Some of our favorite watchmakers are little more than one-man operations. Others might be a small team, but what they have in common is that many have built companies from scratch around their unique visions. They have freedom to think outside the box and make their ideas real, and their influence on the watch industry is more significant than many perhaps realize.
Independent watchmakers, startups, microbrands or whatever you'd like to call them have proliferated over the last decade. The convenience of sourcing parts and labor as well as the chance to connect directly with watch enthusiasts thanks to the internet has created new opportunities for ambitious entrepreneurs. Part of what characterizes many of these brands is their ability to avoid many costs that bigger, older brands often face and offer previously unheard-of values.
These indie brands are far from uniform, however: they range from one-man shops that make their own parts like Schon or Pelton to bigger/older companies with their own movements like Yema and Damasko. The people behind these companies have often incredible stories and insight.
Below, you can hear directly from the creators and designers at these brands. Whether you're interested in understanding your favorite watchmaker's background or getting some entrepreneurial wisdom, they're all inspirational and well worth a read.
Schon Horology's Ian Schon
We interview Ian Schon about what it means to maintain an artistic vision while single-handedly running a complex pen and watch manufacturing business.
Yema's Christopher Bôle
French watchmaker Yema's Managing Director discusses growing up with horology, in-house movements and more.
Pelton's Deni Mesanovic
Deni Mesanovic studied audio engineering, but his widespread interests lead to his designing watches, sunglasses, microphones and more.
Eone's Hyungsoo Kim
Creator of a unique watch for the blind, Eone CEO Hyungsoo Kim discusses designing products for the disabled and how he built his company.
Damasko's Konrad Damasko
The founder of Damasko Watches discusses his approach to engineering, design and what makes a solid German tool watch.
Monta's Justin Kraudel
We sat down with Justin Kraudel (right) to discuss Monta, the state of American watchmaking, and what’s next for the brand.
MkII's Bill Yao
Mk. II makes modern versions of classic military watches long since unavailable.
Unimatic's Giovanni Moro
Unimatic co-founder Giovanni Moro discusses his brand’s design philosophy, minimalism, and a certain pineapple-dwelling sea creature.
Autodromo's Bradley Price
How a passion for cars fuels a beloved watch brand.
Brew Watches’ Jonathan Ferrer
We sat down with Jonathan Ferrer to discuss his roots, his design influences and why making an affordable watch is important.
Ikepod's Emmanuel Gueit
Watch designer Emmanuel Gueit discusses his plans for the Ikepod watch revival.
Halios' Jason Lim
We speak to the founder of Halios about his love of watches and why he isn’t necessarily trying to revolutionize timekeeping.
Orion's Nick Harris
We speak with Nick Harris about his origins as a watchmaker, the state of his company, Orion, and taking on the big boy boutique brands.
Oak & Oscar's Chase Fancher
Chicago-based Oak & Oscar is constantly innovating, delivering some of the finest watches to come from the microbrand movement.
Nodus' Wesley Kwok and Cullen Chen
We sit down with Nodus Watches you two co-founders to get the inside scoop on their affordable wares.
Lorier's Lauren and Lorenzo Ortega
Lauren and Lorenzo Ortega’s Lorier Watches is crafting some of the best values in mechanical tool watches in the U.S.
Bravur's Magnus Äppelryd
Swedish microbrand Bravur Watches’ co-founder Magnus Äppelryd talks about his design background, how Scandinavian design affects his watches, and more.