Over the last couple of years, the scene for microbrand watches has just exploded. Meaning watch lovers out there now have tons of incredible choices especially in the affordable/entry-level price bracket. If you’re having trouble deciding whether to go microbrand or the traditional brands read this. Anyway, it’s one thing to achieve runaway success with one piece, but to build a brand that can overcome being just another one-hit-wonder is something else entirely. The first watch lays a good foundation but then the brand’s ethos and philosophy have to take over for it to grow. We at The Watch Hand love the microbrand scene and have been keeping a close eye over it for quite some time now. And since we are at the beginning of a brand new decade, we think it is time to take a look at some of the brands that started with a fantastic watch and still show promising signs that it is well geared to tackle the years to come.
Farer has always been proud of the fact that their products are of British design and made in Switzerland. With the name Farer meaning to travel or to explore (e.g. Seafarer meaning a traveller of the seas) the brand has the spirit of adventure built into its ethos. What we love about Farer is the fact that it takes vintage design elements and gives it a much needed modern twist. Their first offering was a quartz GMT watch, and due to popular demand, a mechanical version soon followed suit. Since then, they have come up with a diver, an automatic chronograph, a hand-wound chronograph and even a world timer watch.
Baltic Watches was founded by Etienne Malec who inherited the love for watches from his father. Inspired by pictures and notes his father used to keep in a notebook, Malec took to Kickstarter to launch his first watch. Considering his inspiration to start the brand, it comes as no surprise that Baltic focuses on making neo-vintage watches which come with modern quality standards. Based in France, they still have both the Kickstarter watches, HMS 001 and Bicompax 001, for sale on their website and since then they have also added a pretty cool Bathyscaphe inspired piece called the Aquascaphe.
For such a young brand, Ming Watches are doing exceedingly well considering that for each year of their existence, they have gotten nominations at the GPHG (sort of like the Oscars of the watch world). Last year, they even won the ‘Horological Revelation’ prize at the GPHG for their latest 17.06 watch with a copper dial. Founded by six co-founders under the leadership of Ming Thein, their watches look like nothing else on the market and is immediately distinguishable thanks to Ming’s designs. Another thing that sets Ming Watches apart from the other microbrands out there is the fact that they don’t adhere to a certain price point. For example, their first watch, 17.01, was sold at CHF 900 but their second watch the 19.01 had a massive jump to CHF 7,900.
Autodromo is one of these old school microbrands that was founded long before Kickstarter watches became a thing and finding watch suppliers became somewhat accessible to the average joe. Autodromo was founded by Bradley Price and makes watches that specifically express the spirit of vintage motoring. Today the brand has quite a few collections to its name including the Monoposto chronograph, the Ford GT collection which was based off an official partnership with the Ford Motor Company, the Group B and most recently the newly launched Intereuropa.