Monochrome Watches
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Buying Guide

A Selection Of Stunning New Watches By Young And Not-So-Young Indie Watchmakers

From well-established names to daring newcomers, the indie watchmaking scene is very much alive and kicking!

| By Robin Nooy | 8 min read |
Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans Subscription Edition

The past few weeks we have focused almost exclusively on all the new watches we saw during the Watches & Wonders 2023 fair. But in all honesty, that’s not all that ‘went down’ in Geneva about a month ago. Just prior to, during and immediately after the show, there were plenty more very fine watches to be enjoyed outside the halls of Palexpo and the participating brands. And as these watches from established and break-out independent watchmakers will clearly show you, the high-end indie scene is still bursting with new ideas, complex creations and expressive creativity!

Petermann Bedat Ref. 2941 Split-seconds chronograph

The duo of Gaël Petermann and Florian Bedát have been one of the revelations of the indie watchmaking scene in the past few years. What started with the already very impressive 1967 Deadbeat Seconds now continues with the stellar Reference 2941 Split-Seconds Chronograph. Considered one of the hardest complications to master, this rattrapante chronograph is a thing of beauty. It’s activated by the pusher in the crown, with the pusher at 10′ splitting the seconds hands. The movement reveals proper Haute Horlogerie levels of finishing. The platinum case holds a platinum and sapphire crystal dial, with two sub-dials for the running seconds and the jumping minutes. Limited to just 10 pieces, this masterpiece will set you back an eye-watering CHF 243,000.

Petermann Bedat Reference 2941 Split-Seconds Chronograph

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Quick facts – 38.6mm x 13.70mm – 950 platinum case – box-shaped sapphire crystal, sapphire crystal caseback – platinum and sapphire crystal dial – hand-crafted hands – calibre 202, hand-wound – 339 parts – 18,000vph – 42h power reserve – column-wheel monopusher split-seconds chronograph with jumping minute counter – haute horlogerie finishing – leather strap with platinum buckle – limited edition of 10 pieces – CHF 243,000

HYT Conical Tourbillon

Ever since its revival in 2022, HYT has incrementally added complexity to its unique fluidic display of time. It started with the Hastroid, which relaunched the brand and was followed by the Moon Runner and now the Conical Tourbillon. This show-stopper features the brand’s signature capillary hour display but reveals a complex central tourbillon mechanism with hand-blown glass orbs filled with luminous liquid moving around in chaotic order. Covered by a highly domed sapphire crystal, it’s a very special site to behold from the top but also from all sides. The 48mm x 52.3mm carbon and titanium case is very large but also very light and keeps this limited run of eight pieces somewhat wearable. The price is a staggering CHF 335,000.

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Quick facts – 48mm x 52.3mm x 25.15mm – carbon fibre & black DLC titanium case – highly domed sapphire crystal, sapphire crystal caseback – green retrograde meca-fluidic indication of hours, matte black minute hand – calibre 701-TC, developed with Eric Courday – manually wound – 21,600vph – 40h power reserve – 30-seconds inclined tourbillon with 3 glass spheres rotating at different speeds – black rubber strap with black DLC coated titanium pin buckle – limited to 8 pieces only – CHF 335,000

Louis Moinet Impulsion

Les Atelier Louis Moinet never fails to impress, both visually and mechanically. The latest creation is called Impulsion and is a monopusher chronograph set in the brand’s familiar case inspired by the Compteur de Tierces. It puts the chronograph mechanism and tourbillon in full view on the black, aventurine or orange mainplate. The chronograph indications are shown by contrasting red or yellow hands, with gold hands indicating the running hours and minutes. Around the back, you can see more of the movement, with double barrels delivering a comfortable 96h power reserve. Limited to 28 pieces in titanium or rose gold with black or aventurine dials, or eight pieces with the orange dial, it costs CHF 130,000.

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Quick facts – 42.50mm diameter – grade 5 titanium or rose gold case – chronograph pusher at 2′ – sapphire crystal front & back – black, aventurine or orange dial mainplate – exposed chronograph and tourbillon mechanism – gold hour & minute hands – red or yellow chronograph hands – calibre LM114, developed with Concepto – manual-winding – monopusher chronograph with column-wheel and horizontal clutch – 301 parts – 28,800vph – double barrel for 96h power reserve – alligator leather strap – limited to 3 (orange mainplate) or 28 pieces (black or aventurine mainplate) – CHF 130,000 (excl. taxes)

Simon Brette chronomètre artisans

Hands down one of the finest watches we saw up close and personal is the Chronomètre Artisans by newcomer Simon Brette. This former MCT, Chronode and MB&F watchmaker has now set out on his own and presented a fascinating debut piece. The Chronomètre Artisans is the result of a close partnership between Simon and several highly skilled craftsmen and -women. The complex movement is to die for, with incredible details such as a crown wheel with integrated click and three types of teeth (wolf, vertical and internal), black-polished concave screw heads, gold chatons and more. The front side shows even more refined watchmaking details like the exposed running gear and winding system, gorgeously crafted hands and a superb hand-engraved red gold dial. The first run of 12 pieces is all sold out and was priced at CHF 50,000 before taxes.

Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans Subscription Edition

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Quick facts – 39mm x 10.50mm – zirconium case, brushed & polished – embedded gold dove-tail in the baseband – sapphire crystal front & back – concave polished crown – red gold dial with hand-engraved ‘dragon scales’ pattern – exposed running gear and winding system – translucent sapphire crystal small-seconds subdial – observatory-style blued steel hour hand with blued steel minute and small seconds hand – calibre SBCA, manually wound – 194 components – 18,000vph – 72h power reserve – haute horlogerie finishing – textured calfskin leather strap – 12-piece subscription piece, sold-out – CHF 50,000 (excl. taxes)

De Bethune db eight chronograph monopusher

With De Bethune, you are guaranteed two things: bold, expressive designs combined with highly technical watchmaking. But there’s also elegance to be found every now and then, as is the case with the new DB Eight Chronograph Monopusher. The movement is from the MaxiChrono and is a true mechanical marvel. The hand-finished calibre DB3000 holds several De Bethune innovations, such as the blued titanium balance wheel with the De Bethune spiral. The delicate silver-tone guilloché dial might have you thinking this is a time-only watch, but the sub-dial and central seconds hands are dedicated to the chronograph indications and activated by the pusher in the crown. The price is set at CHF 85,000.

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Quick facts – 42.4mm x 9.2mm – polished grade 5 titanium case – ogive-shaped lugs – sapphire crystal front and back – silver-tone guilloché dial – blued hands for the hours, minutes and chronograph – calibre DB3000, in-house – hand-wound – column-wheel monopusher chronograph – titanium balance with De Bethune spiral – 28,800vph – 60h power reserve – blue alligator leather strap with titanium pin buckle – CHF 85,000

MB&F Legacy Perpetual Salmon

We’re huge fans of the LM Perpetual by MB&F, especially in this new stainless steel and salmon iteration. The award-winning watch shows its complex QP mechanism on the front side of the dial, which is made possible thanks to friend Stephen McDonnell. The user-friendly movement uses an innovative mechanical processor to avoid setting issues for the perpetual calendar system with ergonomic correctors on the caseband. The anchor and escape wheel are separated, with the latter hovering above the dial suspended by the double-arched bridge. It’s not limited by number (but rather by annual production capacity) and retails for EUR 172,000.

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Quick facts – 44mm x 17.5mm – stainless steel case, brushed & polished – domed sapphire crystal, sapphire crystal caseback – salmon coloured baseplate with suspended subdials and blued hands – manually wound QP movement by Stephen McDonnell – 581 parts – 18,000vph – 72h power reserve – hours, minutes, day, date, month, leap year and power reserve indication – brown alligator leather strap with steel folding buckle – non-limited edition – EUR 172,000 (excl. taxes)

F.P. Journe FFC

The FFC, which stands for Francis Ford Coppola, by legendary independent watchmaker F.P. Journe is an equally exciting and unusual piece. Where Journe watches are mostly known as very elegant or sporty, with traditional watchmaking mixed with classy contemporary details, the FFC takes things in a whole different direction. It started out as a unique piece for Only Watch in 2021 but has now evolved into a publically available model. What remains is the gauntlet on the dial, with fingers appearing or disappearing to indicate the hours. The minutes are indicated by the rotating disc on the outer perimeter. This whimsical mechanism is based on the calibre Octa 1300. With a platinum case and a production that’s limited by capacity, the price is upon request.

FP Journe FFC - Production Watch Review

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Quick facts – 42mm x 10.70mm – platinum case, polished – sapphire crystal front and back – openworked dial with titanium articulated mechanical hand – retractable fingers for the hours – rotating minute disc with triangular pointer at noon – F.P. Journe calibre 1300.3 in 18k rose gold – automatic winding – 21,600vph – 120h power reserve – instantaneous digital hours with rotating minute disc – Nivatronic laser-soldered balance spring – titanium bridges with Titalyt® coating – double-signed central rotor – in-line lever escapement – black alligator leather strap – limited by production – price upon request

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