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Microbrand Corner: December 2021’s Best New Releases

The Sacred Crafts x Indies Trader ‘The Treasure Hunter’ Limited Edition

The Sacred Crafts x Indies Trader The Treasure Hunter Limited Edition

Sustainability in watchmaking is more than a movement; it’s a way of life. Well, at least if you’re eco-friendly maker Sacred Crafts. Working with environmentally minded travel company Indies Trader, the Treasure Hunter is both a serious chunk of retro diving fun and made from reclaimed materials, primarily with its seaglass dial. Available in a trio of variants – the bi-colour Diver Down, the stealthy Sea of Darkness and the eye-catching Blue Horizon – each comes with an interchangeable bezel for a flash of personalisation on top of the inherently unique nature of reclaimed materials. It’s also a lot of watch for the money, which any would-be ocean salvager would be happy with.

The Specs

  • 44mm reclaimed bronze, stainless steel or titanium case with 300m water resistance
  • ETA Calibre 2824 automatic movement with 38-hour power reserve
  • $4,500 USD (approx. £3,305), limited to 50 pieces, available at The Sacred Crafts.

Nivada Grenchen Antarctic Spider Re-Edition

Nivada Grenchen Antarctic Spider Re-Edition

I do love it when vintage re-issue brands take a more out-there design and embrace it, and this is a superb example. The sleek 38mm case with a mere 11mm thickness is a wild-dialled wolf in dressy clothing, transfixing your gaze with its spider-esque looks. True to its original sunray silver brushed dial, a spider pattern of lines emerge from the centre, ending with beige lume-pips by the indexes. Damn cool, and dressy by look but a tough explorer by nature, really? Well, a double domed sapphire crystal and a 200m depth rating sure says so.

The Specs

  • 38mm, stainless steel case with 200m water resistance
  • Soprod Calibre P024 automatic movement
  • From €650 EUR (approx. £545), available at Nivada Grenchen.

Delft Watchworks Oostport Transparent Date

Delft Watchworks Oostport

As a thoroughly modern creation, the Delft Watchworks has a strong presence. As a partnership, one half of Delft Watchworks is Michiel Holthinrichs. He is an artisanal watchmaker with an eponymous brand, and this is an accessible entry into his thoughtful design and architectural inspiration. With a broad brushed hour chapter ring and sharp indexes overhanging a beguiling sapphire inner dial, the date window pops out at half past four, while we can see the entire date wheel under the matte sapphire inner dial, reminding us of the passage of a month.

The case is superb value for the price, with scalloped sides and no expense spared to make this a stand-alone piece of wrist-art, which punches way above its price. Yes, there is a blue dazzling dial or a demure grey version, but with its skeletonized hands this is a strong contender for best microbrand sapphire dial around.

The Specs

  • 40mm stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
  • Calibre STP 1-11 automatic movement
  • €849 EUR (approx. £715), available at Delft Watchworks.

Arcus Tropos

Arcus Tropos

Dreams can come true, how about a sub $1,000 monopusher? A very unusual chronograph complication for a microbrand, but the Tropos is it, literally. And it works. With a modern oyster-style bracelet and slender brushed and beveled case the dial seems transposed from another decade. With its late forties-early fifties vibe it somehow works perfectly, with its beige lume popping off the elegant black dial.

The art of budgeting is made possible by the hand wound Cal.AR-01 based on a Seagull 1901, and the Sinn-like dial is superb. Through sheer determination the Arcus conversion from two button chrono to monopusher is impressive, and a first for this movement. The Tropos is simply very, very tempting, and never found at this price point.

The Specs

  • 39mm stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
  • Arcus Calibre AR-01 (ST 1901 conversion), hand-wound monopusher chronograph movement
  • $699 USD (approx. £520), available at Arcus.

SOVRYGN Calendar

SOVRYGN Calendar Rose Gold in Aqua Blue

Angular is the word, angular and Bold with a capital B. From the polished corner facets of the brushed and polished bracelet to a dynamic chunk of a steel case. The SOVRYGN Calendar juxtaposes the muscular and delightfully non-homage case design with a crispy fresh blue dial. If you’re an old petrolhead like me, you will get associations to the fabled Porsche Gulf livery, and that’s purely a good thing. On a busy yet balanced dial, dark blue calendar sub-dials are an elegant touch. Teamed up with the orange zest of candy-popping pointers and minute track, the vibrant look will easily cheer up the murkiest autumn morning.

The Specs

  • 39mm stainless steel case with 100m water resistance
  • Miyota Calibre 9100 automatic movement with 40-hour power reserve
  • £388, available at SOVRYGN.

Forstner A-12

Forstner A-12

Many of you will know Forstner as the source for vintage-perfect bracelets like the slim and sharp Komfit for the Speedmaster. Now Forstner have stepped onto the microbrand scene with the A-12, a natty re-creation of the sixties Bulova Astronaut, and I want one. You might bash re-issues, but Forstner have been as accurate here as they are with their comfortable bracelets.

It comes on the delicious bullet-bracelet and provides superb, and reliable quartz value. A pure brushed steel tool with a minimalist touch and well, pitch perfect cool. Three hands and a 24 hour GMT scale? YES, the ticking seconds hand is gone, while the broad GMT arrow remains. A brilliant move, even if we’re not averse to quartz anymore, are we?

The Specs

  • 39mm brushed stainless steel case with 50m water resistance
  • Swiss made Ronda 515-24hr GMT quartz movement
  • Pre-orders at $475 USD (approx. £350), available at Forstner.

Justin Richardson Octavo Blue Slate

Justin Richardson Octavo Blue Slate

Delicately sized at 38mm, the Justin Richardson Octavo is a watch that looks like it’s pulled from a long lost Genta sketchbook, dusted off and reimagined. There is a distinct seventies glamour over the 18ct rose gold beveled octagon case, and the solid silver dial. Through an octagonal sapphire crystal the view is pure panache, with a ripple-effect blue surface as vivid as Justin’s imagination.

With a pop of a guilloché sub dial at six, the quirky dial design brings distinctive style, and is firmly placed in the upper echelon of microbrands. This is the head-turning everyday watch of a raffish vintage collector that doesn’t own a single pair of jeans. And, let’s be frank, at £12,800 for an 18K rose gold case, it even represents solid value. Yes Sir, that is indeed the glimmering temptation of a 0.17ct diamond set in the crown.

The Specs

  • 38mm 18K rose gold case
  •  Sellita SW360-1 automatic movement with 42-hour power reserve
  • £12,800, available at Justin Richardson.

TIDLÖS Marin

TIDLÖS Marin

The new TIDLÖS Marin is exactly as its Scandinavian name implies, Timeless. For those of you hankering after a tough automatic diver’s watch that’s more tactical than vintage then look no further. If you feel a sub- 40mm is a bit small for your manly wrist, this is a solid bet. Coming in the snappy colours du jour of green, blue or monochromatic, the 43.9mm Marin is a bold statement of intent. With its air of tank-like solidity and delicate touches of beveling you might easily be swayed. With a solid Swiss movement, ceramic bezel and a 500m depth rating, toughness is a given.

The Specs

  • 43.9mm stainless steel case with 500m water resistance
  • Sellita Calibre SW200-1 Elaborè automatic movement with 38-hour power reserve
  • £1,020, available at TIDLÖS.

About the author

Thor Svaboe

As the sole Norwegian who doesn’t like snow or climbing mountains, Thor has honed his florid writing skills at Time + Tide, and is now an editor at Fratello Watches. This Viking would fearlessly go into battle under the banner of independent watchmaking, and his End Game watch would be the piece unique Greubel Forsey Hand Made 1.

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