Named after Joseph Stalin, the City of Stalingrad (renamed in the 1960s to “Volgograd”) is famous for being the location of one of the bloodiest battles during World War II.
From the Stalingrad Watches website: “Against all odds, the Soviet defense of the city of Stalingrad stopped the German advance into Eastern Europe and Russia and ultimately turned the tide of WWII in favor of the Allied forces of Russia, Britain, France and the United States.”
Based on this rich description of Russian history, and the bold styling of the brand’s watches, you might be mistaken (as was I) into thinking that Stalingrad Watch brand is based in Russia. In fact, their headquarters is actually in Hong Kong.
The brand’s founders started out as a supplier, building watches for other brands. More recently, they decided to branch off into their own brand, and produce the styles that they wanted to make. Their prices start out with the $150 Torpedo model, featuring a Japanese Quartz movement with sweep seconds, and jump up to the $600 Kursk with a bronze case and Miyota automatic.
The Stalingrad watch that I chose is the middle of the range $365 “Grenade” model, putting it in a crowded price range. Does it stack up to the competition? Keep reading to find out!
The first thing that jumped out at me about the Grenade (and the reason that I chose it) is the unique case shape. The wire lugs and rounded bezel allow it to stand apart from the plethora of dive watches and field watches in the segment. Despite the brand being named after a city famous for a WW2 battle, the Grenade model has the look of a trench watch from WW1.
If you compare spec sheets, Stalingrad’s Destroyer model is actually a better value on paper. The white model is $45 less expensive and adds a rotating ceramic dive bezel in addition to a sapphire crystal. I chose the Grenade model simply for the looks. I already own a few dive watches, and I thought it would be a unique addition to my collection.
Each dial color of the Grenade model has a different case finish to go with it (including the bold “ionic blue“). My grey dial version features the “antiqued silver plating” case finish, which adds to the vintage WW1 look of the watch. I think it adds a unique look to the watch, and will probably look even more interesting as the watch get some wear.
The 42mm case appears to have been made from two pieces (as I’d imagine a trench watch would have been) plus a screw down case-back. With the crystal, it is 13mm thick and has 100m water resistance.
As mentioned, the Grenade has wire-style lugs. You might ask how the strap is changed, but actually spring bars are hiding inside the strap, meaning that any conventional 22mm strap could be used.
The screw-down case-back is transparent and allows a view of the Miyota 8 series automatic movement. It carries on the antique silver plating, tying the watch together.
The rotor is a unique, all-black design with the Stalingrad logo in white. The movement has a bit of machine finishing applied. Although it is not the best-finished movement, it is appropriate for this price range, and I think a lot of buyers will enjoy being able to see it.
The lug to lug distance of the Grenade is just over 50mm. The long wire lugs make it wear a bit bigger than a typical 42mm watch might. It’s definitely a bold watch, which I think was the target. My wrist is a bit over 7 inches, and I didn’t have any issues with comfort, or the size.
The lugs also curve down to aid in wearability
The crown also has the same finish as the rest of the watch, as well as an engraved Stalingrad star logo.
The crown is fairly thin, so it did not contact my wrist.
It is a bigger diameter though, and there are no crown guards, so it is easy to adjust. It does not screw down.
All of the grenade models feature a sandwich dial which is a layering technique that Panerai watches are known for. This is my first watch of this style, and I find it really fun to look at.
The bold dial and modern font of the Arabic numerals create an interesting juxtaposition to the vintage-style case. I personally like the look, and would not find yet another throwback style watch as interesting.
The dial features a bold, white Stalingrad name at twelve, and three lines of the basic specs at six.
The minute track is a rail-style painted with gloss black and pushed right to the edge of the dial.
The date window is my one minor complaint about the dial. The white border is a good method to integrate an “off the shelf” Miyota date wheel, and putting it at 4 o’clock was the right choice (rather than disturbing the large 3 numeral). I wish just that a cleaner method could have been used. I’d love to see a bespoke gray date wheel with black font used and have it be rotated to sit parallel. My guess is that the current implementation was a method to keep the cost of the Grenade reasonable, and it does make the date much more legible.
As you might expect, the white hands feature bright lume. Even the white paint on the center of the seconds hand is lumed!
The numerals are also hiding black lume under the sandwich dial (white on other models). If you have ever owned a watch with black lume, you will know that it is not very bright. Luckily the hands alone make the watch very legible at night. I’m still glad that I chose this over one of the versions with white lume.
The hands are skeletonized and feature white lumed paint with black centers. The seconds hand features a lollipop style lume pip, and a counterbalance.
The large, white hands against the dark gray background make the watch extremely legible in all light conditions.
It also has good legibility at most angles.
The crystal on this watch is mineral, but due to the clarity and blue-tinted AR coating on the underside, I originally thought that it was sapphire.
It’s raised ever so slightly above the edge of the case, and has a slight dome.
There is minimal distortion at most angles.
The Grenade arrived with a gray Cordura strap with a tan leather lining and a bonus brown 5 ring nylon dual-pass strap.
I’ve mostly been wearing the watch on the Cordura as I think the color and style match the watch better. It is fairly thick and feels very durable. At first, I thought it was too stiff, but it broke in fairly quickly, and now conforms well to my wrist.
The buckle matches the finish of the watch (I love it when watch manufacturers do that). It also has a loose collar around the buckle that allows the strap to roll through more easily. A convenient touch, plus it adds to the vintage look.
The strap also has light gray leather to help strengthen the holes.
I find five-ring straps a bit bulky, but a lot of people love them. I love that they included the option to completely change the look of the watch.
The Grenade features a Miyota 8215 movement. As mentioned, it has a custom rotor and is visible through the caseback.
The 8215 has 21 jewels, beats at 21,600vph (6 beats per second), has a 40 hour power reserve, and an accuracy of +40/-20 seconds. It has hand winding, but not hacking. The rotor is uni-directional winding, so if you flick your wrist, you can experience the famous “Miyota wobble.”
At $365, the Grenade features a lot of competition from micro (and major) brands. Considering the Japanese automatic movement, and unique construction and finish, the Grenade presents a great value proposition. It’s something to strongly consider if you’re looking for a bold watch that stands apart from the typical dive watches and field watches you’ll find in this price range.
What do you think of the Stalingrad Grenade? Is there a bold, affordable watch that you prefer? Let us know in the comments!