Independent mind: Six brilliant and lesser-known watches from independent watchmakers and manufacturers

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The world of independent watchmaking is always interesting, especially with smaller and less-known watchmakers or manufacturers who always have something different to offer.

We are huge fans of independent watchmaking, for the very simple fact that they inject a lot of vibrancy into the scene with their wonderful creations. These may come in the form of interesting designs, or exquisite finishing that is not typically found in watches produced by conglomerates or the big-name brands.

In this week’s article, we hope to shine the spotlight on some of the lesser-known independent watchmakers or manufacturers in the horological scene. Through this exercise, we hope that more readers will be acquainted with some of these brands and consider adding their timepieces into one’s collection in the future.

So, what have we selected for this week’s list? Let us find out!

JUNGE Uhrmacher Prestige

We begin the article with a new kid on the block. Cue the Prestige, from JUNGE Uhrmacher (picture above courtesy of JUNGE Uhrmacher).

JUNGE, established in 2021 by Josef Bresan and Lukas Pöhlmann, is a new independent watchmaker established in the horologically rich region of Dresden. The Prestige is a three-hand time-only watch, but the beautiful Calibre JU26-01 is where the magic truly lies. The movement features the German three-quarter plate construction, with finishings that are accomplished by hand. Pretty remarkable for its first effort.

The 40mm watch is available in grey and blue dial variants, with each limited to a production of 24 pieces. The watch retails at €16,750 (approximately S$27,973), and we think it is reasonable for a hand-built watch with an in-house designed and constructed movement.

Kudoke 2

Continuing with the theme of watches from Dresden, we have another brilliant contender: Kudoke 2.

Launched in 2019, the Kudoke 2 is part of the HANDwerk collection. The collection was launched following the introduction of the brand’s Kaliber 1 movement, which was produced in collaboration with Habring². The 39mm watch is a time-only piece, with an additional 24-hour indicator that has been hand-engraved by an artisan in Glashütte. The movement, which we have mentioned earlier, is finished in gilt and also features an engraved balance cock.

The timepiece may be simple, but the execution is pretty incredible. The price point is also rather reasonable too, with the last known retail price being €8,665 (approximately S$12,400). The Kudoke 2 is a great example of what both German and independent watchmaking can offer, with a reasonable price point that is almost unparalleled by today’s standard.

Garrick S4

We move on to England, with the Garrick S4 (picture above courtesy of Garrick).

The S4 is one of the latest collections from the British watchmaker. In addition, it is the manufacturer’s most accessible model, with spectacular touches that represents the brand’s key competencies. Some of the sublime touches for the 42mm watch include heat-blued hands, engine-turned dial, and a beautifully modified movement with hand-frosted surfaces and a traditional screwed balance.

Priced from £4,995 (approximately S$7,968) onwards, the Garrick S4 offers collectors a sublime timepiece with great attention to detail. We like how each piece is made to order, with great emphasis on hand-craftsmanship and customisation.

Horage Autark 10 Years Limited Edition

The next piece on the list is the brilliant Horage Autark 10 Years Limited Edition.

Horage is a relatively young brand in the scene, but that does not stop the Swiss-based manufacturer from producing compelling pieces (e.g. Tourbillon 1). The Autark 10 Years Limited Edition is a culmination of the brand’s effort over the last decade, with a stunning barrel-shaped titanium case and the in-house developed K1 movement. In addition, the watch also has a big date display, as well as a colourful power reserve indicator that adds vibrancy to the deep-brushed anthracite dial.

This 39mm is limited to a production of just 99 pieces, and it is priced at S$5,877. We like the brand’s concept, and the originality of the watch’s design. While Horage may not be a top choice for many collectors, we reckon they surely deserve some serious considerations as well. If you are looking for something beyond the usual choices, the Autark might just be the timepiece that you need.

Sarpaneva x Moomin

Stepan Sarpaneva has always been an interesting figure in the watch scene. His watches, notably, share the same characteristics as the enigmatic gentleman as well.

This new series of Sarpaneva x Moomin timepieces (picture above courtesy of Sarpaneva) is one of the independent watchmaker’s latest creations. It features the characters from the series of books by Finnish author Trove Janssen, with them taking the centre stage of the timepiece. This series of watches has another key highlight, in the form of a dial that uses multi-colour SuperLuminova. The end result, as seen in the above picture, is spectacular.

In addition, the case is produced with sustainable stainless steel, from a Finnish steel mill known as Outokumpu. The whole package makes a rather compelling story, and it is really these kinds of creations that make independent watchmakers (and their products) so special. The 42mm watch is priced at €12,000 (approximately S$17,175), and it will be limited to a production run of 100 pieces (25 for each of the four variants).

Armin Strom Tribute 1 Rose Gold

Armin Strom – an independent watchmaking house co-owned by Serge Michel and master watchmaker Claude Greisler – may only be a dozen years old. Nonetheless, it has not stopped the brand from making great strides in the industry.

The Tribute 1 may be a compact time-only watch, but it certainly packs a punch with this timepiece. Here is a 38mm timepiece that is executed brilliantly, with some slight quirks. This includes an off-centre dial, crown at an atypical 2 o’clock position, as well as four interesting angular lugs. The whole concept may sound strange on paper, but the end result is excellent. Think of it as a refined timepiece but injected with some element of fun.

One of our favourite variants is the Tribute 1 Rose Gold, which we think pairs rather well with the black dial. This particular watch is limited to a production of 100 pieces, with a retail price of CHF 23,900 (approximately S$34,155). Given the quality and finishing of the watch, we reckon the asking price is rather fair. This is probably a great option especially if one is looking to own something different beyond the usual suspects.

Concluding Thoughts

We hope that today’s article has provided a glimpse of the depth within the independent watchmaking scene. Although we have only selected six watches, we believe this had covered a reasonable spectrum in the variety of timepieces across different price points and designs.

Even across these six watches, we can definitely see the appeal of watches from independent watchmakers or manufacturers. These watches offer something beyond the usual crowd, mostly with a focus on finishing and application of haute horlogerie techniques on the watches. The end result is certainly different.

Ultimately, we hope that more collectors will give independent watchmaking a chance. It may not be easy to take the first step, but what we can say is that this will be worth the while.


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