The Allure of Independent Watchmaking
As children grow up they seek to cut the ties to mother’s apron strings and go their own way in the world. Indeed, all adolescents yearn for independence.
The same is true for many watchmakers working for large established watch marques. They often reach a stage where they wish to express their own thoughts and ideas and as a result, choose to become independent watchmakers.
Unlike the main watchmaking brands, independents don’t subscribe to focus groups, instead their new watches are born of gut instinct. They craft timepieces not because a market segment dictates they do so, but rather because their passion for innovation drives them to imagine and create the unthinkable.
On the other side of the coin is a group of buyers who choose not to purchase a ‘safe option’, but wish to explore timepieces which confer individuality and express free thought.
Who are these independents? Akrivia, Andreas Strehler, HYT, Hautlence, Laurent Ferrier, Louis Moinet, MCT H. Moser & Cie, MB&F and Urwerk to name but a few.
Urwerk eschews conventional hour and minute hands, choosing instead to use rotating ‘satellites’ to convey the time. Each of three satellites takes turn to display the hour. Meanwhile, the minutes are shown by the satellite in play moving against a minute track and, in so doing, displaying the time.
HYT chooses to impart time using a combination of liquids, pumped around the circumference of the dial. Where a coloured liquid meets a clear liquid a meniscus is formed, denoting the prevailing hour. Minutes are typically presented on a separate sub dial. However, while modernity and innovation are wholeheartedly embraced, clarity and ease of use are delivered in abundance. Indeed, wearing an HYT timepiece begs the question, ‘why has this idea not been done before?’
Andreas Strehler looked to the heavens for his inspiration when crafting his Sauterelle à lune timepiece, with ‘a phase of the moon indication with a precision of one day in two million years’. However, beyond this impressive technical feat, the watch possesses flawless finishing and a distinctive case shape like no other.
And last, but by no means least, there is MCT which uses the mechanical manoeuvres of four prisms to proclaim the hours. Each prism takes its turn to enunciate the hour with perfect diction. Meanwhile, a minute track gracing the periphery of the dial, together with a sole hand pronounces the minutes with neoteric flair.
Independent watchmaking may not be for everyone, but if you choose to be different and you find enjoyment in personally knowing the creators of your watch, then the world of independent watchmaking may well be for you.