Microbrands vs. Accessible Established Brands – Are Newcomers Shaking up the Industry or Just Small Fish in a Big Pond?

By rolex
May 29, 2021
13 min read

It’s a fascinating opportunity to be a watch devotee. Fuelled by destinations like Kickstarter, a marvel of inexpensive, quality developments and parts is unfurling, accessible with the quickness just online news sources can offer. Little new businesses (or microbrands) are delivering compelling watches with capital raised by means of crowdfunding and online-just customer facing facades, limiting overhead that established brands actually bear. A whirlwind of online watch distributions cover a specific dispatch and unexpectedly another watch is conceived. While microbrand contributions are frequently considered as mediocre, modest watches put together in Asia, enough of these brands have outperformed the shame and developed into competent watch companies. An amazing model is Farer Universal, a microbrand of only a couple years that as of late delivered a threesome of one of a kind chronographs that can clash with established brands like Hamilton or Tissot. Committed business visionaries are working indefatigably to guide your consideration away from recognizable brands.

You don’t need to go with a microbrand to locate a quality yet modest mechanical watch. Brands like Seiko and Hamilton have extraordinary pieces for a couple hundred dollars, with some coming in under USD 200. Furthermore, similar to an established vehicle company, these brands have a set of experiences and notoriety that no microbrand can coordinate. Does that matter? In the event that an established player like Junghans, a brand of more than 150 years, delivers a watch with an ETA 7001 type, is it better than a microbrand piece with a similar development? As a rule, a microbrand’s little plan group can build up a fresher, all the more stylishly intriguing piece. Also, many are building their watches in Switzerland, Germany, France and other customary areas (all in all, not China). How about we take a gander at three comparisons among new and old brands, and see exactly how problematic this plan of action can be.

Junghans Meister Handaufzug vs. Farer Stanhope

In 2016, Junghans introduced the Meister Handaufzug , a hand-wound watch enlivened by a 1932 Maybach DS 8 Zeppelin. It was a super-extravagance vehicle at that point and just 25 exist overall today. The shades of the dial and tie coordinate the first vehicle’s cream, light dim and anthracite range, and the watch is an exceptional champion in Junghans’ Meister line. At the point when I as of late evaluated this watch, I presumed that the Junghans configuration group hit it out of the park.

The steel case is 37.7mm in width with a domed plexiglass precious stone that is blessed to receive be more scratch-safe than standard acrylic. While I’m normally killed by “plastic” gems, the remarkable character of the material functions admirably with this piece. The caseback has a sapphire show window showing a grounded ETA 7001 Peseux development. It has 17 gems, beats at 21,600vph (3Hz) with a 42-hour power hold. It’s a straightforward development with hours, minutes and little seconds, and is seen in numerous brands like Nomos, Stowa and even Blancpain.

Farer Universal, a microbrand that sold its first watch only a couple years prior, dispatched a progression of three hand-twisted watches in April of this current year. The Stanhope model, named after famous British wayfarer Lady Hester Stanhope, was the most well known and sold out in only four months. Like the Junghans Meister Handaufzug, it has an interesting, champion dial and noteworthy scrupulousness. Farer’s plan group went above and beyond by making a more complex dial and case.

Unlike the conventional round case from Junghans, Farer created a compact pad case that is 37mm in breadth with sapphire precious stones on both the front and back. The dial is the superstar, given different layers, tones and surfaces. A piquet finished fundamental dial has little indents around its edge for every hour and a punched area for the recessed seconds sub-dial. Cleaned numerals and mallet sit on this finished area, while the external second layer of the dial is dull blue. Raised markers with Super-LumiNova mark the hours on the peripheral border and everything combines into a misleadingly complex tasteful. A similar ETA 7001 type from the Junghans Meister powers the Stanhope.

Is one better than the other? That is an extreme inquiry to reply. I feel that both are on a similar battleground, in spite of Junghans having over 150 years of involvement behind it. This is a serious accomplishment for Farer, delivering a refined, competitive watch in a particularly brief time of presence. Costs for the two are genuinely comparable, with the Junghans Meister Handaufzug selling for USD 1,295 and the Farer Stanhope selling for USD 1,175. Is the Junghans worth an extra USD 120? I’m certain there are a great deal of feelings out there, yet for my situation, I would just pick the piece I’m more enthused about. The value contrast and company accounts will mean more to some than others, however I wouldn’t consider both of them a drawn out monetary investment.

Hamilton Khaki Field Auto vs. Mercer Airfoil

Hamilton was once an incredible American watch brand, established in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1892. It was purchased by Buren Watch Company of Switzerland in 1966 and Hamilton halted all US tasks in 1969. Despite the fact that it is currently important for the Swatch Group, its extraordinary style and character have persevered through the acquisitions and is among the most conspicuous watch brands today. The Khaki Field assortment has an unmistakable military stylish and is intended for the “gutsy, dynamic wearer.”

Cases range in size from 38mm to 42mm with dials highlighting lume-filled numerals crossing the edge, while a 24-hour track sits inside. The hour and moment hands are additionally loaded up with lume, alongside the tip of the central seconds hand. A date window sits at 3 o’clock, complemented with a printed outline (some have day and date complications). The general look is immortal and lively, and the round hardened steel cases have a combination of brushed and cleaned components (water-impervious to 100m). The thumping heart of (most) Khaki Field Auto watches is a Hamilton H-10 type, which is a somewhat adjusted ETA C07.111 development. It has 25 gems, beats at 21,600vph (3Hz) with a sizeable 80-hour power hold. A presentation caseback flaunts the H-10 with a brightened rotor. Both front and back gems are likewise sapphire. For what reason did I incorporate the Khaki Field Auto arrangement and not a specific model? It shows how much more extensive an established brand’s arrangement can be (I’ll get to this later).

Mercer Watch Company is situated in Princeton, New Jersey and sold its first watch in 2014 (controlled by a Miyota 9015 programmed). I as of late explored the  Lexington Chronograph , which has a hand-wound Seagull ST1901 development and left intrigued. Probably the most recent watch is the leader Airfoil, a pilot watch donning either a matte dark or white dial. The 40mm treated steel case coordinates the distance across of the 40mm Hamilton Khaki Field Auto and is likewise water-impervious to 100m. There are sapphire gems on the front and back also. Applied lists and numerals length the border of the dial with an unframed date window at 6 o’clock (coordinating the dial tone). A dark moment track traverses the peripheral border (standing out pleasantly from the white dial) and cycle 5-minute markers, the applied lists and hour and moment hands are loaded up with lume. Clarity is brilliant on both the Airfoil and Khaki Field Autos, albeit the white Airfoil appears to have the best contrast.

A Swiss Sellita SW200 programmed powers the watch and has 26 gems, beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) with a 38-hour power save. The development is essentially an ETA 2824 yet is more available to more modest brands as the Swatch Group has restricted ETA development supply. Mercer improved the rotor with blue Geneva stripes with MERCER engraved toward the end, likewise filled in with blue. Comparing the Sellita SW200 to Hamilton’s ETA C07.111 is fascinating. The Sellita beats at 4Hz compared to the ETA’s 3Hz, yet the ETA has a 80-hour power hold, more than twofold the Sellita’s 38-hour save. A specific Hamilton Khaki Field Auto in 40mm has an ETA 2834-2, which additionally beats at 4Hz, yet with a similar 38-hour power hold as the Sellita. Nobody appears to have a reasonable advantage.

Unlike the Junghans and Farer comparison, the microbrand has the more costly piece, in spite of the fact that Hamilton’s a lot bigger choice of Khaki Field Autos have costs moving to USD 995. The Mercer Airfoil sells for USD 649 (down from a new USD 799 cost), while the Hamilton Khaki Field Auto sells for USD 575 in 42mm and as low as USD 545 in 40mm. I’m a major Hamilton fan and have consistently preferred its military-roused line, yet I discover the Mercer Airfoil a seriously intriguing piece. The USD 74 value distinction, as far as I might be concerned, isn’t a factor. In only four years (like Farer), Mercer has created a watch that can compete with an old veteran like Hamilton.

Seiko Prospex “Turtle” vs. Fixed Aqua

Seiko, similar to Hamilton, is among the most conspicuous watch brands on the planet. Established in 1881, it wasn’t until 1892 that the company delivered its first timekeepers under the name, Seikosha. In 1924, Seiko delivered its first wristwatches and after 45 years in 1969, made the Astron, which was the main creation quartz watch (with a sticker price coordinating a medium size vehicle). Albeit not a general incentive today like Timex, it has a tremendous arrangement of very much estimated watches. Seiko additionally conveys extravagance and restricted release watches that can arrive at more than USD 50,000. The absolute best plunge watches at any cost are from Seiko and its Prospex arrangement is mainstream. Select ones, similar to the Prospex Diver 300m Hi-Beat SLA025 , have particular developments that beat at 36,000vph (5Hz) and a value north of USD 5,000. Unmistakably not for everyone.

The Seiko Prospex Turtle, notwithstanding, is a plunge watch at the majority with a cost under USD 500. It sports a sizeable 45mm hardened steel case that is water-impervious to 200m and a screw-down crown set at 4 o’clock. Huge, LumiBrite-filled hands and records against a matte dark or sunburst blue dial give great neatness both above and underneath the water. Seiko’s LumiBrite is among the awesome both splendor and perseverance and is a top pick for jumpers. It can even be included with a blue and red “Pepsi” bezel with the red denoting the initial twenty minutes of the hour long scale. The dark silicone tie or steel wristband completes its straightforward vibe and it’s a sleek device for the two jumpers and anybody searching for an energetic piece.

The development in the Prospex Turtle is a Seiko type 4R36 programmed. It has 24 gems, beats at 21,600vph (3Hz) with a 41-hour power hold. It includes a day and date complication with focal hour, moment and seconds hands. Seiko’s in-house developments are dependable, functional and regularly inexpensive.

UNDONE is a microbrand situated in Hong Kong that works in customization. Established in 2014 by Michael Young, the way of thinking of the brand is that extravagance is about items being customized, not just having an attractive logo. Its  Aqua arrangement of jump watches includes a degree of customization that is practically overpowering. Case and bezel materials (not simply colors) can be picked, alongside more than 30 hand combinations, dial alternatives with or without date, and even a dark or white date show wheel on the development. The center highlights are a 43.5mm measurement case with a sapphire gem (and discretionary show caseback), 200m water-obstruction and tank-like strength. There is a particularly comprehensive degree of customization that it’s difficult to portray the arrangement in more explicit terms. In my new survey, I said that the Aqua helped me to remember a vintage barometrical jumping suit. Substantial, modern and simply asking to be submerged.

A Seiko NH35A type programmed drives the arrangement, making this an intriguing comparison to the Seiko Prospex Turtle. This development has 24 gems, beats at 21,600vph (3Hz) with a 40-hour power save. Sound natural? Those specs are practically indistinguishable from the Seiko type 4R36 in the Prospex, albeit not exactly as precise. It’s as yet a hearty, solid and workable Seiko movement.

Prices are genuinely comparable with the Undone Aqua beginning at USD 475 and the Seiko Prospex Turtle selling for USD 495. This makes an intriguing predicament. Do you need a refined, straightforward at this point slick jump watch from a celebrated brand? Or then again would you rather construct your own jump watch with alternatives so profound that even components of the development can be changed? In any case, you’re getting the dependability of Seiko and a similar 200m water-opposition. For this situation, I would by and by go with the Prospex Turtle as I think that its a more refined, stylishly satisfying piece. Be that as it may, I’m actually dazzled with what UNDONE is offering and would joyfully wear an Aqua.


I’ve arrived at three resolutions from these comparisons. Above all else, microbrands have the devices expected to successfully plan and produce watches that can, now and again, really compete with established brands. For instance, I wouldn’t say that the Junghans Meister Handaufzug is better than the Farer Stanhope to the extent plan, generally quality and dependability are concerned. I would say that set of experiences and provenance have (saw) esteem, nonetheless, and are things just the established players can guarantee – notwithstanding one significant factor: these established brands are… established! In this manner, they can undoubtedly bring true serenity with regards to guarantee and after-deals service.

My second end is that established brands can compete on cost with microbrands, regardless of the more youthful companies’ utilization of online-just customer facing facades, restricted creation runs and crowdfunding efforts. You can without much of a stretch locate another Seiko 5 arrangement programmed piece for around USD 100. That simply blows my mind.

My last end wraps up the point I began with. How problematic are microbrands in the business? My answer – Not problematic by any means. Pause, what? Allow me to clarify. Regardless of the competitiveness with both quality and cost, microbrands essentially don’t have the way to adequately mass produce and market watches like the major leaguers. You can discover Hamilton, Seiko and Junghans watches at a huge number of retailers around the planet. Their involvement in stockpile chains, promoting and large scale manufacturing will overpower even the most certain of microbrands. James Bond wore a Seiko, all things considered. Who wore a Mercer? That being said, you need to begin some place and fruitful microbrands will develop into established brands as it were. In the following decade, Farer could be a genuine amazing powerhouse. Until further notice, watch lovers can wander into the universe of microbrands and locate an interesting, top notch piece that their companions presumably will not have. Be that as it may, the established players will not lose any sleep.