connect with the hour glass
Considered to be where revolutionary thinking and true innovation is achieved in the realm of haute horlogerie, independent watchmakers and brands have been leading the way when it comes to reimagining what a wristwatch should look and behave like. However, such pieces of alternative horology are usually out of reach for most, given the complexities involved with such mechanical feats as well as small numbers such pieces are made in. Luckily there are a few exceptions, so here are five watches from independent brands that truly stand out from the crowd while remaining relatively accessible.
Romain Jerome Subcraft
As far as independent watch brands go, Romain Jerome is as quirky as they come, and I mean that in the most positive sense.
Designed in collaboration with independent watchmaker Alain Silberstein, the Subcraft revisits RJ-Romain Jerome’s unique linear vertical retrograde mechanism developed by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and his company Agenhor that was first introduced in the Spacecraft, now in a more fluid and organic form, void of any sharp angles or facets.
The retro-futuristic Romain Jerome Subcraft is limited to 99 examples in titanium and 99 in black titanium.
For what many consider the most daring and nostalgically playful of independent watch brands, 2015 is proving to be a year to remember for MB&F. For the occasion of its 10th anniversary, MB&F has brought out a very special commemorative piece: the HMX.
Intended but not limited to those who have supported the brand in its infancy, the HMX is a bit of a departure from the ongoing HM series of Horological Machines. Drawing inspiration from founder Max Busser’s childhood fascination with the automotive world, the HMX is very much a miniature engine for the wrist, fitted with a mechanical digital time display visible on the side of the case. And yes, the oil caps on the engine-shaped bridge are functional!
While the HMX is the most affordable MB&F wristwatch to date, it remains highly exclusive with only 20 examples in each of the four variations and, given the kind of cult-like following behind the brand, these are expected to fly (or should I say speed) off the shelves.
De Bethune DB27 Titan Hawk
Titan Hawk effortlessly blends neo-classical elements with cutting edge forms and materials in a way only De Bethune could achieve.
Housed in a mirror-polished Grade 5 titanium case with De Bethune’s signature floating lugs that adjust to the wearer’s wrist, the DB 27 Titan Hawk is equipped with the in-house manufactured S233 automatic calibre with numerous cutting-edge features you’d expect to find in De Bethune’s more complicated pieces such as self-regulating twin barrels, a silicon and white gold balance wheel, silicon escape wheel, and a triple pare-chute shock-absorbing system.
The DB27 Titan Hawk comes in a number of dial colors such as black, silver or copper, as well as a black case version with a black dial.
Because a list of leading independent watch brands wouldn’t be complete without an URWERK: a futuristic take on the “wandering hours” complication that graced numerous pocket watches and clocks in centuries past, the UR-105TA features the independent brand’s signature revolving satellite display system, though this time with a 3D guillohé canopy. The movement features an automatic winding mechanism regulated by miniature air turbines that can be seen from the case back.
Evoking a knight’s breastplate, the UR-105TA’s multi-component case is done in titanium with either a black or rose gold bezel. But if you’re looking for something a bit more vibrant, the Black Orange and Black Lemon versions could be a striking alternative.
H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Centre Seconds Concept
Because independent watchmaking isn’t only about avant-garde designs and unique time displays, family-owned H. Moser & Cie are redefining how we interpret luxury with the provocative Endeavour Centre Seconds Concept collection.
A true embodiment of the “less is more” ethos, the Endeavour Centre Seconds Concept is void of any branding and text on the dial, allowing H. Moser’s subtly unique design elements such as the scalloped case and fumé gradient dials- not to mention the in-house movement- to speak for themselves.
The Endeavour Centre Seconds is available in white gold and rose gold with grey or blue fumé dials, limited to only 10 pieces in each of the four versions.