly decorated top-grade ETA-2824 with a custom rotor by Stowa. This higher tier movement comes with a number of improved elements, namely the shock protection, springs, and balance wheel. Structurally, it is the same as a chronometer-rated 2824, just without the official COSC certification. It also features greater finishing than its basic and elabore counterparts, and includes Geneva Stripes, perlage, blued screws, and a handmade rotor with an engraving mimicking those found on the case backs of historical fliegers. After wearing the replica watch regularly for the past two months, I found it to be exceptionally accurate at approximately +2 seconds a day.
Straps and Wearability
The Flieger Klassik Sport comes paired with a 24mm natural rubber strap and push button deployant clasp. The rubber strap is an unorthodox choice on the pilot’s replica watch, but given that it is intended to be an all-around timepiece a waterproof strap does make sense. The natural rubber is comfortable on the wrist and doesn’t pull on hair, and features a smooth topside with a waffle-like pattern underneath. Sizing is simple; you just cut off the extra material at the ends where the clasp attaches. There are also several points for micro adjustment on the clasp, so play with that and measure twice before cutting down to your preferred size.
As previously mentioned, the lug width comes in at 24mm. The strap is not a precise fit against the case and there is a small gap between the lugs and the strap. It’s not too extreme, but it is something definitely worth noting. And to sort of piggyback off that point, I do think that the case would have been better served with a 22mm lug width. 24 just seems a tad wide against a 43mm case, especially if you consider that the 40mm case has 20mm lugs. Again, by no means a deal breaker, but rather a wishful musing.
Now, I am about to do a complete 180 on the smaller-is-better gospel often preached across replica watchdom; 43mm is a great size for this replica watch, and I wouldn’t want it any smaller. Before you burn me at the stake, hear me out. I’ve already discussed how the case and bezel design temper the overall size. At 51mm the lug-to-lug length is also a bit deceptive, because it doesn’t account for the downward curvature of the lugs which allows the case to hug the wrist. The overall effect is that the replica watch wears somewhat similar to its smaller 40mm brother without sacrificing presence. As such, it works on a wide range of wrists, including some that you might not expect given the dimensions. Case in point: photos here show the replica watch on my 6.75-inch wrist. Not bad, right?
The Flieger Klassik Sport is a great addition to Stowa’s ever-growing catalogue. One of my favorite replica watches is (or rather, was) my logo-free 40mm flieger. I loved its simplicity, and few replica watches could match its inherent beauty and legibility. But one of its biggest shortcomings was the case. I was always disappointed with its rather weak water-resistance. Sure, it’s a pilot’s replica watch and not a diver, but I’m not a pilot. I just want a replica watch that I can wear to the beach without having to worry about it getting ruined. So the Flieger Klassik Sport offers that middle ground, and I was more than happy to trade up.
The Flieger Klassik Sport is available Stowa.de for €1270 ($1396.48), or €1067.23 ($1173.52) without VAT.