You'll find a lot of positive reviews of Stauer online. Their aggressive marketing has resulted in numerous popular articles for Newsweek, New Yorker and various New York-based magazines. They've also paid a lot of review sites quite a bit of money to ensure that their reviews are positive: this is not illegal or "wrong," it's common place.
You'll never find a single negative review about Stauer. A company that stresses that their level of quality and design is a step above the competition (competition meaning watchmakers whose pricing is similar or comparative). But there are a few problems with Stauer. I should know, I've owned many!
First off you do know what you're getting. At the most expensive watch being $150-$200, these watches are extremely inexpensive for luxury watches. It's almost laughable to see how many people think that these are highly priced (or at least many review sites say "the price may be steep but these are worth it!"). There's nothing steep about $200 for a watch. Good quality watches can cost anywhere from $450-$2,500 but typically, depending on brand, last a lifetime (example: Omega). You get what you pay for.
These watches from Stauer are what is commonly known as "gift watches" in the industry. They're given as gifts for family members. The price really does suit this end.
The watches ARE sometimes of amazing design. Truly. Their gold skeleton watch that I own - while not really "gold" by anyone's standard - is truly a marvel to behold. It's a wind up! That means that it's even more eye catching. The internal components are jeweled and the wind mechanism is beautifully displayed. All components - gears and all - can be seen through either side of the watch. This is excellence in aesthetic design.
The internal components leave a lot to be desired. Consider their kinetic variations: I have a silver kinetic with a mother of pearl background. The watch dies after a few hours without motion. If you don't know anything about watches you might consider that appropriate as it is a kinetic watch. The reality is real kinetic watches (typically in the hundreds) last for days without a single motion. A Seiko that I have lasts for a week without a single motion. Any ambient motions are enough to keep that Seiko moving: so what is the problem with the Stauer variation of a similar watch? It dies within half a days time of letting it sit!
Sounds like a defect right? I spoke with the company on the phone. One of their management staff explained how he believed it to be a problem as well. I sent the device back to get another of the same model. Same problem. Repeated a few more times (6 times back and forth!). No dice. I even tried a different a watch - still kenetic - similar failure.
Okay, I suppose one could say only their kinetics are flawed. Right? Wrong. I ordered a few more of their watches for gifts even after I knew the kinetic had problem (I kept the 6th watch and use it even though I need to reset the time often... a pain since it has multiple chronograph settings which are silly looking when wrong). The watches I ordered were all defective in some way. One - with a metal wristband - had such wide links that it didn't even fit as described, with a link missing it was too small, with a link in it was too large (and that's after adjusting the opening clasp to fit my wrist). That last problem could be overlooked as some people have different size wrists... although my wrist is average I don't hold that against Stauer.
The other problem is their technical support. These guys are sales people. There's no technicians or anyone that knows anything about watches on the phone. Any problem you describe will be lost upon them.
I did take a few of these watches to 2 watch repair shops and was told, very plainly, that I was robbed and that these inexpensive knockoffs of really expensive designs were shoddy at best. They told me that although some - such as the windup - were "nice," they were far from "luxury" as their categories and personnel inform the customer. But hey, a $60 watch that actually functions (the skeleton)? Great, looks beautiful! But just know... you ARE getting what you pay for. Any watch enthusiast will see that these are far from luxury or even high quality watches.
Lastly I just want to give a critique on that language Stauer uses in their catalogs. It's very insulting to say the least. Each watch has a unique "story" behind it in which the author writes these descriptive prose filled with utter nonsense and absolutely no historical accuracy is used. They also typically combine such "cutesy" writing with the actual details of the watch making it difficult to understand whether or not they're giving you real facts or just pulling your leg! For instance the Navy seal watches with gas-powered illumination? Please... learn a little about watches before writing utter nonsense! Also when you hear "our master swiss watchmakers..." yap yap yap... Swiss? Is that really how they win over their customers by appealing to their lack of knowledge? Please. Not every "swiss" watch is the same and it's highly doubtful that Stauer is made anywhere else but China.
This company's watch designers are VERY unique. These watches are attractive and beautiful. They're also very low priced. When these devices work they're truly amazing but the truth is they work so infrequently. At the end of they day this company really does sell aesthetically pleasing discount watches which function as such. If you still want to try them please make sure you understand their return policy and make sure you aren't spending too much on a mundane timepiece.
Also remember: this is a mail order company that has a website and does a lot of their business online. As such don't expect the same quality you'll be getting from a local jewelry store. Lastly keep away from their kinetics!