Independent, non-mainstream, or microbrand — whatever you call them, this special breed of watches is experiencing a groundswell in following among watch collectors right now.
Think beyond the big names that lead the watch pack, and you’ll chance upon a world of small, independent timepiece makers catering to those who covet the rare and exclusive. These watchmakers are passionate about their craft, which results in pieces that encapsulate a journey… from the watchmaker’s desk to the collector’s wrist.
Check out our round-up of the watch brands you should watch out for; the ones that champion groundbreaking innovations, craftsmanship, and utmost exclusivity.
Sarpaneva: Korona K0 Daredevil
We truly can’t get enough of Sarpaneva’s Korona range, and if you are passionate for motorcycles and classic cars, much like the owner, we bet you’ll find yourself drawn to the striking masculine energy that Korona K0 Daredevil is inspired from.
The Sarpaneva Korona K0 Daredevil comes in two variants, Dusk and Dawn, each limited to only 20 made-to-order pieces. What we find unique about the watch, besides an engraved moon face at the back of the piece which is said to resemble the watchmaker himself, is the bold star that glows in the dark.
Contrary to popular belief, the dial’s colour scheme and white star is not Captain America-inspired, but is in fact a nod to the legendary Evel Knievel.
Retail Price: USD 10,000
Akrivia: Chronomètre Contemporain
If you appreciate a sleek style and a classic design, odds are you will love Akrivia’s Chronomètre Contemporain which took home the Men’s watch category prize at the 18th Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
For Akrivia, Chronomètre Contemporain marked the Geneva brand’s departure from the futuristic aesthetics they are known for. Taking inspiration from the officers’ watches back in the 1940s, Akrivia builds a crisp and minimalist model that stands for accuracy and legibility. None of the complicated movement dials.
The Chronomètre Contemporain rests nicely and comfortably on your wrist, keeping time-telling simple with minimal markings on the watch face. It is the sort of watch that works well with both a handsome tuxedo and faded jeans.
Retail Price: USD 55,500
Romain Gauthier: Insight Micro-Rotor Lady
More and more independent watchmakers continue to inject new ideas into what may seem like a saturated industry, and Romain Gauthier is one of the brands we find most exciting.
The best part? This year Romain Gauthier unveils its first-ever made-for-women timepiece. Apart from it being a horological wonder (think cutting-edge design, incredible finishing, and groundbreaking innovation) its impressive micro-rotor calibre makes the watch elegantly precise.
The ladies’ timepiece boasts a 39.5mm case in 18k red gold case with a mother-of-pearl dial of your choice, either white or black. The bi-directional micro-rotor is crafted in 22k gold and sprinkled with 45 varying sizes of diamonds. It’s a collector’s item (each colourway is limited to 10 pieces!), beautifully powerful, and is the perfect example of Romain Gauthier at their best.
Retail Price: USD 89,000
Czapek & Cie: Place Vendôme
The Place Vendôme, which comes in two new editions this year, represents Czapek & Cie at the very high end in just about every respect imaginable — the manually wound SXH2 movement, the Fleur de Lys hands and Roman numerals, and 72 baguette-cut diamonds.
Czapek & Cie has really done the impossible when it comes to building a watch made of titanium. We can’t help but be impressed by the harmony among weight, aesthetics and build quality. The grade 5 titanium actually feels light on the wrist.
You get all the features you’re looking for in a Czapek & Cie timepiece: a second-time zone indication, day/night indication, power-reserve indicator and a tourbillon.
Retail Price: USD 93,000
It seems that there is no shortage of watch brands starting out in the watch-making world, but every now and then, the industry sees something truly groundbreaking, innovative and unheard of. Last year, the spotlight was (and still is) on Krayon’s Everywhere.
The Everywhere watch is a magical beast: Input your latitude and longitude as well as the correct date, and the watch will accurately show the correct time of sunrise and sunset and the duration of daylight and nighttime hours.
The Everywhere watch is extremely complicated if you can’t tell already from its busy dial, but while some watches may only work for specific locations, the Everywhere watch can compute sunrise and sunset time anywhere and everywhere on the globe.
Retail Price: USD 600,000
The Prima Donna Life Pick: Watch Wonderland
And for everyone else new to the independent watch landscape and may not know exactly know what, or even how to choose, Watch Wonderland in Singapore is ready to help you look sharp.
Watch Wonderland carries over 26 independent watch brands — Arcturus, Mr Jones Watches, Seiko Select — where design, craftsmanship and cutting-edge watchmaking techniques are on full display.
A man of taste who advocates ideology, innovation and ingenuity in the development of watches, Yang Minxiang, the co-founder of Watch Wonderland, carefully curates each brand in his boutique in addition to designing watches for select brands.
Read more about Minxiang, the story of his love for watches, and his passion for the craft here.