As I become more familiar with the Sternglas brand, I realize I’m not as tuned in as I thought. On the face of it, this Hamburg-based watch brand embraces minimalism in its designs, albeit with considered bursts of color. The popular Hamburg line of watches, named after the brand’s home city, is a typical example. It is a series of time-only watches with pencil hands, thin-bezel cases, and petite dial markers but with various dials that bring warmth and personality to each. The bold use of color is not something I was anticipating.

Continuing the progression of the Hamburg range, Sternglas is launching a chronograph with vibrant colors and notable links to the city’s nautical heritage. The Hamburg Chrono Regatta is a mecha-quartz chronograph inspired by yacht-timer watches of the 1970s and the Hamburg harbor basin. The same color palette and patterns appear on the Hamburg Edition Hafen three-hander as well. I’ve been spending time with both of these new releases, and I’m pleasantly surprised by this more playful side of Sternglas.

Embracing nautical colors

In true Bauhaus fashion, form follows function. The chronograph is at the heart of the Hamburg Chrono Regatta. Here, the color and shape of the hands and dial emphasize the timing capabilities. One notable example is the ring of orange around the chronograph’s start/stop pusher. Sternglas uses the same color for the chronograph seconds hand and the blocky minute totalizer in the left-hand sub-dial. The three primary time-telling hands are black, and the hour and minute hands contain a sliver of lume running through them. The 24-hour hand in the right sub-dial, which is linked to the main hour hand, takes the same shape as used in the other sub-dial.

Around the perimeter, there are three colorful patterned rings. The first red ring is divided into minute sections, with the following blue layer divided into 12 hours. The third yellow and black section can be used to read chronograph seconds, with each color block representing half a second.

One detail that puts form after function is the date window at 6 o’clock. Even dates are represented by numbers as usual, but the odd dates are expressed as International Maritime Signal Flags. The 16 odd numbers are swapped out for the first 16-letter code flags. Most of these flags aren’t familiar to me, but even if they were, it still takes some mental gymnastics to work out that the flag for “H” or “hotel” is showing, which is the eighth letter of the alphabet, and the eighth odd number is 15.

Seiko’s VK64 mecha-quartz movement

Inside this Chrono Regatta model is the Seiko VK64 mecha-quartz movement. It is a quartz caliber with no running seconds hand, and the chronograph seconds hand ticks at four beats per second. Hence, there are no obvious giveaways that this is a quartz watch. One benefit of such a movement over a mechanical one is price, both in terms of initial purchase and future servicing. Still, the trade-off is the absence of a running seconds hand and the presence of a limited-use 24-hour indicator occupying one of the sub-dials. Although a “Regatta timer” usually has countdown markings, a traditional chronograph has a broader range of uses.

The other new sailboat-racing-inspired watch in the Hamburg line is a more straightforward affair and much more in keeping with existing offerings from Sternglas. The white dial of the Edition Hafen is surrounded by a solid gray chapter ring and a white and red checkered ring, much like that seen on the chronograph. As a quartz watch, the seconds hand ticks 60 times per minute, so the alternating colors’ divisions are purely aesthetic.

Both models feature a black outer perimeter to the dial, which keeps things tight. Both watches measure 42mm across, which is hardly dinner-plate size, but that sweep of black makes both models feel a little more condensed. The bright colors seen across the two models, particularly the white and red chapter ring, hint at mid-channel markers in the Hamburg harbor basin.

The Hamburg case and wearability

This Hamburg Edition Hafen isn’t the first three-hander I’ve reviewed from this collection. What I noted about the case previously is still true here. The case is deliberately discreet from the front, though it makes more of an impact from the side. The bowl shape forms as the footprint of the watch fades away to a much smaller surface. As it comes in contact with the wrist, it exaggerates the thinness. The chronograph is necessarily thicker, with a much beefier mid-case housing the larger crown and pushers. Although the lugs on the Chrono Regatta steeply turn down, the overall lug-to-lug length is slightly longer than the Hafen’s 45mm span. Both cases feature finishing in the same pattern with a polished top surface and brushed lower.

On the wrist, the three-hand model is a pleasure to wear. The sub-10mm thinness becomes apparent, and the slender lugs follow almost the same contour as the domed crystal. The Chrono Regatta makes more of a visual impact and feels substantially larger and heavier. Even so, it feels comfortable and appropriately sized for my 17.75cm (7″) wrist. It’s only in direct comparison between the two watches that it feels chunky. The two straps supplied with the watches are available to select when purchasing either model. Swapping the two around might better match the strap/stitching and the central seconds hands. For example, the neon orange nylon strap would pick out the two chronograph hands, while the yellow stitching on the vintage style leather echoes the yellow seconds hand of the quartz Hafen model. However, a NATO-style strap on the chronograph would further increase the 13.5mm thickness.

Concluding thoughts on these two new Hamburg watches

Like many watches from Sternglas, these two new additions to the Hamburg line appear well made. Value for money is also high on the list of plus points. The quartz Hamburg Edition Hafen comes in at €299, while the mecha-quartz Hamburg Chrono Regatta is only €50 more. The application of color makes for appealing watches, even if the regatta link doesn’t connect strongly with me. Although the date display is fun and quirky, it’s awkward to use. I would prefer full numerals or go a step further and replace all dates with flags. Sternglas isn’t the first German brand to infuse small dashes of bright color in its Bauhaus watches, and the strong ties to the nautical heritage of Hamburg are fitting. For more information, visit the official Sternglas website.