by Punit Mehta, Chapter Leader – RedBar Bombay
Today, when we talk about the fascinating world of watches, it is often co-related with the commercially marketed bigger brands = high prices. But, recent times have given us a few hidden gems that offer mind-boggling watches at an accessible price range that will surely leave you floored. Universally termed as micro-brands, these watches are generally only familiar to watch hobbiest in their own regions or very niche markets.
These unknown players are often faced with various challenges, but the current market developments and consumer mindset has created quite a lucrative environment for these micro-brands. While there is a plethora of micro’s that undoubtedly deserves the attention, here are a few that are currently stirring up quite a storm amongst watch enthusiasts globally. Let’s give them the attention they deserve.
Carefully crafted. Designed with attention to detail in mind… Furlan Marri’s core value is those words. Born out of the want to create attainable accessible dream watches, where the likes of Patek Philippe 1463 or the Roger Dubuis Hommage collection become out of reach. Andrea Furlan (Switzerland) and Hammad Al Marri (Saudi Arabia) set out on a journey, entirely during the pandemic to produce one of the most successful kick-starter campaigns for timepieces.
The Havana Salmon Ref. 1031—apart from the coveted salmon color dial launched exclusively for the Kickstarter campaign, the tasti tondi engraved pushers, the decagonal screwed caseback with inside perlage finish, and deep engravings are just some intricacies of this appealing chronograph. The domed and curved hands provide even more appealing touches to this 38mm case timepiece powered by a Mechaquartz movement. This watch was available at an approximate price range of ₹ 37,564. This reference is sold out and permanently retired.
Founded in 2017 in Paris, France, Baltic Watches by Ettiene Malec is one of the most loved micro brands by watch enthusiasts for its simple yet classic designs. Ettiene known for his love for aesthetics and vintage cars gets the best from his father, who also loved watches and cars.
Baltic Watches after successful releases like the Aquascaphe and the Bicompax had a high benchmark set, with the new Micro-rotor MR01 Ettiene hit a home run.
Micro-rotor which means instead of a plate that spins with the movement of your hand, this one is a small one embedded on the movement itself, which makes it thinner. The movement is ELA05MN which is Hangzhou made (China) has an accuracy of +- 20 seconds a day. Personally, a fan of the Breguet Numerals, the watch screams class, with a small seconds subdial which does not ‘eat’ any numbers is an absolute delight.
Sitting at 36mm with an 8mm thickness, this well-finished case and dial sit comfortably on the wrist. This watch is available in 3 colors—Salmon, Blue, Silver dials, all sold out on the day of the release for around $630, all 3 in a numbered set of only 200 pieces.
Studio Underd0g by Richard, Rick, and Ricky is one playful rendition of why Horology can be playful sometimes. The 3 chronographs with fun colorways, powered by Seagull’s ST1901 are nothing but a party on the wrist at an affordable price. The colors — or flavors — are so vibrant and in-your-face that they don’t need to be explained. They have a tendency to intimidate you at first glance.
The Watermel0n is a unique piece, with the case is made of 316L stainless steel and features a screw-down crown. It is water-resistant to 50 meters. On the front, sapphire crystals expose textured degradé dials encircled by tachymeter scales, while the back sapphire crystals reveal the movement. A truly modern watch with an old-school appeal at an accessible price point of £370.00.
TRASKA appears to strike the appropriate balance between cost-effectiveness and beautiful design. Resilience, sophistication, and the capacity to tackle several obstacles at once are all required in an increasingly linked society. The Venturer makes it simple to display two time zones simultaneously thanks to the unusual usage of an internal rotating bezel controlled by a second crown at the 10 hour position.
This is a traveling companion undeterred by adventure and ready for the unknown, with 150 meters of water resistance and the scratch-resistant stainless steel and sapphire crystal TRASKA watches are known for. The Miyota 9 series calibre, which is made in Japan and wound by the wearer’s movements, oscillates at 28,800 beats per hour and will keep ticking for decades.
With appealing polished chamfers contrasted with brushed surfaces on the caseband and lugs, the watch appears to be highly finished for its price point. A stainless steel bracelet with a 4mm taper from the lugs to the clasp, completely articulating lugs, and solid end links completes the Venturer. At Traska’s $585 price point, this is an incredibly well-specked timepiece.
The Unimatic and Grimoldi Milano collaboration resulted in the ref. U1-GM diving watch. The U1-GM, with its orange dial, epitomizes the professional diving watch of the 1970s. The elegant lines pay homage to the ancient Grimoldi store in Portofino, emphasizing the distinction of Made in Italy while also emphasizing the country’s cultural legacy.
What makes it so unique? It’s the first left-hand Unimatic ‘Destro’ watch. It’s supplied in the Unimatic Tough Case, which is shockproof and has two compartments. The NH35A automatic movement, which is set to 21600bph and has a 41-hour power reserve and a hacking second hand, ensures precise timing. It had an estimated retail price of $700, however, Unimatic’s website lists it as sold out, but it may still be available at the merchant. Know more about the brand in our interview with Co-Founders Giovanni Moro and Simone Nunziato.
True value and quirky designs with an accessible approach to watchmaking, these micro-brands are testament to the fact that performance can be offered at attractive prices. Watches like these leave you wanting more indeed. Although most micro-brands are passion projects, the overall output of creativity is certainly making waves in the industry right now. A must-have in every watch-box today, they truly live up to being the underdogs of the watch world!