Europe is the heartland of watchmaking. Switzerland alone holds the vast majority of watchmakers, but even Germany has its fair share thanks to Glashütte and, to a lesser extent, Hamburg. Even we have a few cropping up here and there, enough that a British watch brand has stopped being a novelty. Thank God. But what about outside of western Europe? Is there anything worth looking at – or does the horological map range from this side of the Atlantic to the far border of Deutschland? Well, if the latter was true this article would end here. It doesn’t. Obviously.

Malaysia: MING

Ming 19-02 Worldtimer
Ming 19-02 Worldtimer (2019)

These guys have been killing it to the point where calling them a micro-brand seems a bit unfair. Designed in Kuala Lumpur by modern renaissance man Ming Thein – a photographer, designer and business strategist – they’re a true collectors’ brand. By collectors, for collectors. Curvy, cool and not too complicated, the pieces are beautiful, from the burgundy of the 17.03 GMT to the smoked sapphire of the GPHG-selected 19.01. Yes, they’re Swiss-made, but this is not a brand that could ever have been born anywhere except Malaysia. Keep an eye out for the next; they’re so in demand that you only have to blink and you’ll miss it;


Molnar Fabry Nightingale Minute Repeater Unique Piece
Molnar Fabry Nightingale Minute Repeater Unique Piece (2018)

Eastern Europe is a surprising place. Not only have they created some insane hypercars (see here) but Molnar Fabry is busy creating some absolutely breath-taking pieces. Granted, their focus is more on finishing than mechanics, but the results are incredible. Using vintage movements as a base, they bring life back to antique pieces. That obviously necessitates small-scale and low production – a running theme for this article – but if they were anything else, they may need to compromise on their hand-finishing. That is never going to happen, nor would we want it to;


Memorigin “Harmony of Dragon and Phoenix” Tourbillon Watch
Memorigin “Harmony of Dragon and Phoenix” Tourbillon

This brand’s existence is probably annoying for plenty of European watchmakers, given that their signature piece – the Tourbillon Stellar Imperial – is under £4,000. That’s right. A tourbillon for less than most entry-level Swiss watches. Does it match up to quality? Well, I’ve never worn one so I can’t say, but it’s hard to believe that would be the case. Still, it looks the part with plenty of blue and 18kt gold. Oh yeah, I forgot to say, it’s gold too. Let’s be honest, it’s probably too good to be true but still, it’s more than a little nuts – as is everything else Memorigin make. As a poster child for Chinese watches, they’re pretty on-point;


Keaton Myrick Watch

The States have had their fair share of watch brands over the years – Hamilton, Ball and Ralph Lauren to name a few – but most of them have been exported entirely to the Alps by now. Enter Keaton P. Myrick, Oregon’s own watch atelier. Mr Myrick’s own background in restoration should give you some indication as to the brand’s watchmaking approach, but their design is far cooler. Think what would happen if Roger Smith took a course in industrial design and you’ll get close. Since he’s pretty much a one-man operation, you can make aesthetic tweaks to your prospective watch up until the last minute. There’s a reason Keaton P. Myrick stands apart from the other, more mass-produced American brands out there;


Melbourne Watch Company Carlton Watch

The name’s no-nonsense and neither is the brand. They’re designed as accessible yet elegant timepieces and in both aspects they hit the proverbial nail on the head. The Portsea is a lovely ceramic-dialled deck watch while the Carlton is pure Sixties retro. They’re not in-house movements of course, but they are responsible for opening up a lot of Australians to the idea of a new, patriotic watch brand. There are working on bringing more of the production in-house, but not at the expense of… well, expense. Still, they’re one to keep your eye on, even if they’re hard to see from all the way over here;


Sturmanskie Gagarin Vintage-and Gagarin Vintage Classic

Move over Speedmaster; you may have been the first watch on the moon, but I’m sorry to say that you came second to the Russians in space travel. When Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, he was wearing a Sturmanskie on his wrist, and the watchmaker has been around ever since. While some of their watches do have a similar vibe to the Moon Watch, the collection as a whole ranges from pieces as solid as a Soviet tank to more refined, vintage-inspired pieces. They’re certainly not haute horlogerie, but they have a hell of a lot more personality than most watchmakers;


Birchall & Taylor Reference 1

This Canadian two-man brand might be new to the scene, but the guys behind it aren’t. Sure, the relative youngsters aren’t exactly veterans, but their first timepiece, the Reference 1, is a serious accomplishment. They’ve picked some of the best Swiss manufacturers and combined them into one, flawlessly-traditional watch. It’s not home-grown, but it’s hard to complain when you get beautiful enamel covering a Vaucher movement with an exceedingly pretty micro rotor. Keep an eye on these guys;

Finland: RÖNKKÖ

Rönkkö Steel Labyrinth Watch

When I say Scandinavian design what comes into your mind? If you don’t say Ikea, you’re lying. Well, Rönkkö is as far from that minimal Scandi-ethos as Linley is from Ikea. Dials with more levels than a Mario game, their details are labyrinthine – fitting given their spirit animal seems to be a minotaur. Indeed, Greco- Roman mythology is as much at the heart of a Rönkkö watch as haute horlogerie. Looking at their double moon phase, that means a lot. Yes, they may lean into their theme a little too heavily, but as long as the watches stand up for themselves that’s not such a bad thing. At the very least it makes them memorable;