Autodromo Group B with some ’80s rally racing design elements.

People who buy watches also know that most personalities can’t stomach the same edgy, artistic watches on a daily basis. Thus, most art watches are purchased for occasional (not regular) wear. This means people don’t have an incentive to spend too much money on things they aren’t going to use too often. It is another reason that much lower-priced artistic watches are appealing, even to people who typically spend a lot more money on watches they wear on a regular basis.

Given that artistic watches from bigger brands can be so expensive, lower-priced options are appealing for collectors of all budget levels, and are a great reason why watch collectors are interested in micro brands.

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Vintage chronograph design meets car racing styling elements in the Straton Watch Co. Syncro.

To Test Common Styles & Designs

Spending several thousand dollars on something you plan on wearing is a serious investment no matter who you are. Even putting a watch on your wrist for a few minutes is often not enough to know how you’d feel wearing it for days, weeks, or months on end. So perhaps it is a good thing that the products of so many micro brands “faithfully” resemble products by larger brands.

Homages to popular watches are friends to people looking to experiment with designs that they plan on spending more money on. They’re also great for discovering if they are designs they can live with. This is a great way to fund the operation of a fellow watch lover who has decided to incorporate a little entrepreneurial spirit into their hobby, while at the same time being able to test how a lot of common designs, styles, sizes, materials, shapes, etc. look on your wrist.

A great example is the Rolex Submariner. Averaging about $8,000 brand new, getting one is a big purchase for many. There are however loads of look-alike watches from micro brands who seek to benefit from the iconic look. With a little luck, you can find a watch that is relatively similar in overall design to a real Submariner (with its own micro brand style quirks) and have a better idea of whether or not spending Rolex money is a good idea.

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Raven Trekker 40, one of the many micro-brand alternatives to well-known luxury dive watches.

Mainstream Watches Are So Damn Expensive

With prices averaging a few hundred to a few thousands dollars, micro brand watches are simply more affordable than those which typically cost many times as much offered by the bigger brands. Yes, your mainstream luxury watch will come with better overall quality, design, packaging, service, residual values, etc., but it will also cost you at least several thousand dollars more. That’s a lot of money for many people, and what makes it worse is that watch collecting as a hobby tends to be addictive.

Many watch lovers are happy to spend a few thousand dollars on occasion to purchase a special timepiece from a valued brand they have been eyeing. What they also like to do is spend lower amounts of money feeding their need for variety with watches from micro brands. It is possible to get several if not more watches produced by micro brands for the price of just one mainstream luxury watch.

It is likely that if mainstream watch prices went down, then sales will increase, which could hurt the popularity of micro brands. That isn’t likely to happen in my opinion. Even if luxury watch prices go down, a lot the value of micro brand timepieces is still very much there.

Giuliano Mazzuoli Carrara with a case in marble.

To Support The Hands-On Fellow Watch Enthusiast

As I mentioned already, the people who start micro watch brands started out as watch lovers just like the people who they are trying to sell stuff to. In fact, another way to help define micro brands is to specify that, at least at first, they are specifically marketed toward people who are at least interested in watches enough to dedicate a big part of their time to reading about new ones.

To be a watch lover turned watch maker, you need to make a significant time investment, and probably even a major financial one. Even with the affordability of having a supplier in Asia more or less produce the entire product for you, there are huge amounts of work to be done first to ensure a satisfactory product that works well is even produced, and second, that you can manage the logistics of a business. People who dedicate themselves both as consumers but also as business people tend to be good for industry economies because it means having more people involved in something that we all love.


Bead-blasted case, great legibility and excellent lume on this Squale Ocean Blasted.

In other words, the more diverse business interest there is in an industry, the healthier it is because there are more strong opinions and initiatives to introduce chance, fix problems, experiment with new ideas, and to help broaden mainstream awareness. So the next time you see someone like you who really enjoys watches, and has taken the next step to actually be part of the “watch economy,” think about how that makes the universe of your interest even more interesting and dynamic. Once in a while, think about supporting one of those small operations, because not only might you get a watch you’ll like, but it will pave the way for even better micro brand watches in the future.

Rpaige Crash Of ’29, designed by Mark Carson, revives the uniquely beautiful aesthetics of art deco.

Because You Never Know Who Will Get Famous

Talent scouts are individuals who try to find people with marketable skills or qualities before those skills or qualities make them any real money. Talent scouts exist in most artistic industries, including the watch industry. Consumers are also talent scouts but they vote with their wallets. Finding a great artist before they “get big” is typically the best way to get their stuff for an affordable price.

Speculative consumerism allows people to predict what types of products, brands, or artists will enjoy increased success in the future. The same can apply to micro brands, because who knows who will end up being a famous artist or watch maker in the future that happened to choose watches as one of their passions along the way?

Rare and unique: the Alexander Shorokhoff Avantgarde Lefty automatic chronograph.

It might seem farfetched to some, but doesn’t it seem logical that in the future the better micro brand watches will become collectible? They have a story, individuality, and rarity – what else could you ask for in a potential collectible? More so, the better micro brand owners could be future big brand owners. No it isn’t likely that any of these people are going to start the next Rolex, but it is possible that some of their designs might grow in popularity and become a classic. If that happens, don’t you want to be one of the first people to discover them?

…And in closing something from a crazy high-end micro-brand: the Emmanuel Bouchet Complication One.

Watches and art overall are terribly expensive places to be a speculative collector, especially when it comes to mainstream products. With micro brand watches, consumers can enjoy far lower-priced levels of exclusivity and design originality. Sure there is a lot of risk that most of these watches will not be worth much in the future, but part of the fun is in knowing that at least a small percentage of it will be. More so, at prices that are typically just a few hundred bucks, the pain on your wallet for each “I believe in this guy” purchase is going to be a lot less than getting a watch from the name of an “old European house.”

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