The Best Watches By Independent Watchmakers In 2022
Indie watchmakers still amaze us with creativity, boldness and stunning craftsmanship.
At MONOCHROME, we love watches, watchmaking and the watchmaking industry as a whole. However, we can’t hide our passion for watches manufactured by small ateliers by watchmakers who create watches with their hands and soul. Known as “independent watchmaking“, these creative hubs provide a breath of fresh air to established brands. We continue our recap of the best watches launched in 2022, following the best chronographs, the best pilot’s watches and the best accessible timepieces. It is now time to take a look at what we think were the most impressive models released by indie watchmakers this year… And believe us, it wasn’t easy to come up with this selection!
Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance New Generation
The concept of resonance has long been the dream of watchmakers and physicists, which has proven to be extremely difficult to materialise. Many have tried to introduce resonance inside a clock, pocket watch or wristwatch, with irregular results. Until Armin Strom came up with the revolutionary Mirrored Force Resonance in 2016, conceptualised with an unprecedented resonance clutch spring. This year, the brand from Biel revamps its star watch with a more streamlined design yet an even more dramatic movement. A more refined, more slender and more modern take, its case is as sleek as its movement is demonstrative. The face of the watch shows newly openworked balance bridges and the fascinating resonance clutch in full display. The back has also changed, and even if the technical base is the same, the whole movement has been redefined for an even more captivating look. Sure, it’s not entirely a new watch, but this Mirrored Force Resonance is one of our favourite pieces on the market, and this new generation only amplifies our feelings.
Quick facts: 43mm stainless steel case – openworked dial with black gold-coloured sub-dials – calibre ARF21, in-house, hand-wound with two independent regulation systems connected by a resonance clutch spring, 3.5Hz – EUR 61,600 / CHF 58,000
De Bethune DB25 Starry Varius Aérolite Tourbillon
De Bethune has released some fascinating watches recently, but you can hardly find a watch that better sums up the brand than this DB25 Starry Varius Aérolite Tourbillon: ultra-complex, finished and decorated to the max, packed with innovative technical solutions, respectful of traditions and yet modern in most aspects, and designed with a certain poetry and love for anything linked to the cosmos. This new watch is a stunning variation of the award-winning Chronomètre Tourbillon, now with a meteorite dial. The habillage is intentionally restrained and discreet, with a relatively compact and streamlined case, with only a blued meteorite dial to enlighten the show. The back, on the other hand, is highly demonstrative with its hand-finished movement, its dual self-regulating barrel, a high-frequency titanium and silicon tourbillon and a central deadbeat seconds. It’s the brand’s gastronomic menu…
Quick facts: 42mm grade 5 titanium case – meteorite dial, blued and polished with gold pins, Breguet-style steel hands – in-house calibre DB2109V4, hand-wound, 5Hz 30-seconds tourbillon with 4-day power reserve and deadbeat seconds – price upon request
Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB3 SPC
The modern take on Ferdinand Berthoud is the brainchild of Karl-Friedrich Scheufele and his team at Chopard. The idea was to resurrect one of the greatest names in watchmaking with a collection that combines mechanical innovation and deep respect for traditions. The latest watch from the brand is an absolute winner, both visually and mechanically. The focus on chronometry, exclusivity and exceptional craftsmanship is still present, with a watch that isn’t a tourbillon anymore and that makes things slightly smaller and “simpler” (relatively speaking). This new Chronomètre FB3 is paced by a cylindrical hairspring which was inspired by Louis Berthoud (Ferdinand Berthoud’s nephew), placed inside a newly developed movement with graphic, three-dimensional architecture… and stunning decoration of all the parts.
Quick facts: 42.3mm white or pink gold case – openworked dial with sandblasted and 2N gilded or black rhodium-treated components – calibre FB-SPC, in-house, hand-wound, COSC-certified, 72h power reserve, cylindrical hairspring – CHF 140,000
MB&F Legacy Sequential EVO
This watch is probably one of the most spectacular novelties of the year. And the fact that it won the Aiguille d’Or at the GPHG is only proof of that success. The MB&F Legacy Sequential EVO is MB&F’s first-ever chronograph, and the indie watchmaker has come up with a mind-blowing watch. Behind this watch is Stephen McDonnell, the man responsible for the LM Perpetual, with an entirely redefined mechanism for the chronograph: one movement, two chronographs, and multiple timing modes, including split-seconds and lap timer. With no fewer than five pushers, it can be used in many ways. Independent mode, Simultaneous mode, Cumulative mode or Sequential mode – all explained in our in-depth story here. It all comes down to McDonnell’s invention, the so-called Twinverter, and a movement with tons of technicalities to discover. Best of all, it comes in the brand’s EVO Zirconium case, with 80m water-resistance and an integrated rubber strap.
Quick facts: 44mm zirconium EVO case – openworked dial in orange CVD or black PVD – in-house movement conceived with Stephen McDonnell for MB&F, hand-wound, integrated dual chronograph with two column wheels and Twinverter switch allowing multiple timing modes, 3Hz, 72-hour power reserve – CHF 160,000 / EUR 160,000
Raúl Pagès Régulateur à Détente RP1
Last but certainly not least, we have a watch that is typical of the independent watchmaking scene… Unique in design and conception, made by hand by one man, fitted with an original technical solution and produced in ultra-low quantities… The whole point of this watch is its detent escapement with a regulator display. The detent escapement is a grail of chronometry that has rarely been fitted into wristwatches, mainly due to inherent weaknesses. Raúl Pagès, however, made it possible to solve these issues with an innovative concept. And then comes the watch itself; it is discreet, modern without being ostentatious, refined, elegant and made with the soul of a man. The back is, at first sight, relatively discreet too. However, seasoned collectors will recognise the impressive work done on both the technical and decoration sides. A stunning watch.
Quick facts: 38.5mm steel case – sand-blasted and nickel-plated dial, blue-lacquered small seconds sub-dial – hand-wound, in-house movement, detent escapement, 2.5Hz, 47h power reserve, regulator display – CHF 85,000 excl. taxes
All great choices! We live during a very interesting time for horology. Thanks to everyone @ Monochrome and look forward to 2023.
Very hard to disagree with any of these choices.