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Stella Watch Ellis GMT
The Stella Watch Ellis GMT is the newest model in the young brand’s lineup, and the first thing you will notice is that this is one striking watch with a unique textured dial. Stella is all about doing textured or patterned dials, and that shows with their other new models the Breslin and also the Felix, which I reviewed a little over two years ago. This new model also uses a Swiss Sellita SW330 GMT movement and is Swiss Made, and for the first time an optional bracelet and Italian-made leather straps. Pricing puts this model in the premium category as it starts at $1285 on a leather strap, but the watch is also very well made and finished.
- 41.5mm Case
- 49.5mm lug to lug
- 13.1mm thickness
- 20mm lug opening
- 316L Stainless Steel, four-piece case construction with black PVD case body
- Swiss Super-LumiNova® BGW9 on indices and hands
- Sapphire Crystal with anti-reflective undercoating
- Sellita SW-330 automatic movement
- 10 ATMs (100 meters)
- Bracelets or Leather Straps
- Swiss Made
Price $1,285 (strap) $1,385 (bracelet)
Marcella from Stella Watches has told me that the brand switched manufacturers within the past year or so, and with that, the watches now being produced are a little better all around, a little more refined, and even though a young brand probably didn’t want to switch manufacturers so soon, the brand launched pretty much right in the start of the pandemic, and as any company of any kind will tell you, there have been a lot of growing pains, a lot of shortages and a lot of obstacles to overcome. The Stella Watch Ellis GMT not only looks great but also is a step above their previous models and also shows that just because you are a microbrand, doesn’t mean quality has to be inferior.
And I definitely wouldn’t say the Stella Watch Ellis GMT is inferior at all, and even though many will talk about the high price tag, one look around this piece, and you will see where the cost comes from. Many view microbrand watches to be more budget minded or more in the affordable realm, and I understand where they are coming from. But If Christopher Ward, Oak, Oscar, and Monta have proven anything, there is room for premium microbrands. The case design of the Ellis is very striking, and yes, very similar to the Felix model, but this one has been bumped up to 41.5mm and still retains that 4 piece case design, with the bottom half of the case, being black PVD coated and together with those curved lugs, creates a striking side profile.
The crown is large, though I do find it hard to grasp. It looks like it would have a good grip, but I found it smooth and hard to use at times, especially when screwing it back down. The crown operates not only your home time but since this is a GMT, also a second timezone. Unlike a lot of GMT watches on the market, the Stella Watch Ellis GMT uses a center dial ring to display another time zone, with the numbers printed on a black ring, and a red arrow pointer hand that moves smoothly around the center dial. The red arrow is highly visible though I and a few others do find the numbers on the ring a little small, and as such, it is hard to read at a glance. That said, how many times a day will you be looking down and need to see both time zones at a quick glance?
Moving further out in the dial and you will see the amazing texture of this Stella Watch Ellis GMT without trying to sound too hot, this dial texture is a showstopper. Little pillars move out from the center of the dial in a sunburst-like pattern, and the dial color is a very beautiful inky black. Turn it just a little to let the light come through that domed sapphire crystal and it turns almost a silvery black color, and combined with the highly polished chrome indices and hands and the stark white lume compound, along with the subtle accents of red, and this is one hell of a dial. And just below the model name, you will see the applied chrome-finished star logo, a logo that has become the signature of the brand, and you will see this star on the case back, the crown, and even the buckle and clasp of the bracelet and leather strap.
Stella hails from New York and you can tell they are proud of that, naming the watch Ellis, for Ellis Island. Furthermore, flip the watch over and now instead of an exhibition case back showing off a decorated movement, you see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty etched beautifully on the back with multiple finishes. While I liked the previously decorated movement of the Felix, as many know, I am a sucker for a great case back design, and this one is definitely one I appreciate.
The new bracelet from Stella is a 7-link bracelet that alternates between brushed and polished finishing and is a beautiful bracelet, very smooth and the links are very fluid, meaning it won’t kink up on the wrist. Screw links along with a dual deployant clasp allow for one to get a pretty good fit, though I would like to see half links on each side of the clasp, as with most clasps such as this, there is no area for micro-adjustments. Another area that many are talking about is the lack of solid end links on this new bracelet. Stella opted to go with straight-end links as a design choice, and Marcella told me they did one with SELs, but that it just didn’t flow well on this piece, but did on another GMT prototype.
The straight-end links are not my favorite, but I could deal with them, except that there is a noticeable gap between the bracelet and the case, and this was done on purpose as well. The lug holes are pretty far out on the lugs, and that was done so a bracelet or strap would not damage the finished inner lug area, as this case is completely finished and has PVD all around. This creates a great cohesive look to the case, but it also creates quite a strap gap. Because the case is well finished, it is not as off-putting as I originally thought it would be, but the combination of the gap and the straight end links makes me prefer to wear this piece on the leather strap.
And speaking of that leather strap, it is a gorgeous black pebbled leather, with that great oversized but still wearable Stella arrow buckle. The straps are made in Italy and like the bracelet, utilize quick-release pins. The strap is supple and feels great on the wrist, but I do wish this had a finished underside for better long-term durability.
So for me and my 7 1/2 inch (19.05cm) wrist, both the strap and bracelet fit very well, with room left over on both, and the Stella Watch Ellis GMT is offered with either the bracelet or strap, so you can choose one or the other, though I don’t see an option if you want both. You have to go to the accessories area, purchase a leather strap separately and order this watch on the bracelet if you want both straps. It would be nice if there was a discounted option if you wanted both. The strap is also available in two different sizes, small or large, which is something else you don’t see every brand offering this, although the large will only fit up to an 8-inch wrist.
Though most probably wouldn’t be looking at a watch for lume, I won’t gloss over it here in the review (even though some chastise me for talking about lume so seriously in these reviews). Whatcha going to do, everyone is a critic. But yes, this Stella Watch Ellis GMT has a nice smattering of BGW9 Swiss SuperLuminova, but the hands glow stronger and brighter than the indices, though I would say all the lume seems to be very even and well applied. Just don’t expect it to light up like your old Seiko Tuna.
I can honestly say I am thoroughly impressed with the new Stella Watch Ellis GMT. The design, with the exception of being inspired slightly by Bremont, feels fresh and original and it’s always nice to see something else beyond a diver, field or pilot watch that floods the market, especially in the microbrand world. It is a premium watch and it does command a premium price, and even though there is room for improvement in a few areas, this young brand is on the right track, and if this is year 3, I can only imagine what they will be producing year 5 and beyond.
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