It doesn’t matter how many years you write about, think about and pore over watches, there’s always another watch brand that has somehow escaped your attention. Many of these brands have been going for a long time and been getting along perfectly well without you, others are relatively new but worthy of attention because they are trying to do things differently, or according to the brand owners vision. Here are 6 brands that may not be new to you, but they are to me, and each of them is noteworthy for different reasons.
Germano & Walter
This is a Munich based brand founded by Alexander Walter and Pietro Germano. Pietro restores vintage cars while Alexander is a design engineer at BMW.
What’s special about this watchmaking duo is that they are hand building quality watches in limited numbers. Their watches are extremely robust, antimagnetic and water resistant up to 500 meters. They run on an ETA 2892A automatic movement. The design is deliberately quite chunky and imposing, 42mm in diameter and 57mm from lug to lug. The watches come with a choice of an expandable steel bracelet or a handcrafted leather strap complete with a screwdriver to change over. The handsome leather watch case certainly gives the watches an extra dimension of quality and care, and the asking price is EUR2,500.
British designers Elliot Brown have some excellent credentials. And if you haven’t heard of their watch brand, you should have heard of the brand they previously founded and worked for. Ian Elliot was co-founder of Animal back in 1988, and built the brand up from a single, innovative, functional product - an 'unbreakable' watch-strap.
Alex Brown turned down a job at Cartier because it sounded more interesting to establish Animal's watch department, where he stayed for seventeen years. Today of course, Animal is monster sized. In their own words, the idea behind the company and their watches is to do things just a little better. Not revolution, just evolution. They only make watches, and each collection is a small range to which they are proud enough to put their names.
The designs are such that they are smart enough to wear with a best shirt and well-made enough to become a trusted favorite, making memories with little details that you'll miss when you wear another watch. The watch shown here is from the Canford collection with prices ranging from £375 to £395.
Based in the US, watchmaker Enzo doesn’t believe in imparting too much information about his custom made watches or his background on his website, but he is well known to Watchuseek dive watch fans. The large, hefty watches are handmade, and Enzo is clearly a caring soul as he encourages customers to give unwanted clothing and possessions to charity. If you donate to his charity he will give you a discount on the watch of your choice. The watch shown here is the EM 500, which presumably indicates it is waterproof to 500 meters. The watches run on an ETA movement. I am sure someone on the forum will be able to shed a lot more light on this intriguing brand.
I'm sure Chinese watch fans on Watchuseek are going to be extremely familiar with Memorigin but sorry, they're new to me. This Hong Kong based brand is doing interesting things. They are making what they claim to be the first Hong Kong brand which produces only tourbillon watches.
The watches are designed in Hong Kong with parts sourced from around the world. Their Avenger series, in co-operation with Disney, must surely be the only watches in existence to combine a tourbillon with Marvel comics characters such as Iron Man and Captain America…thereby combining the best of traditional European watchmaking techniques with American pulp fiction. This is a very Hong Kong concept, they are more than happy to eclectically mix cultures to arrive at something that initially raises eyebrows in the West and then raises a smile.
Hands up, I do actually know of this watchmaker and have written about his watches (or more accurately his watch) in the past. However this UK based brand may be unfamiliar to many on Watchuseek. Owner Lorne Gifford is a professional subsea engineer with a day job working in the development and operation of some of the deepest and most complex oil fields around the world; a job that takes him to some very unusual and environmentally hostile parts of the planet. With a deep love of chronographs he has worn and broken a number of leading makes. With this in mind, he set about designing a chronograph robust enough for his watch damaging lifestyle.
The watch he offers is called the Offshore Professional Field Engineer. The Field Engineer is a triple complication chronograph that combines advanced engineering and shock absorbing with visual design derived from Fibonacci sequence ratios. The latest modification to the watch is the Double O specification which includes enhancements to the visual balance and tie the overall design more tightly to the Fibonacci sequence. The Field Engineer runs on a Valjoux 7750 movement that is modified to enhance shock resistance, improve accuracy and to incorporate the day, date and self-winding rotor.
The Field Engineer is made only in small quantities, less than 100, so you are not likely to see someone else wearing one on the 07:23 to work. The asking price is £1650, and you can only buy one by contacting Lorne Gifford via email.
Finally, we come to US brand Red Monkey. Based in Oregon, Red Monkey specializes in leather products including handmade leather belts and guitar straps. The watch shown here is The Novelist, a white dial chronograph taking over your wrist at a monster 49mm. The tri-compax dial features the date at 4 o’ clock and a red secondhand. The strap is a satisfyingly thick slice of hand-made walnut colored leather, and the watch retails for an unpretentious $210.00. Haute horology it is not, but I like the name and the look of the watch.
The belts are impressive too. Shown here is a limited edition hand-made belt with the Red Monkey insignia on the buckle. I want one. Red Monkey also has some cool clientele including Brad Pitt, Matthew Fox, Jack Black, Johnny Knoxville, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and many more.