Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

The Best Watches from Independent Watchmakers in 2023

Time for us to move to our favourite category, watches crafted by hand, by Indies.

| By Brice Goulard | 4 min read |
Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans Subscription Edition

Independent watchmaking, a category defined by low-production, artisanal-like companies where the soul of the creator can be deeply felt in the watches, is one of MONOCHROME’s most important (and favourite) topics. This segment of the industry has always been a highlight for us, and we are committed to promoting the work of these small companies… because this is where passion, innovation and creativity lie. Continuing our selections of the Best Watches of the Year, it is time to look at the five Best Indie Watches of 2023 selected by the MONOCHROME editorial team.

Haute-Rive Honoris 1000-hour power reserve

A tourbillon watch with 1,000 hours of power reserve on one mainspring… No, there’s no typo in that sentence. We’re talking about a 41-day power reserve in a single barrel in a watch barely larger than a Datejust. This watch, the Haute-Rive Honoris, is the result of the vision of Stéphane Von Gunten, a watchmaker with a long track record in the industry. The movement itself is a masterpiece of miniaturization, with the barrel drum – which is nearly as large as the movement – machined directly into the mainplate. Not to mention the 3-metre-long mainspring. All other components had to be positioned on the dial side, including the floating tourbillon and gear train. Visually, the bezel pattern could be refined a bit, but it is dictated by technical matters because the bezel winds the movement. The finishing is excellent, the dial is white enamel, and this watch, the brand’s first, makes us curious about what’s coming next.

Haute-Rive Honoris 1000-hour Power Reserve Tourbillon Watch

Ad – Scroll to continue with article

For more details about the Haute-Rive Honoris, please consult our hands-on article here.

Herve Schluchter L’Essentiel

Like the previous model, L’Essentiel is the first watch from a talented watchmaker. Well, the first solo watch of Hervé Schlüchter, who isn’t new to the industry. It is the first opus of a trilogy named Tree of Life, and it combines impressive skills and a highly personal vision of watchmaking. The rather busy but impressively decorated dial is what Schlüchter calls a philosophical regulator, where the hours are displayed by an aventurine 24-hour rotating disc with night and day indications. The back is a feast, with elegant architecture graced by exceptional finishes and beautiful details. This movement in German silver is done in a highly traditional way and recalls vintage pocket watch calibres. The decoration is stunning…

Herve Schluchter L’Essentiel

For more details about the Hervé Schlüchter L’Essentiel, please consult our in-depth article here.

Louis Vuitton x Akrivia LVRR-01 Chronographe a Sonnerie

A truly surprising watch, it represents a clash of cultures between indie watchmaking and mainstream luxury. Or so we might have thought. The Louis Vuitton x Akrivia deserves its place here, as there’s far more of Rexhep Rexhepi in this watch than LVMH marketing. Despite the name, it’s been conceived and manufactured by hand with an artisan-like mindset. And the visually striking result is also backed by stunning mechanics. Inside its Hagmann double-sided case is an unprecedented movement created by Akrivia, combining a 5-minute tourbillon, a chronograph and a sonnerie mechanism chiming elapsed times. This collaboration is the first of its kind. Luckily, there will be more coming from LV, showing the love and respect Jean Arnault has for independent watchmaking.

For more details about the Louis Vuitton x Akrivia LVRR-01 Chronographe à Sonnerie, please consult our introducing article here.

Petermann Bedat Split-Seconds Chronograph 2941

The duo has done it again… Following a highly acclaimed inaugural model, the Dead-Beat Seconds Calibre 171, earlier this year, Gaël Petermann and Florian Bédat unveiled their second opus, a splendid, traditional take on the rattrapante chronograph. This Split-Seconds Chronograph reference 2941 relies on a hand-wound movement with a column wheel and horizontal clutch. The back reveals an exceptional mix of modernity and tradition, with impeccable decoration of all the parts. The watch comes in an elegant case of only 38.6mm with a contemporary semi-openworked dial. Only two watches so far, and they are already making a lot of noise.

Petermann Bedat Reference 2941 Split-Seconds Chronograph

For more details about the Petermann Bedat Split-Seconds Chronograph 2941, please consult our hands-on article here.

Simon Brette Chronometre Artisans

Last but certainly not least, we have another watch that is the first to be released by a watchmaker flying solo… And while it might be number one, it has made quite an impression. With a career at Chronode and MB&F, Simon Brette presents a stunning take on the time-only chronometer. While the complication might be “simple”, the watch has incredible horological depth, using a traditional construction with two barrels in parallel, a 3/4 plate and a large balance wheel beating at a slow frequency. It’s the level of detail on all sides of the watch and movement that impresses, with exceptional finishing – look at the bowl-shaped screws or the wolf teeth on the wheels, and you’ll understand. Once again, we’re looking forward to his next steps.

Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans Subscription Edition

For more details about the Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans, please consult our hands-on article here.

1 response

  1. Great article, it’s delightful to see independent watchmakers thriving!


Leave a Reply