10 Apr Three Great Microbrands That Stand Out From The Crowd
In the age of the Internet, small independent brands can be found in virtually every industry, whether it’s your local coffee roaster, micro-brewery, or tech start-up. Horology is no exception to this phenomena, and most watch collectors will certainly be aware of a few microbrands, and probably own one or two watches from them.
With these small independent brands being so commonplace, it’s hard to stop them all blending in to one homogeneous mass of never ending Miyota-powered catalogue builds. Therefore, here are three micros that definitely stand apart from the rest, and are well worth checking out!
Los Angeles based Nodus is an incredibly young microbrand, having only been founded in 2017. They’ve already released four models, the Avalon, Contrail, Retrospect, and Trieste, and have more releases planned. On paper, they sound like any other microbrand, offering affordable sports watches powered by Seiko and Miyota movements.
So why are they first on this list I hear you ask? Well, first off, their designs are truly original. There isn’t a homage in sight, and that says a lot in a time when most independents are choosing to homage vintage pieces. Secondly, they assemble and regulate all their pieces in LA. It’s a very welcome sight to see from such a small company, and it shows a great deal of attention to detail on Nodus’ part.
If you like the sound of what Nodus are doing, you can check out their pieces on their website here.
Halios has proven itself to be a firm favourite amongst the watch collecting community. Its latest model, the Seaforth, is one of the most popular pieces to come out from a micro in recent years. And, it’s to the Seaforth that Halios owe their place on this list. It’s the perfect blend of great build quality, original (yet orthodox) design, and the affordability that consumers expect of an independent watch brand.
I think the real draw for the Seaforth, is that it takes design cues from classic divers of the past, without being a homage to anything. The result is an iconic watch amongst micros and the various colours and bezel options offer a great degree of personalisation.
You can check out Halios’ range and their upcoming Universa and Fairwind models on their website here.
Last on the list we have Monta watches. Whilst Monta’s pieces are certainly the most expensive on this list, their attention to detail is what really sets them apart from the crowd. I mean, just look that the level of finishing on their cases! Not to mention the detailing on the dials. (How many brands use a bent GMT hand?) However, Monta’s dedication to quality doesn’t stop there. A lot of companies would slap an ETA2824 (or similar) in a watch of this price-point, and rely on some marketing hype to try and justify the RRP. Monta chose to forgo that cheaper option though, and opted for a SW300, Sellita’s version of the ETA2892, regulated to within COSC specs.
Overall Monta offer a well thought out package that you can purchase here.
So there we have it, three great microbrands who set themselves apart from the crowd! Looking at all three together, the unifying USP of all is the attractive value proposition each offer at their respective price points. It’s this idea of “bang for buck” which still lies at the core of all micros. In this saturated market, if a new brand isn’t offering an edge over the competition then it will quickly find itself the subject of scorn from its customer base – just check out the comments on A Blog to Watch’s sponsored posts.
A case in point is Dennison Watches, who were launched in 2016 and based off the famous case manufacturers of the same name (see what I did there?). To my eye the watches looked to be a nice vintage-esque piece, with an ETA2824 inside and a retro plexi crystal. The cases were even manufactured in England, and the lug holes drilled using original Dennison machines. The catch? The watches were priced from an astounding £2400. That’s right, they wanted the same price as a brand new Tudor. As of the time of writing, whilst the Dennison website is still active, it doesn’t offer anything for sale, and their Instagram has been inactive for 12 months. If you compare these to the likes of Monta, it’s not hard to see why the latter is going from strength to strength, whilst the former has crashed and burned.
The moral of this tale? If you want to start your own watch brand, you’ll need to work damn hard to make one that will last. You’ll need an original design, excellent build quality, and maybe, just maybe, your pieces won’t be found on eBay for a tenth of their RRP in ten years’ time.