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8 Best Microbrand Watch Investments 2023

Studio Underd0g 'Generation 2 watches'

At this point we all know what the big investment watches are: the Nautili of this world and all the usual suspects who are the best performers. However, when the entry price is £10,000+ the risks involved are substantial. Plus, price isn’t the only barrier to entry out there, with people who have been buying watches for years getting fast-tracked through waiting lists . A more accessible but no less exciting arena of watch investment are microbrand watches, so let’s take a look at 5 of the best microbrand watches that make for good investment watches.

An important disclaimer is that in the world of microbrands timing your purchase and getting in early can make a world of difference. Limited availability, funky designs and huge hype means that once a watch sells out, it can be tricky to buy into it at an appropriate price for investment. Essentially, the specific watches featured here, which are already popular, aren’t guaranteed to have future investment potential. Instead, consider them a rough guide to the kinds of watches to look out for in future.

Studio Underd0g Chronograph

Studio Underd0g Strawberries and Cream Chronograph
Studio Underd0g Watermel0n

Studio Underd0g Strawberries and Cream and Watermel0n (Gen2)

If you go out of your way to describe a Studio Underd0g watch in the simplest terms possible they don’t sound particularly special. A 38.5mm chronograph with a Chinese movement. However, that totally misses out on the fact that they are quite possibly the most characterful and fun watches on the market, microbrand or otherwise.

Last year’s Strawberries & Cream is a British summer delight and the Watermel0n is a perennial favourite. However, extremely limited production numbers mean every new design sells out instantly and prices on the second hand market steadily rise. I’m not necessarily advocating that the Strawberries & Cream is the model you want to be picking up right now (although you should probably snag a Watermel0n if you see one at a good price), but if you can get hold of the next Underd0g project at retail, it’s a safe investment.

Retail price: £575, pre-owned price: £750 – £1,600 

More details at Studio Underd0g.

Baltic MR01

Baltic MR01 Salmon

When investing in Microbrands, it’s inevitable that the total growth of a watch’s value tends to be smaller as the starting value is substantially lower than a high end luxury watch. What that means is that while the Baltic MR01 can be found for sale for at most £300 above retail, that marks a significant increase in total value of around 60%.

Baltic are a brand you definitely want to keep an eye on, they’re a French microbrand that specialise in stylish diving watches like the Aquascaphe. Although they can just as easily charm with vintage style dress watches like the MR01 with its 36mm diameter and off-centre small seconds subdial.

Retail price: €545, pre-owned price: £600 – £800

More details at Baltic.

Airain Type 20 Vert Militaire

Airain Type 20 Vert Militaire

One of the coolest watches from the last 12 months that was snapped up by collectors but didn’t get talked about all that much was the Airain Type 20 Vert Militaire limited edition. It’s a super cool military style chronograph with an olive dial and beige markers that is the perfect mixture of retro and modern.

The limited availability, there were just 134 produced, makes it an incredibly stable investment and looking back at older Airain limited editions like the Brown from 2021 shows they have held at a steady price above retail.

Retail price: £2,512, pre-owned price: £2,800

More details at Airain.

Boldr Venture Singularity

Boldr Venture Singularity

The Boldr Venture itself is a fine watch, a 38mm titanium field watch with an accessible Japanese movement, however the base model isn’t really what you’d call a great investment watch. Give it a fun limited edition twist though and collectors immediately take note and interest in the model soars.

Take the Boldr Venture Singularity for example with its Musuo Black dial and bright orange hands. It sold out immediately and has sat consistently at slightly above RRP since. Although, as ever with new watches very few examples have popped-up for sale so getting an accurate read on long term prices is difficult, early indications are good though.

Retail price: £410, pre-owned price: £450

More details at Boldr.

anOrdain Model 1 Green Fumé

anOrdain Model 1 Fume Dial Green
anOrdain Model 1 Green Fume

anOrdain are a Scottish microbrand who have become masters of enamel dials, creating a range of gloriously rich colours and smooth textures for their watches. They exemplify the concept that doing something extremely difficult a few times really well is more valuable than doing something easy a lot. The Model 1 Green Fumé took years to develop and it is simply gorgeous. However, with such painstaking craft comes long production times and an extensive waiting list, which has contributed to a soaring price on the grey market. If you’re patient enough to sit on the waiting list, it will be more than worth your time.

Retail price: £2,595, pre-owned: £5,700 – £8,500

More details at anOrdain.

Kurono Calendrier Type 1

Kurono Calendrier Type 1

Kurono is the project of legendary Japanese watchmaker Hajime Asaoka, created as an outlet for his creative efforts in an accessible manner – as opposed to his usual (and very, very costly) haute horological masterpieces. His involvement alone is enough to send collectors into a spin trying to pick up the latest Kurono watch, which are usually released in global drops. Last year’s Calendrier Type 1 was Kurono’s first complete calendar, leading to heightened interest in the release and a doubling of value just a few months on.

Retail price: £1,525, pre-owned price: £3,000

More details at Kurono.

Unimatic U1-MLB

Unimatic U1-MLB

Unimatic have a huge cult following, meaning there’s plenty of demand for their timepieces, however their industrial, tool watch vibe isn’t one that invites much growth in value per se. Instead, when looking towards Unimatic for an investment watch you want to look at their collaborations with Massena LAB. The U1-MLB is a steel dive watch inspired by the Blancpain Bund, giving it a huge amount of retro appeal.

Retail price: $895 (approx. £740), pre-owned price: £1,500

More details at Unimatic.

Brew Watch Co. Metric Retro Dial

Brew Watch Co Metric Retro Dial
Brew Watch Co Metric Retro Dial

Brew Watch Co. are another great example of how catering to an underserved niche can reap large rewards. Specifically, their niche audience is the coffee drinkers of this world. Which is why watches like the Metric Retro Dial feature markings denoting the perfect brew length for an espresso. It’s also bright and fun in that quirky local coffee shop kind of way. Plus, to see a battery powered watch, even if it’s the more reputable meca-quartz variety, shows that there’s plenty appetite for Brew.

Retail price: $450 (approx. £370), pre-owned price: £460 – £575

More details at Brew Watch Co.

Honourable Mention: Christopher Ward Bel Canto

Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto

Christopher Ward is by no means a microbrand but their accessible price tags and colourful designs mean their watches are often in competition with those of microbrands. However, in addition to their flotilla of rugged dive watches and company, they also strive to bring more ambitious horological concepts to a wider audience. Enter the Bel Canto, a chiming complication wristwatch for less than £3,000.

To call it an instant success is an understatement and only recently has Christopher Ward been able to cater to the demand generated by this watch by launching an expanded collection. However, that original limited edition release is still generating huge interest and is commanding prices in the region of 7.5 – 8k.

Retail price: £2,995, pre-owned price: £7,500 – £8,000

More details at Christopher Ward.

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.