Fonderia Navale Stella
One thing I have learned over the many years I have been part of the watch media is to try and never judge a book by its cover. Up until recently, I had no interest in a larger watch for my personal collection. I was in that 42-43mm range, more thin than thick and had really boxed myself into a corner as far as what to buy and enjoy. Sometimes you just need to get out of your own way and a Raven Defender did that for me. What does that have to do with today’s review piece, the Fonderia Navale Stella? It allowed me to appreciate it a little more and realize just because on paper it is larger than I normally would wear, does not mean I shouldn’t give it a second look. I think many reviewers like to portray themselves as experts in all things and the reality is, I am just like every other watch collector. I have weird quirks and go through phases just like everyone else.
Fonderia Navale Stella Specifications:
Case diameter: 44 mm excluding the crown – lug to lug 53 mm with fixed bezel.
Movement: Miyota 9015 automatic
Case material: CuSn6 Bronze for heavy-duty applications
Crown: Tin Phosphor Bronze screw down crown 10.5 mm to avoid Galvanic oxidation
Crystal: AR Sapphire single Domed 3.5mm thick
Dial: 32mm diameter grained Enamel with applied indexes.
Water-resistance: 200 meters / 660 feet / 20 ATM
Case back: Stainless Steel
Strap: 24mm brown leather 24mm Flourorubber strap. Screw lug bars.
Buckle: Tin Bronze Buckle
Shock resistance: Citizen Miyota Parashock
Let me be clear though, this is not a watch I would personally wear on a regular basis. There are a few reasons for that, mainly the fact that bronze and my skin is a no go. The Fonderia Navale Stella is unapologetically a big and bold bronze watch, with only the case back being stainless steel, and every other part of the watch that touches your skin is bronze. I also wear a decent amount of silver jewelry and bronze and gold is just not my thing these days, though I still appreciate the look of it. That is why I still review these types of watches. I even wore this watch off and on as much as I could, turning my wrist very green, which leads to vigorously scrubbing my wrist in public bathrooms, something that does catch the attention of others.
Who is Fonderia Navale? They are the sister brand of Pontvs Watches, a brand I reviewed here early last year. I am not 100% sure why they have two different brands that produce, at least in my opinion very similar looking watches, but what do I know. Both brands seem adamant about producing bronze and brass pieces and proving that bronze is not a fad, rather it is here to stay. I think they are right by the way. I have been hearing since 2010 that bronze is just a fad, and here we are in 2019, closing in on a decade of people saying that. I am not sure why people care really. Sure, I have seen a few watches over the years offered in bronze that I would have bought if they were in steel or titanium, but it’s not like there isn’t a crazy amount of choices out there when it comes to buying a watch. Bronze (and brass) is also unique in that every watch will patina (age) in a different way. There are many different factors involved with how a bronze watch will patina, including the composition of the metal itself.
The Fonderia Navale Stella is obviously not your average bronze watch either. The design can be polarizing with its fixed bezel and stainless screws, the massive 10 o’clock crown and just overall appearance of this watch. To me, that is what makes this watch stand out. Even if this watch was in titanium, it would still probably not make the regular rotation for me but it is something I would wear occasionally, as it is a rugged looking watch that has a fun quality about it. So yeah, if you are a little more conservative, this watch is probably not going to be for you, especially with the bright colored dials it is offered in.
Speaking of the dial, the Fonderia Navale Stella comes in two color choices, the bright vibrant blue you see here, and a green hue that I do not think I can describe properly, it is a very intense green, almost a pea green if you will. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, only the green is available. I do not have confirmation if the blue dial will have another run or not, so if you want one you might have to search the secondary market. Beyond the bright colors, the dial has a grained enamel texture, similar to stucco paint almost, and adds another unique element to this watch. Both options have the orange accents on the dial and hands as you see here.
Even though the bezel is massive, which does take up some dial real estate, I had no issues being able to read the time at all. The hands and markers are large, but not oversized and the bright colors aid in readability as well. When it comes to wearability, Stella was surprisingly comfortable. While this watch is on the larger size, it is not massive and not very thick either. This watch really sits flat against the wrist and is very comfortable to wear, either with the Isofrane style strap or the leather, both included at no extra charge.
I have often knocked brands for offering multiple straps, as usually they are not of very good quality and I think quality over quantity is always the way to go. That is not the case here. Both the Isofrane style rubber strap and the leather strap are well made and ones that I feel most would purchase if available for individual sale. The massive bronze buckles are not exactly my taste, but I know some like that massive belt buckle look and the buckles are not a standard design either. Straps and buckles are so often overlooked by so many brands, both mainstream and micro and I am glad to see they just didn’t slap on thin leather or rubber with the usual thumbnail buckle.
From the Pontvs website:
“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.“
I am not sure if I would wear this watch for navigating, but I do like that they gave some thought to naming this model and that it is depicted on the case back.
Some nice lume as well
The Stella really is one of those watches that you can say offers a lot of bang for your buck. At $490, you are getting a very industrial looking bronze watch that offers a good movement, sapphire crystal, 2 quality straps, and very striking dials. When you look at all the watches reviewed here or available on the market, it is hard to beat the value this watch offers. Style and design are subjective, and as I stated, this will not be one that would be on my wrist on a daily basis, but I appreciate what it offers and feel it is a great watch for the under $500 price tag.