MICRO MONDAYS: Our 7 favourite microbrand watches from the last 6 months MICRO MONDAYS: Our 7 favourite microbrand watches from the last 6 months

MICRO MONDAYS: Our 7 favourite microbrand watches from the last 6 months

Borna Bošnjak

Since the 2020 introduction of our Micro Mondays coverage, we’ve seen plenty of innovation, ingenious engineering solutions and, more often than not, great value for money. Often, these watches represent the life-long dreams of a watch geek coming true, embodied into their take on what a watch should actually be. There’s also been an increasingly extensive blurring of lines between the definition of an independent watchmaker and a microbrand, alluding to the growing strength of the microbrand market. In short, this niche market can offer incredible rewards. Let’s have a look at seven of our favourite microbrand watches from the first half of the year.

Atelier Wen Perception

With a mesmerising guilloché dial carved by master Cheng Yucai, the only guilloché craftsman in China, Atelier Wen forgoes the easy ways of CNC-machining. With plentiful inspiration from aspects of Chinese culture, the 40mm-diameter case is just 9.4mm thick, making it wonderfully wearable. The flat sapphire crystal front and back are AR-coated, with the latter serving as the mouth of the lion guarding the caseback. Pressing down on the Atelier Wen bracelet logo operates the built-in microadjust system hidden by the slender integrated bracelet. The Dandong/Peacock SL-3006, a clone of the ETA 2824, powers the Perception and features a 41-hour power reserve and a stated accuracy within 10 seconds per day, all while only 3.4mm in height. Best of all? It’s yours for a smidge over US$2,000. Check out our in-depth review here, or visit the Atelier Wen website here.

Dan Henry 1945

Dan Henry, custodian of an envy-inducing collection, has long been creating affordable pieces with incredible period-correct designs. The latest such watch is the 1945 that evokes skies roaring with Spitfires pursuing Messerschmits. Nowadays, despite our airspace thankfully being occupied by overly-stuffed airliners, watch lovers have a lot of time for war-era designs. From the cathedral hands to the tachymetre, telemetre and chronograph functionality, the 1945 is rendered in a three-subregister layout, in black and evil panda flavours. In classic Dan Henry fashion, timekeeping is left to a quartz movement, this time a Miyota 6S20 with smooth centre seconds – keeping the price to only US$280. For more information, read our hands-on coverage, or head to Dan Henry’s website.

LeJour Seacolt Diver

favourite microbrand watches

A vintage-style dive watch with a slim bezel, unguarded crown and gilt accents makes me go weak at the knees. Combine that with the Seacolt’s tapering bracelet and double domed sapphire crystal, and you’ve got a silent killer for the *insert any more expensive vintage-inspired dive watch here*. At 42mm x 49mm, it’s relatively compact despite the large diameter, housing the Sellita SW-200 behind a deeply etched seahorse on the caseback. The tapering H-link bracelet has half links and a whopping six microadjust holes, so you’re almost guaranteed a perfect fit with this one. At US$850, it’s not as affordable as some others on this list, but is still fiercely competitive considering what’s on offer. For an in-depth look, read Fergus’ review here, or see all the colour options on LeJour’s website.

Ming 22.01 GMT

favourite microbrand watches

I already know what some of you will say. Ming is not really a microbrand. While they’ve certainly expanded from the NH35/SW200-powered design that cuts out the middleman, the brand ideology remains very much the same – by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts. The 22.01 GMT is immediately recognisable as a Ming. The lineage connecting it to the very first Ming, the 17.01 evolved to the floating indices on the curved crystal, above a dial with rounded, futuristic hands and typeface that we see today. Available with a green or gilt dial, they’re real chameleons depending on the light, changing from a grey to green, sometimes even blue. Cased in a 38mm titanium case, the Sellita SW-330-2 derived movement is visible through the tinted display caseback. Read our full introduction here, or visit Ming for information on future releases.

MW Timepieces Legatodiver

favourite microbrand watches

To carve out a particular niche, microbrands often suffer the pitfall of being overly specific or elaborate when taking inspiration from a particular theme. MW Timepieces surmounts that challenge successfully, melodically integrating music into the Legatodiver. With compact 39.5mm x 48mm dimensions, it’s a size sweet-spot for many. The most obvious musical connection is the fretboard-derived design of the sapphire bezel insert. Another guitar component is visible dialside, as the doughnut-shaped hour markers represent guitar tuning holes. Finalising the guitar-inspo trifecta is the elaborate engraving surrounding the display caseback, the likes of which you’ll see around the soundhole of a guitar. The Legatodiver is still available on Kickstarter, priced at US$489. Check out Ricardo’s coverage here, or head to MW’s website for a look at an Indonesia-only model!

Cyberpunk 2077 x Błonie

favourite microbrand watches

Retro-futurism at its absolute best, as if descended from dystopian Los Angeles or, more accurately in this case, Night City. Even though CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 might’ve disappointed some upon release, Błonie did not disappoint with the styling of their Cyberpunk watch. The grey of the matte titanium case is accented by the yellow LED display and button pusher, with a discreet Cyberpunk 2077 logo engraved in the first link. If you’re into NFTs, the watch is paired with one through the Arianne app. Watch Andrew and Fergus discuss this LED pebble, or head to the Błonie website here.

M.A.D.1 RED

favourite microbrand watches

Just looking at the M.A.D.1 makes me upset over the fact that one isn’t ticking away on my wrist as I write this. With a vertical, side-mounted display and that bonkers lumed tomahawk rotor, the M.A.D.1 could only be the brainchild of the certifiably M.A.D design folks over at MB&F. The second iteration is slightly redesigned, implementing a more ergonomic crown and a slimmer bezel. Priced at CHF 2,900, I, and much of the fellow WIS, eagerly await the next re-release announcement. In the meantime, you can read Zach’s full introduction here.