Steinhart Marine Chronometer II Roman
As this is the very first article on the Timely Blog, I thought it would be very fitting to write about my very first mechanical wristwatch. It is partly to blame for the birth of this blog after all.
The culprit itself is called Steinhart Marine Chronometer II Roman, and was the catalyst that got me into this hobby. I had previously owned a quartz Tissot, but the Steinhart was the first "serious watch" that I had the privilege to own. It has since moved on from my collection, but we got to spend a good two years together.
This time on Wrist Time we are going to discuss this wonderful entry-level Swiss watch.
First, a little about the brand. Steinhart is a relatively new German company that produces their watches in Switzerland. They are famous (or notorious) for their homage watches. Many of their designs are very similar to some of the most famous Rolexes, like the Submariner and the Paul Newman Daytona.
This cheapens the brand in the eyes of many. That being said, the Marine Chronometer is not a copy of a Rolex or any other exact watch. It is based on old navigational instruments. More on that a bit later.
The case of the watch measures 44 millimeters across the case, excluding the crown. The thickness of the watch is 14,2mm and the lug width is 22mm. The onion crown also protrudes quite a bit away from the case. This makes the watch wear a bit large, as the crown has a habit of digging into your wrist.
So it is a big watch, there is no doubt. However, the overall proportions of the watch are good and it comes across balanced. The hefty size and makes the otherwise dressy design more casual.
The bezel, the top of the lugs, and the underside of the case are polished. The polishing is good, while not top notch, and reflects light nicely. The sides of the case are brushed. This makes the sides appear a bit thinner, and makes possible scratches less visible.
The dial of the watch is a typical marine chronometer design. Marine chronometers were desk clocks used on ships in the 18th century. They were used as navigational devices, so they had to be very legible and accurate.
The Steinhart follows this type of design obediently. And that is a good thing. The bold black roman numerals on the enamel-like white dial make the watch very easy to read. The small seconds at six add to the vintage charm of the watch. The hands are sculpted very nicely and chemically blued. At certain occasions they appear almost black, but when the light hits them at a right angle they shine bright blue.
The Marine Chronometer II houses a hand wound ETA Unitas 6498-1 movement. It has a power reserve of around 46 hours and ticks rather leisurely at 18,000 A/h. The not-so-smooth sweep of the second hand did not bother me at all.
The movement is decorated extensively. At first you are hit with this gold color. It is rich and very pleasing to the eye. The plates are decorated with wide Geneva stripes. They are, of course at this price point, machined and not hand engraved. Nevertheless, they are well done.
The caliber 6498-1 is an old pocket-watch movement and fits very well into the vintage theme of the whole watch.
The watch comes on a nice leather strap with a foe-alligator print. It is of a dark brown color with contrasting stitching. The stitching is a couple shades lighter brown and has an orange tint to it. The strap is pretty thick and takes some wear in order to make it mold into your wrist. The strap is well made, but I would have preferred something with more vintage feel. A very simple calfskin strap in a slightly lighter brown would have hit the nail on the head.
For its size the Marine Chronometer wears relatively well. Don’t get me wrong – it is a large watch. There is no way around that. But if you are used to wearing bigger pieces, you’ll find this right up your alley. For my 16cm wrist the Steinhart is a bit too big. You can see that the lugs are right at the edges of my wrist, perhaps even overhanging a bit. That didn’t bother me at first, but after trying on some smaller watches I just found them a lot more comfortable to wear.
The Steinhart Marine Chronometer is a true value proposition. Although the brand is not the most appreciated one out there, this design is not a copy of another watch. Rather it pays homage to the marine chronometers of old, and does it well. Many other brands, such as Stowa and Glashütte Original offer similar designs but at a higher price-point. At 450€ you will have a tough time finding something else with such clear and versatile design, with a well-decorated Swiss movement.
Over all I give it a thumbs up.