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In full disclosure I, Ariel Adams of aBlogtoWatch, am involved with a new business called In this article I am going to tell you the basics of what that website is, what prompted me to come up with the idea, and why I am involved as one of the founders. This is probably the last time you’ll hear about from me via editorial on aBlogtoWatch. In the future when you hear about what’s going on with Independent Watches, it won’t be in my voice and will be via an advertisement (where messages like that belong). will primarily be a discovery platform for lower-production, independently-owned watch brands with a direct-to-consumer online sales model. Small watch brands around the world are started by passionate collectors who get the inspiration (and courage) to make their own products. If you think like these typically interesting entrepreneurs, then you’ll tend to like their watches as well. Why is that? Because they are usually in this business to make the watches they personally want to wear. I suppose that is what really distinguishes the types of products is all about promoting – products made by watch lovers for watch lovers as opposed to someone who has heard “there is cash to be made in fashion watches.” & The Promotion Of Enthusiast-Founded Watch Brands Featured Articles & The Promotion Of Enthusiast-Founded Watch Brands Featured Articles won’t serve as a store for these brands but rather a marketplace and discovery engine helping consumers who are seeking these types of products. What do I mean by marketplace? will not earn money each time a watch sells. In fact, the watches in the marketplace aren’t even sold via Independent Watches but rather, when a consumer wants to buy something they are directed immediately to the brand’s own product check out page. will charge reasonable, flat monthly rates for the brands it invites into the marketplace and will earn the same revenue if a brand sells 5 or 50 watches per a month.

The goal of is to alleviate the ongoing complexity and concern of marketing for enthusiast-driven small watch brands so that they can focus on making more and better watches. Our hope is that people who love watches by boutique, independent brands priced on average from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand will come to as a destination to learn about new brands and products that are pre-vetted for quality and legitimacy by the team.

Are we talking about so-called “micro brands?” Maybe, but I don’t personally like that term. In the context of the wristwatch world, the phrase “micro brand” has often been used to define start-up brands who sell watches via websites and who use blogs and social media to spread word of their products. I don’t know the difference between a small and mini brand, or a micro or boutique brand. I’m not sure any of these sayings are anything more than a literary remark on how to compare these brands with bigger, corporate owned ones. & The Promotion Of Enthusiast-Founded Watch Brands Featured Articles & The Promotion Of Enthusiast-Founded Watch Brands Featured Articles

I prefer to define these brands by two things. First is production numbers which are usually in the few dozen to few hundred (or even thousand) watches per year. Second is what I talked about before, and that is to consider who started the brand. Is that person a watch lover themselves? Were they in some form or another an experienced and accomplished collector prior to starting a brand? Was their primary intention to produce a watch with a design that they wanted to wear, or at a price they felt something should cost? If you can say “yes” to most of these questions, then let’s just call it an enthusiast-founded watch brand that sells direct to consumers online.

This article serves to officially launch to an audience, and is an invite for you to explore it and watch it grow. We’ve built and tested the platform and over the next few months will continue to add brands. We invite you to sign up for the newsletter if you want to hear about all the new watches and brands that will participate on the platform, and can of course give us feedback about functionality and desired future features. A quick note as well in regard to the future size of the marketplace – it will never get above more than a few dozen brands. At some point Independent Watches will designate the marketplace as being “full” in order to preserve the viability of the customer browsing experience. For new brands to enter, we will need to ask others to leave. & The Promotion Of Enthusiast-Founded Watch Brands Featured Articles

Let me end by telling you who is involved with the management and operation of In addition to myself (founder of aBlogtoWatch along with my other accolades) the founding team includes Richard Paige (watchmaker, watch designer, accomplished watch retailer, and founder of, and Mark Carson (watch designer, small watch brand founder, software developer, and long-time aBlogtoWatch community leader). If you find that you like what you see with and want to help in one way or another, we’d love to hear from you when you feel the time is right.

I know that I’m pretty good at making it clear when I don’t feel part of the watch industry is being operated or managed correctly. I probably won’t stop being a professional critic, but as much as possible moving forward I am going to be agreeing to opportunities where I can practice what I preach and help run businesses which keep watches interesting, fun, approachable, and honest.

The website again is

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  • Elijs Dima (@x2eliah)

    Soo, nit a bad concept, but.. from your editorials here and the stuff you’ve said on podcasts, it kinda always feels like you really don’t like independent / microbrand watches? So, like.. This feels like a very cynical move.

    • Just to play devil’s advocate, how does Ariel convey that he doesn’t like independent / microbrand watches? If you mean he doesn’t much care for a lot of the Kickstarter crud out there, then you are spot on. But if by support of interesting watches made by brands of all sizes, then he surely is a supporter. Cheers.

      • Bilal Khan

        What Mark said

      • Joe

        Not to play devil’s advocate myself but one of Richard’s watches was also once a Kickstarter 😉

        I think it’s ok for a watch (or let’s call it “a passion” or “an idea”) to begin as a Kickstarter. After all, it’s simply a democratic way of achieving practical funding.

        • You are absolutely correct. Two in fact: the “Crash of ’29” and the “Skyscraper” which Richard and I produced as joint venture projects. And as I said, a lot (not all) of the watches are Kickstarter are crud. In fact, every week people with KS projects approach aBlogtoWatch for doing Sponsored Posts – the vast majority of which are turned down by Ariel. Cheers.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Happy Birthday Mark.

        • Thanks Raymond – the big 65 this time.

          • Larry Holmack

            I was going to wish you a Happy Birthday on FB…but since I am here…Happy Birthday!

            I signed up on the site…looking forward to giving it the once over ASAP. Good Luck with the venture!

          • Thanks on both fronts Larry!

          • Yan Fin

            Happy Birthday Mark! Up to 120 feeling as 20!

          • Mikita

            Wow! Happy birthday, Mark! And best of luck with both projects!!

          • #The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

            Welcome to the club.

          • I still have the sense of humor of a 13 year old, but the physical form seems to be deteriorating a little every year.

  • SuperStrapper

    Best of luck in the new venture.

  • error406

    As a fan of independent / microbrand watches I really want to like it, but…. That is one badly designed website. And I don’t just mean it’s ugly, although the visual design is only one step above that of a local mattress store flyer. Zero effort has been put into the UX or UI of the whole thing. It looks cheap and is unpleasant to use.

    • Sorry you don’t like it. In fact, we used an outside designer and spent well over a year in the development phase. Our goal has been to make finding watches easier rather than the “glossy” look that some websites use but hinder actual navigation/search. If you have specific suggestions, please let me know as we strive to improve the experience at every opportunity. Cheers.

  • Tea Hound

    I think the logo looks like a coiled phone line, and the whole site looks very old fashioned somehow – far more than ABTW; that blue and grey combination is very insurance company corporate, and that’s not a good look. But the site itself is a good idea; a Hodinkee for the lower orders, if you like.

    • Our designer offered this logo among 3 options (actually more). We liked this one as the “W” is intentionally meant to suggest a coiled spring (which we appreciate as a watch thing). We kicked around other colorways but we didn’t want the logo to demand more attention than the watches themselves. Yeah, blue and gray is conservative but we are hoping to inspire trust and confidence so we went this way. Cheers.

  • Epictime

    I like the concept and appreciate the transparency BUT:
    I can’t create a new account on the NEW website because it says “email already in use”. When I click on “reset password” it just comes back to the same screen with my info deleted. And I received no email to Inbox, Junk, Clutter, etc.
    Seems I am not up to the challenge of becoming a member of this new site.

  • Steve Bowden

    Congrats to all for the launch of ‘Independent Watches’. I just signed up!! 🙂

    • Are you a large African animal, ha ha? Glad to have you onboard.

      • Steve Bowden

        Why Yes I am! For more on my not-so-secret identity, check out !!!

        • Cool – I did not want to “out” your identity without your permission 🙂

          • Steve Bowden

            It’s quite alright. It’s hard to keep one’s identity secret when the whole herd knows about it.

          • Funny stuff on your website. But then I enjoy the Onion now and then too.

          • Steve Bowden

            Thank you! To be compared to The Onion is quite the compliment!

      • Robert Scorpio

        He’s the type of animal that has a beak….I mean…a bill.

  • Great idea Guys! Just joined. Glad to see Bill Yao is participating. I have a couple more you should look at if you’re trying to gain more brands.

    • Thanks Mark – we welcome your brand suggestions.

  • Mark Flanagan

    I’d like to have a desktop view on the site please. I just tried the ‘request desktop view’ command on iOS 11 and it didn’t do anything. I rarely look at websites on my iPhone that don’t have a desktop view. Mark F

    • The website should present in desktop mode based on screen size/resolution. Do you have your browser window full size? The website will sometimes “think” it’s on a mobile device if the browser window is below a certain pixel width. I hope this helps. If not, let me know:

  • Ex-Ex-Pat

    Love the concept. Not sure the design choice evokes what I would have envisioned as the brand personality, but that’s a personal creative choice. Two suggestions:

    It’d be great to show more options for a given brand. Love seeing Laco on there, but only one of their highest priced options is shown. Even adding an un-artificially aged option or at least the other size/movement options for the erbstuck would be great.

    Second, given the intent of the website, it’d be great to see a more clear vision or customer value proposition statement front and center on the landing page. What’s there now is not as clear as this article. Without this, a customer has to dig around a bit for this on what might otherwise appear to be just another small business website. Given this is your differentiator, it should be as clear as possible.

    • Thanks for the feedback. As we just starting, a number of the brands have a single watch (more of a placeholder) listed at the moment. Our challenge (behind the scenes) is to gather than specs and images so we can list current offerings from the brands we are working with. Often the case is that a smaller brand focuses on the actual watchmaking (rightfully so) and it’s a distraction for them to spend time on websites (their own or ours). But we will work with them to flesh out the listings. Stay tuned!

  • Rollin Crittendon

    I like the logo, for whatever that is worth. It is an acronym and metaphor wrapped into one. The design of the site gives deference to the watches, a good thing. I assume over time tweaks etc will make the site its own. Personally, I find page load time most important, especially on a phone or tablet. I loathe a page being so loaded that my phone turns into a hand warmer.

    The advanced search is very effective, no-nonsense.

    Two nit-picks… On MKII the price is not listing. Also I wonder if the specs could have more meta-data for fields like bezel material.

    For someone who wants to go independent but does not have a 50k(enter currency here) this is great. It is a seal-of-approval of sorts. Something like brand reviews, or product impressions, star ratings, might be nice to. That being said, I think the focus on the fundamentals first is key.

    I give this an A-, with potential to be an A as lessons are learned and applied.

    • Thanks. And we are working with Bill Yao at MKII at the moment for more info and listing more of his watches. But thanks for noting the omission.

      We have fields for certain watch specs which are common to most watches. So look for things like bezel material in the description section of a listed watch. But that is a good idea and something we can consider adding to the back-end set of fields.


  • Mitko Dimitrov

    I think that this venture is great opportunity for enthusiasts like me! And a good niche for the founders – good call in a good time!

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Signed up and looking forward to exploring the site and watching it’s evolution.
    Just out of interest , where is the login page background taken?
    Awful lot of moaning minnies in here, give the guys a chance!
    Well done.

    • I used vacation photos (to steer clear of copyright issues) for the background on a few of the support pages. The login page uses a photo I took looking at the surrounding countryside from Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria. The lake is the Forggensee and the town is Fussen. The Terms and Conditions page has a shot I took at Pont du Gard in southern France.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        I can’t help but feel scenes of the highland of Scotland would have been more dramatic but maybe I’m just a little biased.( provided copyright free of course ) 🙂

        • Hey thanks Raymond. Feel free to send me a couple of high resolution (HD size would be best: 1920 x 1080) images and we will work them in as we develop/revise support pages. Cheers.

          • Spangles

            “Wow, that Mark Carson watch really pops against the soul-destroyingly drab background that emanates boredom and mold spores. I’ll order one!”

            I kid, I kid! I hope you have some Scotland-framed shots and I look forward to checking out the website. Best wishes!

          • Mold spores are an extra cost option available at check-out., ha ha.

    • Ex-Ex-Pat

      Agree it is well done and highly interesting. I think some of us are just type A’s that tend to give lots of opinions. Maybe sometimes it’s just better to acknowledge the good and leave the opinions to the side. I for one didn’t mean to detract from what looks to be a phenomenal resource for both watch collectors and micro brands alike.

  • R Ramki

    Very good idea, I do wish the website had a more modern slicker look instead of looking like a wiki page with a picture based search.

    Hoping to find a lot of interesting brands and watches through this portal

  • Rick

    On the technical specs of each watch, it would sure be helpful to see the lug length, not just the width, of each watch as that is important to determine how the watch will fit the wrist. I see it on some of the watches, but not on most. A pet peeve of mine that reviewers almost never put in this lug length measurement and I still can’t figure out why not. In any case, a very interesting idea and I will surely sign up for the newsletter and I wish you all excellent good fortune.

    • We do have a field on the back-end for overall length (lug to lug) and as you have noticed, some listed watches have a value there while others do not. This is an ongoing issue as we try to get complete specs from the brands on their offerings. Many of them have never been asked for this measurement, so they don’t already have it published on their own websites. This is the same challenge that ABTW watch review post writers face.

      But we are fully with you that this is an important number which effects purchases – especially online where you don’t typically try on a watch first. We will continue to press the watch brands we are working with for lug to lug length as well as other pertinent info. Cheers.

      • Rick

        Thank you for your informative reply, I appreciate that.

        • Our pleasure! As much as we enjoy working with watch brands, sometimes getting every little nugget of info can be challenging.

  • “For new brands to enter, we will need to ask others to leave.”

    I dont understand this business model. If you’re charging a flat fee to vendors, and you don’t earn any revenue on sales, how do you choose which manufacturer can no longer advertise with you? I can see a manufacturer who isn’t generating revenue from being on the site choosing to end the relationship, but I’ve never heard of an advertising platform arbitrarily doing it.

    Furthermore, WHY would you limit the number of manufacturers advertising on the site? “in order to preserve the viability of the customer browsing experience” is a throwaway line that doesn’t actually mean anything. If I’m a customer looking for independent brands, wouldn’t my ‘experience’ be better off with MORE options from MORE brands? Never once have I searched for a product and said to myself “If only I had fewer choices”.

    • We are really hoping to never ask a brand to leave. The point Ariel was trying to make is two fold:

      1) As you noted, if a brand is not a good fit and we are not really helping them or they no longer meet our criteria, then we will part ways.

      2) We will add brands but we will have a relationship based business with them, so the total should never be “A Thousand Brands”. We mention this as there are already websites popping up that list gazillions of brands but without any participation (and sometimes knowledge) by the watch brand. We want to avoid this “quantity over quality” dilemma. But we fully agree with you that more choice is better.

      As an example, I found out that my watch brand was listed on a website without my knowledge. They made no attempt to contact me nor list more than a single watch and without even the specs I list on my website.I appreciate that they were trying to have a large listing, but the quality of their content truly sucked. And with literally hundreds of poorly listed brands, there was no meaningful way to find what interested you as a watch buyer.This is what we are trying to avoid – even if we did not explain it very well in the post.


  • Sheez Gagoo

    Sounds promissing.

  • ProJ

    That’s really cool! I am probably gonna spend some time browsing over there.

  • M’ Lord

    Very interesting.

  • Boris N. Natasha

    i like the premise — it’s an underserved white space. has the potential for monetization a la Hodinkee Shop. but, the execution, …. NYET.

    because i’m new to ablogtowatch, and, not invested in the site, or any of the contributors, i think i have a more objective viewpoint and available candor. you need to revisit your ideation, co-creation, design thinking and business model. take a look at even this launch post, objectively.

    you may be experts in evaluating and reviewing watches, but, seriously, everything from the business model, to this launch post, to the website, just looks rushed, and not worthy of the audience, who Natasha thinks for the most part is being kind: tvoi podrugi.

    I’m just a guy who owns a few low end watches in your world — but, when you launch an endeavor, you now enter my world — where i have a particular set of skills. rethink everything.

    • Drazen B

      Just a suggestion, when English obviously isn’t your native language, stick with the simple writing style and words. Also start sentences with capital capital letters with some punctuation from time to time.

      • The Professor and Mary Ann

        You should have a colon instead of a comma after the word ‘suggestion.’

        • babola

          Not necessarily, ‘professor’.

          • The Professor and Mary Ann

            That was Mary Ann speaking?

      • Boris N. Natasha

        english is my first language — russian is an occupational hazard.

        i reserve capitalization for my capitalist business endeavors — i provided you with plenty of punctuation, for the greater good, pro bono; pajalsta!

    • babola

      I want my 3 minutes back…

      • Boris N. Natasha

        Natasha timed herself on her Poljot… it took her 26 seconds… just saying

    • cluedog12

      Right on the money. Rushed is the word that comes to mind.

      I really like browsing the Hodinkee Shop, but I did not feel it was a good comparison. Hodinkee obviously has a lot more money invested and are targeting big fish (ADs).

  • Jimi

    Just an FYI, I wanted to check out the site. Clicked on Dive watches. And saw the Raven Venture listed for $550. But when I go to Raven’s website they are listed for $650.

    • Sorry about that. We will update that – thanks for the heads-up.

      • Elijs Dima (@x2eliah)

        Ah. So you’re also a co-owner/employed. That explains the previous comment.

        • Yep, partners with my good friends Ariel and Richard on this project.

  • R La R

    Great idea. Good luck with the new venture.

  • Framlucasse

    Good idea. As I’ll launch two micro-brands in 4-6 weeks (Beaulieu & Airmarine), I’m very interested in this new offer. I’ll contact the site. 🙂

  • Harrystc

    As opposed to the other views, I think that aBlogtoWatch had covered some of this before and could still cover it in the future. Why do I need the public relations release of yet another ‘limited edition’ of a well-known watch? This should have been your mission all along in my view. I suspect there is a profit motive somewhere here that we are not being told about. But that is just me: always the skeptic. Why is this not easily covered in your present web site? As others have pointed out, I think we are getting half the story. Somewhere in all of this is an effort to monetize information or access ultimately at our expense.

    • Ariel Adams

      You are getting the whole story, no secrets, no hidden motives. is first and foremost a media and news site. Not a store or market place. I personally reject that idea that a media site should try to be more than that. is a marketplace and focused on connecting people with a specific type of watch as curated by the management (which includes me but others as well). The separation between the businesses is both logical and essential to the precise mission you’ve stated which is to keep everything transparent and clear.

      • Framlucasse

        I think it’s the good way do do it. As when a blog becomes a merchant, it can be difficult to maintain impartiality, or to demonstrate that it is done.

      • Tõnis Leissoo

        Yes, It was really hard for me to understand why Hodinkee is selling watches and now also Wei Koh went crazy and started selling watches on Revolution. I really don’t understand why they are mixing those things. I don’t know any other News site or magazine that is selling something. Imagine if Autoblog would start selling cars from selected manufacturers. I would not believe that the reviews of those cars would be objective after that.

        • Framlucasse

          The reason why is very easy to find… 🙂

  • Tell the microbrands that we need more non-compromise ceramic bezel divers.

  • egznyc

    I definitely like the idea of having a place to learn about – and possibly purchase – some small independent brands and their watches. It’s not going to stop anyone from searching in the conventional manner (random jumping from reviews to sales sites and back again ad nauseum), but it just might give some of us access to brands we hadn’t really heard about before.

    I am not sure I like the five categories; perhaps a couple more categories (e.g., dress watches) would help. But the biggest question is how you’d define the common themes of those brands you would partner with, or is it simply brands whose watches you felt offered good value and functioned ethically? (And, if you’re interested in brands to consider, let us know.)

  • Spangles

    Well, good luck with this, it seems like a good idea.

  • Tõnis Leissoo

    I have couple of ideas from a brand owner perspective. I understand the idea of just a marketplace but in my view that has very little value and it’s hard to justify the fees you are asking. What would create value is an online store dedicated to independent brands which also takes care of some parts of customer support and distribution. For example, if you are located in California then it would be nice if you have distribution center also in California and a service center there. Most small brands use very common movements and it should be relatively easy to set up a service center which is able to fix ETA, Seiko and Miyota movements. This would allow small European brands to expand their business to US. My biggest concern about shipping and selling overseas is the fact that it’s quite difficult for the customer to send the watches back to service. Customs fees and VAT maybe be applied during shipping the watch back and forward overseas and it’s very time consuming to do so. If your site would also cover the front-line customer service it would have a great value for smaller brands. I mean answering to the easy questions like “how long are the lugs” or how to wind the watch. Maybe it’s possible for you to think in that direction and add some Premium services in the future.

    • Thanks for the suggestions. I do find it curious that you question the value proposition since there is zero additional cost to watch buyers and we have not made public our pricing for watch brands. But whatever…

      Your idea of doing service in the U.S. for non-U.S watches (or vice versa, a European service center for non-European made watches) is very interesting. Beyond movement parts which are available world-wide, we could have unique parts from the brands flown into a service center where we would perform the repairs – and as you noted, this would reduce shipping costs and avoid customs and duty of complete watches. We could not doubt designate a U.S. brand we work with and also a European brand to do the work in their respective areas. In the U.S. this would be a no-brainer as Richard and I both have qualified watchmakers on staff. Brands would have to OK having warranty work done by another brand, but with a little cooperation (and money changing hands), all things are possible. Post warranty work would not require direct participation from the manufacturing brand outside of parts and possible technical assistance. 🙂

      • Tõnis Leissoo

        The value proposition was a question just based on assumptions and experience with other marketplaces. After all, you are running it as a business and you need to benefit from that. I like that you like the service center idea. For me, it would have a huge value and of course it would have a value for my customers.

        • Sure, we will be charging brands (later on) to be on the marketplace. But at the end of the day, if we are not generating additional sales for them that net them more profit than not being with us, then we would not expect them to stay with us in the long haul. Cheers.

          • Tõnis Leissoo

            What are the plans for making this marketplace widely known and popular among watch lovers?

          • We are working on it 🙂 More to follow in the weeks ahead…

  • cluedog12

    I appreciate the transparency Ariel.

    The independent scene is a bit of a Wild West. I don’t think there’s any way to effectively curate the entire scene, as it seems there are a few existing sites that have their own little fiefdoms already. It would be hard to become THE reference stop for independent watches, but you can aim to become an important stop for independent watch shopping.

    One independent brand I happen to know and like is NTH, so I followed that rabbit hole and landed up at That’s basically, but different brands. I think you should benchmark their e-commerce experience, because it feels more “professional”. They could be drop shipping those orders for all I care, but because you complete the transaction on the site, it looks like they’ve got skin in the game. The reinforces the idea that the watches are carefully chosen, not just the brands. Seiya Japan is another example, albeit not independent watches. I’ve bought from him, back in 2008. Bottom line is that there are a ton of these sites and it’s all about the watches you’re selling and who comes to your site looking for particular brands.

    I think you should actually keep the number of brands to a dozen or so and focus on drumming up passion for the best watches from each brand.

    Good luck.

  • Harrystc

    I beg to differ, with due respect. I do not see this as transparent, but embryonic. This company has to make a profit. If there is no disclosure of the charge to a micro brand to advertise then we do not have the whole story yet. Maybe you all do not have this fine tuned. Clearly though things have changed. Offering a service of advising a potential buyer about the providence or improvidence of buying a certain watch and charging that buyer $300 per month for the consulting is a change in your business model, as we watch fans have come to know it.

    Certainly collectors of art have used consultants to seek and find art. Sometimes the collector pays a fee based upon the ultimate cost of the art, and sometimes they pay a retainer, much like a company may have a law firm on retainer. However, here we have one of the leading web sites for watch enthusiasts doing the same thing by wearing two hats. One has to wonder about the possible conflict of interest when an opinion site also sells advertising and/or advice about buying and presumably selling watches.

    There is an old saying that my late grandmother used to use ( which I am translating loosely into English here): if you want to dance simultaneously at two weddings you need two rear ends.

    • i think perhaps you are mistaking this post with the Aprils Fools Day gag post (where you can be told which watches to like for $300 per month). The business model for is advertising based where watch brands pay for exposure. There is absolutely zero additional cost to watch buyers. And it is clearly a commercial website which is why it is NOT part of which is a news website. Cheers.