There is always something interesting with small manufacturers and independent watchmakers.
We like how these outfits have the room to do something different, with a focus on producing great quality watches. These had certainly added more vibrancy into the watch scene, especially when there are times big brands have decided to rest on their laurels and produce less than inspiring timepieces.
In today’s article, we will be hoping to shine the spotlight on some of these independent watch manufacturers. Additionally, to up the ante, we will also challenge ourselves to seek for watches that are priced below S$10,000.
So, what have we selected for this week’s list? Let us find out!
Ochs und Junior Ore Due
Ochs und Junior is an interesting independent brand, with a focus on making complications as simple as possible. The new Ore Due is a great representation of the manufacturer’s ethos.
The Ore Due, launched early this year, is the first of the new Ochs line. The idea behind the collection is to allow collectors to access their creations more easily, with a relatively lower price point. This particular 39mm piece features a dual time zone display, with an ingenious method whereby the dial has an additional adjustable disc (with Arabic numerals) that allows the user to tell time using one hand, at a single glance. What is also interesting is that Ochs and Junior had managed to do this by modifying a ETA 2824-2 movement, and replacing its date disc with a time zone disk instead.
Notably, the watch is cased with Grade 5 titanium, and it can be purchased with either the green or orange accent variants. It is priced at CHF3,500 (approximately S$5,113), and we reckon it is a fun and conversational watch that will certainly light up any watch collection.
Horage Autark 10 Years Limited Edition
Next, we have the Horage Autark 10 Years Limited Edition.
Horage is another 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.
Hentschel H2 Hafenmeister
The Hentschel H2 Hafenmeister may look simple at the first glance, but trust us, you should not judge a watch by its appearance.
Based in Hamburg, Hentschel is an under-the-radar manufacturer who has been producing fine timepieces for the last three decades. The H2 Hafenmeister, notably, is a timepiece that follows the philosophy of the brand – which is to produce watches with subtle elegance and refined aesthetics.
Powering the H2 Hafenmeister is the in-house HUW 1130 S movement. The manual-winding movement was inspired by old pocket watches of the 20th century, and an autonomy of around 37 hours. The finishing, in our opinion, is excellent especially with the various sharp corners and the employment of various techniques.
Available in both 34.0mm and 38.5mm, the stainless steel timepiece is priced at €5,080 (approximately S$7,740) for non-European customers. The H2 Hafenmeister is yet another brilliant timepiece from the German manufacturer, and they certainly deserve much more attention than this.
The idea of producing well-made watches, at an affordable price point, is a noble but difficult act. However, Miguel Morales Ribas of Ophion might have other ideas.
The Ophion OPH786 is one of such brilliant timepieces. Inspired by old pocket watches, the OPH786 aims to incorporate traditional touches with modern elements found on high-end watchmaking. This results in a stunning piece, with stunning touches such as a CNC-machined guilloché dial and hand hammered Technotime movement. Finishing is pretty much a key aspect of the OPH786, and we are glad to say that Ophion is spot on with the execution.
The initial run of the OPH786 was priced at €1,890 (approximately S$2,880), but we understand that this series has been sold out. The OPH 786 VÉLOS – priced at €3,150 (approximately S$4,800) – is perhaps the next best alternative. Either way, you know that you are getting a great piece, at a reasonable price.
Continuing with the theme of lesser known independent watch manufacturers, we have a contender from England: Garrick S4.
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 at £5,413 (approximately S$9,904), 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.
Habring² Jumping Second Pilot
We end the article with an incredible timepiece from Habring² – an independent outfit in Austria that is operated by a husband-and-wife team.
Amongst the incredible array of watches is the Jumping Seconds Pilot. As its nomenclature suggests, the watch features the seconde morte complication. For the uninitiated, this means that the seconds hand tick once every second – not dissimilar to that of a quartz watch. The only difference is that this is done with a mechanical movement, which is certainly not as easy to execute. What is also incredible is that this is accomplished using an ETA-7750 base movement, which is another mean feat especially when we consider how Richard Habring had achieved this with as little modifications as possible to incorporate this complication.
The last known retail price of the Jumping Seconds Pilot is around £4,950 (approximately S$9,069). For anyone who is looking to get their first timepiece from an independent watchmaker, any Habring timepiece should certainly make it onto the contenders’ list.
We hope you have enjoyed this week’s article. While coming up with a list of six modestly-priced watches from independent watchmakers – below S$10,000 – may sound challenging, we definitely found joy in this. There is just something special about each of these timepieces, and we really hope that more exposure can be given to these watch manufacturers who are doing such a brilliant job in preserving and expanding the horological scene.
This article has proven that we should look beyond the usual brands. These smaller outfits do produce great timepieces, and at a relatively reasonable price point as well. In fact, we are inclined to believe that for any major brands to produce a timepiece of similar quality and caliber, we are expecting the price premium to come in minimally at 100%. To a certain extent, these watches – at their current price point – do offer great value.
So, what are your favourite timepieces amongst the six watches that we have selected? If not, what are some of the watches you reckon deserve a spot on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!