You’d been forgiven for thinking that, when it comes to watch brands, everything’s pretty much been done before. There’s only so much you can get on a dial after all.
However, new watch brands continue to launch and seek out their little niche in this ever-expanding market.
Of course there are ones who will arrive with great fanfare, only to quietly depart having failed to make their mark. But these six, we think, will be different. They are all on the rise and have something about them that should allow them to stand out in the densely populated world of watches.
Take note of their names for they are sure to be the bestselling watch brands of the future.
Having taken the Swiss railway clock as the inspiration for its first collection of watches, Mondaine needed to find something equally Swiss on which to base its next range. It gathered some of the most culturally minded Helvetians together and asked for their ideas.
Thankfully no one voted for fondue or chocolate but instead they settled on Helvetica – the famous font designed by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger in 1957. It is a font that is so ubiquitous in everyday life that when a New Yorker called Cyrus Highsmith tried to live without it for a day he quickly ran into trouble.
Mondaine took the clean neo-grotesque lines of this font and used it to inform the design of the lugs and as decoration on the dial.
The result is something clean, modern and quintessentially Swiss. Rather like Mondaine in fact.
Wear Mondaine Helvetica
When you’re the creative director of seriously zeitgeist men’s magazine Port, there are going to be high expectations when you announce you’re designing a watch. Thankfully for Kuchar Swara, those expectations have certainly been met.
Sekford is at once a homage to horology’s past – the design is meant to emulate the 18th and 19th century pocket watches and the name comes from a street in Clerkenwell synonymous with London’s watchmaking past – as well as feeling thoroughly of the moment.
Unsurprisingly, considering Swara’s editorial experience, Sekford’s font has been custom made. Called Sekford Undeground Tiny, it is a special cut of Edward Johnston’s Underground typeface, but made extra thin to emulate the single-brushstroke lines on old watch dials.
It’s a great-looking timepiece for those looking for something interesting in that sub-£1,000 bracket. Michel Roux Jr’s a fan too, don’t you know?
It’s a pretty meta move to call an unknown watch brand “Unknown”, but that’s exactly what’s happened here. The founders, who choose to remain anonymous, are probably hoping that this name doesn’t become a self-fulfilling prophecy, though, but given the stylish nature of the watches, this shouldn’t be the case.
The heavy mesh straps are a bit of a trademark and give an urban edge to the otherwise classic dial designs.
It’s a wonderful mash-up of the vintage and modern and, in keeping with the current trend for all things androgynous, all the watches are gender neutral.
The name may be Unknown but, given what this brand is producing, it’s unlikely they will stay that way for long.
Japan and Scandinavia might not, on the surface, seem likely bedfellows but there is something in their respective design languages that has a synergy. Which is precisely what the creative team at Japanese company P.O.S thought when they created Hygge watches.
For those of you who haven’t been glued to the style pages of fashion magazines, “hygge” (pronounced heurgha) is a Danish concept that translates loosely as “living cozily”. Think sitting in your favourite armchair, wrapped in a cashmere jumper reading a book by firelight – that’s pure hygge right there.
Given the Japanese/Scandi design collusion, the watches are exercises in minimalism with the modern Danish influences coming through in the occasional splash of colour.
They might not be as comforting as cashmere, but they certainly are very cool.
It all started with another watch, as so many of these stories do. Keith Arnott was trying to replace his Dad’s timepiece that he’d worn for years but that, one day, gave up the ghost. Finding nothing that really worked Arnott decided to turn his hand to creating one himself.
The resulting Scottish brand mixes timeless design – all are three-handers with three collections also having a small date window at 6 o’clock – with local touches, such as Harris Tweed straps.
Its Scots heritage is also seen in the names, such as Lewis, Haig and Hume, which are reassuringly north of the border. Sad as it is that Arnott’s father’s watch stopped working, what it gave rise to makes it more than worth it.
Julien Gueuning is certainly used to turning his design skills to the practicalities of life. As an industrial designer he has turned his hand to a cordless iron, a travel pasta cooker and stackable chairs. It’s no wonder that his first watch for fledgling company Greyhours is that combination of practicality and flair that makes this timepiece an instant classic.
It’s a bit Bauhaus, a bit 1960s modernist and one of those things that, at first glance, seems simple to the point of boring but which, on closer inspection, is actually cleverly thought out and really rather cool.
It also comes in black with blue seconds and subdial hands, but we think this white version just edges it in the style stakes.