A young Dutch watchmaker living his dream, that’s basically what is happening to Yvo Staudt right now. A clever guy who has an eye for detail, who is capable of making watches and who understands what it takes to market his watches properly. Earlier this year, Yvo Staudt introduced to us the Staudt Praeludium Chronograph as we reported here. There’s also a bit more background on Yvo Staudt himself in that article, so go ahead and have a read. Today, however, we will go hands-on with the Staudt Praeludium Chronograph. It will be about the watch, not the man.
One of the first things that come to mind if I look at the Staudt Praeludium Chronograph (besides practising a few times to pronounce the model name correctly), is that it also could have been something cool from the 1950s with its pump pushers. Especially with the Milanese bracelet attached, the watch has this vintage feel to it.
It has been a while that I started a watch review by talking about the bracelet. But if you are a regular reader of Fratello, you probably know how sensitive I am about bracelets. And this one, on the Staudt Praeludium Chronograph, really stands out. In look & feel, but surely also because of the high quality. This is not your average mesh bracelet from Hong Kong that you will find being offered for a few bucks on eBay to spice up your (vintage) watch.
For a long time, these ‘Milanese’ or mesh bracelets were linked to dress watches, in gold. Beautiful thin and fine ‘knitted’ bracelets for handsome elegant watches. But the steel mesh bracelet could also be found for sports watches. Divers and chronographs, the heavy Milanese bracelets give them a totally different look and feel from the leather straps or regular – more Oyster-ish – looking bracelets. The Milanese bracelet used by Staudt for their Praeludium Chronograph is very similar to what we’ve seen on the Breitling SuperOcean for example. It is a ‘public secret’ that these Milanese bracelets are being produced by the Staib company in Pforzheim (Germany). These are being regarded as one of the best on the market, and Staudt seems to be sourcing them from this Pforzheim company as well. For just a small premium, Staudt will deliver the Praeludium Chronograph on this mesh bracelet. To me, a no-brainer. It does the make the chronograph also a bit heavier on the wrist, but also adds some visual presence to the watch.
Of course, the Staudt Praeludium Chronograph also comes on an alligator strap. You will save a few bucks on the Milanese bracelet, but rest assured that you need to have the alligator strap replaced at some point. When wearing it daily, this can be as quick as after a year, depending on your activities. An alligator strap also will not come cheap. My advice is, therefore (always) to buy the watch on the corresponding bracelet and add a strap later on if you want. Then, you can always opt for a nice calf strap if you want to cut costs.
The stainless steel round case measures 41mm x 13.6mm, so it is definitely not a small or thin watch, but I found the ratio to be fine. I wouldn’t mind a thinner watch these days, but given the fact that we are dealing with a chronograph here, 13.6mm height is very acceptable. 41mm is also a good size for a watch, I feel I am a bit fed up with large watches, unless it fits the concept or heritage of a watch, like a Panerai for example, or an IWC Big Pilot’s watch. Lug-to-lug size also seems to be important these days, as we get many people asking us about this dimension when we publish a watch review (or mainly after we’ve done so, and often the watch is already back to the manufacture so we can’t check ourselves). In this case, it is 51.4mm. Between the lugs fits a 22mm strap or bracelet. Especially when you opt for the bracelet and want to add a strap yourself, this size is important to remember. The lugs are quite long, but sleek and have a nice polished finish. The pump pushers and elegant crown also keep the dimensions very sane and prevent the Staudt Praeludium Chronograph from being bulky.
Actually, with a nice alligator strap, this Praeludium Chronograph could also work very well as a watch for formal occasions.
The Praeludium Chronograph is available with a blue, black and white dial. Yvo Staudt was so friendly to hand over all three versions to us, so we are able to include them all in this review. Although the black version, as pictured above, is very safe, I would personally opt for the blue version. All dials are two-tone, so a light tone in the center and a darker tone on the outer part of the dial. The ‘Staudt blue’ is very nice and gives the watch a classic look when worn with an alligator strap, but as soon as you mount the Milanese bracelet it will become very sporty. In my opinion, the blue tones will never get old and suit the watch perfectly. The markings on the dial have been produced with an old lithography machine in the United Kingdom, also used for the dials in certain luxury cars. The dial making process is quite time-consuming, as the center part is hand-painted and the outer part consists of 12 layers.
The leaf-shaped hands on the white dial Staudt Praeludium Chronograph are blued, but the other ones have a steel colour. There is enough contrast between the hands and the background, to make this a very readable dial.
Both sapphire crystals on the watch are treated with an anti-reflective coating. I don’t advise you to go swimming with this watch, but in the end, it is water resistant to 30 meters.
It is no secret that Yvo Staudt got his inspiration from the IWC Portugieser. That was the watch he fell in love with during his study. As he couldn’t afford it, he decided to build his own perfect watch. The Praeludium Chronograph is the latest addition to that family of his perfect watches. So the design might be inspired by something already existing (and iconic, you could say), it has enough ‘Staudt ingredients’ to be on its own. I like the case design a lot, especially for a watch that I would wear as a dress watch.
ETA’s calibre 7753 movement, also known as Valjoux 7753 (Valjoux was bought by ETA years ago), is used by many other brands out there. It has proven to be a workhorse movement, for brands like Hamilton, Tissot, Sinn, Longines, Baume et Mercier etc. etc. Staudt uses the same Valjoux 7753, and one from the highest grade available from ETA. As you can see below, there’s also the Staudt signed rotor in plated rose gold with a Côtes de Genève finishing. On the movement, you will find a perlage finish on the bridges.
On the case back bezel, you will find a number of engravings, indicating the brand name, model name and reference. All things I could do without, but it is at least better than all the non-relevant information like case material, water resistance, etc. That said, I would rather have something more inspiring engraved, like a motto from Staudt, a nice expression from the region where Staudt resides (and I know there are!) or perhaps something personalized.
My view on the Staudt Praeludium Chronograph might be a bit coloured, as the founder is located in the same region I am originally from, and I happen to like the guy a lot. Yvo Staudt is a sincere and stand-up guy, quite a relief compared to some of the industry dinosaurs. So I applaud much of what he does and how he does it, I have a lot of respect for him and his work. However, you also need to look at the watch from a customer perspective of course, what do you get for the money and is it good value? Before I will do so, I would like to add that I have the (gut) feeling that people do buy a Staudt watch because they find Yvo Staudt a sympathetic person. This might influence a purchase as you then will actually buy a watch from someone you can relate to.
That said, the Staudt Praeludium Chronograph is a very nice addition to the original Praeludium hand-wound model. Staudt managed to create a chronograph that is really a part of the Praeludium collection, respecting the design code of the brand and powered by a good movement with a track record. The Staudt chronograph watch has a well-thought design and comes in several flavours. The case size of 41mm will fit most men perfectly, perhaps also fine for some women who prefer a large (chronograph) watch. I think Staudt did very well with this chronograph and I am curious to learn (if they will tell us this) how the chronograph sells compared to the other Staudt models. I think it is my favourite model from the Dutch brand. My personal pick would be a Praeludium Chronograph with the blue dial on a Milanese bracelet. The price for the chronograph starts at €2989,- (leather strap) and with the steel bracelet it will set you back €3129,-.
More information via the official Staudt website.
Ever since he was a young child, Robert-Jan was drawn to watches, even though it were digital Casio and quartz Swatch models at the time. In the mid-1990s, his interest increased when he started to read about mechanical watches in... read more