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

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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

FRO M left The H. Moser & Cie. Ven­turer Small Sec­onds; Edouard Mey­lan, head of the com­pany; the En­deav­our Per­pet­ual in ti­ta­nium; the En­deav­our Small Sec­onds

this page Ressence Types 3, 1 and 5 re­spec­tively OP­PO­SITE The Habring2 Dop­pel 3.0; Richard and Maria Habring; Quint­ing Watch’s Moon­light time­piece

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