I’ve been curious about the Stührling watch brand for quite some time and haven’t known quite what to make of it. As I’ve become more familiar with the brands and manufacturing methods of some of the best luxury watch markers, I’ve been beset by dozens if not hundreds of newcomers trying to make a name for themselves in this industry. Stürling is just such a brand. But where other relative newbies to the field have failed, Stührling has found no small success on the back of what they claim to be over 15 million units sold (we’ll discuss the viability of this claim later in this article).
And now that I’ve gotten my hands on them and had time to examine and use two of the watches in their collection, I think I’m finally ready to make some pronouncements about the brand and its products. After all, that’s what product reviews are designed to do. It’s scrutiny, but fair scrutiny, as I aim for with all my reviews.
But before I tell you all about the Stührling Monaco 1000 Chronograph, you should know that I tested it alongside another Stuhrling watch, the Presidian 943A Automatic 42mm Skeleton whose detailed hands-on review is coming shortly.
ABOUT THE STÜHRLING BRAND
With a name like Stürling, you’d think we’d be talking about some storied brand straight out of Switzerland or Germany, but that’s simply not the way things work in the direct-to-consumer world of brand names these days. The brand is American, with its headquarters in the Park Slope neighbourhood.
Like many DTC watch brands, Stührling’s approach to the world of watchmaking and selling has been to take luxury design and offer it at a much lower price than what the luxury brands sell for. The idea is that only collectors and true horology connoisseurs will ever be able to tell the difference between a $300 watch and a $30,000 watch. They might be right.
Founded in 2002, Stührling offers a respectable range of men’s and women’s watches in an impressively diversified range of designs. With the Stührling brand, you’ll find everything from Skelton watches, Dive watches, Pocket watches, Chronographs, Pilot watches and Tourbillons in case sizes as small as 32mm and as big as 56mm. The entire watch range dabbles in a series of traditional watch movements, including automatic, mechanical and Quartz.
WHERE ARE STÜHRLING WATCHES MADE?
While it’s been obvious for quite some time that Stürling watches were not assembled in Switzerland, it wasn’t until 2019 that Stührling took on the criticism of its manufacturing origins directly head-on with this blog post. Yes, Stührling watches are manufactured in Shenzhen, China, including the movements and most of their components. And while my opinion of Chinese watch movements is fairly low, I must admit that their quality has improved somewhat in recent years. We can expect to see this quality improvement continue as Chinese manufacturing closes in on the quality standards of other parts of the world. It’s refreshing to see brands like Stürling step up and lean into their pride of pushing Chinese manufacturers to higher standards. Perhaps they are taking a lesson from a little-known company called Apple.
The Monaco 1000 Quartz 44mm Chronograph
This Chronograph is available in six different colour combinations with varying dial and case colours and numerous colour accents and embellishments. And while it was a close call, I decided to get the white dial version with orange hands, silver case and black leather strap.
Remember how we just talked about the fact that most of Stührling’s movements happen to be of Chinese origin? Apparently, the Monaco 1000 is one of the exceptions, featuring a Japanese Miyota quartz movement. However, its exact model and origin remain shrouded in mystery to me as I could not find any more info about it.
Given its price point of USD 270, this watch comes with a surprisingly well-constructed box. Unlike many competitor brands, Stührling chooses to package its timepieces in a lay-flat case with a copious amount of safety foam surrounding the watch when the case is closed. Nothing about this case feels cheap despite its tiny golden “Made in China” sticker haphazardly added to the bottom of the case.
The watch is held in place on its foam base with two sturdy elastic bands, and if you decide to use this box for something else, you can do that by easily removing the bottom foam using the included pull-tabs. It’s a small thing, but I appreciate Stührling’s thoughtfulness around the case’s design. And while the outside of the box features my favourite colour of orange and the brand’s tagline of “Everyone Deserves Luxury,” the case could probably stand to get a more luxurious-looking print design as the current one feels a touch loud.
In the box is, of course, the watch, along with a small fold-out instruction booklet, a micro-fibre cleaning cloth featuring the company’s logo and orange brand stitching, along with a warranty card detailing the company’s 2-year international warranty. All of these small accoutrements are of a quality you’d expect for a watch in this price range, save for one thing. I know that it’s a small thing, but for the love of everything that is supposedly luxury, if you’re going to build a brand around the idea of creating products that imitate much higher-priced luxury items, at least don’t include spelling mistakes with the material that you ship, it just looks sloppy. Go ahead and recheck your instruction manual, Stührling, and then maybe check it again. A mistake that, of course, is a minor quibble, to be sure, but just something that gets under my skin.
With perhaps build quality being a close second, this is the area that the Monaco 1000 excels in the most. And really, it’s no surprise. This is exactly what Stührling is really good at. Dial and case design are highly subjective when it comes to watchmaking, but in my mind, Stuhrling has done an excellent job with the Monaco 1000 and, frankly, across most of its product line.
The Monaco 1000’s dial features speedometer-style hands for the hour, second and minute indicators and matching-style hands for the Chronometer sub-dials. The details on the dial are crisp and easily legible across the board, while the external Chronometer minute indicators on the bezel, with their stretched and squished typography, add to this watch’s distinct visual signature. My only minor quibble with the dial design is the choice of white lettering on the inner silver bezel, which makes it almost impossible to read. Of course, that issue goes away with some of the other colour choices as the lettering is alternatively black or another contrasting colour to match the different colours of the dial.
Featuring a 316L stainless steel case with a screw-down case back, the Monaco 1000 sports a nicely shaped case with a highly polished finish. Like other stainless steel watches with a silver finish, it tends to pick up a lot of fingerprints, but I suppose that’s what the included microfiber cloth is for. The stainless steel push-pull crown is subtly stamped with the “S” for Stührling logo and is flanked by two chronometer push-pins above and below.
The case’s back features a slightly engraved set of features with a large racing wheel design and checkerboard. Additionally, the Stührling logo is present and various features such as water resistance, movement type, and crystal. All-in-all, the caseback is neatly designed though I wouldn’t say it’s anything outstanding. I’ve seen nice caseback designs on similarly priced watches from various brands.
Overall the design of the caseback is adequate. It’s nothing to write home about, but there are also no obvious flaws to mention. If you’re a fan of the way traditional stainless steel cases look, you’ll probably be happy with the one on the Monaco 1000.
Given its retail price of $270, this is another area of excellence for the Monaco 1000. If it’s representative of the rest of Stührling’s watch line-up, colour me impressed. Everything from the case to the dial, the sub-dials, the small details on the hands, and the strap seems well manufactured, and I saw no particular flaws.
An important aspect of judging the build quality of a timepiece is the internals, though I must admit I’m not a watchmaker and so feel unqualified to make a judgment on this issue. But after opening the case, it looks no better or worse than watches I own that are twice its price. So perhaps there is something to be said for the Chinese manufacturing of sub-luxury timepieces after all.
One somewhat unique aspect of Stührling watches is its use of Krysterna crystal glass. The company has an entire blog post about it here, in which it claims to have superior shatter-resisting qualities to that of the industry gold-standard, Sapphire Crystal. While I cannot prove or disprove this claim, I am somewhat dubious about it. Perhaps the fact that Krysterna is just another brand of material owned by the same family of companies that own the Stührling and Akribos brand should provide some insight. Nevertheless, the Krysterna glass seems to have similar refractive properties to traditional Sapphire Crystal. After a few weeks of wear, I’m yet to see even the tiniest of micro-scratches or abrasions on the watch’s glass.
So, where do we land on the final proclamation of the build quality of this watch? Perhaps the best way to put it is that somewhere along the way, Stürling has imbued this particular timepiece with some very solid craftsmanship that is punching above its weight when you consider its price point.
SIZE AND FEEL
At a case thickness of 12.25mm and a case size of 44mm, this watch feels very well balanced in terms of size and feel. It’s not a light watch by any means and will feel fairly substantial on your wrist. That feeling of weight, by most measures, often signifies some measure of high quality in a fashionable object such as this. Though don’t be fooled, some watch manufacturers have been known to artificially inflate a watch’s weight by adding unnecessarily dense components to add heft where no heft was required to satiate this weight = quality perception. I don’t think that’s the case with the Monaco 1000.
The watch has been very comfortable to wear. Like all watches that consider comfort, it’s blended nicely into the background of being on my wrist for a full day with nary a consideration to weight or discomfort. Because of its larger size, however, be mindful of the fact that you’ll likely wind up banging it on corners or edges here and there.
The Monaco 1000 I received arrived with a black 22mm genuine leather strap with contrast stitching in a colour that matches the primary orange hue of the dial. The other colour variants of this watch also have similar colour-matched contrast stitching, which is frankly a nice little design embellishment I appreciate.
The strap is extremely comfortable and features a charmingly crafted tang buckle in stainless steel with a stamped Stührling wings logo. The strap features a very subtle alligator pattern and features a thickness denoting strength and quality. That said, the strap is a touch short and narrow for my taste and may present some issues for men with particularly thick and large wrists.
Like many of Stührling’s competing direct-to-consumer watch brands, this is not a watch for serious watch collectors. But it is absolutely a watch for someone wanting to pick up a very nice-looking piece they can be proud to wear on their wrist with a design skewed towards motor-racing fans.