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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm thinking about my next purchase - a casual three hander; something less austere than a pure dress watch that's also not overtly sporty. I find myself intrigued by small brands that define themselves by originality in manufacture, design, etc. Think of the point where a micro moves away from a crowd pleasing design language and towards a more niche, singular aesthetic that employs bespoke parts. Many of the brands I'm looking at either make some of their parts in-house or have them manufactured by small specialty shops, movement excluded.

Brands I'm considering range from Bravur on the more affordable end to Holthinrichs at the upper end. Ideally, I'd like to keep the spend under $3500 or so. Here are a few that have caught my eye. Look at this as a discussion rather than a "what should I buy? thread.

For reference, the Habring2 Felix would be a slam dunk but it's out of my price range.

15544550


Bravur BW003 - A small Swedish outfit that makes watches to order. The cases - made of Sandvik steel - straps and many of the parts appear to be made in Sweden. Assembly and regulation are handled by watchmakers local to the business. I'm a fan of the design, which is modern but not minimal. The movement is an SW300 - nothing special but that's perfectly okay by me. The watch is 40mm x 11mm thick. The price is the lowest of the group at roughly $1200.

15544552


Kurono Tokyo - many of you will be familiar with the brand, which is an affordable offshoot from watchmaker Hajime Asaoka, whose high-end stuff runs close to $50k. These are very hard to come by. There's apparently a new batch coming soon with an interesting "tiered availability" structure, which is an attempt to keep scalpers at bay. The last batch of three-handers was 37mm, which may be a bit small for my 7.75 inch wrist. I'm in love with these designs, especially the handsets. Based on previous runs, I'm assuming they'll be in the $2000 range.

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Lundis Bleus Essentials Collection. The watches are assembled by the brand owners in La Chaux-de-Fonds but they make it clear the company is not a manufacture. Per the LB website: "The manufacturing of the components is outsourced to partners known for many years and often long before the creation of Lundis Bleus. For the highly specialized crafts like hand engraving or miniature painting, we work with some of the finest Swiss artisans." Aesthetically, the line is reminiscent of the Bravur only more ornate. Size is 40mm x 11mm. Movement is an SW300. MSRP of roughly $2800. They also offer enamel dials with loads of depth and sparkle but that's not really my thing.

15544570


Holthinrichs Ornament One - The brand has garnered attention for using 3D printed cases, which are made in Belgium and finished in the Netherlands. These are handwinders that run the ETA Peseux 7001. 38mm x 10mm. I'm a fan of the aesthetic but am not 100% sold on the "concrete" finish found on parts of the case, which I'm guessing is a shortcoming of the 3D printing process. That aside, I think it's a beautiful watch. It's also the most expensive (and more than I want to spend) at roughly $4000.

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Sartory Billard allows you to mix and match dials and handsets. I find myself drawn to their radially brushed metallic dials - the watch pictured has a titanium dial with stainless steel arabics/railroad track overlay. They're 40mm x 11mm and run an STP movement. Prices vary depending on how the watch is spec'd but should run around $3000.

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Aside from Kurono, all watches are offered in alternate colorways, with Lundis Bleus and SB appearing to offer the widest range. I've also looked at Fears and Ophion but I find their designs to be perhaps more old fashioned or fussy than what I'm looking for right now.

I'm not necessarily looking for consensus but I do value your feedback. Given the absence of GTGs in the age of Corona, this'll have to do.
 

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I’m so hopeful for the new kurono drop. I don’t have anything red/orange and I don’t have anything from them at all.

for me I differentiate micro vs independent by whether or not they outsource the bulk of the work. A lot of micro brands only take a look at their watches for a final check right before they ship to the end consumer so the bulk of the work is done in a rando factory in either Switzerland or Asia. Independents I think have a bit more construction going on- either fabricating in house their components or heavily modifying movements in their own facilities.

Edit- brands recently on my radar-

minase
Ming
Sartory billard
Kurono
Ochs und junior
Dornbluth

if I had unlimited funds they would all be mine
 

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I'm not as adventurous as you aesthetically so the Kurono and Sartory Billard I could see on my wrist (especially if either/both were hand wound) the others not so much . . . nice mix you're considering though
 

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I'm thinking about my next purchase - a casual three hander; something less austere than a pure dress watch that's also not overtly sporty. I find myself intrigued by small brands that define themselves by originality in manufacture, design, etc. Think of the point where a micro moves away from a crowd pleasing design language and towards a more niche, singular aesthetic that employs bespoke parts. Many of the brands I'm looking at either make some of their parts in-house or have them manufactured by small specialty shops, movement excluded.

Barnds I'm considering range from Bravur on the more affordable end to Holthinrichs at the upper end. Ideally, I'd like to keep the spend under $3500 or so. Here are a few that have caught my eye. Look at this as a discussion rather than a "what should I buy? thread.

For reference, the Habring2 Felix would be a slam dunk but it's out of my price range.

View attachment 15544550

Bravur BW003 - A small Swedish outfit that makes watches to order. The cases - made of Sandvik steel - straps and many of the parts appear to be made in Sweden. Assembly and regulation are handled by watchmakers local to the business. I'm a fan of the design, which is modern but not minimal. The movement is an SW300 - nothing special but that's perfectly okay by me. The watch is 40mm and roughly 11mm thick. The price is the lowest of the group at roughly $1200.

View attachment 15544552

Kurono Tokyo - many of you will be familiar with the brand, which is an affordable offshoot from watchmaker Hajime Asaoka, whose high-end stuff runs close to $50k. These are very hard to come by. There's apparently a new batch coming soon with an interesting "tiered availability" structure, which is an attempt to keep scalpers at bay. The last batch of three-handers was 37mm, which may be a bit small for my 7.75 inch wrist. I'm in love with these designs, especially the handsets. Based on previous runs, I'm assuming they'll be in the $2000 range.

View attachment 15544561

Lundis Bleus Essentials Collection. The watches are assembled by the brand owners in La Chaux-de-Fonds but they make it clear the company is not a manufacture. Per the LB website: "The manufacturing of the components is outsourced to partners known for many years and often long before the creation of Lundis Bleus. For the highly specialized crafts like hand engraving or miniature painting, we work with some of the finest Swiss artisans." Aesthetically, the line is reminiscent of the Bravur only more ornate. Size is 40mm x 11mm. Movement is an SW300. MSRP of roughly $2800. They also offer enamel dials with loads of depth and sparkle but that's not really my thing.

View attachment 15544570

Holthinrichs Ornament One - The brand has garnered attention for using 3D printed cases, which are made in Belgium and Finished in the Netherlands. These are handwinders that run the ETA Peseux 7001. 38mm x 10mm. I'm a fan of the aesthetic but am not 100% sold on the "concrete" finish found on parts of the case, which I'm guessing is a shortcoming of the 3D printing process. That aside, I think it's a beautiful watch. It's also the most expensive (and more than I want to spend) at roughly $4000.

View attachment 15544572

Sartory Billard allows you to mix and match dials and handsets. I find myself drawn to their radially brushed metallic dials - the watch pictured has a titanium dial with stainless steel arabic number/railroad track overlay. They're 40mm x 11mm and run an STP movement. Prices vary depending on how the watch is spe'd but should run around $3000.

View attachment 15544578

Aside from Kurono, all watches are offered in alternate colorways, with Lundis Bleus and SB appearing to offer the widest range. I've also looked at Fears and Ophion and but I find their designs to be perhaps more old fashioned or fussy than what I'm looking for right now.

I'm not necessarily looking for consensus but I do value your feedback. Given the absence of GTGs in the age of Corona, this'll have to do.
Damn! I just spent 20 min staring at the Holthinrichs watches. Haven’t even gotten to the others yet. The Raw model with blue hands is amazing.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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If the Habring2 speaks to you, I'd wait for one to show up on the used market. Might still be $5k or so but I think the movement work and the story of the Habring couple puts its well beyond the other brands (Hajime Asaoka's own hand made watches notwithstanding).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Minase Divido... ETA movement but the case and bracelet SLAP.

Like, I almost get royal oak vibes off the bracelet in both quality and design.

Multi-piece bolted case similar to an aquanaut or RO. And a floating dial and movement.






I've looked at the brand and really dig the aesthetic but I honestly can't get past the date window or any date window of this type. I know that 2 comes before 3, which is followed by 4. I don't need a heads-up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If the Habring2 speaks to you, I'd wait for one to show up on the used market. Might still be $5k or so but I think the movement work and the story of the Habring couple puts its well beyond the other brands (Hajime Asaoka's own hand made watches notwithstanding).
Frickin' enabler! ;)
 
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Frickin' enabler! ;)
I say it like it is :)

Holthinrich's use of 3d printed metal is pretty interesting. I have a pair of in-ear headphones that use the same technology but is also custom fitted to me (see top left corner):


 

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Minase Divido... ETA movement but the case and bracelet SLAP.

Like, I almost get royal oak vibes off the bracelet in both quality and design.

Multi-piece bolted case similar to an aquanaut or RO. And a floating dial and movement.






It’s honestly sad that there are other users (not you) out there who view the ETA movement as such a detractor. This watch has incredible finishing that would be at a much high price with other brands. Meanwhile there are users who specifically want the ETA Tudor black bays over the in house movement due to the easier servicing.

one word of warning- I emailed the US rep about buying the rubber strap as an accessory to the bracelet and he said that it’s quite difficult to change straps/bracelet with this watch. It’s not impossible but there were a lot more steps than just pop out the spring bar.
 

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don’t act like we don’t see the ressence lol. Those watches are so cool.
It's there for scale :)

My other thought is that Satory Billard's mirror polish titanium dial might be the best blue dial this side of a Journe Bleu.

 

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I second @Zhanming057. Get the Habring2 if thats what speaks to you.
I am also considering Minase - they had / have a Singles Day sale if you want to jump the gun now.
 

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Have you looked at AnOdain watches at all? They are also at the lower end of your price spectrum, but they do incredible enamel dials in house.


I am with you that I am getting a lot more interested in smaller companies that do at least part of the manufacturing in house. My Ginault Ocean Rover is phenomenally made and they customized it for me at no cost. The Ickler case on my Archimede outdoor is phenomenal (enough where I am looking at buying the outdoor chronograph as well). I am thinking about adding a dekla Flieger as their cases, dials, and hands are all made in house, and for great prices too!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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It’s honestly sad that there are other users (not you) out there who view the ETA movement as such a detractor. This watch has incredible finishing that would be at a much high price with other brands. Meanwhile there are users who specifically want the ETA Tudor black bays over the in house movement due to the easier servicing.

one word of warning- I emailed the US rep about buying the rubber strap as an accessory to the bracelet and he said that it’s quite difficult to change straps/bracelet with this watch. It’s not impossible but there were a lot more steps than just pop out the spring bar.
I do personally tend to view the ETA movement as a serious point of detraction myself - with a significant exception for microbrands. Since I don't particularly trust microbrands to be around long term for servicing and maintenance of in house movements. If that's the case then I'm more buying the watch for the other qualities.

It's not that ETA movements are bad per se, it's just that they aren't usually what I am looking for in a watch. I just don't find anything visually or otherwise interesting about them, unless they have been dressed to the absolute teeth like dornbluth do with their 6498s for example.

For the most part I want the watches I buy to be the "whole package" and that includes either an aesthetically or technically interesting movement - of which ETA movements mostly aren't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Have you looked at AnOdain watches at all? They are also at the lower end of your price spectrum, but they do incredible enamel dials in house.


I am with you that I am getting a lot more interested in smaller companies that do at least part of the manufacturing in house. My Ginault Ocean Rover is phenomenally made and they customized it for me at no cost. The Ickler case on my Archimede outdoor is phenomenal (enough where I am looking at buying the outdoor chronograph as well). I am thinking about adding a dekla Flieger as their cases, dials, and hands are all made in house, and for great prices too!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
As I think I mentioned somewhere in the OP, there’s something about this style of enamel, most enamel actually, that doesn’t do it for me. The look is beautiful in isolation but just a bit much when used as a watch dial, at least to my eye.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
What I’m leaning towards now is trying for a Kurono and reassessing if I don’t manage to land one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
It’s honestly sad that there are other users (not you) out there who view the ETA movement as such a detractor. This watch has incredible finishing that would be at a much high price with other brands. Meanwhile there are users who specifically want the ETA Tudor black bays over the in house movement due to the easier servicing.

one word of warning- I emailed the US rep about buying the rubber strap as an accessory to the bracelet and he said that it’s quite difficult to change straps/bracelet with this watch. It’s not impossible but there were a lot more steps than just pop out the spring bar.
Don’t get me wrong, I like a fully spec’d in-house or otherwise unusual movement but in this case, I’m looking for more of a design piece, which makes the Habring2 something of an outlier. In fact, its probably not the best example of what I’m looking for right now. If I do get an H2 at some point, I‘d prefer one of their chronos.
 
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