I’ve noted before that watches coming from crowdfunding platforms have become a real crapshoot of late. So many campaigns look like someone had been playing in the spare parts bin for too long, so seeing the launch of the Stella Felix came as a welcome surprise. The NYC-based firm was spun up by Marcella Dolan and Stephen Rowley, a duo who collectively have a lengthy background in the watch industry, product design, and business development. Their keen eye for good design and appreciation of the watch industry clearly shines through in the brand’s inaugural launch—the Stella Felix.
Coming in at $948 in pre-order (the 50 Early Bird and Super Early Bird pieces have already sold out), the Stella Felix needs to (and does) tick quite a few boxes to credit its price of entry. The brand opted for the Swiss-made STP1-11 movement, good for a power reserve of 44 hours and accuracy between -0/+15 seconds per day. Its case has drilled lugs, has a screw-down crown, and exhibition caseback displaying a custom rotor.?Said case is fitted with a domed sapphire crystal that has been applied with 3 layers of anti-reflective coating. Lastly, the brand opted for either?C3 or C1 Super-LumiNova on its indices and hands, depending on the model in question. First impressions of the piece have been very solid, and though not as budget-friendly as the typical Kickstarter watches we’ve been seeing lately, there’s a lot going on here to explain the pricing structure.
Available in six different dial variants, the Felix is best described as a bit of a ‘jack of all trades’ when looking at both its design and specifications. It has 100m of water resistance and is fitted with a screw-down crown, making it a solid contender for casual and somewhat active wear. In the same breath though, the less than utilitarian dial/hand combo and its detailed case design land it in more of a quasi-dressy category. Last but not least, its dimensions—40mm across and 13.6mm thick—align well with both of the aforementioned categories, though it’s a touch thicker than what we would pass as a proper dress watch. The Felix is available on a choice of 4 different leather straps, including a light and dark brown option, as well as a pair of black straps with or without red contrasting stitching.
Contrasting color details play a major role in the design of this piece, as every model has a couple of pops of color hiding somewhere. The Dress Blues, Gotham Gold, and 77 Blackout models are the more subtle of the pack, with both blue and gold models only sporting a touch of color on their crowns and the tip of their seconds hands. The combination of creamy lume and red accents on the black dialed 77 Blackout somehow manage to remind me of the Zenith Pilot Type 20 GMT. I do like the fact that the two ‘more conservative’ models in terms of color have been fitted with textured dials. It’s clear that the brand’s design direction is to be a little bit playful and unconventional in spirit, rather than trying to do their own take on industry standards or classics.
With that said, it’s hard to ignore a couple of the design influence apparent in the new Felix. The aforementioned textured dials are closely akin to the much loved Rolex linen dials that have appeared in several Datejust references over the years. The brand’s sleek 4-piece cases will also seem quite familiar to many of you. The use of a colored case barrel with lugs that drape down over it is a design we’ve seen before—the beloved Trip-Tick case from Bremont. Of course, with Stella being a more entry-level brand, their 4-piece case design does not boast the same amplified shock resistance or other properties seen in its counterpart. While some will pass observation or judgement on the Stella Felix for this commonality in case design, it’s the balance of the details that make it quite a bit different than anything from the British firm. What’s more, it’s also on offer at a fraction of the cost, meaning the Stella Felix will never be an apples-to-apples competitor with Bremont either (nor should it be).
The Kickstarter campaign for the Stella Felix funded very quickly, and continues to run until April 23rd. Deliveries are anticipated in June for the first 200 watches, with a second batch being prepared for September.
Written by Justin Mastine-Frost