If you read my recent review of their Grenade, you'll know that Stalingrad Watches' founders started with experience supplying other watch companies. Because they had unique ideas that they wanted to see come to fruition, they have branched out and now build watches of their own imagination. You can feel their passion in their unique designs and use of colors and finishes, almost as if their watches are a showcase of what the company can do for its customers.
I enjoyed wearing and writing about the Grenade enough that I convinced Stalingrad to send me another model to review. Thus, if you keep reading, you'll hear my impressions of the Trooper chronograph.
The case finishes of the Trooper (bare stainless or all black) are more traditional than the Grenade or Destroyer models' antique, or colored finishes. Instead, because the Trooper is a chronograph, Stalingrad uses the the dial to show off.
The model that I chose is listed as having a grey dial, but the subdials and chapter ring, plus hands and lume add unique color and depth to the Trooper.
The case looks thin when viewed from the side, but the dial is nicely recessed. The 3.7mm thick quartz movement is what allows for this. The sloped chapter ring, and recessed subdials help with this look and give the watch dimension that is difficult to capture in photographs.
So how did I like the Trooper? Keep reading to find out!
As mentioned, compared to the "Antiqued Silver Plating" on the Grenade's trench-style case, the Trooper's "Ionic Black" case color and shape looks modern.
The bezel has two stepped and sloped surfaces, with a brushed top surface, and a polished area below.
The tops of the straight lugs are also brushed, as are the sides of the lugs, and flat sides of the case.
The case-back is silver with a large Stalingrad logo at the center, and specs around the perimeter.
The 42mm diameter case is 10.8 mm thick (10mm without the addition of the crystal's dome), and is water resistant to 100m (10atm). The Trooper wears true to its Goldilocks size (just right).
The crown and pushers are finished in the same Ionic Black as the case.
The crown is large and easy to grip, as there are no crown guards and it does not screw down. It features the Stalingrad star logo etched in the face, and ridges around its circumference.
The pump pushers are polished. They stand out well from the case and crown, making them very easy to operate.
Starting from the center and working outward, the dial is a matte light gray color with off-white sub-dials. I've seen bi-compax, and tri-compax, but I'm not sure if there is a name for this dial layout with sub-dials at six and nine o'clock for running seconds and chronograph minutes. It gives a unique asymmetry to the dial, and allows space for the Stalingrad text at twelve, and a proper date window at three (rather than trying to cram it in elsewhere as a lot of chronographs do). The sub-dials are also recessed, adding a level of depth to the dial.
Speaking of the date window, a black on white date is recessed in a stepped rectangular cutout. A white step fills in the gap, and a yellow rectangle surrounds the cutout. The result is a date window integration that looks more intentional than the one that I commented about on the Grenade. Water resistance information is written in white and yellow under the date, and the chronograph 60 minute totalizer has text around it to label it as such.
Hours are marked with large, greenish luminous applied indices, with smaller markers at three, six and nine, plus a large pilot-style triangle at twelve helping to orient the watch at night.
In between the hour markers are one minute markers in the style of a rail track with the outer rail removed. There is then a thin yellow stripe around the dial. A sloped, off-white chapter ring fills the gap to the crystal, featuring black markers in 1/5 seconds increments to line up with the beat rate of the chronograph seconds hand.
I loved the color combination during the day, but another reason that I chose the grey variant is that the lume is Swiss C3. All of the Trooper models have Swiss Lume, but in my experience, C3 is one of the brightest. On the Trooper, it didn't disappoint, the bright green glow making the watch very easy to read in darkness.
The hour and minute hands are pencil style, with wide lume applications matching those on the hour markers. The tip of the minute hand reaches right across the edge of the minute track, which is nice to see, especially since affordable quartz watches often use hands that are too short.
The chronograph seconds hand is the same shade of yellow as the dial accents, and features an arrow tip with a bit of the same C3 lume.
The sub-dial hands are also pencils, and are finished in a dark black/grey color. There is no lume on them, but in the daylight they stand out well against the off-white sub-dials.
Daytime legibility is good with the large, light green rectangles on the hands. As I mentioned, the watch is very easy to read at night. The lume on the minute hand even overlaps the hour markers slightly, making it easy to spot.
As on the Grenade, the crystal is domed mineral with an AR coating that reflects blue in some conditions.
It creates a slight magnification effect at certain angles, giving the watch a bit of pop.
Also like the Grenade, Trooper watches ship with Cordura straps, albeit with additional contrasting color accents. This Grey dial version has a strap that is tan fabric with grey stitching and a tan leather lining. It features contrasting yellow and black leather keepers, and an off-white strip of leather to add durability to the buckle holes. I assume because they are lower-priced, Troopers do not come with an additional five ring strap that (which is fine with me, as I never wore the one that came with the Grenade after taking photos).
It's fun how the strap manages to utilize all of the multiple colors present on the dial in the accents. I might prefer if the main body of the strap matched the dial, but it will be fun picking out other straps to match this watch.
The buckle features the Stalingrad name, and is also Ionic Black to match the case. The strap is 20mm wide at the lugs, and at the buckle.
In the Grenade review, I mentioned that the Cordura strap was fairly stiff at first, but became more comfortable as it broke in. The Trooper's strap broke in more quickly because it is narrower and the padding is thinner. The strap also has a lot of holes, which should allow it to fit even massive wrists.
Both watches have given me an appreciation for Cordura material, as it feels and looks quite durable, and forms to the shape of your wrist over time.
As mentioned, the Trooper uses a quartz chronograph movement. Specifically it is a Japan made Epson YM95. Epson is a subsidiary of Seiko, (and also owns the Orient Watch brand).
It features a 1/5 sweep center seconds chronograph, with a 60 minute counter at 6 o'clock, and running seconds at 9 o'clock, plus a date complication. It is rated for a 5 year battery life.
As mentioned, the movement is only 3.7mm thick, which allows for such a slim-wearing chronograph.
The chronograph minutes hand snaps to the next minute as the seconds cross 60. It is a traditional quartz, rather than a Meca Quarz, so the reset requires waiting for a few seconds for the hands to return home. It's a fine trade off considering the price point.
At $195 ($170 for models with silver case), the Trooper is priced in the same range as fashion chronographs that you might find at the mall. The difference is that this is a watch made by watch lovers, for watch lovers. Unlike the fashion watches, the hands and sub-dials are proportioned properly. It has great lume, AR on the crystal, and even a Cordura strap. I wish I had started out my watch collecting hobby with a watch like this, rather than a few of the pieces that I've owned.
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What do you think of the Stalingrad Trooper? Let us know in the comments!