Guides New Releases Watches

Microbrand Corner: December 2023’s Best New Releases

VIA MON VM22

VIA MON VM22

Founded by a trio of Saudi Arabian horological entrepreneurs Musaad, Omar, and Nawaf (their initials being the MON in the brand’s name), VIA MON have taken a distinctly modern approach to the usually vintage sub-genre of square watches with their debut VM22. Dark, moody, yet designed as a solid everyday watch, it’s certainly distinctive, split into three versions: Comet (raw steel), Gravel (brushed, grey steel) and the blacked-out Void.

They might have that haute horology aesthetic nailed, but all three are eminently accessible thanks to the Ronda Caliber 3540.D quartz chronograph powering them. Set on a comfy FMK Rubber strap, the VM22 is an affordable daily wearer that doesn’t look it.

Price & Specs

  • 38.4mm stainless steel case with 30m (3 bar) water resistance
  • Ronda 3540.D quartz movement
  • SAR 1,499 (approx. £325), available at Via Mon.

Balmont BDX004

Balmont BDX004

I love a good, solid field watch, especially with the kind of fuss-free, utilitarian look you’d generally associate with a more military feel. Balmont’s crisp, clean DBX004 has that, but in a more elegant package with a white dial with thin baton indexes and matching hands.

Both are lumed blue for low-light reading which, combined with a 200m water resistance makes this a proper go-anywhere-do-anything watch. Sure, it’s a relatively straightforward piece, backed by an accessible Soprod movement, but for a debut collection Balmont have hit their smart/casual wearable adventure watch stride on their first attempt.

Price & Specs

  • 40mm stainless steel case with 200m (20 bar) water resistance
  • Soprod P024 automatic movement with 38-hour power reserve
  • £570, available at Balmont.

Riley HH01 Chronograph

Riley HH01 Chronograph

We’d have included this one in our retro watch shoot earlier in the magazine if the timings lined up; as it is, here we are with an aviation-themed timepiece that oozes 1970s cool with a TV-shaped case and an array of colourways that make Riley’s debut HH01 Chronograph an impulse buy, if ever there was one.

The HH incidentally stands for Howard Hughes, hence the racy, aviation theme to the collection. If you’re looking for a watch to give you some fresh, funky wrist feel but without having to justify the price tag, look no further. Just be quick, as there are only 50 per colour.

Price & Specs

  • 40mm x 42mm stainless steel case with 50m (5 bar) water resistance
  • Seiko VK64 Mecha-Quartz movement
  • £129, available at Riley.

Gigandet Sea Ground 3000

Gigandet Sea Ground 3000

Reviving a classic is never easily, especially when it’s from an era that saw more than its fair share of iconic watches like the 60s. And yet the Gigandet SEA GROUND 3000 not only revamps the design language of an underrated collectors piece, but does so in that perfectly retro skin diver fashion. It’s a tried-and-true diver with the specs to match – 300m water resistance, ceramic bezel, plenty of original lume – but with a dash more of that 60s personality.

It’s also equipped with the latest generation Newton P092 calibre from Soprod, leveraging greater chronometric performance from the accessible movement maker. It’s not quite a re-issue, but for fans of early 60s divers (and early Gigandet in particular) there’s a lot to love here.

Price & Specs

  • 40mm stainless steel case with 300m (30 bar) water resistance
  • Soprod Newton P092 automatic movement with 44-hour power reserve
  • €850 (approx. £750), available at Gigandet.

Vario 1918 Pilot

Vario 1918 Pilot

Image credit: @watchout247

Evoking the aviators of the early days of flight – and a horological tribute to Captain McPherson’s first flight from England to Australia – the latest slice of vintage military cool from Vario takes a similar concept to their World War I inspired Trench and tilts it.

It looks and feels like those early wristwatches; simply pocket watches that were then strapped to the wrist, only in this case titled slightly to make reading it easier in a cramped cockpit. With its big, period- appropriate Arabic numerals and large, onion crown, it’s not an exact replica of those early pioneering pilots’ watches – but it feels pretty close.

Price & Specs

  • 40mm stainless steel case with 50m (5 bar) water resistance
  • Miyota 8N33 manual winding movement with 40-hour power reserve
  • $388 (approx. £315), coming soon at Vario.