Among collectors, German watchmaking is dominated by Glashutte, the sleepy little village whose horological significance is tied to some of the most important brands in the world. Yet where Glashutte is defined by tradition, Hamburg is quickly on the up as a hub of watch-based creativity, including the likes of Sternglas.
Like many German watch brands, Sternglas is defined by one school of thought above all others: Bauhaus. The design movement of the 20s and 30s is all about form from function, that distilling an object to its fundamentals will invariably lead to a beauty. In this case, that’s most definitely true.
It’s a credo that you’ll have heard many a times in the watch world, but one that fundamentally doesn’t fit with the prices many brands charge. Bauhaus is meant to be accessible and affordable for everyone, and yet you can find Bauhaus-inspired watches priced into the thousands of pounds.
As Sternglas founder Dustin Fontaine puts it, “I still don’t understand luxury brands that charge several thousand euros for a watch. Especially Bauhaus products are often enormously expensive, which is in contradiction to the actual, very down-to-earth basic idea of this movement.”
That’s where Sternglas is different, offering distinctive Bauhaus design for hundreds rather than thousands. “I am convinced that good design must be affordable,” says Fontaine, and starting at £175, his watches very much embody that thinking, especially the Naos Automatik.
The Bauhaus design of the watch is self-evident in the clean, minimal and typographic dial, black on white with slim indexes, hands and numerals. Combined with the svelte case it echos the same kind of lines we’ve come to expect from far pricier brands like Nomos Glashutte. Equipped with a Miyota 821A – simple, unfussy and reliable – it can be yours for £336.
If you want the same formula but with a Swiss movement, then there’s the incredibly cool Kanton (£738); if military style is more your speed, there’s the blacked-out, distinctively concave Topograph (£369) and if you just want style on a budget, there’s the original Naos Quartz (£172).
In short, if Bauhaus is as much about offering great design for everyone as it is sleek, minimal design, Sternglas have nailed it.
More details at Sternglas.