Our favourite Micro Mondays from 2022: Part 1Fergus Nash
It’s that time of year where we can look back and be astounded at the sheer quality and quantity of microbrand releases yet again, with our weekly Micro Mondays segment seemingly full to bursting with fantastic options. I have personally written at least 24 of this year’s Micro Mondays reviews, and even among those it’s quite difficult to narrow down my favourites. To save me from an impossible task, we’ve split the list across two parts and organised my favourites in no particular order, so hopefully you may find a brand or two that you missed during the year.
I’m a massive fan of rectangular watches, and despite going from a $5,000 Cartier Tank Basculante to a $50 Citizen quartz, I do very much miss the flipping action of the Cartier. Vario have been one of the most creative and endearing microbrands of recent years, and the Versa has thrown its hat into the colourfully dialled, rectangular-cased watch ring with a spectacular value-based offering. Not only do you get a gorgeous watch for a fraction of the cost of a big-name brand, but you even get a flippable dial with two individual movements on each side, letting you change up the time zones or just looks at will. With an RRP of only US$428 and limited to 100 pieces per colour, it should come as no surprise that the Vario Versa is entirely sold out. Thankfully, Vario have already announced their plans to expand the collection in 2023.
The idea to build a modular watch has been floating around for some time, but it seems like 2022 is the year a few brands have dipped their toes into actually attempting it. Despite the difficulties involved with putting together a modular watch without sacrificing fit and finish, Thomas Funder has taken inspiration from 1970s designs to create a menagerie of stunning modular “dials” that fit inside a monobloc titanium case. The three major dial designs all take a different approach to moon-based complications, with one traditional moonphase display, one presenting the phase in a day/date style window, and the third showing the moon’s state on a rotating wheel. There are a heap of colours to choose from in both dials and cases, and considering the wrist-friendly 40.5mm diameter, the Swiss-made Sellita SW288 movement, and the sub-CHF 1000 price point, there isn’t much not to love here.
As a devout lover of vampire media, the fact that a Transylvanian-themed brand exists is a source of constant joy to me. Add in the fact that Peren’s Nera Rogue is a widely versatile and loveable design, and it’s a recipe for niche yet strong success. Despite the fang-shaped logo, there isn’t much else on the Peren Nera Rogue BW that gives its bloodsucking roots away to the average observer, making it an accessible dive watch for anybody to wear. The conical bezel and sweeping lugs give the watch quite a smooth profile, and this new colour scheme with a black dial and blackened bezel details gives it quite a lot of stealthy credibility.
Some may dismiss the Maen Hudson 38 as derivative upon first glance of the watch, however deeper investigation instantly rewards you with some of the finest attention to detail you can find in a Swiss microbrand. From the roughed-up texture of the dial to the softened matte on the date window’s frame, this watch absolutely flourishes underneath a macro lens. The creamy tone of the lume is matched by the golden hue of the root beer style bezel insert, complete with a matching yellow GMT hand and Hudson printing, while the all-black or steel bezel options provide a starkly-contrasting red tip. A 38mm diameter and 46mm lug-to-lug length will be welcome specifications for those who have been looking for a GMT to suit a smaller wrist, without losing the visual strength of a vintage-style sports case.
The RZE Valour 38 has become my go-to recommendation when anyone is looking for an affordable field watch, packed full of classic design choices balanced with personality and fantastic value for money. Not only does the lack of logo on the dial prove RZE’s humility in the face of tradition, but also shows how well their established style shines through in the prescribed layout of a military field watch. Other than the stencil-style Arabic numerals and easily-legible hands, you can choose from yellow, blue, green, and grey dials, or a black dial in a black-coated case for an even stealthier vibe. The NH38 movement provides a simple and reliable time-only function that’ll be easy to service, and the UltraHex coating prevents the lightweight titanium case from getting scratched. If you really want to show off an RZE logo, you can spot ones tucked away in the lume beneath 6 o’clock or milled deeply into the crown.