Let’s be real. Brand name, no matter the product plays an important role in whether someone will purchase or not. The Stalingrad Kursk, a bronze watch made in Hong Kong, has one of those names that I think many will pass on. There is no getting around it, it is a strange choice for a name of a watch brand. But, a name alone does not make a watch, so what is the $600 price getting you? Well, things are not looking up, to be honest. The 45mm Bronze cushion case is not bad at all, but things like PVD bronze coated pieces, a Miyota 8215 Movement and a crown that doesn’t seat properly are not some of the highlights. As always though, I will give you the full rundown, so keep reading for the full details of this bronze anomaly.
Stalingrad Kursk Specifications:
MOVEMENT : Miyota 8 Series Automatic 3 Hands with Date CASE MATERIAL : Bronze with Stainless Steel Bezel CASE DIAMETER : 45mm Case Thickness: 14mm Lug to Lug: 50mm Lug Width: 24mm LENS : Sapphire Crystal CASE COLOR : Bronze with Antiqued Brass Ring DIAL COLOR : Green with Swiss Green Luminous Markers BAND : Brown Genuine Leather Strap WATER RESISTANCE : 20 ATM
It seems like almost every year I talk about just how many watch brands are currently on the market. This year is no different, even with all that is going on globally, new brands keep emerging. Yes, that gives us countless choices when it comes to buying a watch, but it also continues to muddy the waters as to what is a legit brand with well-made watches. One thing I have noticed with many new watch brands is the name they have chosen. Some of them just make me scratch my head. I understand that so many names are already trademarked or in use and different countries may use a name that does not appeal or have a meaning to me, but global appeal should always be part of a companies plans. I think almost everyone is aware of the Battle of Stalingrad, and I can not for the life of me figure out why any company would name a watch brand as such. Maybe they were just looking at a database of available names and chose this.
The Stalingrad Kursk is a nice looking watch from afar- a bronze cushion case with wire lugs, and large 3D markers brimming with lume compound. It is when you start to look closer and check out some of the details, not to mention the movement, that the price tag and this watch in general, look less and less appealing. The first thing I noticed was the odd shade of the crown and buckle, and once I turned the Kursk over, the case back. These parts are not actual bronze, rather they are bronze PVD coated steel. It retains the look of bronze (to a point), but without having bronze touching your skin. The problem is that bronze will undoubtedly patina unless you polish it constantly, and once it does, the color difference will be even more noticeable.
The California style dial of the Stalingrad Kursk is actually the nicest aspect of this bronze “diver”. With a slate textured dial, a bronze plated date wheel surround, and massive 3D markers. The dial is seemingly well made with clean dial text and precisely applied markers, and even the word bronze is done in a mint color to match the lume blocks, which is a nice touch. The paddle hands do look out of place though, and they remind me of the Marathon Jsar hands with the arrow tips chopped off. Actually, at certain angles, that’s exactly what it looks like, but I think they just forgot to sand the hour and minute hand properly which left some rough edges.
The bronze case arrived with a slight patina already happening, which some watch enthusiasts will enjoy, as that is a big part of why bronze watches are so popular. The problem again though is the difference in color from the PVD colored bronze. Wired lugs are usually welded on and I believe that is the case here, but for the most part, they look really good and I can see only one or two areas where they were attached. The PVD bezel is easy to grip and smooth to turn, but the screw-down crown is where things really take a turn for the worse. The crown operates as it should, at least when pulling it out to set the time and date, but it does not seat well against the case. This is intentional as well, as you can see the groove above the crown, but not below it, and it looks like the crown is not flush with the case. I discuss the water-resistance (or lack thereof) in the video, but I did decide to run this watch underwater for a few minutes with the crown screwed down, and I have not noticed any issues with the crystal fogging up, so it does not seem like water seeped inside as of yet. Maybe I got lucky or the seals are good enough to do the job, but the way it screws down is a cause for concern for me.
That brings me to the Miyota 8215 movement. I have long discussed microbrands using the Seiko NH35 in watches above a $400 price point, but using this 8215 in a $600 watch is almost inexcusable. Yes, the movement has been upgraded in recent years to now include hacking, which I admit was one of the things that held this movement back, but the movement is still slow and jittery and may be fine for a cheap watch, and depending on your financial situation, maybe this is a cheap watch to you. But to many, $600 is a lot of coin to drop on a watch and even though the movement is not everything when it comes to a watch’s value, there are so many better options available when it comes to this price.
The lume is more than adequate although with the massive amounts of lume compound applied, I guess I expected it to be even brighter and last longer. The type of lume used (Stalingrad does not list type of lume that is used) is more important than how much is applied but when you see massive markers like this filled with lume, you assume this is going to be a lume monster. That is not really the case, at least not on the example I was sent.
I will give the Stalingrad Kursk some praise though. I am allergic to bronze and normally can not wear a bronze watch for more than a few hours at a time before it will start to turn my wrist green. Because of the stainless steel crown, case back, and buckle, and the way the watch sits on my wrist, I was able to wear this watch for two days before I started to notice some green right around the area the lugs rest against my wrist. Even though I do not agree with the price of this wristwatch if you are someone like me that has trouble wearing bronze pieces, this is an option to have a bronze watch in the rotation. As far as size and comfort, the 45mm x 50mm case wears well on my 7 1/2 inch wrist and the suede strap is not only good looking but has a soft leather backing as well, with clean stitching.
How do I summarize this review? If I were to give the Stalingrad Kursk a letter grade, it would be a C-, and that is probably being a little generous. I think a lot of the issues come down to price. If this watch was being sold at $200-$250, my review would probably be very different. Looking at their website, it seems you can get 15% off, which brings the price down to $510, which is still way too much. A better movement, such as a Miyota 9000 series, PVD black or titanium crown, bezel, case back and buckle, along with better lume, and then I could definitely see the price. As it is, it seems like they had a nice design in mind, just with poor execution, and that is where I will end this review.
I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.
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You mentioned the distasteful aspect of the Stalingrad name, but no mention of the Kursk? Kursk was the name of the Russian sub that sank in a disaster in 2000 where all hands (118) were lost. Unless this watch is a tribute to those lost (there’s no indication that there is, is there?), the Kursk name is as odd, if not unfortunate, as Stalingrad.