More of our favourite microbrands of 2023 More of our favourite microbrands of 2023

More of our favourite microbrands of 2023

Fergus Nash

It’s the rewinding time of year, and while it’s important to recap the most amazingly technical or beautiful watches, we can’t forget the high-value heroes. Microbrands have made it more affordable than ever to enjoy the watch hobby at a quality level, and they give the big brands a run for their money when it comes to design freedom and creativity. Following on from part 1 and in no particular order, let’s shine a light on 5 more of our favourite microbrands of 2023.


baltic bicompax 003 salmon dial beads of rice wrist 2

Baltic certainly weren’t the first microbrand, only founded in 2016, but they’ve become somewhat of the quintessential example. Their watches are high-quality, low in price, and designed with an incredible eye for beauty. Whether it’s a colour, a case silhouette or a dial layout, every detail feels graceful. In 2023 they consolidated their Baltic Aquascaphe Classic collection, paying tribute to the Aquascaphe Classic which skyrocketed them to popularity in 2018. Other highlights of the year include the salmon-dialled Bicompax 003, a suave collection in black and PVD gold, and the Baltic Hermétique Tourer merging mid-century sensibilities with practical field watches. You can find all of them in the Time+Tide Shop.

Atelier Wen

atelier wen seconde seconde wristcheck perception ju ci dial 3

Although the Chinese microbrand Atelier Wen first released their Perception watch in 2019, hype has steadily been building year on year. Understandably, the prices have gone up considerably, but people just can’t get enough of them. In 2023 alone, Atelier Wen have released three new variations of the Perception, each one collaborating with another brand. There’s the cherry-red version named Xi, the champagne gold of the Càn, and the pistachio green with a stitched-up tear of the Perception 锔瓷, collaborating with both seconde/seconde/ and Wristcheck. Each of these dials is lovingly turned by hand, performed by master Cheng Yucai on his own hand-built rose engine.


Maen Manhattan 39 Ultrathin

Some microbrands cut corners on purpose to achieve luxury looks for low prices, but Maen are one of those few who seem to achieve absolute finesse without any sacrifice. Of course they’re going to be a bit more expensive as a Swiss watch, but they’re still packed with value. This year, they collaborated with Watchfinder for the sumptuous brown-dialled Spymaster 38 MKII, which was inspired by the ‘tropical’ ageing of vintage watch dials. Their best release however, has to be the new 39mm edition of the Maen Manhattan. The Manhattan was already a brilliant watch, however the new version has made the 37mm edition seem a little clunky in comparison. The size has increased for modern tastes, however the whole thing has been slimmed down to just 6.9mm thanks to an ultra-thin, hand-wound movement.


blok 33 navy swiss red 1

This inclusion may get dismissed pretty quickly, but I find the Blok 33 to be a totally captivating release. In trying to create an engaging wristwatch for children, they’ve actually developed a really innovative way to display the time. The hour markers have been shifted slightly and given their own background, so that they actually sit where the hour hand can point to them. The minute track is easy to follow, and the timing bezel gives you immediate indications of time progression without needing to add up or count indices. The variety of colours are also super fun, and the compact design rivals anything that Swatch have released in decades. If you can get behind the 33mm case and the quartz movement, it’d be an exciting watch to wear no matter your age – available from the Time+Tide Shop.


Fears Brunswick 40 Copper Salmon wrist 2

2023 hasn’t just been a marvellous year for Fears releases, but it has also been a year of reflection and celebration. When chronicling the history of the Fears brand, considering its 19th-century founding and 20th century popularity, it’s easy to think that the modern incarnation is just as powerful as the brand names of a similar age. However, the Fears of today has humble origins, starting nearly from scratch as the founder’s great-great-great-grandson restarted the company. They nearly sunk again in 2020, but the overnight sensation of the Fears Brunswick Salmon saved them. This year, their new watches have included the phenomenal Fears Garrick collaboration, no fewer than 10 references granting an abundance of colours and materials for the Fears Brunswick,  and the Redcliff “Edwin Edition” in dedication to the founder’s 200th birthday.