You don’t know these guys
But you really should. Many of them are quiet worker bees in the background, giving independent watchmaking quality creations
Indepedent watchmakers that you should know
Independent watchmakers are not a rare breed, to be honest, but you usually only hear about the big names and the creations that cost a cool 100 grand or two and look either supremely avant-garde or are incredibly impressive in finesse. Why? Because when you can only make a couple hundred watches a year, charging 100 grand a piece means you can still make a nice chunk of change and have spare for marketing. Which is why people hear them. But when you make products that are far less expensive, it’s all about word of mouth and the hope that someone out there might care enough. Well, we do, and here are a few important names for us, that matter in indie watchmaking. That’s not to say we don’t love the Max Büssers or Felix Baumgartners, but we love having options.
H. Moser & Cie.
Here’s a brand that is probably better known than its peers in these pages but equally impressive and fascinating. Not merely because they make one of the easiest perpetual calendars to operate, and incidentally probably the only perpetual calendar this writer would ever buy. In fact, H. Moser’s history is also intricately tied to another Neuhausen label that’s literally just around the corner from it. IWC ’s factory in 1868 was in fact rented from Heinrich Moser and this gave birth to the first watch company fully operated by hydro-electric power, and also the first watch company in Schaffhausen. (Moser’s own workshop was established in Le Locle.) Today, the company is known for many things, from an intrinsically classic and clean dial, with fumé styled displays that look at once vintage and contemporary, and also a modular escapement system, which makes it easy to fix the watch. Most importantly the Moser Perpetual is a smart perpetual calendar movement that is fool proof. All operation is by the dial and the entire system runs backwards and forwards flawlessly. A small hand displays the month, while a date aperture shows off the adjusted date. A leap year display is on the back of the movement. Clean, legible and easy to use – all words we love to hear.
Ok, so Ressence isn’t exactly a “fly off the shelves” kind of affordable watch, but it isn’t a supremely expensive product either. First presented in 2010 as a horological startup, with a small booth space at the Baselworld fair among the independents, Ressence has come a long way since. When we first encountered the name, it was a mere idea. Six years later, three models are on the market. Not bad. Benôit Mintiens is an industrial designer who disliked hands and perhaps was a little too fond of Venn diagrams, so he came up with an idea of sub-counters that revolve along with the main disc, and time is indicated accordingly. It’s based on a modified automatic calibre, which Mintiens calls the Ressence Orbital Convex System or ROCS . With the Type 3 and Type 5, it’s added an oil-filled system that the entire movement and dial is immersed in. There’re several reasons for this. It helps to compensate for underwater pressure, keeps components constantly lubricated (a lot of energy and friction is generated to move so many discs at the same time), and suspends everything in liquid so less energy is needed for movement. That adds to precision. The watches are in titanium for lightweight functionality and the entire system has a bellow design below to compensate for the expansion of oil when temperatures rise. That makes for a really cool and unusual watch concept.
It’s one of the older independents around, and yet remains one of the most unknown due to the nature of its designs. Quinting is famed for collaborating with other brands to help them create mystery watches, but few have paid too much attention to its own mystery watches. The transparent dials with hands that appear to move of their own volition are particularly fun, especially when the brand goes out of its way to create unique dials. There are pirate dials, with hand-painted details of cutlasses as the time displays and the brand in fact welcomes anyone to customise something for themselves. But beyond all these, it does have a number
of unique successes. For one, it is the only brand to create a fully mysterious chronograph, and a few years ago, created a unique moonphase timepiece (shown here) called the Moonlight, which literally shows the position of the Moon and its phase as it goes around the Earth. It’s certainly one of the most spectacular moonphase watches in existence. But that’s the beauty of the mystery watch: the available use of negative space on the dial means that one can express the utmost creativity wherever they wish. The challenge, naturally, is with size. The nature of sapphire discs mean these timepieces tend to be thicker than usual. A small price to pay for a stylish wrist.
Richard Habring and his wife Maria do not care about fanciful styles. Their watches are about as matter-of-fact as a mathematics teacher explaining logic to secondary school children. This is after all, the man who managed to make a very precise and well-operated rattrapante chronograph from a basic ETA 7750 calibre in his days at IWC , as well as a minute repeater movement that was based on a pocket watch calibre and later employed in the Portugieser Minute Repeater. And the Habrings’ Jumping Second Pilot watch also claimed the top spot at the GPH G 2013, taking home the Petite Aiguille prize. The work that IWC (and Richard Habring) did with the 7750 caliber demonstrated its prowess and versatility, changing the opinions of many a collector that modular movements are the inferior cousins of inhouse integrated calibres. Although with the Swatch Group’s decision to limit the sale of ETA ’s movements externally, Habring2 has developed their own calibre and will eventually base their production on this. Given that the duo make well under 200 watches a year, Habring2’s timepieces are naturally a rarity. Despite that, their watches remain highly accessible, even though they could easily charge a lot more for these hand-crafted pieces. But in every sense of the word, Habring2 is focused on making sensible watches at sensible prices. We applaud that.
the habring is as matter of fact as a math teacher explaining logic