Dive Watch Releases / Articles

2011-05-01

STOLAS Harbormaster GENOA Review

BACKGROUND STOLAS are newly established boutique Watch Company based in the United States. Their first range of watches named ‘Harbormaster’ consists of three divers / sailing models. These are the GENOA, the Spinnaker and the Gennaker. The GENOA (as does its siblings) takes its name from a type of sail, and is STOLAS’ flagship model if you will. It is also a Limited Edition of just 50 pieces. And, of the three Harbormaster watches the Genoa is the only one that boasts Swiss made on its dial, which it has earned for its Swiss assembly and the Swiss movement that it houses.



AESTHETIC
When I first encountered the STOLAS brand last year I immediately recognized influences in their line of watches that had come from the Ulysse Nardin Maxi Marine Diver. There was an overall look of the Harbormaster watches particularly the Genoa that mirrored the Maxi Marine Divers design. This came from a number of elements not least of which was its handset, which was maybe a little too close to the Maxi Marine Diver for comfort. Since then STOLAS have seen fit to replace this handset with something a little less obvious.

The UN influences are still quite apparent in the GENOA, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I guess in some ways it could be considered refreshing to see something other than a Submariner being copied. So before you cast judgment have a thought for all the Sub Clones that we have become so oblivious to. On the other hand I don’t know how I’d feel though if actually owned a Maxi Marine Diver, I may well be singing a different tune!



Apart from the UN side of things the contrast of the orange on its bezel with white of its dial is kind of cool, the colors pop very nicely, so if you’re a colorful watch guy, you’re probably going to be quite taken with this. There’s also a fair amount of detail on the watch not just on the dial, but on its bezel, case-side (via an engraving) and of course the watch’s display case back.

DIAL / HANDS
The GENOA has a lovely white lacquered dial, which has been embossed with a silhouette of sail and rigging with a palm tree backdrop. The imagery on the dial can only really be noticed by its wearer. To the daydreamer this will certainly evoke thoughts of sailing off into a tropical sunset; to the cynic it might be considered a little cheesy.



Blued-steel semi-skeletonized hour and minute hands add a touch of luxury to the GENOA’s dial; they complement its SuperLuminova applied blued markers. Applied orange luminous Arabic numerals are at 6 and 12. The minute hand has been applied with bright orange lume and the hour hand with the same green lume as the hour markers. There’s a bright orange lightning-bolt second as if to say ‘We design what we like’! The lightning bolt second hand is a famous feature of the Rolex Milgauss. The STOLAS version is sans the arrow pointer.

CASE
The GENOA measures 44mm x (≈) 14.5mm. It has a 316L Stainless Steel case construction, which has been finished with a high polish. The right lateral side of the case has a smart looking engraved feature with the STOLAS name and the accompanying text ‘Limited Edition’. I really appreciate details such as this, they are interesting to me, but also add further luxury.

CROWN There’s a signed screw down crown nestled snugly between its angular crown guards. The crown, which is positioned at 4 o’clock, has a nice wide stem, but was slightly wobbly. Its operation and closure was quite fiddly, too.



BEZEL The GENOA has a unidirectional rotational diver’s bezel with elegant coin edging for its grip. The bezel is of 120-click type. Its movement is quite stiff and deliberate and because of its low-profile manipulation was a little awkward. The bezel features an elapsed dive time scale with a black intermittent wave pattern, but also a stunning (patent pending) orange lume application that runs between 12 o’clock and 4.

GLASS The GENOA has a flat sapphire crystal. Sapphire crystal is considered the toughest material used for a watch’s glass because of its high scratch-resistance. It is second only to a diamond in its hardness. The GENOA’s crystal has been coated with anti-reflective material on its inside to help avoid unwanted glare and reflections.



CASEBACK A high polished stainless steel and sapphire crystal domed exhibition caseback is one of the GENOA’s most attractive features. It’s the window through which a custom decorated STOLAS rotor can be seen driving its mechanical movement. Exhibition casebacks are still quite a rarity on dive watches, but are very much appreciated as they are not only cool, but serve to remind us of the marvel that is the mechanical movement.

WATER-Resistance
Whilst a water-resistance of 200m won’t quite get you to the abyssal plains (they lie between 3000 and 6000 meters) it is still consider suitable for most recreational water-sports, which would include snorkeling and perhaps some light recreational diving.



MOVEMENT
A 25 Jewel ETA 2824 automatic movement with a STOLAS custom decorated rotor powers the GENOA. The movement can be viewed through its exhibition caseback. The watch keeps good time.

BRACELET
The GENOA comes presented on a pretty unremarkable looking steel bracelet, but was supplied with a rubber divers strap and a colorful nylon NATO. Its bracelet is brushed with polished center links and sides; thanks to solid end-links it fits nice and flush with the case. The bracelet feels solid, there’s plenty of weight to it. It’s a pity that it used pins over screws, though. Its clasp actually has a really lovely look to it; I love how it comes in at the sides to expose its pushers, however in all honesty I wasn’t quite feeling Swiss quality here. Still attractive, though!



BUILD
The overall build quality of the GENO doesn’t quite reflect its 1500USD price tag. I say this because I found fault with the crown and its bezel and because the bracelet clasp wasn’t as substantial as it should be. That’s not to say that the GENOA is going to fall apart on you, quite the contrary it’s a rock solid watch built from tough 316L Stainless Steel. It has sapphire crystal and a robust Swiss made mechanical movement that will ensure a very long life span. I just wasn’t bowled over with the overall build, though!



FUNCTIONALITY
Hours, mins, seconds and date feature. 120 click uni-dierctional bezel with luminous bezel markings. Swiss SuperLuminova coupled with LÜM-TEC™ lume system, AR coated glass, divers locking clasp.

LUME
The GENOA uses Swiss SuperLuminova for its dial markers and its hour hand, but for its bezel, minute hand and applied Arabic numerals it uses LÜM-TEC™’s proprietary 8 layer lume system to create an effect that is quite breathtaking as well long lasting. I would rate the GENOA’s lume at very good to excellent.



VALUE
The GENOA has an MSRP of 1500USD. For OceanicTime readers STOLAS are offering a 30% discount which equates to 450USD off that, so with discount 1050USD. At full price the GENOA is really quite expensive, the discounted price makes a little more sense, but is still fairly high for a watch like this. From a boutique company with Swiss made on the dial I would expect just a tad more for my money.30% Coupon Code:[OCEANIC30]

ALSO CONSIDER STOLAS Have two other Harbormaster models, the Spinnaker and Gennaker that house Chinese movements, these are priced around 600USD, so they would be a more affordable alternative. But with 1’500USD in your sky-rocket the world’s your oyster folks! If you must have Swiss made on the dial from a boutique brand, and you like a little color then you might also consider the new BaliHa’i GMT, which has an introductory price of just 900USD.



OVERALL RATING
There’s no escaping the design route that STOLAS took with Genoa, its design quite unabashedly imitates the look of Ulysse Nardin’s Maxi Marine Diver, not close enough to warrant a law-suit, but still pretty damn close. However the GENOA still has a number of redeeming qualities, there’s its exhibition caseback, details such as blued steel hands and markers and its case-side engraving, but for me its real saving grace has to be its clever use of LÜM-TEC™’s proprietary lume system. If nothing else this makes the watch brilliant (literally).



So, is the GENOA just a poor man’s Maxi Marine Diver? Maybe! Is the Genoa a watch for lume freaks? Absolutely! And that in itself will be enough to help it find favor among those out there who are still drawn to its somewhat extrovert charms.


© OceanicTime

Many thanks to STOLAS for the loan of this GENOA for review . . .

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