Sternglas Edition Companion Automatic Watch Rounds Out A Strong 2020
During its short History, Sternglas, the Hamburg-based brainchild of Dustin Fontaine, has managed to turn out a serious number of smart, wearable timepieces for a variety of budgets. On Fratello, we’re quite fond of this small company, having had the chance to meet with the founder and his team in Munich earlier this year (what a lifetime ago that seems now…). During the Inhorgenta Fair, we were able to try on a great many pieces in the Sternglas catalog. The Edition Companion was one of my surprising favorites, and here’s why…
Sternglas is a difficult brand to put in a box. As the entry-level price point dukes it out with brands such as Daniel Wellington, Olivia Burton, and Larsson & Jennings, it is tempting to align the brand and its values to those low-end competitors also. But that wouldn’t be fair (or accurate). Sternglas has much bigger ambitions. The Kanton automatic we reviewed at the top of 2020 is proof of that, and, in fact, a large part of why we became so interested in the brand.
The Kanton looks “expensive” when you line it up next to the brand’s more affordable mechanicals and quartz pieces, but in the wider context of the industry, it is not. What it is, however, is a very well made, smartly designed, Bauhaus-influenced brand champion. Through the Kanton, the true values of Sternglas can be seen. But how does this reflect positively on the subject of this article, the Edition Companion?
Whether Fontaine & Co. (a nice idea for a spin-off brand name) expect the Kanton to make up the bulk of Sternglas’s revenue seems unlikely. Rather, it is more of a manifesto piece. It is a way for the brand to communicate in physical form, the direction in which it hopes to travel. “This is the goal. Look at what we want to bring you. Look at what we can bring you. Now, look at the rest of the collection through these eyes. You will see that the entry-level models have a lot more to offer in terms of build quality and design than you might have thought at first.”
And therein lies the point. The Kanton is a fairly priced watch at just south of €1,000. The Topograph, which is designed by the same people and made by the same brand, is only differentiated from the Kanton by its movement. As such, the Miyota-powered automatic starts to seem an incredible bargain at just €399.
I have another example of this phenomenon from yet another German brand. As you may know, I am a big fan of Laco. And yet, despite the brand’s 95-year history and tendency to power its classic German Fliegers with Swiss movements, it is the Japanese-powered models that really get me going.
…excellent value in a sub-€400 watch.
Why? Because the housings and dials are designed and built by the same people in the same way. The quality is bankable. It was good enough for a watch retailing 2.5 times the price. Therefore, it is excellent value in a sub-€400 watch.
The cheerful cousin
So why didn’t the Edition Companion get the Swiss treatment in the first place? Well, truth be told, the whiter-than-white Kanton, the princely figurehead of the collection, sends a clearer message. The Edition Companion is altogether too cheerful, too colorful, too friendly a watch. It is accessibly priced because it has been accessibly designed. It is meant to be fun, to be inviting. I could see this watch as the youthful shot in the arm the brand needs to appeal to younger watch wearers ready to graduate from quartz to mechanical but not from three- to four-figure price tags.
And there are a few reasons to be excited by this watch. To me, this is Sternglas’s version of the NOMOS Glashütte minimatik. That watch, with its vibrant splashes of color, did to the NOMOS catalog what the Edition Companion does to the Sternglas line-up. It softens it. That’s not easy to do when Bauhaus is central to your brand’s design principles, but it has been achieved well here.
…of my top ten most satisfying dial decisions of 2020…
Rounded tips to the hands sit comfortably alongside the dot markers on the dial. The black-on-white date window at 3 o’clock is functional and unobtrusive. The 38mm width and 12mm thickness make this a wearable size for all wrist types. But best of all (and I am personally very excited to see this from Sternglas) the hand length is absolutely perfect.
The fact the seconds hand and the minute hand reach the outer track is cause for celebration. And the way in which the red seconds hand cuts-through the red dot hour markers goes down as one of my top ten most satisfying dial decisions of 2020 (yes, I am actually sad enough to keep a list of exactly that nature…).
I’m really impressed by the Edition Companion and look forward to having one on my wrist. My favorite dial design is still the Hamburg model with its cardinal lume pips, but I would like to see that layout (sans date) scaled down into one of these Miyota-powered automatics. The dimensions of models such as the Edition Companion are a really strong selling point. These are well-priced, versatile, and timeless watches that manage to inject just enough extravagance into proceedings to hold our attention. I cannot wait to see what 2020 has in store for this intriguing north German brand. Learn more about Sternglas here.
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