I’ve always been on the lookout for brands that show innovation and do things a little different to the accepted status quo. Ever since I discovered the microbrand watch world, I’ve been enamoured with the wealth of options available, and the friendliness between not only the fans and followers, but also the microbrand owners themselves. There’s a huge sense of camaraderie between competing businesses that you do not find anywhere else.
As a microbrand owner myself (keep your eyes peeled, I’ll be launching a new website and our first model for commercial release very soon) I always keep my eyes open to see what other companies are offering, and as a watch fan, I sometimes can’t help myself from backing some of my favourites. Here are three of my choices for best of the current Microbrand world that I’ve either backed or just plain love!
Seals Watch Company : Model C
This was my first ever microbrand purchase. From the moment I first saw the unique case shape, I knew I’d one day purchase one. I actually missed out on the first wave of them but was lucky enough to get in on the second.
The case shape and design are modelled after the big, blocky battle tanks of the 1940s and the inspiration is obvious once explained, if subtle at first and I really liked that.
The 40mm case size makes it a great and sleek option that can be as easily dressed up or down (I’m wearing this watch on my wedding day with the gorgeous Assou strap that it came with). The watch is 11.8mm thick and I can confirm that it fits nicely under all sleeves with ease and is very unobtrusive.
The dial will be familiar to anyone who is a fan of the field watch genre. The outer railroad track on the slightly raised chapter ring is so nicely done and the chunky hour markers on both the main dial and the chapter ring are generously painted with lume so there’s no danger of being caught short in low-light conditions.
The movement is the Swiss-made STP1-11 and I am a huge fan of it. There had been a few teething issues with it in the past but STP have sorted these out and the movement has been bulletproof to date with stunning accuracy! A great choice and a great value proposition.
The flat sapphire crystal complements the case design perfectly and there’s a quality AR (anti reflective) coating applied on the inside to help filter out any unwanted reflections.
The next wave is starting to be prepared and Seals are taking reservations right now so get in touch with Michael quickly if you want to get a piece for yourself.
Tsao Baltimore : Torsk Diver
Tsao Baltimore have only recently launched this watch on Kickstarter and their campaign went fully funded in a matter of hours. Alan Tsao had been teasing this for a long time prior to launch and it’s one that very quickly appeared on my radar.
Named after the USS Torsk, a now decommissioned trench-class submarine, the Torsk diver ticks a lot of boxes in terms of design and specs.
Featuring a very solid 300m water resistance, a workhorse Miyota 9015 automatic movement and nice chunky 43mm case, it was the Kickstarter special edition that really had me sold. A black DLC case and a super-cool meteorite dial! I’ve been looking to add a meteorite dial to my collection for some time! The other specs include the standard sapphire crystal with AR coating and the bezel is made of a domed piece of sapphire.
I love the fact it also comes with three strap options included in the price, along with a watch winder too. The straps include a DLC bracelet, a rubber strap, and a distressed leather number, the latter being my favourite and probably my go to when I get this watch in hand.
The final point I feel worth mentioning is that case back is a display version, which I’m never too bothered about when it comes to Miyota movements. They’re great and perform their job admirably, but often their decoration is a little bland.
Tsao Baltimore have used a really cool custom rotor for this watch and it goes further than just whacking the logo on. They’ve used the mascot for the actual USS Torsk submarine, which I personally find very cool and a nice nod to the original source of inspiration.
By the time of publication, this campaign may very well be over, but get in touch with brand owner, Alan, directly via social media as there may be some stock left if you’re lucky.
Hamtun : H2 Kraken
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock recently, then there’s no way you could have missed the meteoric success of the latest release from Hamtun Watches, based in sunny Southampton, England.
The H2 is technically an upgrade on their previous launch, the H1, but it’s also far more than that. Keeping the titanium case and bracelet, it has been covered with a scratch resistant coating to keep it looking clean and fresh for longer. A sapphire crystal is standard and the highly-readable bezel is matte ceramic and fully lumed for excellent legibility even in low-light.
There is a choice of movements including the much-loved Seiko NH35 or the upgrade to a Swiss-made Sellita SW200.
The dial design is really nice; it’s clean and not overly fussy but its simple minimalism works a charm and the white-dialled option is a thing of beauty and my personal favourite. I also love the touch of blue, which has almost become a signature of sorts for Hamtun on their dive watches.
The watch is currently live on Kickstarter (see the link below) so there’s still plenty of time to get on board and back a wonderful British brand! At the time of writing, they’ve obliterated their funding goals and backers can look forward to a bevvy of awesome stretch goals, with several already having been unlocked!
So there you have my favourite three microbrand watches at the moment. The wonderful thing with the microbrand watch world is that there are always more and more fantastic offerings coming out from the plethora of brands. There are loads of great watch review sites and Facebook groups worth joining to stay abreast of the latest brands and they’re packing with useful reviews and information.
Keep on clocking, watchfam!
Dave – LPW Watch Co.
Dave Sergeant is the owner of LPW Watch Co, a new microbrand located in Manchester, England. LPW Watch Co is currently working on its inaugural release which will be revealed soon along with a brand new website. Give them a follow them on Instagram and Facebook.