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8 independent watchmakers you really, really need to know about

Can you even call yourself a dedicated watch lover if you don’t know at least a handful of independent watchmakers? Of course you can’t.

Independent watchmakers are nothing new to the industry, but knowing them will keep your collection diverse.

But what even are independent watchmakers? There isn’t one key definition but if it doesn’t belong to one of the big three groups (LVMHThe Swatch Group, and The Richemont Group), chances are it’s an indie brand. Other qualities that define indie watchmakers include producing their own movements as well as their own timepieces.

Unlike many big names, indie brands don’t produce watches at as quick of a rate. While indie watchmakers aren’t as well known in the market, it offers a different perspective by being unique.

It also means that you won’t be paying a small fortune for it. The heavyweights of haute horlogerie pride themselves on their experience, engineering, and ingenuity when it comes to creating pieces of art. With indie brands, you’re allowed to be part of a limited collection without having to drain your bank balance. This makes for a great addition to one’s collection.

This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur.

Christophe Claret

Christophe Claret is an independent Swiss watchmaker that constantly challenges the standards set by the industry. The brand is all about exploring different and unique designs while still capable of complex mechanical components.

Image credit: Christophe Claret

Armin Strom

If you love skeletonised timepieces, you have Armin Strom to thank for that. While not a household name, Armin Strom is known for developing the craft of hand-carved skeletonised watches back in the 1980s.

Image credit: Armin Strom

F.P. Journe

François-Paul Journe, also known as F.P. Journe is a Swiss luxury watch manufacture that still maintains an indie watchmaker title but with over 30 years of experience in the industry. Its designs are known to be the finest examples of modern Haute Horlogerie.

Image credit: F.P. Journe

Jean Daniel Nicolas

After selling his eponymous brand to the Bulgari Group, Daniel Roth did not stop creating watches. He specialises in hand-crafted timepieces, making two or three a year under the name Jean Daniel Nicolas. The brand’s name is a combination of his name, his son, and a variation of his wife’s name.

Image credit: Jean-Daniel Nicolas

Kari Voutilainen

A Finnish watchmaker that resides in Switzerland, Kari Voutilainen launched his brand in 2002. In just three years, he created the world’s first decimal repeater sounding hours, ten-minute intervals, and then minutes.

Image credit: Kari Voutilainen

Philippe Dufour

Philippe Dufour is one of the world’s most well-known independent watchmakers. He is also known for the designs and builds of his watches, most of which is done alone, except for the help of his daughter and a young assistant.

Image credit: Philippe Dufour

Roger W. Smith

Britain-based Roger W. Smith is a young independent watchmaker, only starting out in 2001. Smith went on a seven-year-long apprenticeship to learn about all the 32 watchmaker trades. Now, he creates only 10 handmade luxury watches every year.

Image credit: Roger W. Smith

Romain Gauthier

After four years of working in secret, Romain Gauthier launched his brand in 2006 with the Prestige HM. Everything that the brand does has been in-house, from the design process to developing, producing, assembling, and lastly, regulating its watches.

Image credit: Romain Gauthier

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