Buying Guide The Best of Independent Watchmaking 2018 – Part 1

Creativity, haute horlogerie and stunning new watches in 2018 from the "independent scene".
ic_query_builder_black_24px | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Xavier Markl | 6 minute read

Creative, daring, highly technical or crafted to a level that you simply cannot achieve in mass production – there are many reasons why independent watchmaking has been on the rise over the past twenty years. “Indies” are passionate about watchmaking and are often just a little bit crazy. Without massive marketing budgets or product committees, their creations are simply born from dreams, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit. Their ingenuity, vision, diversity or simply their smaller size give watchmaking fans a wealth of unique creations. Today, we take a look at some of the best 2018 creations from the independent watchmaking scene.

Akrivia “Rexhep Rexhepi” Chronomètre Contemporain

With its latest opus, Rexhep Rexhepi focusses on the essentials bringing the brand’s uncompromising ethos into a three-hander. Available with a white or black grand feu enamel dial, the Chronomètre Contemporain features a 38mm case combining classism and touches of modernity. A look through the sapphire caseback reveals the superb RR01 hand-wound calibre and its breathtaking finish. Its pleasing symmetrical design incorporates a stop seconds and zero-reset mechanism for enhanced precision when setting the time.

Quick facts: 38mm x 9.5mm gold or platinum case – water-resistant to 30m – hand-wound calibre RR01 with hours, minutes and small seconds- alligator strap with pin buckle – CHF 55,000 in pink gold or CHF 58,000 in platinum – for more information, please visit www.akrivia.com.

Czapek Faubourg de Cracovie Chronograph

After the successful Quai Des Bergues, followed by the Place Vendôme tourbillon, it is time for Czapek to unveil its third complication, this time with a sportier inspiration. The Faubourg de Cracovie Chronograph comes in different versions with either a grand feu enamel dial or a hand-guilloché dial. It is powered by the high-grade automatic calibre SHX3 manufactured with Vaucher. This high-frequency column-wheel chronograph features a vertical clutch and a one-piece linear reset hammer.

Quick facts: 41.5mm steel case – water-resistant to 50m – automatic chronograph SHX3 with hours, minutes, seconds, date and chronograph – alligator strap with pin buckle – CHF 24,000 – for more information, please visit www.czapek.com.

De Bethune DB-25 Starry Varius

De Bethune’s new DB25 features a new, smaller case. Its star-studded intense blue dial can be customized to represent the night sky of your choice. The impressive DB2005 movement is masterfully decorated. The twin barrels ensure a 6-day power reserve. The titanium balance wheel with gold weights features a silicon escape wheel and the triple pare-chute shock-absorbing system patented by De Bethune.

Quick facts: 42mm x 8.8mm polished titanium case – water-resistant to 30m – hand-wound calibre DB2005 with hours and minutes indication – alligator strap with pin buckle – CHF 60,000 – for more information, please visit www.debethune.ch.

Grönefeld 1941 Principia

Designing a fine dress watch is not an easy task. Perfection is in the details and the Grönefeld 1941 Principia impresses in every respect. This three-hander features a new movement with automatic winding that retains the ambitious finishing standards of the Grönefeld brothers. The architecture is also characteristic of their work with most parts visible and held in place with peripheral bridges. This superb calibre is housed in a 39.5mm case with hollowed, concave recesses and convex surfaces. Several dials are available – as well as customization options.

Quick facts: 39.5mm x 10.5mm steel or gold case – water-resistant to 30m – automatic calibre with hours, minutes and small seconds- leather strap with pin buckle – from EUR 29,950 in steel, EUR 37,300 in pink gold, EUR 38,750 in white gold – for more information, please visit www.gronefeld.com.

H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Perpetual Moon Concept Vantablack

H. Moser & Cie has reinterpreted the moon phase in an understated way, characteristic of the brand’s pure, minimalist and contemporary design. The watch features no logo, no indices and a moon reduced to its simplest expression through a round opening in the Vantablack dial (a material blacker than any other man-made material). Inside is the hand-wound HMC801 calibre, fully manufactured in-house including the hairspring. Its precise moon phase indication is accurate to one day every 1027.3 years! The two barrels provide up to 7 days of power reserve.

Quick facts: 42mm x 12.9mm stainless steel case – water-resistant to 10m – hand-wound calibre HMC801 with hours, minutes, seconds, day/night and moon phase indications – power reserve indication on the back- alligator strap with pin buckle – CHF 35,000 – limited edition of 50 pieces – for more information, please visit www.h-moser.com.

Habring² Doppel Felix

In 2012, Habringintroduced the Doppel 2.0, a Valjoux 7750 based split-seconds chronograph. With the Doppel Felix, Maria and Richard Habring now present a magnificent split-seconds chronograph powered by a proprietary movement, made in Austria but still with the signature “simplified” rattrapante function. The design is better than ever before, still minimalistic but with new, warmer vintage touches. Not only does the watch look great but it retails for just EUR 7,750.

Quick facts: 42mm steel case – water-resistant to 50m – automatic A11R calibre with hours, minutes, small seconds and split-seconds chronograph – calf leather strap with pin buckle – EUR 7,750 without date, EUR 8,250 with date – for more information, visit www.habring2.com.

Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar Pale Yellow Gold

There is definitely something special about the Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar. The singularity of the watch lies in a distinctive perception of elegance where craftsmanship, integrity and patience are carefully preserved. The LF126.01 annual calendar movement is the brand’s fifth proprietary calibre. As always with Laurent Ferrier, the finishing is top-notch. The power reserve (up to 80 hours) is indicated on the back of the watch. The case comes in different materials including steel and white gold, but the most striking version is probably the pale 1N yellow gold edition.

Quick facts: 40mm x 12.8mm yellow gold case – water-resistant to 30m – hand-wound LF126.01 calibre with hours, minutes, small seconds, annual calendar and power reserve indication on the back – calf leather strap with pin or folding buckle – CHF 55,000 – limited edition of 50 pieces – for more information, visit www.laurentferrier.ch.

Speake Marin One & Two Openworked

With the One & Two Openworked, the essence of Speake-Marin has been kept – classic Swiss watchmaking infused with a British touch and an elegant twist – but has been enlivened with a modern feel. For instance, the “spade-and-whip” hands, or the tubular Piccadilly case. The openwork automatic SMA01 calibre stands out with its eccentric display of the small seconds and the incorporation of a micro-rotor.

Quick facts: 38mm x 10.50mm titanium or pink gold case – water-resistant to 30m – automatic SMA01 calibre with hours, minutes and small seconds – alligator leather strap with folding buckle – CHF 16,200 in titanium and CHF 29.600 in pink gold – limited edition of 20 pieces in titanium and 10 pieces in pink gold – for more information, visit www.speake-marin.com.


Tomorrow, we will publish the second part of this guide, which will be looking at the most daring, the most technical and the most innovative pieces introduced by independent watchmakers in 2018. Stay tuned!

6 responses

  1. The De Bethune is my favourite out of these. Love the DB25 models in general.

    The Krayon surely has to make an appearance in part 2.

  2. It will not Gil, not that it is not mechanically impressive but we chose not to include it because there was nothing really new in 2018 (but a diamond paved case). But indeed a stunning development.

  3. Ah, of course, I forgot all that was new were the diamonds! Thanks for the quick reply.

    I think I know a couple that’ll be there in part 2, but I’ll keep schtum in case I’m wrong again. *slaps forehead*

  4. The Laurent Ferrier does not require any special tools to set it. You can also set it forwards or backwards at any time. It also has much less parts than most typical perpetuals. And lets not forget that Patek’s Annuals have more parts than their 240Q-based perpetuals, whilst being just as complex to set. Like the Rolex Sky Dweller, you can set the LF is a fraction of the time it would take a Patek and most other calendar watches. Both Rolex and LF (Fabrique du Temps) have created a calendar watch that is less complex and easier to live with than traditional ones.

  5. Glad to see that my favorite among these — the Speake-Marin One & Two 38mm in Titanium — is different from everyone else’s…it means that one of the very limited edition will still be available for me! Now, if everyone can gather up their donations to help with this noble cause, I’d be glad to accept about $13-14K in help with the price 😉

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