Watch Exchange Singapore Logo

Buy, Sell, Consign or Trade Your Watches

Contact Us Now

Join Our Telegram Channel for The Latest Watch Deals! Join Now

Top Microbrand Watches of 2024: Discovering the Hidden Gems

Published on
Popular Read
Top Microbrand Watches of 2024 Discovering the Hidden Gems

In the past, the watch industry was dominated by a handful of established watch brands. 

However, the advent of the internet and crowdfunding platforms in the late 20th and early 21st centuries allowed watch enthusiasts to share their passion and kickstart their timepiece projects. 

This jump-started the microbrand watch movement, characterized by small-batch production and direct-to-consumer sales channels.

In this article, you’ll learn all about microbrand watches, from their history to choosing the right piece.

What is a Microbrand Watch?

A microbrand watch is a piece that’s typically created by independent watch brands that operate on a smaller scale compared to traditional luxury watchmakers. These brands prioritize uniqueness and craftsmanship, often offering hand-assembled or limited edition models.

What is a Micro Luxury Watch?

A subset of a microbrand watch, a micro luxury watch combines the exclusivity and high-quality materials of luxury brands with the personalized approach of microbrands. It caters to a niche market looking for a premium watch beyond the conventional offers.

Key Factors Contributing to the Growth of Microbrand Watches

Here are some of the main ones:

  • Consumer desire for individuality: Watch aficionados are increasingly on the lookout for pieces that stand out from mass-produced options.
  • Technological advancements: Digital marketing and e-commerce have lowered barriers to entry for startup brands.
  • Affordable pricing: Microbrands typically offer a better value proposition than more expensive watches due to lower overhead costs and direct sales.
  • Community engagement: The sense of community and story behind each brand resonates strongly with every watch enthusiast seeking a personal connection to their timepieces.

Top Microbrand Watches to Watch in 2024

The following are some worthwhile options to include in your 2024 watch collection:

1. AnOrdain Model 1 – Stainless Steel, Parisian Blue Dial

AnOrdain Model 1

About

This Model 1 option is a men’s dress watch from an innovative Scotland-based brand. It captures attention with its sturdy stainless steel case and unique handsome blue dial that are testament to AnOrdain’s attention to detail.

Features

The main ones are syringe-style heat-treated hands, Arabic numeral hour markers at 2,4,6,8,10, and 12 o’clock, a Parisian Blue enamel dial, a sapphire glass crystal with 6 layers of anti-reflective coating over the dial, and a minute track with Arabic numerals every five minutes on the dial’s outer rim.

Specifications

  • Production Year: 2022
  • Case Size: 41mm
  • Materials:
    • Dial – Parisian Blue, with syringe-style heat-treated hands (skeletonized minute hand) and Arabic numeral/ elongated index hour markers
    • Bracelet – Black glossy leather strap with a pin buckle
    • Bezel – Fixed, smooth, polished, stainless steel
  • Function: Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Manual winding Sellita SW210 with 19 jewels, a 42-hour power reserve, and a 28,800vph or automatic La Joux-Perret G100

Why You Should Invest?

With it, you don’t just check the time. You also carry a piece of artistry and tradition on your wrist, making it a worthwhile acquisition for collectors and enthusiasts alike. Moreover, its price increased by at least 5 per cent between 2022 and December 2023.

2. Astor & Banks Fortitude Pro Sand – Stainless Steel, Sand Dial

Astor & Banks Fortitude Pro Sand

About

The Fortitude Pro Sand is a distinctive everyday men’s watch from Astor & Banks- a reputable Chicago-based microbrand known for its attention to detail and commitment to quality in watchmaking. 

It exemplifies craftsmanship and utilitarian design with its appealing sand dial complemented by a robust stainless steel case.

Features

Its main ones are a stainless steel case with an HV1200 scratch-resistant coating, double index hour markers at 12 o’clock, a date window at 6 o’clock, a flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the underside, and a sand dial with matte dark gunmetal gray hands.

Specifications

  • Production Year: 2020
  • Case Size: 38.5mm
  • Materials:
    • Dial – Sand, with BWG9 Grade A Super-Luminova coated matte dark gunmetal gray hands and applied index hour markers
    • Bracelet – 316L Stainless Steel, with a comfortable underside design
    • Bezel – Fixed, smooth, Stainless steel, with a brushed finish
  • Function: Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Automatic Miyota 9015 movement with a 42-hour power reserve

Why You Should Invest?

Its price has increased by at least 10 per cent since its production.

3. Autodromo Group B Series 2 – Stainless Steel and Titanium, Navy Blue Dial

Autodromo Group B Series 2

About

The Group B Series 2 is a tribute to the golden era of automotive racing, integrating design features reminiscent of the Group B rally cars of the 1980s. Its stylish appearance, marked by a durable construction and legible dial, makes it an excellent everyday men’s accessory.

Features

The main ones are a bi-metallic titanium and stainless steel case, an integrated bracelet system, a navy blue dial with bright, easy-to-read indexes, a 50m water resistance rating, and a sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating over the dial.

Specifications

  • Production Year: 2019
  • Case Size: 39mm
  • Materials:
    • Dial – Navy blue, with Super-Luminova-coated hands (skeletonized hour hand) and elongated index hour markers
    • Bracelet – Integrated, stainless steel, with a hidden butterfly clasp
    • Bezel – Fixed, smooth, stainless steel
  • Function: Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Automatic Miyota 9015 movement

Why You Should Invest?

It expertly combines motorsport history with horological craftsmanship, making it a fine addition to any collection. Additionally, its price has increased significantly by at least 15% between 2022 and January 2024.

4. Baltic MR01 – Stainless Steel with Gold PVD Coating, Black Dial

Baltic MR01

About

The MR01 is a distinguished unisex dress watch from the French-based microbrand Baltic, which is known for creating watches with a classical charm and contemporary precision. It captures the essence of vintage timepiece design with its simplicity and elegance.

Features

They include gold Breguet Arabic numerals, a stainless steel case with a gold PVD coating, a high-domed hesalite glass over the dial, a small seconds subdial at 7 o’clock, and a transparent caseback.

Specifications

  • Production Year: 2021
  • Case Size: 36mm
  • Materials:
    • Dial – Glossy black, with gold-tone leaf-shaped hands and Breguet Arabic numeral hour markers
    • Bracelet – Black leather strap
    • Bezel – Fixed, smooth, stainless steel, with a gold PVD coating
  • Function: Hours, Minutes, Small Seconds
  • Mechanism: Automatic Hangzhou CAL5000a Micro-rotor movement with a 42-hour power reserve

Why You Should Invest?

It’s a sound investment due to its unique blend of accessibility, design excellence, and mechanical reliability. Plus, it’s a standout in its category with its meticulous details and classic design references.

5. Bravur BW003 – Stainless Steel, Bottle Green and White Dial

Bravur BW003

About

The BW003 is a meticulous men’s dress timepiece that showcases Bravur’s bespoke approach to creating wristwatches that are as functional as they are beautiful. It stands out with its stainless steel case and eye-catching bottle green and white dial, striking a balance between classic aesthetics and modern Swedish craftsmanship.

Features

The main ones are a Solitär stainless steel case, a curved bottle green and white bi-color dial, a coined (from above) and grooved (from the side) bezel, a date display at 6 o’clock, and a domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating over the dial.

Specifications

  • Production Year: 2017
  • Case Size: 39mm
  • Materials:
    • Dial – Curved bottle green and white bi-color, with Luminova C1 lume-filled skeletonized (on tips) and applied hour indexes
    • Bracelet – Maroon Swedish leather strap with a deployant clasp
    • Bezel – Fixed, coined/grooved, stainless steel
  • Function: Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Automatic Sellita SW300-1 movement with 25 jewels, a 42-hour power reserve, and a 28,800vph frequency

Why You Should Invest?

Investing in it means owning a watch from a brand that emphasizes individuality and quality. Additionally, it’s not just a time-telling device but a statement piece that features a perfect blend of Scandinavian design and Swiss engineering.

6. Christopher Ward The Twelve – Grade II Titanium, Astral Blue Dial ref. C12-40ADC1-T00B0-B0

Christopher Ward The Twelve

About

This Astral Blue dial model from Christopher Ward’s The Twelve collection is a men’s sports watch that resembles a gentler, less dramatic version of Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak. It represents the brand’s commitment to merging traditional watch craftsmanship with an appealing modern design.

Features

The main ones are its unique twelve-sided bezel, an Astral Blue dial with a pyramid pattern that shifts from dark charcoal at the circumference to bright color at the center, a grade II titanium case, a date display at 6 o’clock, and an integrated bracelet design.

Specifications

  • Production Year: 2023
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Materials:
    • Dial – Astral Blue, with a pyramid pattern and Super-LumiNova® Grade X1 BL C1-filled pyramid-shaped hands and hour markers
    • Bracelet – Integrated grade II titanium, with a butterfly clasp and The Twelve quick-release system
    • Bezel – Fixed, smooth, grade II titanium, twelve-sided
  • Function: Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Swiss-made automatic Sellita SW300-1 movement with 25 jewels, a 56-hour power reserve, and a 28,800vph frequency

Why You Should Invest?

It’s a piece of craftsmanship that combines functionality with a standout design, ensuring it retains its value and appeal over time.

7. Formex Reef GMT- Stainless Steel, Gray Dial ref. 2202.1.5312.711

Formex Reef GMT

About

The Reef GMT is a contemporary everyday men’s watch that’s a GMT version of Formex’s Reef dive timepiece. It proves to be a reliable companion for adventurers and international travelers with its sleek well-lit white dial, functional bezel, and robust stainless steel construction.

Features

They include a 48-click bi-directional rotating bezel with a 24-hour scale, a sunburst gray dial with a 24-hour scale (both features allow for simultaneous tracking of three time zones), a strap with a quick release function, a date display at 6 o’clock, and a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment over the dial.

Specifications

  • Production Year: 2022
  • Case Size: 42mm
  • Materials:
    • Dial – Sunburst gray, with BGW9 Super-LumiNova-coated hands and hour markers
    • Bracelet – Black textured rubber strap with a Quick Release function and carbon fiber composite deployant clasp with patented Micro-Adjustment System
    • Bezel – 48-click bicolor bi-directional rotatable, made from Zirconium Oxide Ceramic and with a 24-hour scale
  • Function: Date, GMT, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Self-winding COSC-certified SW330-2 GMT movement with 25 jewels and a 56-hour power reserve

Why You Should Invest?

It retains its value well and can even appreciate in value with time. Moreover, its price has increased by approximately 7% between 2022 and March 2024.

8. Mercer Voyager II- Stainless Steel, Black Dial

Mercer Voyager II

About

The Voyager II is a men’s dive timepiece that combines a classic diver design with a contemporary aesthetic. It has a well-lit black dial that’s complemented by a sturdy stainless steel case and strong black strap, making ideal for on-water or underwater adventures.

Features

They include a black sandwich-style dial, Arabic numeral hour markers at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, a 120-click unidirectional rotatable bezel, a double-domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating over the dial, and a 200m water resistance rating.

Specifications

  • Production Year: 2017
  • Case Size: 42mm
  • Materials:
    • Dial – Black, with a sandwich construction, luminous sword-shaped hands, and BG-W9 Superluminova lume emitting Arabic/round hour markers
    • Bracelet – Black silicone rubber strap with signed buckle
    • Bezel – 120-click, unidirectional rotatable, C3 lumed, ceramic, with 60-minute graduations
  • Function: Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Automatic Seiko NH36 movement

Why You Should Invest?

It’s among the dive watches that retains value well and can fetch a profit on the pre-owned market if sold in mint condition.

Summary

The following table highlights the microbrand watches above, plus their key features, retail, private market, and pre-owned prices:

Model Key Features Retail Price Private Market Price Pre-Owned Price
AnOrdain Model 1 • Syringe-style heat-treated hands
• Arabic numeral hour markers at 2,4,6,8,10, and 12 o’clock
• Parisian Blue enamel dial
S$3,529 S$2,115 S$2,330
Astor & Banks Fortitude Pro Sand • Stainless steel case with an HV1200 scratch-resistant coating
• Double index hour markers at 12 o’clock
• Date window at 6 o’clock
S$913 S$825 S$870
Autodromo Group B Series 2 • Bi-metallic titanium and stainless steel case
• Integrated bracelet system
• Navy blue dial with bright, easy-to-read indexes
S$1,319 S$1,211 S$1,250
Baltic MR01 • Gold Breguet Arabic numerals
• Stainless steel case with a gold PVD coating
• High-domed hesalite glass over the dial
S$792 S$695 S$715
Bravur BW003 • Solitär stainless steel case
• Curved bottle green and white bi-color dial
• Coined (from above) and grooved (from the side) bezel
S$1,827 S$1,792 S$1,810
Christopher Ward The Twelve ref. C12-40ADC1-T00B0-B0 • Unique twelve-sided bezel
• Astral Blue dial with a pyramid pattern that shifts from dark charcoal at the circumference to bright color at the center
• Grade II titanium case
S$2,564 S$2,500 S$2,023
Formex Reef GMT ref. 2202.1.5312.711 • 48-click bi-directional rotating bezel with a 24-hour scale
• Sunburst gray dial with a 24-hour scale
• Strap with a quick-release function
S$2,740 S$2,660 S$2,711
Mercer Voyager II • Black sandwich-style dial
• Arabic numeral hour markers at 12,3,6 and 9 o’clock
• 120-click unidirectional rotatable bezel
S$540 S$521 S$536

The Craftsmanship Behind Microbrand Watches

The microbrand watch industry prides itself on offering distinctive designs, underpinned by a meticulous approach to quality and detail. 

Here are some insights on its intricate manufacturing process and superior craftsmanship:

Design Philosophy

Each microbrand brings a unique aesthetic to the table, often drawing inspiration from their founders’ passions. For example, Gavox Watches emerges from the creative vision of Michael Happé, who infuses his designs with various stylistic influences.

Material Selection

Materials are chosen with care, with many micro brands favoring durability and longevity. Brands like Lorier take the approach of blending vintage charm with modern robustness, ensuring both aesthetic appeal and functional resilience.

Manufacturing Precision

The assembly of these timepieces often involves hand assembly and rigorous testing. Craftsmen pay close attention to every component, ensuring precision and accuracy. Attention is also paid to the watch’s tactile feel, the symmetry of its design, and the reliability of its mechanisms.

Innovation

Innovation is evident in the ways microbrands redefine industry norms. Astor & Banks, located in Chicago, exemplifies this through their mechanical tool watches, which meld traditional design with modern mechanics.

By focusing on craftsmanship, microbrand watches offer exceptional quality and a deeply personal touch that stands in contrast to mass-produced models. Each watch tells a story of passion, precision, and the pursuit of horological excellence.

Quotes From Founders and Designers of Microbrand Watches

Microbrand watches have been gaining popularity in the watch industry, with many founders and designers offering unique perspectives on their creations.

Here are some quotes from the founders of notable microbrand watches:

Lorier Watches – Lorenzo and Lauren Ortega (Founders)

On the brand’s design principle: “To be truly yours, every Lorier is designed so that you’ll want to wear it every day. For us, the golden age of watches was the mid-20th century, when a mechanical watch was an accessible instrument rather than a status symbol. Most people only had one watch then, so the design had to be purpose-driven yet versatile. 

We don’t believe in “beaters” or “grails”— owning a watch should be the beginning of a journey, rather than the end of a hunt.”

Halios Watches – Jason Lim (Founder)

On design principles: “HALIOS Watches runs on three principles: 1) offer a quality, well-built watch that you can take into the water; 2) exceed your after-sales support expectations; and 3) strive to design the next watch icon.”

How to Choose the Right Microbrand Watch

Selecting a microbrand watch can be an exciting journey, as these brands often offer unique designs, quality craftsmanship, and compelling stories at a more accessible price point than established luxury brands. 

Here are some tips you can use when choosing your ideal microbrand watch:

  • Research the brand story: Microbrands often have interesting origins and philosophies. Look into the brand’s history, its founders, and their mission. A compelling brand story can add intangible value to your watch and make it more meaningful to you.
  • Consider your style: Microbrand watches come in various styles, from vintage-inspired to modern and minimalist. Consider what style resonates with you and complements your wardrobe. Think about the occasions you’ll be wearing the watch for, whether for everyday use, formal events, or outdoor activities.
  • Check the movement type: Pay attention to the type of movement used in the watch. Microbrands often use reliable Japanese or Swiss mechanical movements, which can be a good indicator of quality. Decide whether you prefer mechanical watches (with a manual or automatic movement) or those with quartz movements based on your lifestyle and maintenance preferences.
  • Evaluate the materials and build quality: Look at the materials used for the case, crystal, and strap. Sapphire crystal is a good choice for durability, and stainless steel or titanium cases are common for their strength. Check the water resistance rating if you plan to wear the watch near water.
  • Read reviews and watch forums: Check out reviews from watch enthusiasts and online forums to get a sense of the watch’s performance and the brand’s reputation. User experiences can provide valuable insights into the watch’s reliability and customer service.
  • Consider the price and value: Microbrand watches often offer excellent value for the price, but it’s essential to ensure that you’re getting a good deal. Compare the watch’s features, materials, and movement with other brands in a similar price range.

Where to Buy Microbrand Watches

Microbrand watches have become increasingly popular among watch enthusiasts seeking unique, often limited-edition timepieces. Interested buyers can find these watches through various avenues that cater to different preferences and needs.

Online Marketplaces

One prevalent option for purchasing microbrand watches is through online marketplaces. They offer a wide range of watches from various microbrands, allowing buyers to compare styles and prices. 

Websites specializing in microbrand watches curate high-quality options and may offer competitive pricing along with free shipping on orders.

Direct from Manufacturers

Alternatively, purchasing directly from the manufacturers can also be beneficial. Buyers can engage with the creators of their chosen timepieces, which supports these small-scale operations and sometimes grants access to limited runs or pre-order specials not available elsewhere.

 For instance, brands like Astor & Banks have garnered a reputation for creating attractive mechanical tool watches, which they often sell directly from their websites.

Warranties and Customer Service

Consumers should also consider after-sales services such as warranties and customer support when buying microbrand watches. 

A strong warranty can provide peace of mind, while responsive customer service ensures that queries or issues can be swiftly addressed. Each brand will have its own policy, so buyers need to review these details before making a purchase.

FAQs

1. Is Zodiac a microbrand?

No, Zodiac is not considered a microbrand. Founded in 1882 in Switzerland, Zodiac is a historic watch brand known for its vintage-inspired designs and longevity in the watch world, which places it outside the typical definition of a microbrand.

2. Is Formex a microbrand?

Yes, Formex can be classified as a microbrand. Despite being established in 1999, it exemplifies many microbrand characteristics by operating independently, focusing on online sales, and producing watches in small quantities that cater to a niche market.

3. Is there a demand for higher-end microbrand watches?

There is a growing market for higher-end microbrand watches, with consumers willing to pay for the uniqueness, quality, and exclusivity these brands offer. Microbrands often fill a gap in the market for enthusiasts seeking something different from mainstream luxury brands.

Final Word

Microbrand watches have emerged as a testament to the craftsmanship and ingenuity of small-scale entrepreneurs and watch enthusiasts. They stand out for their aesthetic appeal and storytelling—a celebration of horological history, personal expression, and meticulous craftsmanship.

Key Takeaways

  • Microbrand watches like AnOrdain and Bravur are celebrated for their distinct designs and meticulous craftsmanship. These brands produce limited editions and hand-assembled watches, offering exclusivity that attracts collectors.
  • Advances in digital marketing and e-commerce have made it easier for brands like Astor & Banks and Baltic to enter the market. This accessibility allows them to offer high-quality watches at more competitive prices than traditional luxury brands.
  • Microbrands such as Christopher Ward and Mercer create a strong sense of community by engaging deeply with their customers. This connection is fostered by sharing the unique stories and origins of their watches, enhancing brand loyalty and appeal.

Looking to buy or sell your luxury watches? Watch Exchange is your one-stop destination for trading RolexPatek Philippe, Tissot, Sinn, Zenith, and other luxury timepieces. Find your next watch today or list your item for free!


Buy or Trade Sell or Consign