All those watch exhibitions and fairs spoil you a bit. You see various complications, try expensive models, but let’s admit it – there should be at least one watch for everyday use. It is not that easy to find the right one if you ask me. All those kickstarter projects are not that original per se and rarely turn into something unusual. Maybe that’s why I was a bit confused when Sternglas offered me a chance to try their Topograph.
I should admit that at first I was bombarded by Instagram ads about various watches including Sternglas. Somehow Topograph catched my attention – it looked good on photos and original videos. Fast forward several weeks and I was opening box with this watch somewhere in Kazakhstan during my summer trip.
Here it is important to say several words about Sternglas brand and Topograph. Watchmaker is based in Hamburg, Germany. All of their watches are made in simple and “clean” style which looks classy to say the least. Design is inspired by Bauhaus and maintained in every part of the watch. Sternglas founder claims that main idea here was to create affordable high-quality timepieces.
Well, we all heard it somewhere, and maybe that’s why I was eager to check this claim. For example, let’s take today’s Topograph. “Basic” model (just like mine) starts at 329 EUR what sounds fairly reasonable for something not mainstream with automatic movement inside. Moreover, there are even cheaper models, but they come with quartz movement.
Packaging and Versions
Watch was shipped via DHL, so it arrived pretty fast. Box deserves separate word because everything starts with this cardboard thingy. Here it is made in calm colors – grey and bluish black. Such packaging doesn’t look cheap and fits with overall image. Inside you will find watch fixed in place with help of several rubber bands. There are several brochures on top, but who reads them anyway, right?
There are several versions available. Everything starts with combination you see on the photos. It is also possible to have watch with dark colored case but dial would stay black. Another “variable” – strap, which can be leather or metal (this version was introduced relatively recently). Now let’s move straight to the new watch.
I would like to start with the dial because that’s the main showstopper here. First take a look at photos. Do you notice that elegant minimalism mixed with huge amount of numbers? That’s what caught my attention from the first sight. Black dial is literally filled with digits and indices, you will find them inside the main circle and on the outer rim too. Nevertheless, all this stuff doesn’t look like mess when combined together.
All those tiny digits work nicely together and create beautiful composition. It doesn’t look cheap either. Moreover, you won’t have a problem reading the time from this dial because of such design. All numbers are standing in the right position both on top and bottom half of the dial. This adds visual interest but doesn’t damage overall perception.
In the middle we find manufacturer’s and watch name. Above “6” mark you will also see “42mm, automatik, saphirglas” just in case you will forget the main features of this watch. Jokes aside, all this text doesn’t break whole design, but I think it would be cool if we had an option of “textless” dial with digits and indices only.
I am not that huge fan of white date windows, but here is was necessary as the mean to differentiate this element. In my opinion it doesn’t look weird and definitely we can live with that. 🙂 Hands set is also classic here – three thin hands. Note that inner part is painted in black what visually separates those parts and makes it less crowded.
Now we can move to Topograph “body”. Fitting Bauhaus philosophy here and making watch visually attractive wasn’t an easy job to do. That’s why we get nice brushed stainless steel case with relatively slim crown on the side. Such surface is relatively more scratch resistant in comparison with classic mirror-like polishing. Add here thin angled lugs and you would get classic composition which won’t look old.
All this stuff is covered by sapphire glass. This feature pitched as one of the main selling points for Topograph. Yes, it is cool to have this material for three hundred euros, but there are few things to keep in mind. First is that this glass is not plain and comes slightly domed. It looks nice on the watch, I am mentioning this fact because there are still some fans of plain glasses… Second is that edges are not flush with case sides. Small angle plays under bright light and can be considered as nice touch to overall simplicity. Rear side also features transparent insert so that you can appreciate the movement inside.
Sternglas Topograph comes with automatic Miyota 821A movement. You can meet this calibre in various watches and it is considered as pretty reliable type. Add here 42 hours power reserve which is more than enough for everyday use.
As you remember, date indicator is also here, so crown has two positions. Both are defined with distinctive clicks what makes it easier to adjust Topograph. Through rear case you can notice that there Sternglas engraving right on the rotor.
As I wrote in the beginning, my version came with leather strap. This is version for those who would like to save a bit. Nevertheless, Sternglas also offers nice metal bracelet which looks good together with Topograph. Well, it is matter of personal taste for sure.
As for leather strap, I can say that it is good for start. This is double-sided accessory with light-colored backing. Moreover, there is distinct grain texture what adds interest to overall appearance. On the buckle you will find manufacturer’s logo.
It should be easy to change the strap thanks to quickrelease bars on both sides. I guess there is no need to explain how this system work. Interesting to mention that original metal bracelet also has this system implemented. Such feature makes it easy to order bracelet later and change it in one minute.
As some of you know, we hate to write test based on “two days experience”. No, instead new watch is tried at least for month in order to see what is good and what is not. Topograph traveled to several countries with me and I have some thoughts to share.
First of all this watch is not small and don’t look at those 42 mm in official specifications. It feels nice on the wrist, but I can imagine that guys with thin wrists would have issues. For me this size was just right and you can see it on the photos. Despite this case doesn’t feel too heavy and can be on your wrist for the whole day.
Second thing is the leather strap. It is surprisingly comfortable, but don’t expect that light layer to stay clean. Topograph experienced 45 degrees Celsius heat with me, so stains became obvious. There is nothing you can do about it and such thing will happen with any other leather counterpart. Well, let’s consider it as the nice reason to get that metal bracelet (yes, I like it too).
Finally I like design of this watch. It doesn’t look cheap and has its own aura of serious-looking thing. In my opinion that’s a good feature especially for the price Sternglas asking for this watch. I stay put behind my choice of silver-black combo, but who knows, maybe black-black combo with metal bracelet would also look nice.
In my opinion the main idea of the new watch was not to overdo and designers succeeded in this. Instead of inventing something unusual and special in this price range, Sternglas decided to focus in essentials. Yes, there are some minor hiccups, but it would be silly to expect completely perfect watch for three hundred euros. In my opinion, Topograph is a nice candidate for everyday use and it will look good in any situation.