“In Today’s Episode: We take a look at 15 of my favorites Microbrand watches, ranging from the Christopher Ward C1 Worldtimer, to the Oak & Oscar Olmsted 38, all the way to the Pelton Perseus.”
Best Microbrand Watches 2021:
- Christopher Ward C1 Worldtimer
- Laventure Transatlantique GMT
- Farer Worldtimer
- Ming 19.02 Worldtimer
- Traska Summiteer
- Oak & Oscar Olmsted 38
- Unimatic U1-FM
- Halios Fairwind
- Ophion 786 Vélos Radial Anthracite
- Baltic Aquascaphe
- Autodromo Group B Series 2
- Pelton Perseus
- Boldr Field Medic
- Brew Retrograph Technicolor
- Lorier Gemini
Microbrands have become one of the fastest-growing aspects of the mechanical watch market, in some cases even surpassing the big players in the watch industry. Most of these brands use their online presence and their websites as their main source of distribution, allowing them to reduce third-party costs by interacting directly with the customer. I personally like this development in the watch industry. The increased level of competition in the watch business means that the big players have to get more creative and innovative to stay relevant. This in turn equals more great options and more value for us watch enthusiasts and customers.
But because of the relatively low barrier of entry, it seems that every day a new Microbrand is popping up, be it on your Instagram feed or on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. I’m sure it wasn’t long ago since you got the latest ad of some new brand, trying their best to stand out in this competitive market. Maybe you are not able to keep up on which brands are delivering on their promise and which are just blowing hot air in your direction. And this is totally understandable. So, for that reason, I wanted to give you some guidance and have therefore created this article in which I will feature 15 of my favorite watches in the microbrand world. I choose each model and brand based on their value for money and the innovation they bring into the watch industry. This is the complete guide to the best Microbrand watches 2021.
So, let’s dive straight into today’s episode, in which you can expect a bunch of cool watches!
Christopher Ward C1 Worldtimer
The first watch on this list, with a worldtimer complication, comes from the British watch company Christopher Ward. Maybe some of you already heard of it, the Christopher Ward C1 Worldtimer. First discovered when I was looking for an affordable worldtimer watch for my personal watch collection, the watch immediately caught my eye.
The brand Christopher Ward was founded by the three friends, Mike France, Peter Ellis, and Chris Ward back in 2005. The thought behind building up a watch business came to them on a gentle boat trip down the river Thames in May 2004, when, now CEO, Mike France suggested to start a business together. And as they all were fascinated by horology and everything that surrounds it, the decision was made that they want to start a watch business. And after more than a year, on June 2nd, 2005, they launched their brand out of a converted chicken shed on a farm in Berkshire, England. The world’s first online-only watch brand slowly gained traction in the watch community, which led to increased sales and awareness. Unlike other microbrands, their success didn’t stagnate, the opposite was the case. After increasing their sales and successfully working together with the renowned Swiss watch manufacturer, Synergies Horlogères and a master watchmaker, Christopher Ward decided to merge with Synergies Horlogères. This move resulted in them creating their own in-house movement, Caliber SH21, which was the first commercially viable mechanical movement from a British watch brand in over 50 years. This announcement led to quite the surprise and turmoil within the watch industry and wasn’t taken well by the established brands. But they didn’t care and went on with doing their thing, which, ultimately, is what made them to what they are today.
Designed for the internationally-minded, the sophisticated jet setters, and the international businessperson, the Christopher Ward C1 Worldtimer features a beautifully made worldtimer complication, that can tell the time of 24 different time zones, all at once. The watch features a polished stainless-steel case, which measures 43.5mm in diameter, 11.55mm in thickness, and 51.9mm from lug to lug. And yes, I know, the case proportions are rather large. 51.9mm from lug to lug is quite the number and could be a little bit too big for slim wrists, let me tell you that. But I also have to add, that in the end, it is a worldtimer complication, so the movement and therefore the case, are naturally on the larger side of the Scala. And just to soothe your anxiety if you are thinking about getting one, the 11.55mm thickness, as well as the leather strap make this watch wear smaller than it actually is. But fact is, that the size does indeed limit the number of people who can wear this beauty, and I’m afraid, that with my 6.5-inch wrist, I won’t be one of them.
As mentioned before, there is a reason behind the 43.5mm case diameter. It is due to the worldtimer complication and the beautiful and detailed dial it brings with it. You heard me right, the dial is stunning. Featuring a white outer ring with 24 city names on it, ranging from New York all the way to Samoa in the south pacific, a two-tone, white and blue 24-hour ring, the beautiful blue world map in the center, as well as polished hands, the dial does the sophisticated reputation of the worldtimer justice.
The C1 Worldtimer is powered by the automatic JJ03 caliber, which is based on the industry’s go-to GMT movement, the ETA 2893. The Swiss-made; 21 jewel movement provides around 40 hours of power reserve.
For a price of just $1,750, you get a worldtimer complication, packaged in a beautiful watch, which is powered by a reliable Swiss-made movement. Of course, there is still the issue with the case size, but this is something that everyone has to decide for themselves if they find it too big for their wrist. But if you aren’t bothered by the size, then this is a very nice watch to own.
Specifications: Price: $1,750, Case Size: 43.5mm, Thickness: 11.55mm, Lug-to-Lug: 51.9mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Water Resistance: 30m, Movement: Automatic JJ03 movement, Power Reserve: 40 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Laventure Transatlantique GMT
I first encountered the brand Laventure on Kickstarter, where they collected funds for their first “Marine” watches. They immediately caught my eye and I’ve never let go of them ever since. The Geneva-based brand was founded by Clement Gaud, a passionate watch designer that worked for the biggest names in Swiss watchmaking. By the way, when you look at the case design, I think you can imagine who he worked for back then… But more on that later. In early 2017 he then proceeded to fulfill his lifelong dream of creating his own timepieces. Hence, the brand Laventure was born.
The word “Laventure” describes the dream of complete freedom and adventure. So basically, every watch they sell should inspire you to travel, explore and enjoy every minute of it. This philosophy is visible in the whole range of their timepieces in a very subtle way. And the Laventure Transatlantqiue GMT is no exception to that. The watch draws inspiration from the 1950s and their long-haul transatlantic trips, like the legendary Paris-New-York journey, that was known to attract wealthy clients and explorers from all around the world. This fits their philosophy very well and shows the thought and care that the guys at Laventure put into their timepieces.
The Laventure Transatlantique GMT is available in two different colors. One with a dark green dial and one with a creamy off-white dial. The dials are perfectly complemented by a light- and dark green 24-hours GMT bezel, which is made from plexiglass. Both models feature a lot of green tones, catering to both the current trend in watchmaking, as well as to the brand’s philosophy. See, in our minds, the green color resembles nature and exploration. And this is exactly what they were going for. They made it, so that our mind automatically thinks about nature, just by looking at the watch. Smart move Laventure, smart move.
Both watches feature a modified automatic ETA 2893-2 movement, which is housed in a 40.5mm case. The case is made entirely from 316L stainless steel and has a lovely polished and satin finish. Besides that, the watch is water-resistant up to 200 meters (660ft), making it ideal for you to take it with you when you are out and about exploring the world. One last thing I want to mention is the beautiful bracelet that they created extra for the Transatlantique model. The stainless-steel bracelet follows the curves of the case perfectly and gives the watch a complete and thought-through look.
If you are interested in getting one for yourself, expect to pay around $3,750.
Specifications: Price: $3,750, Case Size: 40.5mm, Thickness: 10.3mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48.8mm, Lug Width: 18mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Modified automatic ETA 2893-2 movement, Power Reserve: 42 Hours, Crystal: Plexiglas
For the loyal reader of this website, the next watch on the list may sound familiar. That’s right, I’m talking about the Farer Worldtimer Automatic. To be completely transparent with those of you that don’t know yet, I bought a Worldtimer from Farer for my personal collection a few months ago. If you are interested in reading an article about the Hands-on review I did of this watch, feel free to click here and take a look. And let me just tell you this, I love the watch. But before we get into the specs of the watch itself, why don’t we look at the story behind Farer and their worldtimer, to see how they got to where they are today. Shall we?
Founded back in 2015, Farer is an independent British watch company driven by a horological passion for detail, design, and most importantly, difference. Their belief in the concept of mechanical watchmaking led them to where they are today and the care and love that goes into every timepiece that they design and, in partnership with their Swiss manufacturer Roventa Henex, produce. And the Worldtimer model is no exception to that. Named after Anthony de la Roché, an English merchant, and explorer, who, in 1675, found himself on a commercial voyage between Europe and South America when he was blown off course and made the first fortuitous sighting of land south of the Antarctic Convergence. Unfortunately, he didn’t end up making the first landing in Antarctica, as this honor was given to Captain James Cook, but he still managed to get his name on a timepiece. And what a timepiece that is.
So, the history lesson is over, let’s take a closer look at the outer appearance of the Farer Worldtimer. Designed for the sophisticated world traveler, the watch features a polished and brushed stainless steel case with micro-blasted case side cut-ins, which measures 39mm in diameter, 11mm in thickness, and 45mm from lug to lug. Yes, you heard that right, a world timer that measures only 39mm in diameter. That’s quite the sales pitch, isn’t it? And I have to admit that this was the main reason I chose this watch over the Christopher Ward C1, which measures a whopping 4.5mm more in diameter. But as mentioned before, this is just my opinion and up to individual preferences.
Complementing the stainless-steel case is the beautiful glossy midnight blue dial with applied indexes, a white 24-hour disk with orange and blue numerals, a central fixed, and engraved map with the matching date, as well as a bi-directional internal bezel with overprinted time zones highlighted in blue and orange. As you can see from the pictures, the dial is held quite compact. But this isn’t for no reason. The compact dial composition is what enabled Farer to offer the watch in a 39mm case, in the first place.
Speaking of which, the carefully finished case houses an automatic Swiss Made ETA 2893-1 Elaboré movement, which beats at 28,000 vibrations per hour, and provides approximately 48 hours of power reserve.
So, to sum it up. You get a beautifully finished dial, modest case proportions, and a reliable movement. And you didn’t even hear the best part. The watch only costs $1,400, which, considering all the specs, makes for a very strong value proposition.
Specifications: Price: $1,400, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 11mm, Lug-to-Lug: 45mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Swiss Made ETA 2893-1 Elaboré movement, Power Reserve: 48 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Ming 19.02 Worldtimer
Moving on to the next contender on this list. And let me say this much, this isn’t your ordinary timepiece or even your ordinary world timer. This is the Ming 19.02 Worldtimer. Just so that you know in advance, the Ming 19.02 Worldtimer isn’t as affordable as the previous two watches on this list, with the retail price being at CHF 10,900, which translates to around $11,800 in USD. But even if you are not planning on buying one for yourself, I would strongly recommend you read this part of the article anyway, since the Ming Worldtimer is a very special watch and certainly worth your time (and your money).
Founded back in 2017, Ming is a horological collective formed and funded by a group of six watch enthusiasts from around the world. The group is headed up by Oxford-educated physicist, Ming Thein, who left his corporate jobs behind and decided to pursue what he really cares about, photography and watches. The latter led him to build up the watch company Ming, as we know it today. Through their exquisite watches, Ming wants to bring back a sense of excitement and adventure to the industry. Like a typical Microbrand, Ming doesn’t produce their watches in-house but rather chooses to work with dedicated partners like the Swiss manufacturer Schwarz-Etienne or Jean Rousseau, a French brand that specializes in producing luxury leather goods, like watch straps. All of their watches are assembled, regulated, and tested in Switzerland, with the final quality control being done personally in Malaysia.
Made from grade 5 titanium, the case of the 19.02 features a mixture of mirror-polished and finely brushed surfaces, as well as the Ming-typical lugs, which give the watch a sense of depth and visual contrast. Measuring 39mm in diameter and 11.2mm in thickness, the 19.02 isn’t your typical world timer, and proportion-wise plays in the same league as the previously mentioned, and highly praised, Farer Worldtimer. What isn’t like any other watch though, is the dial. The dial is made of sapphire, which was treated with a unique lacquer process, in order to achieve a deep black color in the center, and fully transparent edges, to allow some of the movement’s rose gold baseplate to be seen. And to achieve the Ming-typical, seamless look, all markings were printed on the backside of the dial. Besides that, the dial also features two simple hands, which, through their simplicity, guide your eyes away from them, onto everything else that is happening on the dial.
But the case and the dial are not the only things that are worth mentioning about the 19.02. But for that, we first have to turn the watch on its back, which, through its sapphire open caseback, reveals the absolutely stunning caliber ASE220.1. This self-winding movement, which is the result of a partnership between Ming and the Swiss manufacturer Schwarz-Etienne, features skeletonized bridges, a matte-blasted 5N rose gold coating, and a power reserve of approximately 70 hours.
Admittedly, with its $11,800 price tag, this watch certainly isn’t cheap. But that doesn’t mean the watch isn’t worth the money. The exact opposite is the case. I think, that with its incredible dial design, the refined case finishing, and the high-quality Swiss movement, this watch is worth every penny. And just on a personal note, I fell in love with this piece from the moment I saw it, and just added it to the top of my wish list. Not sure, if and when this watch will be on my wrist, but I sure will try my best to get my hands on one in the future.
Specifications: Price: CHF 10,900 (Aprox. $11,800), Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 11.2mm, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 50, Movement: Automatic caliber ASE220.1 movement, Power Reserve: 70 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
I first encountered Traska when I was doing some research on my “Best 3-Watch Collection Under $3,000” article. They immediately caught my eye and I’ve never let go of them since. The Florida-based company was founded by Jon Mack, who at the time, was a normal watch guy, just like you and me. But now you may be asking yourself, how did he go from just being an enthusiast to creating a successful watch brand? Well, to give you an answer, you maybe should hear the story on why Jon decided to make his own watches. And to add some more dramaturgy to this article, let me quote the founder himself:
“I threw off my shirt, kicked off my flip flops, and leaped into the ocean. It was a beautiful day on a small island off the coast of Vietnam. The sun was shining, the ocean was clear and cool, and I was in the company of friends — life was good!
But then… I froze. A feeling of dread came over me. Something was wrong. I raised my arm out of the water, and all the elation I had been feeling a moment before vanished in an instant. I had forgotten to take off my 1966 Bulova Snorkel, the pride of my vintage watch collection. A closer look and my worst fears were realized: Saltwater had penetrated the crystal, flooding the dial. It was ruined.”
I think a lot of us watch enthusiasts can feel the pain and dread, which Jon must have felt when he ruined the pride of his vintage collection. And that this would never repeat itself, Jon decided to make his own watches. In his vision, Jon wanted to create watches that honor the aesthetic of vintage sports timepieces, but are built in a modern and robust way, so that you don’t have to be afraid to wear them. And ever since 2018, when they launched their first successful Kickstarter campaign, Traska continued to live up to that promise.
The Traska Summiteer is available in three different colors. One with a midnight blue dial, one with a matte green dial, and one that features a black dial. All of them have the same case proportions and measure 38.5mm in diameter, 10mm in height, and 46mm from lug to lug. Speaking of which, the case is made from stainless steel. But not just any steel, it’s made from 316L stainless steel, that is coated with Traska’s signature scratch-resistant coating, making it highly durable and ideal for everyday use. The Summiteer’s hermetic case features a screw-down crown, which makes this watch capable of enduring water pressures of up to 100 meters, which is enough if you decide to go for a short swim like Jon did when he wrecked his Bulova.
The Traska Summiteer is, without any doubt, inspired by the classic field watch. You can see its heritage not only in the simple and understated dial, but also in the diamond-cut minute and hour hands, the case size, and the steel bezel. All of which are kept very simple to ensure maximum legibility. What isn’t necessarily a tribute to past field watches, is the automatic Miyota 9039 movement. But this is actually a good thing. I wouldn’t want to have the old field watch movements inside this shiny new watch. The Japanese-made Miyota 9039 caliber oscillates at 28,800 beats per hour and will keep on ticking for decades. The movement has an accuracy rating of -10 to +20 seconds a day and provides 42 hours of power reserve.
Specifications: Price: $550, Case Size: 38.5mm, Thickness: 10mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Miyota 9039 movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Oak & Oscar Olmsted 38
Next up is the Oak & Oscar Olmsted 38. Oak & Oscar is a familiar name within the microbrand community and is known for its contemporary designs and high-quality finishes. The brand Oak & Oscar was founded back in 2015, by Chase Fancher, who left an unfulfilling corporate job to start Oak & Oscar and become a successful entrepreneur. The Chicago-based company quickly gained traction within the watch industry and was featured in countless watch magazines and blogs.
The Oak & Oscar Olmsted 38 takes its name from conservationist and founder of landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted, who was an avid believer in the need for natural public space in society. Olmsted is responsible for designing many of the public parks in the United States; notably, Central Park in New York City, and Jackson Park in Chicago. Throughout a fascinating life, Olmsted pushed for the protection of Yosemite Valley, founded the precursor to the Red Cross, and many more fascinating things.
The Olmsted 38 is powered by the Swiss-made, automatic ETA-2892 A2 movement, which is known as a tried and tested movement and is commonly used for watches in this price range. The 21-jewel movement was modified by Oak & Oscar, to have a custom, signature 4-star rotor design, which is a subtle nod to their hometown of Chicago. Providing around 42 hours of power reserve, the ETA caliber 2892-A2 has an accuracy that ranges from as much as +/-20 seconds per day to just +/-5 seconds/day. Unfortunately, Oak & Oscar isn’t providing the exact accuracy, but this would be the range that the watch is playing in.
The ETA movement beats inside a brushed 316L stainless steel case, which measures 38mm in diameter, 10.8mm thickness, and 44.9mm from lug to lug. The modest-sized case has a very understated design, which clearly takes some inspiration from field watches like the Hamilton Field Mechanical. The simple case is the perfect choice for the two-layer sandwich dial, which features a deep and rich navy-blue color, luminescent Arabic numerals, sword-styled hour and minute hands, a bright orange second hand, and a very well-placed date window.
And I think that this combination of the simple brushed case and the rich navy-blue dial is part of what makes this watch so intriguing. Scratch that, I think that the eye for detail and the nice color combinations of the dial are the main reason that sets Oak & Oscar apart from most other microbrand watches.
Specifications: Price: $1,375, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 10.8mm, Lug-to-Lug: 44.9mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Swiss-made ETA-2892 A2 movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
The Italian brand Unimatic has a reputation for creating good-looking, minimalistic timepieces, which also boast some impressive specs. And the Unimatic U1-FM is no exception to that.
Coming in a 316L Stainless steel case, the watch is powered by a self-winding Seiko NH35A movement, which delivers 41 hours of power reserve. The black matte ultra-minimalistic dial is what attracts most people into buying this piece. And when I say ultra-minimalistic, I mean ultra-minimalistic. The dial literally only has hour markers, minimal branding, and hands. That’s it. And the black aluminum minimal bezel with a raised lume dot rounds off this look perfectly. If you are into minimalistic watches and are prepared to spend around $600, this watch is definitely for you.
Specifications: Price: $600, Case Size: 41.5mm with bezel, Thickness: 13.6mm, Lug-to-Lug: 49mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Automatic Seiko NH35A movement, Power Reserve: 41 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Moving on to the Halios Fairwind. Halios was founded back in 2009 by a guy named Jason Lim. For Jason, founding a watch brand, was the natural progression of a near-lifelong infatuation with watches and everything that surrounds them. But the watches aren’t just randomly designed and sized, each of their watches reflects Jason Lim’s interests and preferences when it comes to watches. Examples for that would be the small case proportions, the water resistance, and the resemblance to 60s sports watches.
Halios produces their watches mainly in Asia, but with the quality control and testing being done in Vancouver, Canada and the movements coming from Japan and Switzerland, Halios did a great job of using the strengths of different production countries, to make sure you will get the best quality for the money.
The Halios Fairwind features a well-proportioned, 316L stainless steel case, that measures 39mm in diameter and 48mm from lug to lug. The case houses an automatic Sellita SW200-1 movement that will provide you with approximately 40 hours of power reserve. Topping off the straight-forward, brushed case is a double domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating, making this package perfect for rough conditions.
Being a real dive watch, after all, the watch features distinctive design features that are typical for diving watches. First, we have a simple, highly legible dial that bears only minimal markings on it. And this is quite important, in order for you to immediately see what time it is and how much time you have left with oxygen, even when you are submerged under tons of water. The minimalistic dial is complemented by a 60-click bidirectional bezel that is made entirely from navy blue sapphire glass. The screw-down crown enables the watch to have a water resistance of up to 200 meters. And to make the package complete, the Halios Fairwind is presented on a stainless steel 3-link bracelet, which is nicely brushed and complements the case.
Overall, for the price of just $775, this watch will make an excellent tool on your wrist. The classic yet unfamiliar and bold design, the automatic movement, the stainless-steel bracelet, and the sapphire bezel make this watch a very nice choice when looking for a microbrand watch at a price range between $700 and $800.
Specifications: Price: $775, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 12.4mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Automatic Sellita SW200-1 movement, Power Reserve: 40 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Ophion 786 Vélos Radial Anthracite
Continuing with a timepiece that looks a lot more expensive than it actually is. Introducing the Ophion 786 Vélos. To be completely honest with you, I’ve never heard of them prior to doing some research for this article. But as soon as I discovered them, I knew I had to introduce you to this brand.
Ophion was born in Spain, a country that is associated more with paellas and good wine, than with watchmaking. But here I have to add that the watch itself isn’t produced in Spain itself, but rather in Switzerland and in Germany. The brand was founded by the Spanish watch enthusiast Miguel Morales Ribas. Driven by his passion for watchmaking, he decided to create his own watch brand that offers affordable, high-quality timepieces that are influenced by some traditional high-end watchmaking practices.
The Ophion OPH 786 Vélos is powered by the same movement as the previous versions, a very sophisticated hand-wound movement. The movement has been personalized with custom main bridges and balance wheels. The decoration on the movement is very impressive and perfectly matches the classy and antique look of the watch. The movement will provide you with an impressive power reserve of around 5 days. The case that houses this masterpiece is made from 316L stainless steel and measures 39mm in diameter and 8.85mm (10.45mm with crystal) in height, making this a very elegantly sized option for a dress watch.
Besides the hand-wound and custom-decorated movement, you will also get a very sophisticated design. The Vélos features an Anthracite brushed radial dial, that will amaze you. The radial brush gives it a unique touch that adds to the overall class of the watch. The dial is complemented by polished nickel hands, rhodium numerals, and a beautifully placed “Ophion” branding. And to round off the whole aesthetic, the Ophion 786 Vélos is presented on a brown, handmade, alligator leather strap.
All in all, the guys at Ophion did an awesome job with this one. You get a great dial, classic look, superb decoration of the movement, and all of that at a highly competitive price. Speaking of the devil, after all this quality still has its price, which in this case is 2,950 euros, or 3,600 US dollars.
Specifications: Price: $3,600, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 10.45mm, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: n/a, Movement: Hand-wound, custom made and decorated movement, Power Reserve: 5 days, Crystal: Sapphire
Coming up next, is a watch I think you might like. I’m talking about the Baltic Aquascaphe. Coming in at $710, this watch offers a lot of bang for your buck.
I first discovered the Baltic watch collection a while ago, when I was looking for a sports watch that offered good value for money and would simultaneously serve as one of my daily beaters. And Baltic was one of the first brands that caught my eye. I was especially intrigued by their Aquascaphe model. The Aquascaphe was the second model to launch, following the very successful first model, the Bicompax 001. And ever since then, the brand Baltic is almost a household name in the watch world. But it’s not only the watches themselves that fascinate me. The story behind Baltic is also quite touching.
It all started when the founder of Baltic, Etienne Malec, inherited a collection of watches from his father, that he never got the chance to know well. Being immersed in his father’s journal and his collection for the past fifteen years, Etienne started to develop a passion for watches. After making some important connections in the watch world, Etienne decided to build his own watch and his own brand. And so, Baltic was born. So, know you may ask, why choose Baltic as a name? This is where the story gets even better, the name Baltic is a tribute to his father’s origins in north Poland along the Baltic Sea. What a great story.
So, when you are ready and have wiped off some of your tears, let’s dive further into the details of the Baltic Aquascaphe.
The Aquascaphe features a well-proportioned, 316L stainless steel case, that measures 39mm in diameter and 47mm from lug to lug. The case houses an automatic Miyota 9093 movement that will provide you with 42 hours of power reserve. Topping off the polished case is a double domed sapphire crystal, making this package perfect for rough conditions.
Being a real dive watch, after all, the watch features distinctive design features that are typical for diving watches. First, we have a simple, highly legible dial that bears only minimal markings on it. And this is quite important so that you can immediately see what time it is and how much time you have left with oxygen, even when you are 200 meters below the surface. The minimalistic dial is complemented by a 120-click unidirectional bezel that is made entirely from black sapphire glass. The screw-down crown enables the watch to have a water resistance of up to 200 meters. And to make the package perfect, you either have the choice between a tropical rubber strap or a “rice bracelet”, which is made from stainless steel.
Overall, for the price of just $710, this watch will make an excellent tool on your wrist. The classic design, the automatic movement, the strap choices, and the sapphire bezel is definitely worth your money.
Specifications: Price: $710, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 12mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Automatic Miyota 9093 movement, Power Reserve: 42 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Autodromo Group B Series 2 Automatic
Autodromo first introduced the Group B series way back in 2015, and it quickly found a way into the hearts of countless watch enthusiasts around the world. The philosophy behind the unique design of the Autodromo Group B Series originates in the 1980’s– which is considered the romantic era of motorsport with unfettered technical ingenuity, space age exotic materials, and turbo-boosted horsepower. And the design of the Group B combines all those aspects in one handsome watch.
After the original Group B series was sold out, the founder of Autodromo, Bradley Price, introduced a new version of the watch. They came up with a super creative name for it: The “Group B Series 2”. Jokes aside, why change a winning formula.
The Series 2 was introduced in 2018 and has been a big hit ever since. From a technical perspective, this watch is very similar to the original watch that was released back in 2015. Like the original piece, the updated version has a lightweight 39mm titanium capsule that houses a Miyota 9015 automatic movement.
The big difference comes with the strap. The original Group B had fixed lugs and only came with one fixed strap. With the new Group B Series 2, Autodromo has changed up the lugs and added traditional spring bars, which will now enable you to change the straps. But the cool thing is, that you don’t have to miss out on an integrated bracelet. The Series 2 comes fitted on an interchangeable stainless-steel bracelet that, when fitted, looks completely integrated into the case.
I have to admit that I’m a big fan of the Group B. I love the conservative proportions, the clean dials, and the lightweight steel/titanium cases. Also, as a fan of classic cars, the philosophy behind each watch is just something that speaks to me. The thought of having a part of motorsport history on my wrist is so cool.
The Autodromo Group B Series 2 comes in 5 different designs and will set you back a good $975. You can purchase one right now on their website.
Specifications: Price: $975, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 9mm, Lug-to-Lug: 49.75mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Automatic Miyota 9015 movement, Power Reserve:42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
I’m not sure if you would consider Pelton to still be a Microbrand since the price of their watches is quite high for a microbrand. But since the brand was founded in 2016, I decided to add them to the list. The watch that I will talk about today is their Perseus model, which comes in at a hefty price of $2,999. I just wanted to get this out of the way, since this is a lot of money for a smaller watch brand.
For that amount of money, you can get into some Vintage Rolex Datejust’s or even brand-new watches from the likes of Tudor or Omega. So, I wouldn’t be mad if you would skip this part and continue with the third watch, which will cost you significantly less. But for those of you that are the same as I and were intrigued by the Royal Oak-like design and the story behind the watch, please enjoy this article. And now, let’s finally get to the interesting part.
Pelton was founded in 2016 and is a US-based watchmaker. In their Detroit-based facility, they make their own cases, crowns, and bracelets in-house, which is very impressive for a brand that was founded quite recently.
The Pelton Perseus model was released in 4 different colorways – dark grey, deep blue, white, and rusty-orange. When it comes to dimensions, Pelton has decided to go with a very conservative case size, which I highly appreciate. The watch comes in at a diameter of 39mm and a case height of only 9.6mm. Speaking of the case, it’s made completely from 316L stainless steel and every single case gets a hand finishing at their facility in Detroit before the watch gets sent out.
At the heart of the Perseus is a top-grade ETA 2824-2 automatic movement, which has a power reserve of 38 hours. Seen through the sapphire crystal caseback, the movement has a beautiful finish, so you can proudly look at the soul of your watch when you once again feel like nerding out.
And now to the secret star of the Pelton Perseus, the bracelet. The bracelet, again, has a very strong sent of Royal Oak to it. Just as the case, the bezel, and the hands, you can’t help but notice some strong similarities between the two. But that is not particularly a bad thing, especially in the case of the Perseus. The quality of the bracelet is outstanding. The integrated design creates an effortless transition into the watch case – continuing the distinct brushed and polished surfaces featured throughout the watch. Fun fact, did you know that the bracelet consists of 131 individually finished pieces? You have to admit, this is pretty impressive.
Overall, I’m quite impressed with the amount of quality you get for the price of nearly $3000. Honestly, when I first saw the watch, I just thought, that this would be another homage to the Royal Oak. But when I learned what the watch has to offer in regards to the movement and the finishing, I was impressed.
Sure $2,999 is a lot of money for a 5-year-old watch brand, but I think that this brand is worth your money. So if you are in the market for a cool timepiece with a swiss movement and that wears the label “Made in the USA”, then go for it!
Specifications: Price: $2,999, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 9.6mm, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: n/a, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic ETA 2824-2 movement, Power Reserve: 38 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Boldr Field Medic
And now to a watch, which I am very excited to tell you about. Presenting: The Boldr Field Medic series. Boldr made a medic-friendly chronograph inspired by the selfless actions that health care workers from around the world performed (and still are) during the COVID-19 Pandemic. How cool is that?
The Boldr Field Medic comes in 5 different variants. Ranging from the Field Medic I to the Field Medic IV and a special version in camo green. Every variant is built the same and is, therefore, all priced at the exact same price point of only $299.
The watch features an ultra-tough & super light 38mm titanium case. The case houses an SII VK64 Mecaquartz Chronograph movement, which is a good choice, taking the very modest price tag into consideration. To complete the tough exterior of the watch, Boldr uses a sapphire crystal to protect the detailed dials. The watch itself is also water-resistant up to 200m. As you can see, this watch was built as a tool and is meant to be used that way in real life. Speaking of tools, the Field Medic also features a pulsometer and a respiratory scale, which make the watch even more special.
To make the watch an even more useful Tool, Boldr decided to deliver the watch on a durable NATO Strap, which suits the overall look and feel of the watch perfectly.
Overall, Boldr did a great job with this piece. The inspiration behind the watch is of course very admirable, but it’s not only that. For a price tag that is just under $300. Boldr managed to pack a lot of punch into this very modest-sized package. Also, I like that they engineered the watch with the intention for it to be used as a real tool in real life. They don’t just use this tool slogan for marketing reasons, they really meant it. And this is very admirable.
You can now order the Boldr Field Medic in one of the 5 mentioned variants on their website.
Specifications: Price: $299, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 12.2mm, Lug-to-Lug: 44mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: SII VK64 Mecaquartz Chronograph movement, Power Reserve: Quartz, Crystal: Sapphire
Brew Retrograph Technicolor
I first encountered Brew’s Retrograph on Teddy Baldassarre’s YouTube channel. That’s when I learned about the background of the brand and the founder – Jonathan Ferrer. The Brew brand was founded in New York City and still operates from there. The idea behind the design and the brand itself is described by Jonathan on his website:
“The Brew watch collection is designed to celebrate and capture our enjoyable coffee experiences. I’ve drawn inspiration from industrial espresso machines, which feature a special blend of warm contrasting colors and a variety of brushing effects.”
And this design philosophy is also reflected in the Retrograph. The Retrograph comes with a unique case design that is very reminiscent of a “rugged” industrial design. In contrast, the matt blue dial is complemented by silver sub-dials and colorful hands. The second indicators on the dial are very detailed and, on closer inspection, offer a cool feature: from second 30 to second 35, the indicators are colored in a bright yellow hue. Brew explains this as follows:
“The Retrograph dial has specific markers that specify when the optimal espresso shot has been extracted. The time for this ranges from 25 to 35 seconds – depending on the barista and the machine”.
And for me, it’s exactly these little things that make a cool microbrand. They show enthusiasm for small and unique details, which then lead to watches that look like someone designed them with passion (not like other watches, that I will not mention again..).
The Retrograph is powered by a Hybrid Meca-Quartz movement and has a case diameter of 38MM x 41.5MM. The quartz movement gives the watch a very comfortable case height of only 10.4mm. At the moment, you can purchase the watch for $350 on their website.
Specifications: Price: $299, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 10.4mm, Lug-to-Lug: 41.5mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Hybrid Meca-Quartz movement, Power Reserve: Quartz, Crystal: Sapphire
The next and last brand in today’s post was brought to my attention by “TGV” from “The Urban Gentry”. Lorier (pronounced lor-yé) was founded in New York City and is run by Lorenzo and Lauren Ortega. Aiming to make vintage-inspired watches with a modern twist, which are of good quality. Lorier released their first collection in the spring of 2018 and has been on a steep rise ever since.
And why they became so successful within a short period of time, becomes quite obvious, when we take a look at the model “Gemini”(Their other models are also very good, stay tuned for more of Lorier in this Series). But for now, let’s go back to the model, which I would like to introduce to you today: The Lorier Gemini.
The watch comes in three different colors variants, white, black and dark blue. The philosophy behind Lorier can be seen very well in this model. Lorier describes this model as “The classic sports chronograph”. And the name says it all. The Gemini combines a classic, very clean design with a wide range of functions. As the name suggests, the watch has a chronograph function. But it doesn’t stop there, Lorier also has built-in a 12h bezel, which allows you to track a second-time zone even without a GMT movement.
The dial is clean without any unnecessary elements and is uniformly colored in white, black, or dark blue. This uniform color adds to the simple philosophy of the watch. The dial is complemented by two sub-dials that are placed in a typical chronograph manner and contrast with the background. The model with the white background becomes a “panda” with the black sub-dials, while the variants with the black and blue backgrounds become “reverse pandas” with white sub-dials. The hands and the hour, minute and second indicators play perfectly into the classic modern style of the watch. In my opinion, the design is very well done and is certainly responsible for part of the success.
The other part of the recipe for success is undoubtedly the mechanical Seagull ST19 movement, which is hand-wound. The whole thing is built into a very elegant and classic case size with a diameter of 39mm. The case itself is only 10.2mm high, but the domed plexiglass crystal adds another 2mm to the height of the watch. But even with the extra 2mm, the height is appropriate and a welcome change from the modern trend that tends towards larger watches each year. The watch is delivered on a 3-link metal bracelet, which compliments the design of the case very well.
And this already rounds off my view of the Lorier Gemini. There’s not much more to say about it, I just want to say this much: a mechanical chronograph, delivered on a metal bracelet, a sophisticated design, very pleasant dimensions, and all that for only $499. Need I say more? I think not.
If you hurry you maybe will get one on their website, but be aware, usually they are sold out very quickly (I wonder why..).
Specifications: Price: $499, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 11mm, Lug-to-Lug: 45mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Hand-wound mechanical Seagull ST19 movement, Power Reserve: 40 hours, Crystal: Hesalite