In addition to bringing you all the latest news about the best in Swiss made watches, we also like to feature some worthy but lesser known brands from Europe, the States and other parts of the world. One such watch brand with a dedicated worldwide clientele is German made STOWA watches.
The company was founded in 1927 by Walter Storz, who, while struggling for a name for his company, hit upon the idea to take the first three letters of his surname and the first two letters of his first name to create STOWA. Encouraged by the success of STOWA, in 1935, Walter Storz enlarged the scope of his business and began manufacturing his watches in a small rented space located in Pforzheim, Germany.
By 1938, the company was sufficiently successful that Walter built his own factory.
In just eleven years, STOWA had developed a global reputation as the maker of quality timepieces.
In 1939, Stowa started manufacturing the “Beobachtungsuhr” (“Observation watch”) or “B-Uhr” which was the wristwatch used by the German Luftwaffe. Five companies were commissioned by the German government to manufacture the B-Uhr – A. Lange & Söhne, Laco, Wempe, International Watch Company and STOWA. STOWA still manufactures a homage to the B-Uhr (the Airman) and of the five original manufacturers, its homage is considered the closest in design and function to the original World War Two German B-Uhrs.
On 23 February 1945, the STOWA factory was destroyed during an Allied bombing raid. Whilst a new factory was being built, Walter Storz moved production to Rheinfelden (a town close to the German/Swiss border) to ensure that manufacture of his watches could continue.
In 1951, STOWA built a new factory in Rheinfelden as well as rebuilding the destroyed factory in Pforzheim. Both factories were kept open to increase watch production. By the 1950s STOWA watches were distributed to almost 80 countries around the world with more than 50% of production being exported.
In 1960, Walter Storz’s son, Werner, joined the business, mainly focusing on overseas markets. Walter Storz died in 1974. Werner Storz managed STOWA until 1996 when it was purchased by Jörg Schauer. Werner Storz died in 1998.
STOWA has five model lines:
- Antea – a replica of an original STOWA design from the 1930s
- Airman (Flieger) – a homage to the original B-Uhr
- Marine – a watch based on the marine chronometers used in navigation
- Prodiver – a diving watch water resistant to 1000m
- Seatime – a sports watch water resistant to 300m
The movements in STOWA’s watches are for the time being mostly ETA movements with significant decoration and, in the case of the Airman Original, mechanical modifications.
However, since Jörg Schauer also happens to own the Durowe (Deutsche Uhrenrohwerke) movement brand, it is anticipated that Durowe movements will be used in STOWA watches in the near future.
Unlike many of the large Swiss brands with worldwide retail distribution deals, STOWA’s route to market is almost exclusively direct to the customer via its website or from its factory in Engelsbrand.
STOWA believes this helps to keep their distribution, wholesale and retail costs down thereby allowing their prices to be lower than if their watches were distributed through a traditional retail network.
Perhaps more significantly for watch collectors, the other major advantage is that you can contact Jörg Schauer directly to ask questions about the watches.