If you’re interested in buying a microbrand watch, this guide will help. Here are the best microbrand watches for men.
One of the great things about the watch community is that there’s room for everyone. While the large Swiss and Japanese houses generally dominate the market, there is an exciting niche that’s become more and more popular over the last few years — microbrands.
Small-batch watchmakers, creating their own designs, are making a name for themselves in the watch community. Many of the best microbrands offer fresh designs made from quality materials with a valued-minded price tag.
Plus, you usually buy them directly from the company, so there are no middlemen to inflate the prices.
Shopping for the best microbrand watch can be tough, though. These companies aren’t household names yet, and if you’re new to the watch community, it might seem like there’s some risk involved.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of buying a microbrand watch and which watches are worth your money.
Microbrand Watches: Pros and Cons
Buying a microbrand watch isn’t exactly like buying from a traditional watchmaker. Let’s discuss some of the pros and cons of purchasing a microbrand watch.
Let’s start with the most important factor: Microbrand watches look amazing.
The people creating these watches are members of the watch community. They have their fingers on the pulse, and they know what the community wants. Quality control is usually pretty spot-on, as well.
There’s also a lot of value in a microbrand watch. Most use the same sort of high-end materials and movements that you’d find in a larger brand’s watch at four times the price.
Finally, you’re going to get a unique watch that stands out from the crowd. We all love SKXs, but everyone has one. You’re less likely to run into someone wearing the same microbrand timepiece.
There’s some uncertainty when it comes to buying from a microbrand. You could invest your hard-earned money on a great watch, only to have the shop close up in a year. Will the company be around for service when you need it? Maybe not.
Many microbrands are crowd-funded, and you might be waiting a while before they raise enough money to produce a batch of watches. That’s just the nature of the manufacturing game. Even small batches need to be large enough to be cost-effective.
When you invest several thousand dollars in a luxury watch, they usually hold their value to some degree. Some even increase in value. That’s simply not the case with a microbrand. Certain watches may skyrocket in value at some point, but most will be a depreciating investment.
The Best Microbrand Watches in 2022
Now that you have a bit of background on the benefits and drawbacks of microbrand timepieces, you can take an informed look at some awesome watches from the best microbrands on the market.
Keep in mind that many of these brands run in and out of stock quickly. And, some might require a bit of back-and-forth with the manufacturer to get them stateside. But it might be worth the effort.
Dan Henry is one of the most well-respected watch collectors in the world. After more than 30 years of collecting valuable vintage pieces, he started creating his own line.
The watch community knows and loves the brand for its racing-inspired chronographs, entry-level pricing, and unique casebacks. It’s the perfect microbrand to kick this list off.
Dan Henry 1962
If you’re looking for a value-priced panda chronograph, you have to check out Dan Henry’s 1962. It features a 39-millimeter case, a 20-millimeter lug width, and it runs on a reliable VK63 meca-quartz movement.
You have a choice between a traditional or reverse panda scheme, a black dial with gold accents, or a blue dial with orange hands. Plus, the caseback features a Maserati Tipo 60 — an excellent touch.
Dan Henry 1964
The auto-enthusiasm continues to flow through Dan Henry’s 1964 chronograph. This beautiful watch comes in several variants, including white, black, and silver pandas, as well as slate gray and silver.
The stainless steel case measures 38 millimeters across, and the lug width is 19 millimeters. It runs on a Seiko VK63 meca-quartz movement, and the caseback features an Aston Martin DB5.
Dan Henry 1970
Dan Henry does more than just racing chronos. The 1970 is a vintage-inspired diver that runs on a tried and true Seiko NH35 movement.
It has 200 meters of water resistance, and it comes in both 40 and 44-millimeter case widths. The 1970 has screwdown crowns at the two and four o’clock positions, the former of which operates the inner bezel.
And the caseback? Dan Henry’s own Scaphtopus.
St. Louis, Missouri-based Monta offers Swiss-made watches at prices often under a third of what they would cost from a larger manufacturer.
They’ve taken inspiration from some of the most popular luxury watches and given them their own spin.
You can’t have a microbrand without a great diver.
The Oceanking features a perfectly-dimensioned 40-millimeter case, 20-millimeter lug width, though the 49-millimeter lug-to-lug might be just a tad long. It runs on Monta’s own Caliber M-22 movement.
It has a 1,000-meter water-resistance rating, and you’ll have a choice between seven different color variations.
Monta’s Triumph’s name and design are pretty blatant shots at one of the more popular luxury field watches. And, save for the heritage and high-end movement, it might be just as good.
Like Monta’s divers, the Triumph runs on the company’s Caliber M-22 Swiss-made movement.
It measures 38.5 millimeters wide, with a 20-millimeter lug width and a lug-to-lug measurement of 47 millimeters. It features a 150-meter water resistance and comes in three color variants.
Dying for a Swiss-made GMT, but can’t afford the $10,000-plus price tag? How about the Skyquest, which comes in at less than a fifth of the cost of a luxury alternative.
This sweet little traveler features a GMT hand, a 24-hour rehaut, and a 24-hour bezel, allowing you to stay on schedule in three different time zones.
The case measures 40 millimeters across, with a 20-millimeter lug width and 49-millimeter lug-to-lug. It has a 304-meter water-resistance rating and runs on Monta’s Caliber M-23 movement.
Car guys who love to take their passion with them on their wrists will love Autodromo.
This company is the result of an industrial designer’s love affair with vintage motoring, blending classic gauges and watch dials to create some truly unique chronographs.
The Intereuropa is pretty unique. It meshes Flieger-type markings with a 1950s-era speedometer to create a watch dial like none other.
It runs on a Swiss-made ETA 7001 manual winding movement with a small seconds complication. It measures 39 millimeters across the face, offers 50 meters of water resistance, and comes on a gorgeous Italian leather rally strap.
It comes in several colors, so you should be able to find something to match your vintage Ferrari or Jaguar.
Baltic’s story is pretty interesting. The founder, Etienne Malec, found inspiration in a watch collection and journal his photographer-father left behind for him.
The company is super straightforward about how their watches come together: cases and movements from Hong Kong, straps from France, and all other accessories coming from Italy. The result is a quality product at a great price.
The Aquascaphe is Baltic’s well-known and revered diver.
It features a Miyota 9039 automatic movement, a 39-millimeter case, a 20-millimeter lug width, and a 200-meter water resistance.
Both the crystal and the unidirectional bezel are sapphire, so the Aquascaphe will resist scratches and look great for years to come. It’s available in several different colors.
Baltic Bicompax 002
The Bicompax 002 is a great choice for guys that like compact chronographs with clean, simple dials. It runs on a manual Seagull ST1901, which might not be the most refined movement, but it’s certainly a workhorse.
The case measures 39 millimeters across, while the lug width measures 20 millimeters, creating a more streamlined look than most other chronographs. It comes in a few colors and several different straps.
Baltic Aquascaphe GMT
If you want to track another timezone with a handsome, automatic GMT, don’t overlook the Aquascaphe GMT.
This watch runs on an automatic Soprod C125 GMT movement, and it features a 24-hour dual-color bezel (in a couple of color variants). It measures 39 millimeters across, and you can use all of your 20 millimeters straps.
Islander Watches are a result of Long Island Watch’s own microbrand spin-off.
They’re built on Seiko and Orient platforms, with a wide variety of colors and options to choose from.
Islander Dive Watch
The Islander dive watch takes the design everyone loved about the SKX and modifies everything else to the specs that everyone wants.
This watch features a bulletproof NH36 movement that hacks and hand-winds. It measures 43 millimeters across, and it’s available with several dial and bezel variations, as well as hands and bracelets.
If you prefer a pilot-style watch over a diver, Islander offers their Aviator model.
It runs on an NH35 movement and features a Flieger Type-B dial with a date window at the three o’clock position.
It measures 42 millimeters across, with a 22-millimeter lug width. There are a couple of color choices, including blue and a traditional black dial.
Islander Field Watch
The Islander Field Watch is the newest addition to the Islander family. This watch runs on an NH36A movement, featuring a date window at three o’clock.
The case measures 39 millimeters across, and the lug-to-lug is 48-millimeters. Keep in mind that the lugs do curve, allowing this watch to wear a little smaller than the specs would suggest.
It comes in several dial color variations, all on nylon-woven straps for a truly rugged look.
NTH stands for “Nod to History,” but its designs are truly its own. The company focuses on selling good products at fair prices, and these timepieces certainly fit the bill. As of right now, they only offer divers, but there’s a wide selection.
Sure, lots of microbrands feature value-priced divers, but how many of them take the time and resources to design one with a helium escape valve?
The Swiftsure has one, and it helps to bring its diving capability to 610 meters. It features a 3-6-9 style dial, a double-domed sapphire crystal, and it runs on a Miyota 9015 automatic movement.
The Swiftsure’s a big watch. At almost 44 millimeters across and 51 millimeters from lug-to-lug, it may be a bit large for smaller wrists.
Divers are supposed to make a splash, right? The DevilRay certainly does. This colorful diver features plenty of retro-inspired colors to create a unique dial not seen on most traditional divers.
Colors aside, it’s a serious diver with a 500-meter water-resistance rating, and it runs on a Seiko NH35 automatic movement.
It measures 43 millimeters across, but the 46-millimeter lug-to-lug allows it to wear a bit smaller. It comes in three color variations, all on stainless steel bracelets.
Singapore-based Zelos got traction from a few Kickstarter campaigns, starting back in 2014.
The watchmaker features value-priced timepieces with cutting-edge materials like carbon fiber and meteorite dials.
The Zelos Mako is an excellent option for guys looking for a solid diver at a great price, with plenty of color options to choose from.
This watch features a 300-meter water resistance and runs on a Miyota 9015 movement.
It measures 40 millimeters across the case, with a 20-millimeter lug width and a 46-millimeter lug-to-lug, making it a great fit for smaller wrists. It comes in both bronze and stainless steel cases.
Guys looking for a classic diver with a bit of a larger footprint should check out the Blacktip from Zelos.
This diver features a 41-millimeter case with a 47.5-millimeter lug-to-lug, so it wears a bit larger than the Mako. It runs on a Miyota 9015 automatic movement.
It features patinated markers, a sapphire crystal, and a ceramic or sapphire bezel (depending on the model).
If you’d prefer a dressier watch, the Zelos Nova might be the microbrand offering for you.
This watch features several dial and color variations, the dressiest of which is arguably the silver linen dial with gold markers.
It measures 38 millimeters across, with a 20-millimeter lug width and a squat 44-millimeter lug-to-lug measurement. It runs on an ETA/Peseux 7001 movement, and you have a choice between a Chrome Excel leather strap or an engineer-style stainless bracelet.
After an awful, adventurous mistake that cost the founder of Traska watches a vintage Bulova, he started a crowdfunding campaign to create vintage-style watches with robust, modern capabilities.
This American-owned company has three watches to offer, and they’re a favorite of microbrand collectors.
As the name suggests, the Freediver is Traska’s dive watch offering.
It features 200 meters of water resistance, a sapphire crystal, and it runs on a Miyota 9039 automatic movement.
It measures 40.5 millimeters across, with a 48-millimeter lug-to-lug and a 20-millimeter lug width. It comes in six different color combinations, all of which have a classic look.
Budget-minded explorers will appreciate the Summiteer’s nod to luxury field watches.
The Summiteer features a 38.5-millimeter case, a 20-millimeter lug width, and a 46-millimeter lug-to-lug measurement.
It has a classic 3-6-9 dial, making it easy to read as you’re exploring afield. It runs on a Miyota 9039 movement, and it comes on a stainless bracelet with fully-articulating links.
The Commuter answers the call for those who prefer smaller, understated watches.
This classic design measures 36.5 millimeters across the face, with a 44-millimeter lug-to-lug and a 20-millimeter lug width.
It runs on a Miyota 9019 movement, and it comes on a fully-articulated stainless steel bracelet. It’s available in three different dial colors as well.
Lum-Tec is a USA-based microbrand that excels in the tactical tool watch market.
The company uses high-quality movements and assembles all of the watches in Ohio. It offers several models, including divers, chronographs, and rugged field watches.
Lum-Tec Combat B46
When it comes to rugged watches, it’s hard to beat the value that the B46 has to offer. This tough guy features a Swiss Ronda 515 movement suspended in an anti-shock movement mounting system.
It has 200 meters of water resistance, a durable PVD coating, and comes with two nylon straps with matching PVD-coated hardware. It measures 43 millimeters across and accepts 22-millimeter straps.
The process of creating an enamel dial is far beyond the capabilities of most microbrands, but not anOrdain. This Scottish watchmaker nails the process and makes some of the most unique small-batch watches on the market.
anOrdain Model 1
If you’re looking for a great everyday watch with not-so-everyday features, anOrdain’s Model 1 might be the watch to go with.
This incredible timepiece features anOrdain’s enamel dial with cartography font numerals, an individually regulated ETA 2824-2 movement, and a sapphire crystal with six layers of anti-reflective coating.
It measures 38 millimeters across the case, 46 millimeters from lug to lug, and 18 millimeters between the lugs. It comes in several color variations and on lots of different bracelets.
anOrdain Model 2
If you’d like something a bit smaller, with maybe a little less prestigious of a movement, the Model 2 is worth checking out.
It features an enamel dial, a Sellita SW-210-1 movement, and anOrdain’s typical six-layer anti-reflective coated sapphire.
The case measures 36 millimeters across, 43 millimeters from lug to lug, and it has an 18-millimeter lug width. Like the Model 1, the Model 2 comes in several color variations, and at the time of writing this article, ten different strap choices.
If you want a microbrand-made watch that you don’t have to baby or worry about, check out Singapore-based Boldr.
The company prides itself on producing rock-solid watches that you can use and abuse. They’re tough, robust, and ready for adventure. They’re also affordable.
For a timeless field watch style, it’s pretty hard to beat Boldr’s Venture. This watch features a basic military field watch-style dial, 200 meters of water resistance, and an NH35 automatic movement. It comes in four colors with matching NATO straps.
While that’s all impressive, the really interesting part about the Venture is that its 38-millimeter case is titanium. That makes it lightweight and easy to wear but also incredibly tough.
Between the case and the sapphire crystal, you can take the Venture anywhere without worrying about scratching it.
Boldr Expedition El Capitan
Boldr’s Expedition El Capitan is a watch fit for any adventure if you don’t mind something a little bigger and bulkier.
This diver-meets-field watch features an inner rotating bezel operated by the two o’clock crown, a double-dome sapphire crystal, and a 200-meter water-resistance rating. It runs on a Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement with hacking and hand-winding.
The El Capitan measures 41-millimeter across, perfect for a diver, but the 48-millimeter lug-to-lug might make it just a little large for a smaller wrist. But, with that size, Boldr packs on the lume, making this El Capitan a breeze to check in low-light conditions.
Boldr Odyssey Freediver
The Odyssey Freediver is a new addition to the Boldr lineup, and it’s one legitimate diver.
It has tons of lume, a unidirectional 120-click bezel with a ceramic insert, a stainless steel case and bracelet, and 300 meters of water resistance.
While the lug-to-lug measurement is still a bit long, its case measures just 40 millimeters across, so it’s a better fit for smaller wrists than other offerings.
North Carolina-based Helm has just a few goals in mind: create good-looking, hard-working dive watches at an affordable price.
While the company is only a few years old, it’s garnered a bit of a cult following. Helm offers three divers, all of which have a 300-meter water resistance rating and meet ISO standards.
The Khuraburi is Helm’s diver with an attitude. It features a 42-millimeter wide stainless steel case with a 48-millimeter lug-to-lug measurement.
The size helps this watch make quite an impression, especially coupled with its huge hour markers doused in Super-LumiNova. It runs on a Seiko NH38 or NH35 movement (depending on whether you choose a date window or not).
It features a unidirectional stainless steel 120-click bezel, as all good divers should. And, Helm lets you choose between a two or ten o’clock crown.
As a more subdued diver, Helm offers the Komodo. The colors are a little more traditional than the Khuraburi, and the 40-millimeter stainless case doesn’t have quite the heft (the 47-millimeter lug-to-lug shaves off a bit of size and weight).
It runs on a Seiko NH35 movement, and it features a double-dome sapphire crystal.
While the dial is a little more laid-back, it’s not short on SuperLuminova lume — neither is the 120-click unidirectional bezel.
The Vanuatu is a rugged diver with a bit of chunk and heft. While the case only measures 42 millimeters across, the lug-to-lug stretches the tape to 50 millimeters.
The size teams up with the beefy 22-millimeter engineer-style bracelet to create some serious wrist presence. With that presence, you get a Seiko NH35 movement, tons of lume, a 120-click unidirectional bezel, and a sapphire crystal.
Lorier is a small shop consisting of a husband and wife team based in NYC. The company produces high-quality watches with classic designs.
As far as microbrand divers go, the Neptune checks all the boxes. It has a classic design reminiscent of some of the luxury Swiss-made divers, and its modest size (39 millimeters across) makes it an easy wear.
It runs on a Miyota 90S5 automatic movement, features a 120-click unidirectional bezel and lots of easy-to-see lume. It’s also water-resistant to 200 meters, and the stainless steel case and bracelet are super durable.
World travelers, rejoice; Lorier hasn’t forgotten about you. The Hyperion is a true traveler’s watch with its great looks, 24-hour Pepsi bezel, and GMT function.
Like all Lorier watches, the Hyperion measures 39 millimeters across, and the lug-to-lug measures 47 millimeters, making it a comfortable watch to wear on any of your traveling adventures.
It runs on a Soprod C125 automatic movement, and it features a roulette-style date wheel with alternating black and white colors.
One of Lorier’s sticking points is that they will not put a battery-operated movement in their watches. With that in mind, they chose to use the workhorse Seagull ST19 to power this automatic panda chronograph.
This beautiful watch features a 24-click bidirectional bezel for help timing laps at the track or the cinnamon rolls you have in the oven.
It measures Lorier’s typical 39/47 millimeters for the case and lug-to-lug. The case and bracelet are both stainless steel.
Christopher Ward is essentially the original microbrand, though the company might not fit that moniker much anymore.
In business since 2004, this British watchmaker produces some absolutely stunning watches in several different styles.
Christopher Ward C1 Moonglow
There’s no actual reason to track the phases of the moon unless you’re a sailor, fisherman, or superstitious (the latter of which applies to the writer). But, Christopher Ward’s C1 Moonglow will make you wish for a reason.
This awesome watch features a moon phase complication, as well as a date function, and it runs on Christopher Ward’s own JJ04 movement that will remain accurate for a mind-blowing 128 years.
If you aren’t blown away enough to order it already, here are the dimensions: the case measures 40.5 millimeters wide, with a lug-to-lug of 48.5 millimeters.
Christopher Ward C3 Morgan Chronograph
If you’d prefer a British chronograph with a Swiss-made quartz movement, the C3 Morgan is one beautiful timepiece.
Meant for motoring, it’s a compact driver’s companion, measuring just 39 millimeters wide and just under 46 millimeters from lug to lug.
It uses a Ronda 5021.D quartz movement with a date window at six o’clock, all housed under an anti-reflective sapphire crystal.
Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600
Rounding out these incredible watches from Christopher Ward is the company’s take on a simple, straightforward diver with plenty of capability — the C60 Trident Pro 600.
As you might’ve guessed from the name, the C60 Trident Pro features 600-meters of water resistance. It also features a unidirectional bezel, a screw-in crown, and a Swiss-made Sellita SW200-1 movement.
It measures 40 millimeters wide, with a lug-to-lug of just under 47.5 millimeters and a lug width of 20 millimeters.
Straton Watch Co. got its start in 2015, and it’s been producing racing and automotive-inspired timepieces ever since. They specialize in affordable chronographs outfitted with inexpensive quartz movements.
Straton Classic Diver
If you can’t tell by now, the watch community has a thing for affordable panda chronographs, which Straton proudly offers in its Classic Driver.
This watch runs on a Miyota 6S21 quartz movement housed inside its 40-millimeter stainless steel case.
It features a sapphire crystal, lume on all of the hands, and a solid stainless steel bracelet. And, unlike most other chronographs, the Classic Driver boasts a 200-meter water-resistance rating.
Straton Curve Chrono
Straton’s Curve Chrono has a cool, retro-inspired flair that’s hard to dislike. It comes in a few color variations and on different straps, so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find one to work for your style.
It runs on a Seiko VK64 meca-quartz movement, and you’ll have a choice between a 42 or 39 ½-millimeter case, with lug-to-lug lengths of 47.5 and 46.5, respectively.
Straton Daily Driver
There’s a reason why homage watches are so popular, and Straton isn’t above toeing the line with the Daily Driver.
This chronograph uses a Miyota 6S21 quartz moment housed inside its massive 44-millimeter wide, 50-millimeter lug-to-lug case.
It comes in many color variations, with the blue and orange scheme being the closest to a particular popular Swiss racing chrono.
Which Microbrand Watch Will You Choose?
There are lots of other incredible microbrand watchmakers out there, but these 15 are some of the best in the game.
Whether you need a top-notch, function-first diver like Helm’s Komodo, a gorgeous chronograph like the Dan Henry 1962, or a pilot-style watch like the Islander Aviator, there’s an option out there for any watch collector and any budget.
Questions? Comments? Leave them below!