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A veritable alternative to the luxe biggies in the game, Independent watchmakers are not new to the industry but knowing them will keep your collection diverse.

Owning a watch made by independent watchmakers doesn’t mean you’re compromising on quality or rich panache, but simple the fact that you’d rather stand out in the crowd while flaunting that one-of-a-kind watch. But what are independent watchmakers? There isn’t one key definition but if it doesn’t belong to one of the big three groups (LVMH, The 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 such as Rolex, Panerai, Cartier or a Frank Muller, 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 an opportunity for you to be unique while looking dapper.

Independent watches also mean 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 watch collection.

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: Courtesy 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: Courtesy 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: Courtesy 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: Courtesy 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: Courtesy 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: Courtesy 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: Courtesy 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: Courtesy Romain Gauthier

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur

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