When it comes to certain styles of watches, you can be very spoiled for choice.  Take dive watches, for instance – you have all manner of styles, both old and new, homage and original, across a variety of price points.  With other styles, you can still have a lot of choice, but when it comes to the design itself, they can all look very much the same – such as with Flieger-style watches.  What sets them apart?  Well, let’s see if we can’t answer that question with a closer look at the Stowa Flieger Verus 40.

While Stowa may have their relaunched history a little more recently (things changed to what we see today in 1997), they were actually making their original Flieger watch all the way back in 1940.  These are classic pilot watches, with extreme legibility (generally with white on black dials, and usually blued hands), the very iconic dotted triangle up at 12 o’clock (for orientation) and the distinctive hand shape.  There are generally two styles of dial (single numeral track, or hours/minutes track), and that completes the basics of the design.  As you can see, simple and easy to reproduce – so lots of brands have something in this flavor available.

I mean, even Stowa themselves has quite a variety available – looking at just their “classic Flieger” lineup, they’ve got 20 different variants available. Then, when you consider how many other brands have reproduced both the Type A and Type B spec watches (along with other riffs on those themes), things can seem a little crowded.  For the purist, it is a simple matter to just choose to back to the original source, and go with a brand like Stowa who has a history making this style.  For everyone else, though, the question is, well, why?

The Flieger watch is not a style I’ve reviewed or researched extensively, but I’ve had a few cross my desk, from rather inexpensive quartz ones all the way through Swiss-powered automatics, such as we have today with the Stowa Flieger Verus 40.  The big thing that separates the low end from what I experienced with Stowa (and some other German brands, such as Archimede) is the quality of the build.  Now, I was not subjecting the watch to any sorts of QA testing, nor was I disassembling it.  No, this impression of a solid build came from actually having the watch in hand, and on the wrist.  Perhaps it’s my time with watches over the years, or perhaps it’s a fever dream, but I could certainly tell that the Stowa Flieger Verus 40 was a well-sorted watch.

Sure, you can run through the list of specifications down below, but that’s only half of the story with the Stowa Flieger Verus 40.  The proportions on the 40mm bead-blasted case are compact (it’s just over 10mm thick), but have more character than a simple slab-sided watch would have.  For the main body of the case, it is straight and flat, but the lip of the screwed-in caseback gives it another plane for detail.  Then, the bezel has a chamfered angle to it, which serves to slim the amount of metal right next to the crystal, which then makes the watch visually lighter (and frankly, at 70g on the leather strap, it’s a relatively light mechanical watch).

This then allows you to focus in on the dial of the Stowa Flieger Verus 40.  Sure, this is classic style, and legibility is clear with the monochromatic style.  The matte finish on the dial is perfectly matched with that on the date wheel, which means the date just sort of floats in there at the 6 o’clock position, not making itself obtrusive, but still quite quick to pick out and read.  For this handset, I like that the hands aren’t blued.  The outline would take away from the luminous paint surface, of course, and with how they are here, proportions are perfect – and of course, those hands reach right to their respective tracks, no questions asked.

Frankly, there’s just a lot done right when it comes to the design of the Stowa Flieger Verus 40.  One question most folks asked when they saw the watch was “What brand is that?”  In keeping with the spec of the Flieger, there is no branding or text on the dial of the watch at all.  Even the crown, there’s no logo.  So there’s really nothing conspicuous to identify the maker, at least until you see the buckle on the leather strap.  That’s the only spot you can identify the maker without flipping the watch over – a detail I was quite a fan of for the style.  Oh, and that leather strap – it’s thin, but robust, and has an amazing leather scent to it.

Now, flipping the watch over, and you find all of the text that was missing from the front side of the watch, with engraving around the outer edge of the exhibition caseback, giving you the rundown on the materials, where the watch was made, and even a reminder of the specific model.  You also have a lovely view of the movement here as well – an ETA 2824-2, in either standard grade, or top finish (for an additional price; you’ve also got other options with the watch, as listed in the Tech Specs section).  You’ll note that one of the specs on the caseback calls out a 5ATM (aka 50m) water resistance rating.  So, don’t go swimming with the Stowa Flieger Verus 40, or you’ll be in for a bad time (sort of like if you had to water land your plane, I suppose).

For my time with the Stowa Flieger Verus 40, I wore it primarily at the office and around the house, as it’s overall matte finish doesn’t particularly lend itself to pairing with a suit (though, I suppose you could if you really wanted to).  And, as a daily sort of a companion, I think the Stowa Flieger Verus 40 definitely gets the job done with style to spare.  It’s well-known (dare I say ubiquitous?) design allows it to fly under the radar (pun not intended), making it an unassuming wrist adornment, just waiting for when you happen to need to know the time or date.

That just leaves the question – is the Stowa Flieger Verus 40 worth the price being asked ($646) when you consider the vast array of less-expensive models out on the market?  In my experience, the answer is yes.  And it’s not like the pricetag on the Stowa Flieger Verus 40 is particularly hitting luxury territory.  It’s a solid, well-built watch with reasonably compact dimensions, considering the automatic movement inside.  So, yes, if you’re in the market for a classily-styled Flieger, without any extra craziness (and you want it to last more than a year or two) then indeed, the Stowa Flieger Verus 40 deserves your consideration.  In my book, a mid-priced watch like this one will serve you well, and you’ll get more enjoyment and mileage out of it, than you’d reasonably expect. And that is a bargain, even without considering the cohesive design.  stowa.de

Review Summary

  • Brand & Model: Stowa Flieger Verus 40
  • Price:  $646 (554,62 € (excl vat)) + shipping
  • Who’s it for? You want an everyday watch that will quietly get the job done, with aplomb, year in and year out
  • Would I wear it? Indeed I would, indeed I would
  • What I’d change: If I’m thinking casual, everyday (non-dress), I would love to see an exploratory version of this watch that had a deep (matte) blue dial on dark brown strap.  Sure, if breaks with convention, but it might be fun to explore
  • The best thing about it:  Great looks, great build, great value – an all-around great
Tech Specs from Stowa
  • Case
    • Diameter:  40mm
    • Height:  10.2mm
    • Strap width:  20mm
    • Lug-to-lug:  48.6mm
    • Waterproof:  up to 5ATM
    • Weight:  70g (leather strap) / 120g (bracelet)
  • Materials
    • Case:  stainless steel, fine mate glass bead blasted
    • Dial:  black matte, white printed, Superluminova BWG9 (white)
    • Hands:  with Superluminova BWG9 (white)
  • Movement
    • Caliber:  ETA 2824-2, basic version
    • Mechanism:  mechanical, automatic
  • Specific features:  screwed case back, hands and numerals on dial with Superluminova BWG9
  • Options
    • With/without date
    • Milanese mesh strap ( + 97,48 € )
    • Movement upgrades
      • ETA 2824-2, top finish ( + 109,24 €)
      • Hand-wound ETA 2804-2 ( + 126,05 €)