A Week on the Wrist – Sternglas Zirkel

Sternglas Zirkel

We’ve covered a watch from the company before, but the Sternglas Zirkel is the brand’s first design with an automatic movement. We were offered a watch of our choice to try out: how does it improve on the Sternglas NAOS  we looked at earlier in the year?

A Week on the Wrist – Sternglas Zirkel Review

First things first: the Sternglas Zirkel is a German watch designed in the Bauhaus tradition. That means bold lines, a minimalist design and a “form over function” ethos. This goes all the way to the box. A thick cardboard sleeve protects the cardboard box, which is in a contrasting colour and which contains the watch, a guarantee on thick card, and an instruction booklet. Nothing extraneous, and nothing too fancy. The box does not have the foam insert that came with the NAOS model, which made it look a little cheap. Disappointing for a watch that costs €349 but not a deal-breaker by any means.

Case

The case, as you would expect, is made of 316L steel. It has sapphire crystals both front and back, and I am pleased to report that it does not have the same problem of reflectivity as the NAOS model – perhaps because it does not have such a pronounced dome. The case back is engraved with just enough information, and the decorated Miyota 821A movement is visible. The rotor is of a particularly nice design in this watch, which makes up for the rather pedestrian internals. I am not a fan of the 8 series Miyota as they can suffer from a jerky second hand but I had no such problems with the Sternglas. I was also impressed by the quality of finish, with the back being held on with a series of screws rather than a pop-off or threaded case back.

The case itself is rather plain – as it should be in the Bauhaus style – but I would have liked to have seen a signed crown. Nevertheless, it wears well and although you would expect a 40mm watch without a diver’s bezel to wear big, it was surprisingly comfortable despite its 10mm thickness. A lot of this is down to the well-designed, short lugs which help the case to hug the wearer’s wrist.

Dial and Hands

The dial on the Sternglas Zirkel is recessed quite far into the case, but this is only apparent when viewed from an angle. As a result of the distance between crystal and dial, there is none of the pleasing distortion effect of the NAOS, but that is traded off for vastly improved legibility. The printing on the dial is clearer, and the stick hands offer excellent contrast with the dial. This is a watch that, despite not having lume, is readable in low-light conditions. I found this was a vast improvement over the NAOS model – my only disappointment being the tiny date window which, thanks to the size of the movement beneath it, is floating away – lost somewhere in no man’s land near the 3 marker. If I am being picky, there is a little too much extraneous text on the dial: is the diameter of the case really relevant? Is sapphire glass so important it needs to be written on the dial?

Strap and Buckle

The strap was a real highlight for me. I expected something half-decent, given the NAOS’s quality leather, but the vintage mahogany option on the Sternglas Zirkel blew me away. It’s a really soft and supple leather, with a slightly cracked “aged” finish that feels almost suede-like. It’s backed with comfortable smooth leather and I absolutely loved it. I also love the quick release pins, which I think should be fitted to every strap as they make life so much easier! The watch takes a 20mm strap so if you do want to try something different there is an abundance of choice. The tang buckle is signed with Sternglas and is fine – a deployant would be a nice option to protect the strap, but there’s really nothing wrong with it at the price.

What I Liked

  • The watch is far more legible than the last Sternglas model I tried
  • The understated case wears really well
  • The strap is absolutely superb

What I Didn’t Like

  • The date window is a little small. Though I do prefer a date, this watch would actually look better without it
  • The Miyota 821A movement is a little pedestrian. A 9-series would have been a nice upgrade option for picky watch enthusiasts
  • There’s a bit too much text on the dial for my taste

The Sternglas Zirkel – The WRUK Verdict

Overall, I wasn’t expecting much from the Sternglas Zirkel but I went away pleasantly surprised, It is genuinely an improvement on the NAOS – and not just because it has an automatic movement rather than a quartz. The Sternglas Zirkel is an inoffensive, functional watch that looks stylish and wears well. It is a touch more expensive than other watches with similar specifications but the design is original and the strap is definitely worth more than the usual offerings. If you’re in the market for a Bauhaus watch, you should add this one to your shortlist.

Buy a Sternglas Zirkel

The Sternglas Zirkel costs €349 from www.sternglas.com but if you use our code WRISTWATCH25 you’ll get €25 off for the next few weeks.

 

Author: Mike Richmond

Usually found skulking around eBay or the International Watch League forum, Mike writes for a living and spends what little money he makes building up his collection of timepieces.

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