Small Names, Big Value: Microbrand Watches

The world of microbrand watches is where small-time names can offer big-time value, with a dose of retro charm on the side.

The Chrisopher Ward C65 Trident Automatic with a leather strap

Whether you have a Dan Henry-esque collection of priceless vintage watches or are an aspiring watch enthusiast, one thing that binds all of us together is our appreciation for immaculately designed timepieces. And though we all strive to someday possess that one unattainable watch which spurred us into the wonderful world of watch collecting, microbrand can certainly help us scratch that itch.

As the term itself clearly suggests, microbrand watches are made in limited quantities by small companies. Quite a few of these brands have been popping up in recent years, offering a wide variety of designs, including—most notably—classic reimagining of vintage timepieces, often with a very welcome modern twist to it.

Now, the scale of the production will mean that most of these watch brands will have to charge a little higher than the typical entry-level mechanical watches from a more established brand. However, it can be argued that these microbrands not only provide great value for the timepieces they offer, but also ones that lets you connect with the brand, and in some cases, with their founders in a more direct way.

It’s good to keep in mind that some microbrand watches will take inspiration from vintage watches. ink the Paul Newman Daytona and the coveted Reference 6538 Submariner as seen on Sean Connery’s wrist as he donned the 007 moniker for the very first time. These watches are not only rare but can fetch astronomical prices once they do surface at an auction. is is another factor why investing in microbrand watches can be a good idea: They give off the same vibes as a vintage piece, but hands it over to you in a package that you can actually wear.

All that being said, as with many other watch-related topics, perhaps the best way to illustrate the charm of microbrand watches is by taking a close look at some exceptional examples:

The Ghostly Vintage Diver: Christopher Ward C65

The clean, crisp and reliable Christopher Ward C65 Trident

The Christopher Ward C65 Trident is a charming piece, to say the least. With its indices filled with fauxtina giving off a ghostly old-radium glow when the lights go out, the C65 Trident is a watch that is better than most in terms of just how well-thought- out the design process was.

For one thing, instead of having its logo placed at the 12-hour mark as tradition dictates, the brand instead chose to place a debossed two flag logo (that you can’t see unless the light hits it at a certain angle) and their namesake—Christopher Ward—placed at the 9 o’clock position instead.

This watch comes with a date complication and a whole host of strap options. But for the purists out there, the brushed steel bracelet is a great option to go with.

Wearable Vintage Chronograph, Anyone? Dan Henry 1964 Gran Turismo Chronograph

The Dan Henry 1964 Gran Turismo Chronograph

Dan Henry watches are unique in the sense that the founder, Dan Henry himself, is an avid watch collector with one of the most impressive collections. So impressive, in
fact, that he chose to spread his love and knowledge of vintage watches on his website which you can visit either to admire the beauty of pieces from a bygone era or to use them as a reference when buying your very own vintage timepiece.

The Aston Martin DB5 on the caseback

This piece, the Dan Henry Tri-Compax Evil Panda, is the de nite top pick of the bunch. It’s a chronograph that evokes the sentiment that all watch lovers have for the Rolex Daytona, but one that you can actually wear. It’s also unique in ways that you don’t quite expect. With the venerable VK63 movement powering this piece, the watch pays homage to the year it was named after with an embossed depiction of what is unmistakably the side profile of the Aston Martin DB5 on the case-back. Sitting at a humble 38 millimeters, this piece will likely fit most wrists. And thanks to the availability of both with date and no date indicator options, this watch is sure to fit that category of steel sports watch that you can just about wear anywhere, anytime.

Monaco-esque in Full Technicolor: Brew Retrograph Technicolor

The Brew Retrograph

The Brew Retrograph is a stunning watch, to say the least, especially in its “technicolor” colorway. At a glance, the design gives off that vintage TAG Heuer Monaco feel with its square case, bi-compax layout and a date window beautifully placed at the 9 o’clock position. The 12 o’clock marker features two dots on each side, reminiscent of the famous moonwatch itself, giving this watch a stunning face.

With its beautiful blue hands indicating the hour and time, red second and chronograph hands, the Retrograph stands out in its own unique way. At the same time, it can also be a subtle companion. Having a case diameter of 38 millimeters and a thickness of 10.4 millimeters, this piece is very wearable and can easily slide under the cu of your favorite sports coat.

The Brew Retrograph Technicolor
The Brew Retrograph Technicolor

The Seiko VK64 movement at the heart of this piece might cause some die-hard mechanical watch enthusiasts to scoff at it; but it can be argued that the VK64 is a robust, reliable movement that perfectly complements the watch in terms of its rugged and reliable nature.

If you’re not a fan of technicolor watches, you’ll be happy to hear that the Retrograph comes in other, more subtle colors too.

Modern Simplicity Meets Vintage Charm: Lorier Neptune Series III

A couple of Lorier Nepture Series III watches

With its arrow-shaped hour hand reminiscent of the Seamaster 300, along with its slim (lumed!) dive-time bezel reminiscent of a vintage Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. That being said, it’s original in its own way. For one thing, look at the side profile. That’s not sapphire, you simply can’t get that look with sapphire. That is an acrylic crystal covering the dial. Yep, the reasoning behind the Neptune series III design choices—which stretches to Lorier’s entire lineup—is to re-create that vintage charm with a modern twist, and nothing does it quite like an almost bubble-like dome. The crystal also gives off a warmer feel to the dial than sapphire would.

The Neptune also retains its vintage compass by taking on a more conservative mid-century sizing, boasting a humble 39-millimeter case diameter. Keen-eyed viewers would also notice the unguarded crown reminiscent of the coveted Reference 6538 Submariner which was one of the inspirations behind this beautiful piece.

Generously pumped full of BGW9 Super-LumiNova on all of the white surfaces, this watch will simply glow like a torch once the lights go out. And thanks to just how well- designed the watch is, its glow is something you’d want to look forward to—it’s an event. Though there are those who would point out that this piece looks best in blue/gilt, a more conservative option would always be the venerable black/silver option. But regardless of which colorway you’re planning to pick, you’ll be happy to know that you’ve picked a great watch. It’s the perfect go-anywhere-do- anything watch for sure.

Micro Marvels

Watch collecting is a wonderful hobby no matter what kind of watches we end up collecting. That being said, having pieces that you can wear, admire and fall in love with is the very core of watch collecting—something that seems to have gotten lost as time goes on. Microbrand watches are great in the sense that they allow you to wear these beautiful timepieces and give you a better appreciation for the inevitability of your collection’s growth in the future.