Feb 18, 20183274 views

Microbrand Watches

Hi Everyone,
I'm a Seiko and Victorinox fan. Most of my watches are from either brands. I notice there are many (micro) brands that came into the watch market over the last few years, such as the one below which I stumbled onto today.
What are your thoughts on micro-brands?
Would you buy a watch from a company that does not have a background/heritage to it?
Have a nice day!
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JTrubs, Finder, and 5 others
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I find the micro brands extremely refreshing. Of course depending on the brand, one can get a lot for the money. It’s unfortunate that many do limited runs with pre-orders but not all. Creating watches is a passion for these guys and not as easy as one might suspect. I hope this trend continues. Eta is really missing out on a great opportunity in my opinion.
New models from existing and new microbrands are always on my radar. I like them for attention to detail, more creative designs, new materials and new ways of doing business. Recently I received a made to order (case finish, face, case back, hands and strap) watch where the brand gives you numerous options. The watch arrived in one week from day of order, from Hong Kong to the west coast of the US. This business model shows that finished goods inventory can be drastically reduced by using this technique. Microbrands and ordering watches via the internet is the future of the watch industry, imo.
Here is my own microbrand, the Waldhoff Multimatic, powered by a Miyota 9100 movement with power reserve indicator; Sapphire crystal, diamond-cut hands, multi-layer metallic dial.
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/made-in-germany-luxury-watches/x/17062482#/
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I think micro brands are healthy for the industry for a multitude of reasons. For me they started as "starter watches" while I learned what I liked. Some eventually worked their way into my favorites rotation. The brands I still own are Halios, Helson, Melbourne, and Lew and Huey. L&H has ceased as a brand now, but I have considered additional acquisitions from the other 3 recently. T
I love Xeric Watches. Love their unique Faces.
i just received my marc and sons professional (diver). paid 300$...feels WAAAY nice! i'm a big fan of good micro brands.
I'm a big fan of Steinhart. Lots of options under $500 and I have 4 different models from their line-up and can see more in the future.
Also have various one off for specific models in other micros like Mercer, Squale, Aevig, etc.
Some micros are really good value for money. Decent movements, good fit and finish and splendid customer support. But you'll have to research to find out.
My first discussion post on MD for debate. Thanks guys for the effort!
Definitely. I’d love to have something that noone else around me has. I’ve been eyeballing the Hamtun H1 for a while. The only drawback is the 5 month waiting time from pre-order to predicted shipping.
jonasstenstrom
The Hamtun Neon is worthy as well! I just reviewed it and I like it.
It looks awesome. The only drawback for me is the material. I need a titanium watch due to nickel allergy.
Dunno, I stopped spending money on "throw away" fashion watches....
My opinion is that the rise of micro-brands is a great thing as it leads to new designs and directions. Take my Aevig Corvid for example. I can't think of anything that is similar, when you also add that the dial is full lume. I took one look at it and loved it. Of course even that was not enough to make me pull the trigger as I needed to ensure it was a reputable company run by a good operator. There are plenty of average micros out there, but there are definitely some gems. Just received a Halios Seaforth and it is also fantastic value. At the end of the day, buy what you like, but make sure you do your research before purchasing.
Who needs a watch these days? I have a smart phone. What I want is a fashion statement that tells the time too. Explore the micro brands out there and you will find statements for pretty much any taste. I've probably worked my way through the following list - https://watchbandit.com/watch-brands/ - at least a dozen times, looking for products that speaks to me. Not sure I can adequately address quality of micro brands, but I certainly research movements, feedback from other aficionados like you , watch review sites (like www.wornandwound.com) and how strong the warranty is, before I put down hard earned cash. I feel that research, while not a guarantor of a good purchase, helps get the best value and some degree of confidence. Based on running my own comps, it seems that some micro brands are setting prices - sometimes hundreds of dollars - beyond what other brands with similar platforms are offering. Micro brands have come and gone. I agree with the Rolex analogy. Quality will keep some brands afloat and growing, while others fail. Regardless of how fashion plays a role in selecting a micro brand, if the product ceases to tell time, you won't be wearing it on your wrist.
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I think this is a very personal decision, since it's so tied in to fashion sense. I've always been a fan of automatic movements. I find it hard to part with hundreds of dollars for some micro watch brands offering quartz movements, when I can buy an automatic - often Swiss or high end Miyota - for less. Personally, I'd be pretty unlikely to plonk down the thousands of dollars some micro brands are asking when I could purchase a respected brand - say Tudor, for example - for similar money. I'm also unlikely to spend $500 or more on a watch brand selling a Seiko NH35 movement when I know I can get it in another brand for so much less. This is no knock on the NH35. I have at least one watch with this tried and tested movement. So for me, does it fill a gap in my collection (I purchased two retro style watches recently and a diver with a bronze bezel)? Does it have a movement I have faith in? Is it a limited edition? When I do the comps with other brands, is it competitively priced? Is my payment going to be secure? Is the warranty in writing? Yeah, that would cover it.
Fairdinkum2
I agree, the market is flooded with microbrands. Many have come and gone, and many more will come and go. I started Blacklist back in 2013 right before the big microbrand boom and If I could do it over, I would have produced models differently and poised myself to aim towards the mass market over micro. Not to say I don't think there is a place for micros. At least micros that can survive longer than one KS campaign or a couple of years. If I am being completely honest, I think the supply of micros (ex: the amount of new brands popping up every day) far exceeds the demand (ex: the target microbrand market) There are new brands popping up every day, and although, I think there are new people entering the microbrand target market, I don't think its at a high enough multiple to support the new brands. Considering to do this as a fulltime job with no other income, you need to sell 500-1000pcs a year at the very least, depending on pricing and margins. (Which, might I add that are increasingly slim with all the new brands doing this as a hobby and that end up barely breaking even) Back to the point, there are alot of good micros out there, lots of great owners and passionate people behind these brands. Just have to find them, which is half the fun. At the end of the day, it all boils down to what YOU want to wear. Do you want to wear the same seiko turtle as 10,000 other people, maybe, maybe not.
I started much like you on Victorinox quartz and then lots of Seiko automatics. As far as microbrands go, there are some I enjoy quite a bit but as you noted below when you get in to the price range some of them charge so they are able to be profitable you come up against the fit, finish and leverage of a major company like Seiko. It's hard to justify $500+ dollars for a micro watch when you could have your choice of a lot of quality with some level of guarantee on the fit and finish.
I've got a watch on order from Martenero, and I was very interested in a Halios Seaforth but grew tired of the stops and starts for an onsale date and the website. I actually posted something similar back on the forums here if you care to take a look.
https://www.massdrop.com/talk/2557/microbrands
Vintage1982Benz
Thanks for the link. Some of them actually look fantastic! I just couldn't justify buying a microbrand that costs the same as a Seiko.
honeybee
I have a hard time with it, as well, but some of them have been making well regarded watches for a number of years now. I'm curious how well I like my Martenero when it arrives. I'll be posting some pics so if you're still around on the forums I'm sure you'll hear about it ; - )
I'm by no means as deep into watches as say Stainless or Petros, but I have a watch from Spinnaker that runs great, and another from Boldr, who have excellent customer service.
I'm eyeing a phoibos Ave master for my next purchase. I think with reviews out there, microbrands aren't really a risk.
Just my two cents
I have watches from Aragon, Spinnaker and Evant, and wouldn't hesitate to add some other micros, including Halios and Melbourne. Although they don't have the Heritage of well known watch brands, they can offer excellent quality and unique designs at a reasonable cost.
If you think about it, Rolex was one of the original microbrands. They did what current microbrands do.. Buy movements and other parts from suppliers, turn them into watches, and market them well. They just happened to get their start over 100 years ago, but the business model was the same. They weren't even Swiss originally. And it was decades before they made movements in house, and only because they bought their movement supplier.
Rolex was the original Apple. Build a quality product, and market it so that people want the brand as much as the watch. Even their name was invented specifically to make it marketable in any language. They weren't watch makers, they were watch marketers, and they were the best ever at that.
PetrosD
Well said Petros, well said. Though many of the hallowed brands we have today did start small, the pond was also significantly smaller one hundred years ago as well. It should also be considered that in the last thirty years, globalization has made building a watch easier and cheaper, though the quality and lack of experience or provenance of the parts suppliers is what raises questions.
Though Rolex only recently created a new, unique in house movement, the Aegler movements that powered Rolex from 1912 forward were exclusive (Aegler also merged with Rolex in 1915 as a separate company). More importantly though, Aegler and the parts suppliers Rolex used were companies with the needed experience to make a solid, quality time piece, with not only Rolex, but most of the old brands that employed outside watch makers, ones that had been existent for a long, long time, usually plying the trades in Germany or Switzerland. There were no illusions or question of the quality of the parts separate, or as a whole. Though I adore some of todays Micro brands, and the intent they have, the character and quality of the suppliers of some of the brands is where the long term value comes to play for me.
And Rolex marketing, for all it is, is still relatively staid compared to other brands. They let the brand sell itself, because the watches built that reputation that people wanted, and would pay for. Newman wore a cosmograph because it was an awesome stopwatch timekeeper (and a gift from the Mrs.). Jacques Cousteau wore a Submariner because it was an awesome, reliable dive watch. People wore them because they could count on them. These gents weren't paid to wear them in all likely hood, but these legends helped reinforce why you would want to wear one. The watches reputation preceded the marketing, and then justified it. In essence, yep, they were Apple before Apple, though a markedly different time and place (which is affecting both companies in different ways)
You know, It would be something cool to have a get together with fellow watch geeks from MD. I could literally talk about this stuff all day if my time allowed.
Cheers friend
Thanks to @kpjimmy, I have indeed paid more attention to Micro brands. Only a handful have enough moxie to pull me though, and I do not have any in the collection yet, and am not sure when I will add one. I am drawn to heritage and a brands ability to convey it's identity and reason, with or without marketing hyperbole.
StainlessOnly
I agree. I’m not sure when I would add one to my collection. Especially when these brands are selling their watches at a price range where I can easily get another Seiko or Orient.
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