Before another year comes to pass, I will have spent two full decades working in the watch industry. In that time, I’ve seen many things. I have seen good times and bad. There have been periods during which money seemed to rain from the sky and others when the industry’s stability was threatened by the global financial crisis. I have seen novelties aplenty and, in recent years, I’ve been involved in creating several models myself. With that experience behind me, I can say this: the new Sternglas Naos Argo Automatic will not change the world. Its release will barely register on the watchmaking Richter scale. And yet, given its funky design and sub-€400 price tag, I can’t help but imagine it rocking the world of a neophyte collector or two. And who knows where that might lead…

Yeah, sub-€400. This watch, with its automatic movement and proud display back, retails at €389. That’s a solid price for a branded automatic watch at the best of times, but the fact this watch comes from an evermore established German brand and possesses a design that is anything but pedestrian is noteworthy.


Let’s not get wrapped up in luxury

The term luxury is an exceptionally relative one. Yes, this watch is nowhere as expensive, technically or aesthetically ambitious, or horologically challenging as many of the pieces we cover here on Fratello. For newcomers to our hobby, however, any watch close to €500 probably represents a bit of a leap of faith.

Think back to the first time you spent an amount of money on a watch that made you feel a little bit uncomfortable. That amount would, I’m sure, have been directly tied to your means at the time. For example, once upon a time, I spent £150 on two Hamilton Ardmores in the Swatch Group Christmas Staff Sale (that’s right: £75 each), and it damn near traumatized me. It felt naughty. I felt guilty. Back then, that amount was significant for me, so I’m hardly going to waltz around pretending that €400 isn’t a price that could challenge some keen collectors beginning their watchmaking journey. In fact, I would imagine, given the kind of customer I see Sternglas appealing to, that it almost certainly would be serious money to them.


More likely to “buy up” than to “buy down”

Why do I think that? I believe that to be likely simply because I find it harder to believe someone “buying down” for a Sternglas. By that, I mean I find it hard to imagine someone that has already popped their purchasing cherry on a higher-priced piece then going back to the ranks of Sternglas. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but I think it’s simply less likely.

I can very much see this brand as the perfect gateway drug for individuals embarking on their collecting career or for young relatives of established collectors hoping to inspire the same passions in the next generation. This opinion comes from personal experience. I have already furnished members of my family with Sternglas. They all seemed thrilled with the quality and design. And why wouldn’t they be? For the money, they really are very solid watches.


What you get for €389

The Naos Argo is a 38mm automatic watch made from hypoallergenic stainless steel. I’m personally fond of the brown strap it comes on, but there are other options if you don’t like it. Sternglas offers leather, fabric, and steel alternatives for between €39 and €49. The watch is 12mm thick, has a 20mm strap fitting, and has a 47mm lug-to-lug length. It sits down neatly on the wrist, which is just as well with such a colorful dial! Despite the vibrant colors employed, it has the ability to skirt under the radar.

When it does catch the attention, however, it justifies the limelight. The color-matched date wheel is a practical and aesthetically appreciated touch. Legibility here is top-notch, and I even struggle to gripe at the length of the seconds hand (a common complaint of mine frequently seen in more affordable watches).


The Miyota 8215 caliber is a humble workhorse that runs for 42 hours on a full wind. This particular execution does not boast any special decoration, but I’m not sure that presents the slightest problem for the target demographic. It is a reliable and ubiquitous caliber. It can be easily serviced and parts easily sourced. All in all, I think this is one of the more compelling watches in the sub-€400 bracket. I’ve enjoyed wearing it and can imagine how much an even younger me would have fallen in love with it. It seems a great way to get a first-time mechanical watch buyer hooked on the hobby for life. Check out the limited-edition Naos Argo before it disappears for good by following this link.