4 Watch Brands That Often Get Overlooked

The world of horology is vast and varied, with certain brands receiving widespread acclaim and others remaining under the radar. In this detailed exploration, we delve into four watch brands that often get overlooked despite their remarkable craftsmanship and unique offerings in the watchmaking industry.

1. Nomos Glashütte

Nomos Glashütte, emerging post-German reunification, swiftly made its mark in the watchmaking world. It stands as a testament to the revival of Glashütte, a town with a rich history in German horology.

History and Heritage

A New Chapter in German Watchmaking

Founded in 1990, Nomos Glashütte started its journey just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The brand represents the resurgence of Glashütte’s watchmaking tradition, which dates back to the 19th century. Unlike its historical counterparts, Nomos ventured into watchmaking with a modern approach, blending traditional craftsmanship with contemporary design.

Design Philosophy

Minimalism Meets Functionality

Nomos’s design philosophy is heavily influenced by Bauhaus principles – a focus on simplicity, functionality, and clarity. This is evident in their clean dials, straightforward typography, and unobstructed aesthetic. Their approach to design is not just about looks; it’s about creating practical, readable, and timeless watches.

Notable Collections

Tangente: The Quintessential Nomos

The Tangente is arguably the most iconic Nomos model. It epitomises the brand’s design ethos with its clear, unadorned dial, angular case, and distinctively straightforward hands and numerals. This collection is a perfect example of Nomos’s commitment to Bauhaus design, offering a classic look that remains stylish decades after its initial release.

Orion: Elegance in Simplicity

The Orion series takes a slightly different approach, offering a more rounded case and curved dial. These watches are characterised by their understated elegance, with clean lines and a minimalistic face. The Orion is ideal for those who appreciate the Bauhaus style but prefer a softer, more refined aesthetic.

Metro: A Modern Twist

The Metro collection is a more recent addition, showcasing a more contemporary take on the Nomos style. With its eclectic mix of colours, unconventional dial design, and the use of Nomos’s in-house swing system, the Metro is a testament to the brand’s ability to innovate while staying true to its core design principles.

Technological Advancements

In-House Movements and Innovations

One of Nomos’s most significant achievements is the development of its own in-house movements. The introduction of the Swing System in 2014, which allowed Nomos to produce their own escapement, was a major milestone. This not only showcases their technical prowess but also their dedication to becoming a fully independent watchmaker.

Awards and Recognition

Acclaimed Yet Understated

Despite its relatively short history, Nomos has received numerous accolades for its designs and watchmaking skills. These include several Red Dot Design Awards, the Good Design Award, and the Goldene Unruh (Golden Balance) award. These honours reflect the brand’s commitment to quality, innovation, and design excellence.

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2. Oris

Oris, established in the early 20th century in Hölstein, Switzerland, has remained dedicated to crafting exclusively mechanical watches. Its commitment to tradition and innovation has helped carve a unique niche in the watchmaking industry.

History and Heritage

A Century of Mechanical Mastery

Founded in 1904, Oris has a rich history in Swiss watchmaking. Named after a local brook, the brand quickly gained recognition for its reliable, beautifully crafted pocket watches. Over the years, Oris has remained steadfast in its commitment to producing only mechanical timepieces, even during the quartz crisis of the 1970s and 1980s.

Design Philosophy

Balancing Tradition with Innovation

Oris stands out for its philosophy of offering high-quality mechanical watches at an accessible price point. The brand has consistently prioritised functionality, durability, and timeless design, avoiding the trend-driven nature of some other watchmakers. This philosophy is evident in their diverse range of watches, from elegant dress timepieces to robust dive watches.

Notable Collections

Divers Sixty-Five: A Nod to the Past

The Divers Sixty-Five collection pays homage to Oris’s first divers’ watches from the 1960s. These timepieces combine vintage aesthetics with modern watchmaking technology, featuring high-grade materials and contemporary movements, making them popular among both watch enthusiasts and casual wearers.

Aquis: Robust and Stylish Diving Watches

The Aquis line represents Oris’s commitment to the dive watch category. Known for their robust build and water resistance, Aquis watches are not just functional dive tools but also stylish enough for everyday wear. This range highlights Oris’s ability to blend practicality with elegance.

Artelier: Classic Elegance

The Artelier collection showcases the brand’s more artistic and sophisticated side. These watches are characterised by their classic designs, featuring intricate dials and superior craftsmanship. The Artelier line is a testament to Oris’s versatility and skill in creating both sporty and dress watches.

Social and Environmental Initiatives

Watches with a Purpose

Oris is also known for its commitment to social and environmental causes. The brand often releases special edition watches to support various initiatives, including ocean conservation and public health projects. This social consciousness adds a layer of depth to the brand, resonating with a consumer base that values ethical and responsible business practices.

Technological Innovations

Pioneering in-house Developments

While Oris is primarily known for its design and affordable luxury, the brand has also made significant strides in technical innovations. The development of their in-house Calibre 400 series, with a five-day power reserve and anti-magnetic properties, underscores their commitment to advancing the art of mechanical watchmaking.

3. Bremont

Founded in the early 21st century, Bremont has quickly become a prominent name in the luxury watch sector, especially known for its aviation-themed watches and commitment to durability and precision.

History and Heritage

A Modern British Watchmaking Story

Bremont, established in 2002 by brothers Nick and Giles English, is a relatively young brand in the world of luxury watches. The brand’s inception was inspired by the brothers’ love for aviation and engineering, influenced by their late father’s passion for historic aircraft and mechanical objects. Bremont stands out for its dedication to reviving the British watchmaking industry, once a world leader in the craft.

Design Philosophy

Aviation and Adventure at its Core

Bremont’s watches are heavily influenced by aviation, which is evident in their design and functionality. They are built to withstand the rigours of flying and adventurous lifestyles. The brand emphasises durability, precision, and readability, making their watches suitable for professional pilots and watch enthusiasts alike.

Notable Collections

Supermarine: Diving with Aviation Spirit

The Supermarine collection, named after the British aircraft manufacturer famous for the Spitfire, is Bremont’s range of dive watches. These timepieces combine the brand’s aviation heritage with the requirements of a high-performance diving watch, featuring high water resistance and robust construction.

ALT1-P: Professional Pilot’s Watch

The ALT1-P series is designed for pilots, showcasing chronograph functionality and high legibility. These watches embody Bremont’s commitment to aviation, with design elements that reflect the aesthetics and practical requirements of the cockpit.

MB: Engineered for Survival

Developed in collaboration with Martin-Baker, the British ejection seat manufacturer, the MB collection is tested to endure the same rigorous ejection tests used for aviation seats. This range is a testament to Bremont’s focus on creating watches that can survive extreme conditions.

British Watchmaking Renaissance

Bringing the Craft Home

Bremont is at the forefront of the resurgence of British watchmaking. The brand has invested in developing its manufacturing capabilities in the UK, including the production of parts and assembly of watches. This dedication to British craftsmanship is not only a nod to the country’s horological history but also a step towards creating a self-sustaining watchmaking industry in Britain.

Awards and Recognition

Acclaim in a Short Span

Despite its relatively short history, Bremont has received several accolades and recognitions in the watchmaking world. The brand has been lauded for its innovative designs, technical achievements, and contribution to reviving British watchmaking.

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4. Ball Watch Company

The Ball Watch Company, with its roots deeply embedded in American history, is renowned for its emphasis on precision and durability, stemming from its early connection to the American railroad industry.

History and Heritage

Pioneers of American Timekeeping

Established in 1891 by Webb C. Ball, the Ball Watch Company originated in response to a railroad accident caused by a watchman’s inaccuracy. Webb C. Ball’s standardisation of timekeeping across the American railroads marked the inception of the phrase “on the Ball,” denoting precision and reliability. This heritage deeply influences the brand’s identity, with a strong focus on accuracy and robustness.

Design Philosophy

Robust Watches for Extreme Conditions

Ball Watch Company’s design philosophy centres around creating timepieces that can withstand extreme conditions. This is evident in their use of innovative technologies like shock-resistant systems and self-powered micro gas lights for dial illumination. Their watches are designed not just for aesthetics but for functionality and resilience in challenging environments.

Notable Collections

Engineer Series: A Tribute to Innovation

The Engineer series encapsulates Ball’s dedication to robust and precise timekeeping. These watches are designed to endure harsh conditions, reflecting the brand’s railroad heritage. With features like magnetic resistance and superior water resistance, the Engineer series stands as a testament to Ball’s commitment to reliability and durability.

Trainmaster: Elegance Meets Functionality

The Trainmaster collection pays homage to the brand’s railroad origins, offering a more classic and elegant design. These timepieces blend the old-world charm of railroading with modern watchmaking technology, making them suitable for both formal and casual settings.

Fireman: Rugged and Accessible

The Fireman range is designed for durability and accessibility. These watches, with their straightforward and robust design, cater to a wider audience, showcasing Ball’s ability to produce high-quality watches that are both functional and affordable.

Technological Advancements

Innovations in Luminescence and Durability

Ball Watch Company is a pioneer in using tritium gas tubes for illumination on their dials, offering exceptional readability in low-light conditions. They have also developed patented anti-shock systems, further enhancing the resilience of their timepieces.

Global Recognition

A Legacy of Precision

Despite its rich history and technological innovations, Ball Watch Company is often overlooked in the global watch market. Known primarily among watch enthusiasts and collectors, the brand deserves broader recognition for its contributions to watchmaking, particularly in terms of precision and durability.

What’s Your Favourite Watch Brand?

In conclusion, each of these four brands – Nomos Glashütte, Oris, Bremont, and Ball Watch Company – brings something unique to the table. From the minimalist elegance of Nomos to the rugged precision of Ball, these brands deserve a closer look from watch enthusiasts and collectors alike. Their commitment to quality, innovation, and distinct stylistic choices makes them not just underrated, but also highly commendable in the vast universe of horology.

⌚️ Further reading: Why Some Watches Appreciate In Value More Than Others.

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