From accessible high complications to twists on the established practices of fine watchmaking, these are the microbrands that recontextualise what true haute horology actually is.
A tourbillon is expensive – at least, it always has been. Aventi hopes to change all that. Its Indiegogo project is built like a supercar and more than looks the part, with the kind of aerodynamic angles Lamborghini would kill for. More importantly for watch lovers, amongst the open bridge work they’ve set a tourbillon at 3 o’clock. The watch is available in the same kinds of colours as the aforementioned hypercars, but there’s one that’s worth noting in particular: a 100-per-cent sapphire-cased special edition. It is, without hyperbole, incredible – all the more so when you see the price. Just… how?
$4,999, available at Aventi.
Ochs & Junior Perpetual Calendar
‘Accessible’ might be a stretch for a watch priced at CHF 21,200, but this is a perpetual calendar. You might not realise that at first, given that the display is entirely made from dots, but that’s the point. Ochs & Junior has stripped the ultimate calendar down to its bare essentials for a sleek, minimal take on something that’s all too often a mess. Once you know what each row of dots symbolises, it’s easier to read than you could ever expect. Powered by a Ulysse Nardin UN-118 movement, this is at the top end of watchmaking no matter how you look at it – not bad for a young, tiny, independent brand.
CHF 21,200, available at Ochs & Junior.
Trotha The To-Do List
You don’t really need to know the day and date on a watch, so Swiss micro Trotha has decided to use the latter to highlight what you should actually be doing. From beers and burgers to sailing and a day at the beach, the ‘hedograph’ illustrates the good things in life via miniature drawings. There’s fondue too, of course; they are Swiss. The quirky complication is housed in a svelte 38mm stainless steel case with a cool knurled bezel and powered by Sellita 240-1 Elaboré modular movement. The only downside is that, right now, you probably can’t do most of what the To-Do List suggests.
CHF 1,250, available at Trotha.
It might read like a typo of Swiss, but DWISS is a serious watchmaker. Just take a look at the RW1. Currently up for funding on Indiegogo, the RW1 is the independent Swiss brand’s answer to the satellite indications of the likes of Urwerk, with wandering hours that also indicate the minutes across the top half of the dial. The only difference is this bad boy will set you back well under £1,000 – if you get in there early, anyway. The industrial look of the 45mm case (available in steel or black DLC) would be a defining feature on most watches; here it settles in nicely.
CHF 1,800 (CHF 899 for backers), available at DWISS.
Meaning ‘moon’ in Icelandic, the Tungl is a full moon phase calendar watch for a fraction of the price you normally see them at. That’s because of the quartz movement of course, but aside from that the watch is a beauty, inspired by the moon phases developed by the likes of Omega and Zodiac and taking a few design cues from them, such as the oversized fluted crown and vintage 38mm size. The calendar itself is easy to read, an underrated commodity in the field and the midnight blue dial is perfect for a golden moon phase and hour markers.
More details at BURR+.
Gruppo Gamma Nexus
Sure, it’s based off a piece of diving equipment, but at a glance it’s obvious this is where Gruppo Gamma’s Nexus belongs. Modelled after 1940s depth gauges, the incredibly constructed sandwich dial is dominated by a wandering hours, which moves around the dial opposite the minute hand. It’s a rare complication and one that makes for an extraordinarily technical timepiece, complete with a top hat sapphire crystal and 6 o’clock crown. This idiosyncratically complicated tool watch is available in steel, aged steel or the ever-impressive Damascus steel.
From £649.60, available at Gruppo Gamma Watches.
Phantoms Lab Spearic Laser
“When TIME is gone, it will be gone forever without a second chance.” That’s the message behind the borderline insanity that is Phantoms Lab’s coffin-shaped Laser series. Part watch, part armoured spaceship, it’s one of the few horological designs that’s truly unique. The multi-layered, incredibly technical dial displays the time in both 12 and 24-hour formats, minutes, seconds, date and a percentage power reserve at 12 o’clock. It’s a gloriously over-the-top, intensely sporty timepiece powered by a solid Japanese movement. Finished on an integrated rubber strap, there’s nothing else quite like it.
$880, available at Phantoms Lab.