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Thread: A Few Words About Stührling Original Watches

  1. #1

    A Few Words About Stührling Original Watches

    I admit it. I own a Stührling Original. If you’re not familiar with Stührling Original watches, they’re cheaply priced watches that try to look expensive. Stührling Originals offer the veneer of luxury without a scary credit card bill the following month.

    Stührling was founded in 2002. Its watches brew a range of strong reactions among watch collectors, from ridicule to admiration, from enmity to curiosity, from disdain to applause. Here’s why.

    Stührling watch movements are made in China, which is no longer a bad thing when it comes to watches (if it ever was a bad thing.) Well-made Chinese watches are actually giving the Swiss a run for their money: You can get a Chinese tourbillon for less than ⅕ of the price of the least expensive Swiss tourbillon. That said, not all Chinese watches, or watches with Chinese movements, are top quality. Where Stührling Original fits in on the quality scale is a matter of deep debate.

    Stührling uses Sea-Gull, Hangzhou, and Shanghai movements in its automatic watches. Their watches are generally showy, often over-designed. A Stührling Original is definitely not a Rolex, Grand Seiko, or Breguet. It’s a bargain watch.

    A Stührling tourbillon sells for under $800, which is either incredibly cheap or incredibly risky to buy, or both, depending on your personal predilections when it comes to watches. The Stührling Grand Imperium Tourbillon is “individually hand-assembled in Switzerland.” The tourbillon may be assembled in Switzerland, but the heart of the watch, its movement, is not Swiss. It’s great that Stührling holds Swiss watches in high regard, but it must be exhausting for the company to live this double life of making Chinese watches and giving the false impression that they are Swiss.

    I wish that Stührling would be more forthright when it comes to its heritage and life. They say, “The mission and vision for Stührling Original has been to deliver fine Swiss engineered timepieces to a broader audience than traditionally had been purchasing them.” Saying “Swiss engineered” is disingenuous. It’s like saying, “French origin sauce” for a product that’s made in, say, Montana. Saying “Swiss engineered” is also unnecessary because Chinese watch movements should be embraced: Chinese watches are very good and getting better.

    The best watch companies are transparent when it comes to their pedigree and parts; Stührling should follow this approach , too.

    There are many Chinese watch companies that are delighted that you know they are Chinese. Perpetual, Beijing Watch Factory, Sea-Gull, and Celadon, for example, don’t try to hide in the shadow of Swiss watchmakers. These companies are excited about Chinese watchmaking, as they should be.

    One of the problems with Stührling’s Swiss pretense is that everyone knows that mechanical Swiss watches can’t be bought for $150. To claim Swiss heritage and sell watches that cheaply is like selling airline tickets between New York and Paris for only $100: You hope that potential customers don’t think too much about why it costs only $100.

    I understand what Stührling is doing, and in a market-driven world, more power to them. People want Swiss watches. People equate Swiss watches with quality, history, and status. Switzerland is “it” when it comes to watches. Few watch wearers say, “I’m glad you like my watch. It’s Chinese.”

    But some watch companies strive to build great watches, and some watch companies just want to be big.

    Stührling Originals aren’t unpleasant watches. They’re mechanical, and mechanical watchmakers should always have our admiration on a planet where smartwatches have become the Skynet of watches. Stührling might even be the gateway drug that leads people to buy a A. Lange & Sohne or Ulysse Nardin next time, and that’s all very good, but they could be a lot better if they dropped the “Swiss” line and focused on and fostered their own identity.


    This article will be posted on my wristwatch blog, A Better Wrist, Not yet, though. It appears on IWL first. --Bill Adler

  2. #2
    Excellent post, Bill.

  3. #3
    I owned one and gave it away though. Had it for a few years and wore it as a beater. It was an automatic pilot. Never had an issue with it. I think the problems is somewhere in the same area that people have with Invictas. Their inveigle of history and aggrandized status and retail prices. If they just simmered down and like you said, they make bargain watches and leave it at that without all the fluff, I think they would get more respect

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  5. #4
    thanks for your post... more pictures will be ore entertaining though..

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  7. #5
    My problem with them is that they are pretending to be something they are not, and preying on people who don't know any better. I've never seen their watches in person, so I can't comment on quality. However, generally, I agree that Chinese watches (as with many Chinese products) have come a long way quality-wise. I have a WUS tourbillion which is absolutely lovely, excellent build quality, and runs extremely well. Why not just focus on value, and not hide the fact that it originates in China? People buy tons of stuff from China now. The only answer must be that they think it's necessary to keep their sales up. Which is a shame.

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  9. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Adler View Post
    from enmity to.....

    ....Just sayin'

    I don't care for the spelling of the brand name - it would bug me to eternity even if I did like the designs.

    As for the watches if you like them fair enough, I just happen not to .... which also should be fair enough

  10. #7
    The Dude Abides Nokie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Northern CA
    Nice post. Glad I was able to learn something new today.
    "Either He's Dead, Or My Watch Has Stopped....."
    Groucho Marx

  11. #8
    Porous Membrane skywatch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    The Valley of Heart's Delight
    Blog Entries
    An honest and truthful assessment. I have owned two Akribos (same company) with skeleton Chinese movements, and I thought they were surprisingly good for $40-$60. Sometimes it's a pleasure to play around with cheap mechanicals, and we can ignore the mythology.
    Too many watches, not enough wrists.

  12. #9
    Adjusted in 6 positions tempocalypse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    I dislike this kind of dishonesty even from those who make otherwise excellent watches. A company that really upsets me is Arnold & Son.

    They have appropriated the name of one of the greatest horologists in history and dare to put since 1764 on their dial even though there is not even the most tenuous of links connecting the current company to John Arnold's firm. At least firms like Moritz Grossman acknowledge on their website that they are new firms and state the date when the new company was founded but A&S' website only gives a brief history of John Arnold and by omission implies an unbroken history. Given that most buyers of wristwatches aren't obsessive WIS like us, it is clear they are taking advantage and creating false expectations and building brand equity based on a lie.

    Not to mention the fact this Swiss company doesn't even have anything at all to do with England or its watchmaking heritage much less John Arnold himself. Yes they make some fine watches but I could never buy from a company who's primary public message is so dishonest.

    It just goes to show these underhanded practices aren't just coming from China or even small obscure manufacturers. A&S is quite the established company these days.
    Watch centric instagram: @tempocalypse

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  14. #10
    Here's my Stührling. I took the photo of this watch with my magic wand. That seemed appropriate because Stührling aspires to be magically transformed into a Swiss watch through the power of marketing.

    Name:  20150802_180001.jpg
Views: 51
Size:  90.5 KB

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