Superbrands may dominate the narrative, but often it’s the watchmaking independents that give watch appreciation its colour.
The temptation when considering the global mechanical watch industry is to think of it in geographical terms. Switzerland is the hub, Germany and Japan play a pivotal role, America and China do mass production, and then countries such as Britain, France and Holland make up the supporting cast.
Another way, and perhaps a smarter way of looking at it, is to see it as a network of big groups and smaller independents. The groups, such as Swatch, Richemont and LVMH, own the lion’s share of the traditional watch industry (add in Rolex and Patek Philippe and you have the majority) and dominate the story with their volume and marketing dollar.
But the footnotes are just as if not more interesting. This is where you’ll find a swathe of colourful independents, whose creativity and appetite for experimentation give watchmaking so much of its personality. Here are half a dozen that make the point.