These days, you’ll see a lot of smaller brands or “microbrands” put out by people who are passionate about the art of watchmaking.
These brands are not run by massive companies but instead by a single individual or a small team. If you want to learn more about microbrands, it’s highly recommended to check out our previous writeup about the best microbrand dive watches.
For today’s post, we take a look at the best microbrand watches that you can find in the market today.
Best Microbrand Watches
|Halios Seaforth||41mm steel-cased watch, 200m water resistance, Domed sapphire crystal, C3 SuperLuminova, GMT bezel, Miyota 90S5 movement, Beveled lugs||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Aevig Corvid||Bauhaus influence, Bold mono spaced numbers, Swiss STP 1-11 movement, Water resistance up to 200 meters, Swiss Luminova, Pullup oiled leather strap||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Pantor Seahorse||Miyota 9015 Japanese automatic movement, 316L stainless steel with brushed finish, Sapphire crystal, Swiss C3 SuperLumiNova, 24mm with 15pcs links separately and 6 step micro adjustment, 40 hours power reserve||★ ★ ★ ★ ½|
|Farer Cobb||316L high grade stainless steel, Brushed bezel with polished edge, Matte night-sky blue dial, Super-LumiNova infill, Solid bronze straight crown, Anti-reflective domed sapphire crystal, 10ATM water resistance||★ ★ ★ ★ ½|
|Marchand Legacy||High quality Japan Miyota 9015 movement, Carbon fiber dial, High grade stainless steel, 42mm diameter, 10 ATM (100M) water resistant||★ ★ ★ ★|
|Oak & Oscar Humboldt||40mm diameter, Stainless steel, Super-LumiNova BGW9 lume, Multiple bracelet options, Double-domed sapphire crystal with AR coating, Comes with a waxed canvas travel wallet||★ ★ ★ ★|
Best Microbrand Watches
1. Halios Seaforth
Halios is a brand that I have recently discovered and I must say that I am very impressed. This microbrand is known for its dive watches and its most famous offering is the Halios Seaforth.
Big Value Dive Watch
Halios and its flagship Seaforth diver watch have risen to fame on the internet. The brand is basically a one-man operation of Jason Lim out of Vancouver, Canada. It’s a passion project that attracted a lot of attention from the watch community.
It’s a good thing that Lim had an impeccable taste.
The Seaforth is a 41mm steel-cased watch that offers 200m of water resistance and protected with a domed sapphire crystal. If you are a fan of svelte minimal aesthetic, the Halios Seaforth warrants a well-deserved look from you.
Most of the heavy lifting is done by the dial and bezel. The combination of the brushed finish and expanding polished bevel on the lug adds up to an elegant but somehow still casual timepiece. The dial is a bit on the low-key side but that depends on your choice of dial.
The baton indices and matching hands are fitted with C3 SuperLuminova and are outlined in bold black. The dial really does have an undeniable charm that just puts a smile on my face.
The Halios Seaforth is an excellent dive watch that’s under $1,000. It’s a big value proposition that dive watch fans can’t afford to miss.
2. Aevig Corvid
Aevig Corvid is another brand that recently came to my attention. If you are looking for a rugged field watch that offers no fuss, the Aevig Corvid comes highly recommended.
A Field Watch for Urban Warriors
Aevig has plenty of eye-catching timepieces in their stable but it’s the Aevig Corvid that really drawn my attention. Aevig describes the Corvid as a “no nonsense easy to read field watch” and I can only nod in agreement.
The Corvid is housed in a 40mm case which can be quite small by current standards. However, the watch has plenty of heft and its combined dimensions give the watch a substantial feel. The case is made from 316L stainless steel and it gets the job done of providing a solid feel to the watch.
I was not expecting much from the caseback but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a basic caseback but it has a block design which adds a great deal of character to the piece.
Of course, you can’t talk about this watch without mentioning the face. The dial reminds me of a vintage instrument panel found in early fighter planes. The dial features a metallic champagne color which adds more to the vintage look.
Moreover, the indices are all straight lines and topped with yellow orange circles for the hour hands. The dial looks clean and legible, and reminds me the best pilot watches out there. However, I was really thrown off with how the numbers are oriented.
Overall, the Aevig Corvid is elegant, simple, and offers good functionality.
3. Pantor Seahorse
Pantor is perhaps the oldest microbrand in this list. However, their track record continues to impress. The Pantor Seahorse is one of the best microband watches for the savvy diver.
A Dive Watch That Won’t Break the Bank
The Seahorse was released back in 2013 by the Hong Kong-based Pantor brand.
Just by looking at it, it’s quite clear that the Seahorse looks are inspired by the legendary Rolex Submariner. The watch’s face is in matte and is populated with circular and shield-shaped hour markers. The dial stands out for its simplicity and legibility. The overall design looks like it’s the illegitimate child of the Seiko Turtle.
The case is made from 316L surgical grade stainless steel with a brushed finish. One of the best design elements of the Seahorse is the recessed crown. This reminds me of the Girard-Perregaux Seahawk but with a less exaggerated approach.
Pro divers who are looking for an affordable dive watch that simply works will have a lot to like about the Seahorse. It is waterproof up to 1,000 meters and it even has extras like the automatic helium valve at 9H. The dial markers are lumed and they are sufficiently illuminated even when you are underwater.
The watch is powered by the reliable Miyota 9015 automatic movement which also helps in keeping the cost down. It’s hard to go wrong with a dive watch that offers great value and functionality.
4. Farer Cobb
Farer is a British microbrand company that offers Swiss-made timepieces. Even the most jaded watch snob has found it difficult to ignore what Farer has to offer. When it comes to the Farer lineup, the Farer Cobb mechanical watch is one of the standouts.
Microbrand Watch Luxury
Without a doubt, the Farer Cobb caught my eye because of its colorful aesthetic. When it comes to luxury watches, a healthy dose of colors would be viewed as experimental or avant-garde. It’s really not the case with Farer – a brand that doesn’t shy away from colors.
The Cobb is a watch with a striking blue dial. The shade is somewhat of a midnight blue which simply looks elegant. Then, your eyes move on to the subdials which are now aqua. Afterward, you notice the other colors like the yellow, red, and burnt orange.
Initially, this sounds like a mess on paper but Farer managed to nail all the design elements and colors without looking too garish. The execution is simply on-point.
The Cobb is a mechanical timepiece which happens to be a big step for the brand. The watch is powered with the ETA caliber 2894-2 movement which is more than a competent addition.
Lately, Farer has been knocking it out of the park with their offerings and the Cobb might just be my absolute favorite.
5. Marchand Legacy
Previously, microbrands mostly turned to crowdfunding platforms in order to have the money to get their passion project going. Most microbrands were funded via Kickstarter and that applies to the Marchand Watch Company. The Marchand Legacy is one of the many babies of crowdfunding.
Designed by Racers for Racers
Just by looking at the Marchand Legacy, you’ll know that it’s a racing-inspired watch. As if the iconic racing checkered flag on its face is not the biggest tell.
For starters, the case is made from high-grade stainless steel and the bezel is knurled but can’t be adjusted. It comes with a screw-down crown which is quite a surprise. The Legacy has a waterproof rating of 10ATM – not exactly a dive watch but it should be fine against the occasional splash.
The watch is powered by the Miyota 9015 movement which provides reliable timekeeping. In addition, the strap is also very high-quality and reminds me of a svelte leather racing car seat.
Last but not the least, the dial is obviously the star here and it’s interesting to note that it’s constructed with layers. The skeletonized minute hand is one of the most unique design elements of the Legacy. Of course, you can see that the center of the dial features a checkered flag in various colors.
To put it simply, the Marchand Legacy will have your hearts racing.
6. Oak & Oscar Humboldt
During the explosion of the microbrands, Chicago-based Oak & Oscar is one of the companies that made the watch folks stop and notice. The Oak & Oscar Humboldt is perhaps the best timepiece from the company and is worth including in this list of the best microbrand watches.
A Daily-Driver With a Story to Tell
Firstly, the Oak & Oscar Humboldt is a 40mm millimeter piece which means that it has medium thickness. I prefer to go with 42mm but for some reason, the Humboldt felt just right on the wrist.
The watch has a 20ATM water resistance rating which is a nice touch considering that it’s not even a dive watch. The rotating bezel is bi-directional and comes in handy for tracking an additional timezone. The dial is protected by a double-domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating.
The dial is actually a two-layer sandwich design which is an Oak & Oscar thing. Whether you get the watch in a blue or grey dial, you’ll end up with great-looking watch that you can wear almost everywhere. Night time use becomes possible with the Super-LumiNova BGW9 illumination. Also, the date window is located at the 6H which is another signature design element by the company.
Overall, the Humboldt is a distinct yet familiar effort from Oak & Oscar.
Microbrands Are Here to Stay
Thus, we’ve come to the end of our roundup of the best microbrand watches in the market.
Ultimately, the rise of microbrands excites many watch lovers.
As you can see, even independent companies can put out timepieces that are mind-blowingly good. Now, we’re not stuck with popular brands for our watch-collecting needs. After all, having more options is always a good thing.