Variety is definitely the spice of life and when it comes to watches this is no different. I recently read something about bronze/brass watches being played out which I thought was a bit drastic. Why should we be limited to stainless steel and titanium? I personally love having a variety of choices in my collection and bronze/brass cases offer that variety in more ways than one. That variety can be taken further in terms of patina, forced, natural, or even if you prefer no patina, the fact that you can change the appearance of the case offers variety. I don’t consider bronze/brass watches as a trend, I consider them just another welcome option to case material.
Today we are looking at the newest dive watch offering from Fonderia Navale, Stella. For those of you who’s mind went to a Streetcar Named Desire you are not alone. But as iconic as that movie is, Stella in this case has a much older origin. Stella is the guiding spirit of the sea that is represented with Polaris the brightest star in the Ursa constellation. Polaris is notable for currently being the closest bright star to the North Celestial Pole. The pole marks true north, which makes the North Star important in navigation.
So let’s start with the immediate obvious here, that obvious being the case. Stella’s case measurements are 44 mm excluding the crown – lug to lug 53 mm and she is made up of CuSn6 bronze. When I received Stella she already had a good start on some natural patina. I personally love any kind of patina, therefore this was a welcome sight. The case is packed full of personality through design details.
I have to say that the fixed bezel is what truly caught my attention here on Stella. The bronze bezel held in place assisted by 6 steel screws. The steel is a nice contrast to the sea of bronze that makes up a majority of Stella’s case. Stella has a fantastic industrial shape to her case that makes her have a no nonsense appearance. At the ten o’clock position is the tin phosphor bronze screw down crown, measuring 10.5 mm. The material used was a conscious decision for the simple fact to avoid galvanic oxidation which would potentially negatively affect crown function/operation. The crown is extremely easy to grip and operate because of its generous size and edge design. The signed crown is nicely protected nestled close to the large angular drilled lug and single crown protector that extends out from the case itself. I personally love the crown itself and it’s placement on the watch case. Definitely works for me.
The screw down case back features a lovely compass rose that has been etched onto the stainless steel. A question that I have been asked quite a bit is why do bronze watches have stainless steel case backs? For those who haven’t experienced bronze/brass touching against the skin for extended period of time, the material will often cause greening on the skin. Certainly not life threatening but can be an annoyance to some people.
When I saw the initial pictures of this dial, I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to like the shade of green FN chose once I would see the watch in person. The green actually works really well because of all the other accenting details on this dial. I wasn’t sold on the green initially in person either. The oversized white and orange hands help in breaking up the sea of green. The oversizing of the hands and hour markers allow for Stella’s easy legibility. The flat sapphire crystal makes viewing Stella’s dial extremely easy from different angles. I definitely grew to appreciate the dial because of what FN did with the overall design. The textured dial combined with the applied markers, assist with keeping the dial from becoming a flat & monotonous bore.
The orange border around the chapter ring offers a nice touch of contrasting color to Stella’s dial. The chapter ring features a very legible white printed minute track, allowing for ease of timing even when your wrist is at awkward angles. Personally I could live without a date window on any watch and I could have done without it here on Stella. Date windows interrupt the flow of a dial in my opinion.
Stella comes on a brown leather strap with a standard pin style buckle. The strap has a good amount of padding to it which adds to the comfort of Stella when on the wrist. The patina/off white stitching on the strap is a nice little accent of detail that pulls together the strap and watch with continuity. I like that companies such as Fonderia Navale continue to bring out bronze/brass watches because variety is much appreciated. What is also appropriated is Fonderia Navale’s commitment to improving quality with each of their releases. Stella is by far their best piece to date in terms of overall quality and overall design. Stella keeps beating thanks to her heart which is a Citizen Miyota Parashock movement. This piece would be darn near perfect in my opinion if the date window was eliminated. My favorite details are the ones found on the case itself. The thick, drilled lugs, the bold fixed bezel, the oversized crown, the caseback, all work perfectly together. For just under $500 you definitely get your money’s worth here.
Thanks to Fonderia Navale and thank you all for reading!