by Punit Mehta – Founder RedBar Bombay
The Watch World has always been perceived as an industry that is for the elite, at least a lot of the brands. The perceived value of brands has been always beating the real value of brands thanks to the advent of Digital Media and mainly now Social Media.
Thanks to various renowned and credible Media Houses, with knowledge flowing for consumers in a seemingly unbiased form the watch buyer now has enough and more reasons to educate himself into making a wise decision rather than going with the flow.
Most of you reading this will be knowing details of brands like Rolex, Patek Philipe, Audemars Piguet or Vacheron Constantin. Let’s explore some of the less-known ‘smaller’ brands and watchmakers in the industry, who are doing a phenomenal job with providing a product that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also proving to be the ‘art form’ which watches actually are:
Presenting a list of the lesser-known, hidden gems from the watch world:
1. Lange & Heyne, Dresden, Germany
“A watch from LANG & HEYNE is not just a timepiece, just as a fine watercolor is not just a picture, or a statue is not just a piece of marble.”
Just one year after Marco Lang met Mirke Heyne, they founded Lange & Heyne a boutique watchmaking company in the quaint town of Dresden. Lang comes on as a 5th generation watchmaker and Heyne a watchmaker apprentice with a fresh perspective. Now after 2 decades, the small independent watchmaker from Germany produces the finest quality of watches which both pleases the eye and tingles the mind of true watch connoisseur.
As proudly claimed by the boutique watchmaker, a Lange & Heyne watch always has its unique features such as:
- The 3 lugs, including an extra one in the vertical axis of the watch to balance the winding crown
- A dress of gated silver, which is a unique formula of silver powder and salt mixture which is applied with a pig’s hair brush
- The screws are with cambered threads, only 12-15 screws are produced in a day
- Hand engraved hands
- Rose Gold wheel work
- Breguet spiral
- Gold chatons with brilliant diamond-cut diamond crowns
- Multiple levels of enamel on the dial
- Mustache Anchor to compensate the center of gravity of the anchor body
2. Laine Watches, Le Locle, Switzerland
Laine, a professional watchmaker from Switzerland has won the Lange Watch Making excellence award in 2014. Known for the dial finish and exquisite hand-worked movements and dials, Laine watches have a signature of their own with a finish which is matches and even beats some of the biggest watch brands in the world!
The decorated Guilloche dials with the engraved rotor and movement is a sight to behold, all of it at a fraction of the cost of other more famous watchmakers.
3. JN Shapiro, California, USA
Working as a high school teacher when not watchmaking, Joshua Shapiro’s story is straight out of book. Born out of a passion for watchmaking and mainly engine turning, Joshua set out to make dials for other watchmakers like David Walter.
Through painstaking hours over 3 years on the machines, engine turning each dial Joshua had another plan, to make a mark on American Watch Making. Thus was born “JN Shapiro”.
4. Keaton Myrick, Oregon, USA
“ I am in the rare position that my life’s passion has become my business, now care must be taken to ensure that this love for haute-horlogerie isn’t tarnished under the weight of production. “
After graduating with WOSTEP certification from the Lititz Watch Technicum, Keaton spent about 6 years restoring important timepieces. Now he makes his watches in his traditional atelier with machines and technology from decades ago, while still using modern software only in the design stages. Producing about 10-12 pieces a year, Keaton Myrick timepieces are an absolute delight.
5. Sartory Billard, France
When you finalize your watch with Sartory Billard, the watchmaker himself Arnaud is in touch with you and will take you through the entire process of your watch’s production, visually. This gives you an immense connect to the buyer. Watches are made in various materials, but he is known for his multi-coloured titanium dials along with indexes, hands and engraving in the case back which can all be customized. Arnaud is a passionate watchmaker with a near obsession with quality, all packed in a budget that is not too much for most.
Not all good watches need a “waitlist” (I didn’t say patience), some of them are available at a fraction of the cost and most may take some time to come in. However, these watchmakers are what may define the future of watchmaking.
Do you think watchmaking will be governed by the big brand production or will it go back to an art form mastered by a very few?
Stay tuned for more exploration in the watch world, so that enthusiasts like us are able to cut the ‘noise’ of social media and focus on what truly we are passionate about.