Two types of titans dominate the luxury watch industry: the very large conglomerates with several watch brands operating under one umbrella and the privately owned power brands. Armed with immense marketing budgets, these brands influence the fine timepiece landscape, aggressively vying for attention among the privileged clientele base. However, tucked away within the market are some smaller independent luxury watch brands that are not only producing exquisite creations, but are also celebrated by watch fans for their individuality and originality. The term “independent watchmakers” may mean something slightly different to everyone, but we use the label to refer to watch manufactures that don’t fall within the two aforementioned camps. So with that, let’s delve into seven independent watchmakers and the signature timepieces that have put them on the map.
Known for his innovative and imaginative products, Christophe Claret is obviously having plenty of fun creating his super high-end watches. Whether the casino-inspired Poker watch or the Allegro haute horology timepiece or the groundbreaking X-Treme-1 machine that utilizes magnetic fields rather than shun away from them, Christophe Claret’s creations are often playful and supremely interesting. Particularly whimsical is the ladies’ Margot that features an interactive function to answer the, “He loves me, he loves me not?” question. Based in Le Locle, Switzerland, novelties produced from the Christophe Claret manufacture are always met with anticipation and delight from watch enthusiasts.
H. Moser & Cie.
At the core of the H. Moser & Cie. company is their straightforward two-word motto: “Very Rare.” The argument for their mantra is based on three principals. First, the family-run business continues the entrepreneurial spirit of the founder, Heinrich Moser, who established his watchmaking company in 1828. Second, as a manufacture, each and every one of the movements powering a Swiss-made H. Moser watch is built in-house. And finally, they strive to make ingenious watches. One look at the H. Moser & Cie. catalog and it’s clear that the independent brand celebrates a classic aesthetic. Devoid of any flashiness, the exceptional quality, fine details, and solid complications of the Endeavour, Venturer, and Pioneer timepieces are what make H. Moser a well-respected brand among watch aficionados.
Carl F. Bucherer
In 1888, Carl Friedrich Bucherer opened a watch and jewelry shop in the heart of Lucerne, Switzerland. A little over 30 years later, in 1919, the watchmaker introduced his own line of ladies watches, thus establishing the Carl F. Bucherer watchmaking company that is still thriving today. The flagship pieces from Carl F. Bucherer include the elegant Manero, the sportier Patravi, and the ladies’ Alacria jewelry watch. In 2008, Carl F. Bucherer announced their very first in-house movement with the CFB A1000 caliber, which was later housed in the Patravi EvoTec Day Date. The watch manufacture is continuing on their path of proprietary calibers with the launch of the new CFB A2000 caliber in 2016.
A relative newcomer to the world of luxury watchmaking, Parmigiani Fleurier has already made its indelible mark on the industry during its short history. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2016, the company was founded by watchmaker Michel Parmigiani in Fleurier, Switzerland and shot to fame with the inauguration of the Kalpa Hebdomadaire watch. Featuring a distinct tonneau case shape, the Parmigiani Kalpa remains the brand’s signature watch, in addition to the round Tonda timepiece and sporty Pershing chronograph. Boasting an impressive 33 manufacture movements to its name and producing every single interior and exterior watch component in-house, the independent watchmaker takes its craft very seriously.
Dubbed the “Master of Complications”, Franck Muller continues to mesmerize his audience with a slew of watch world remieres. His iconic Crazy Hours creations showcase a dial where the numerals are completely mixed up, yet the watch indicates the correct time thanks to the jumping hours mechanism. Franck Muller was also responsible for the Aeternitas Mega unveiled in 2007 — the most complicated watch in the world, built with 1,483 components and possessing 36 complications. Aside from complications, another distinguishing characteristic of a Franck Muller watch is the strong case silhouettes. Whether the tonneau design of the Cintrée Curvex, the circular Round, or the proportional Master Square, a Franck Muller timepiece is immediately recognizable.
Franck Muller Cintree Curvex Color of Dreams 25th Anniversary 2852QZCOL25LTDACBL7.289 € * More Details
Characterized by their round cases, slim design, and minimalist look, the German watch brand NOMOS Glashütte was born in Saxony in 1990. Cherished for their Bauhaus-inspired stark appeal, NOMOS Glashütte began equipping all their timepieces with in-house calibers from 2005. The signature collection from NOMOS is the Tangente with the majority of the models powered by manual-wound movements, while the aesthetically similar Tangomat features automatic calibers. At Baselworld 2015, NOMOS introduced their ultra flat DUW 3001 automatic in-house caliber and any of their watches housing the new movement is labeled as a neomatik version. Perhaps mistakenly labeled as simple, NOMOS watches are anything but, with each detail painstakingly deliberated to produce perfect proportions.