Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stührling Original Lifestyle Voyager II GMT Automatic

Model # 164.3345K1

At a Glance:

Model/Brand:  Stührling Original Lifestyle Voyager II
Movement:  Chinese automatic
Material:  rose gold plated stainless steel case, leather strap
Complications:  date display, independently adjustable GMT hand
Price:  MSRP (fantasy) $675 USD; street price $150-$200 USD

Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

This is my second Stührling Original watch, since I was so impressed with the Stührling Tuskegee Flier I purchased late last year.  A review of that Tuskegee Flier can be found on this blog.

I was attracted to this Stührling for several reasons.  It is an automatic with an independently adjustable GMT hand, so it’s a ‘true’ GMT watch.  The addition of a world cities rotating bezel makes it a true ‘world timer.’    Although I really have no practical use for a watch with a world time GMT feature, I have always liked this complication and therefore, I am drawn to watches such as this.

The clean dial layout, overall look of this watch, and of course, its price sealed the deal for me.  These can usually be found in the $150-$200 USD range, I paid less than $150 USD delivered.  For an automatic GMT, that is a very good price.

The biggest departure for me with this watch is the rose gold finish.  The Lifestyle Voyager II GMT Automatic is also available with a white dial and gold tone finish and a black dial with a standard stainless steel finish at the same price points.

I really don’t care for gold finishes on watches, but for some reason, rose gold strikes my fancy.  The rose gold on this Stührling is really more of a copper tone and is not pinkish like some rose gold finishes can be.  That is a-okay by me.  The rose gold finish on this watch reminds me somewhat of tarnished metal, with a luster and patina that speaks of quality.  It may not resonate with some, but I think it’s quite nifty.

The case is solid stainless steel with the rose gold finish applied (don’t know if it’s a PVD type deposition or more ‘standard’ plating, but the finish is fairly evenly applied with only one or two slight spots where the finish could be more even or consistent).  The case is brushed with the top bezel being polished.  Both the main time-setting crown @ 3 and the world cities crown @ 8 are signed.  The main crown screws down, the world cities crown does not (a slight demerit here for that).

Watch is factory rated for 100 meters water resistance.

Case measures approximately 44.2mm without the crowns, 48.1mm with the main crown @ 3, 12.8mm thick with a 22mm lug width.  The medium/dark brown alligator print leather strap is signed on the inside and features medium padding and color coordinated stitching.  The strap is 22mm at the lugs and tapers to 20mm at the buckle and is of acceptable quality and is claimed to be ‘French leather.’ 

The strap includes a pushbutton release signed butterfly style deployant in matching rose gold finish.   I’m not crazy about deployant buckles on leather straps, but it does, once again, add a level of cache to this watch that is appealing.

One odd thing about the strap, it was installed backwards on this watch, at least to me (long side of strap at the 12 o’clock position, buckle end at the 6).  Some people claim the factory orientation on the strap is correct, but I’ve never seen any other straps come like this from the factory. 

The case back is a screw down type with a display window that shows off the Chinese-made ST 90104 22-jewel automatic movement running at 21,600 bph.  The case back has machined holes instead of notches as the screw down points, which gives this watch a more expensive look. 

The movement can be manually wound and hacks and so far, has kept good time.   The independently adjustable GMT hand is easily set by turning the main crown @ 3 in the downward position when in the first click date-setting position.  The GMT hand seems to NOT exhibit the backlash after setting that some GMT movements seem afflicted with.

The movement is nicely finished with Geneva stripes, pearlage and a rose gold finished signed rotor secured by a blued screw.  Sharp!

The crystals on this watch are Stührling’s ‘Krysterna’ variety, which I believe to be their version of a sapphire crystal.  Both crystals are flat and have no anti-reflective coating. 

As for the inner rotating world time bezel, the action of this disk could be smoother.  It seems to hang up or get hard to turn for about 35 to 40-percent of its entire rotation.  I at first thought it was detents to lock in each city, but that’s clearly not the case.  This bezel also seems to rattle when the watch is shook, as I hear something making noise and it’s not the rotor winding or the strap or buckle clicking.  Demerits here, too, for this QC issue.  I just hope that it isn’t noisy as the watch is worn and that the selected city stays in place and doesn’t rotate out of position.  Time will tell.   A locking world cities crown would be a very desirable upgrade to this piece.

The dial is matte black, with rose gold non-luminous hands.  The minute bezel seems to be printed on the backside of the crystal.  It would be nice if they could have made this an actual rotating inner bezel.  That would rock.  Also, if you look at the watch at a fairly severe angle, you can see the world cities bezel underneath the minute bezel printing.  The world cities bezel is not shrouded by a chapter ring.  You have to look at a pretty strong angle to see this, but it may be off-putting to some.

The 24-hour track is done in two shades of rose gold, with a darker hue running upwards from 9 o’clock to the 3 o’clock position.  This is a subtle detail that looks good.  The seconds hand is red and the GMT hand is black with a large red tip that is very legible and easy to spot on the dial.  The markers and arabics are rose gold and are applied to the dial.  The calendar wheel @ 3 is black on white, date quicksets through the main crown in the standard fashion.

Some may find the main hands to be a bit thin and/or slightly too short, but so far, they are pleasing to me and are appropriately classy for this design.

Once again, though, on the dial, some QC issues are present.  The biggest issue is a noticeable spot between the 5 and 10 markers on the dial.  It looks like a dust speck, but I believe it’s an imperfection on the dial.  If you look at the dial with an 8X loupe, more imperfections surface and the arabics even look somewhat dirty.  It’s been said that you shouldn’t look at a watch dial with a strong loupe because ANY brand will show imperfections and I’m not trying to be overly critical here.  With the naked eye, the speck that I previously mentioned is the most obvious defect on the dial.  Otherwise, the dial is a clean, easy-to-read design.

Overall, I’m fairly pleased with this Stührling Lifestyle Voyager II world time automatic.  Yes, there are some QC issues that should be addressed at the factory, but the overall presentation and look of this watch far outweighs its relatively modest purchase price.  For true GMT/world time functionality, you can’t go wrong or for pure bang-for-the buck looks, it’s hard to beat. 

Pros:  expensive looks, true GMT functionality with an automatic movement, decent size, several flavors to choose from, low entry price

Cons:  QC issues, while not deal-breakers, need to be addressed if Stührling wants to be considered a real player in the industry, world time crown needs to screw down, maybe add some lume to the dial?  Strap installed backwards, at least to me.

Verdict:  superb value for what this watch is and what this watch represents, an overall clean, attractive design with a decent movement

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures!




I only owned this watch for a short time before selling it.  While I admire the overall design, I felt the quality control on this example was lacking, as mentioned in my review.  This watch comes in a variety of colors and I wouldn’t rule out giving a different color combo a try somewhere down the line.

-MCV, 4-27-11

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