Don't sleep on these under-the-radar watch brands
When it comes to watches, it’s true that you’ll never go wrong with horological blue chips such as Rolex and Omega. And if budget permits, Patek Philippe. Sure feel free to reach for the bold and beautiful ones like Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille, FP Journe and the like—as long as you’re clear about what you’re getting into.
But what if you’re just starting out? What if you don’t want a timepiece that screams luxury? You just want something that’s cool, has just the right amount of street cred, and most importantly, won’t break the bank, right?
Time was when the options included just the entry-level players such as Longines, or Rado, or Baume & Mercier, Oris, Seiko…
Although now with more micro-brands and small independent start-ups entering the game, things have gotten a lot more interesting. Offering ultra-friendly price tags for a whole lotta value and character, there are choices abound for the amateur buyer that even big collectors can’t resist.
Bauhaus-driven Nomos Glashütte has garnered legions of fans from the watch world as much as the design universe. Watch fans love it for the well-crafted in-house movements and harmonious aesthetics, while design buffs are drawn to its form-follows-function identity and cool use of typeface, symbols, and icons. Classics like the Tangente, Tangomat, and Neomatik are ideal for everyday wear, while the Zürich stands apart for its clean layout and smart casual style.
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A design icon with an extra: Tangente power reserve features a small gauge between twelve and one—which displays how much power is stored in the mainspring. Looks like its time to give this Tangente another wind! #nomostangente #tangente #nomos #nomosglashuette #watch #watchoftheday #watchgeek #madeingermany #wristwatch #wotd #finewatches
Numerous collaborations with retailers all over the world has also produced a selection of limited edition models such as the very memorable salmon dial Nomos Glashütte X The Hour Glass Zürich Red Dot Edition. This colour was also repeated with the Tangente line, also made in limited edition for The Hour Glass.
The next big thing in watch collecting, Sartory Billard is an independent brand from France. All watches are bespoke and made mostly in its own workshop according to each client’s specifications. Brand owner Armand Billard delivers on average one watch a week, taking around four months to finish each project. He also keeps customers updated on each stage of production so we could witness the journey and share in the joy of creation.
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When modern shape case mixes with classic Roman numerals and when high technology CNC and laser mixes with 4 billions years old meteorite dial. #liquiddial #watches #watchyouseek #wristshot #microbrand #wristporn #timepiece #handmade #watchdaily #sartorybillard #madeinfrance #puristspro #dailywristshot #paris #watchcollector #watchclub #forumamontres #watchfam #instawatch #時計 #腕時計 #ساعاتي www.sartory-billard.com
There are four collections at the moment—SB01, SB02, SB03, and SB04— and the pieces run on externally-sourced ETA 2824 movements. SB01 exudes sporty auto-racing vibes, and the convertible SB02 offers a cool removable bezel and quick-attach strap. SB03 combines a cushion case with vibrant colours and classical guilloché, while the classic round cased SB04 plays with different colours, textures and finishes.
Translating into Monday blues, to which we can all relate, this is the brainchild of two watchmaking school graduates whose joint ambition was to create “watches with a soul.” If you’re a freelancer or have a career in the gig economy, it might be the brand for you. Founders Johan Storni and Bastien Vuilliomenet took inspiration from a 16th century tradition where the best skilled workers often skipped work on Mondays (presumably because they could).
What makes Lundis Bleus stand out is its wide array of dial options from polished hardstones to vitreous enamel, from beautiful hand engraving to complex multi-layered designs. Its 150 watches per year production is spread over four key collections: Essentielles (the basic pieces), Métiers d’arts (beautiful grand feu enamel), Contemporaines, (grand feu enamel and natural hardstones), and Unique Pieces (cloisonné enamel and other handcrafts).
Designed in Malaysia, made in Switzerland. Ming Watch was founded by a collective of watch enthusiasts and formulated after the horological vision of Malaysian photographer and watch collector, Ming Thein. In 2019, it won the Horological Revelation Prize at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix awarded to young and promising brands or watchmaking talent, which speaks volumes about this very exciting brand.
There are three watch collections at this point: the 17.06, the 19.02, and 27.01. Collectors really love the 17.06 in slate and copper, both of which are all sold out. 19.02 is an extra cool world timer with a beautiful micro-rotor movement. And 27.01 would appeal to those who appreciate slim and elegant watches. As an added bonus, Ming Watch offers a wide range of externally produced straps designed to pair perfectly with its watches.
For watch connoisseurs by a watch connoisseur, this French microbrand goes back to its founder’s personal story. Having inherited a collection of watches from his father whom he never had the chance to really know, Etienne Malec was however deeply inspired by the journal he kept. Detailing everything there was to know about the watches in his possession, this book of records conveyed a passion for timepieces that Malec embraced and then paid homage to via Baltic Watches.
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Introducing the AQUASCAPHE Bronze available now only on our website. This toolwatch is made in CuAL8 bronze, which is a resistant copper-aluminum alloy that develops a uniform and slow patina. This one will become unique while aging on your wrist. Available today with 300 pieces individually numbered, which will be given on a first-come-first-served basis. After this first batch, it will become a regular model in our AQUASCAPHE collection. Deliveries will start from May 25th. #aquascaphe #aquascaphebaltic #balticwatches #balticaquascaphe #bronzewatches #bronzewatch #bronzeaquascaphe #hodinkee #wornandwound #lesrhabilleurs #toolwatch #diverwatches #divewatch
The collections emanate strong vintage vibes, with references to watchmaking styles of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. There are toolwatches like the Aquascape—love the bronze model with gilt blue dial—and classic chronographs such as the Bicompax 001 offering elegant dial colours in ivory, grey, and black with gilt details. Also very quaint are the three-hand HMS 001 models with various throwbacks to the tuxedo era.
Kurono by Hajime Asaoka
Japanese-made watches never fail to excite the watch connoisseur, and it’s even better when you get great horological expertise at a fraction of the cost. Kurono is an offshoot of the luxury Japanese watchmaking independent, Hajime Asaoka. Asaoka started this brand to offer an accessible option that shares the same DNA. It’s like dining at the small bistro which is run by a 3 Michelin star chef.
Kurono has released the Chronograph 1, a beautiful bicompax chronograph featuring a unique pin-stripe motif, along with polished studs for the hours—also very much in tune with the tuxedo era. Then there is the stunning Kurono anniversary Mori with a gorgeous metallic green radial sunburst finished dial (which is unfortunately sold out). Running on Miyota movements, the watches sometimes feature traditional Japanese crafts such as urushi lacquer.
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