Article By: Logan Hannen

What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re going to continue our discussion of the different classes of watch brands with the second class – independents. You can find our first article in this series here.

Disclaimer: The order of these articles in no way implies any kind of superiority one way or another. This is just how it made sense in my brain to order them, so we’re going with it. Cool?

Independent brands are, by definition, independent of the major groups or conglomerates that swallow so many brands whole as a means to keep them afloat. I tend to exclude brands like Rolex or Patek from this grouping since they are held back by many of the same restrictions that confront many of the group-owned brands.

Independent brands are categorized by having the relative freedom to take risks and reinvent the wheel, so to speak. They get to do things that are unique, daring, and actually in many ways accomplish what so many microbrands set out to do in the way of disrupting the status quo of the Swiss watch industry. To further provide some examples of this, let’s take a look at three of my favorite indie brands.

“Swiss Icons” Watch by H. Moser & Cie.
Source: H. Moser & Cie.

“Swiss Alps” Watch by H. Moser & Cie.
Source: H. Moser & Cie.

H. Moser & Cie. – I consider “Moser” the most dangerous brand in modern horology because they’re not afraid to take jabs. In January of 2018 H. Moser nearly released the Swiss Icons Watch, a provocative commentary on Swiss watch design.That is, until they withdrew it from auction (Christian and Rolly get into it in an episode of Liquor Run.) In 2016, Moser released the Swiss Alp watch, a parody and redesigning of the Apple Watch. Mostly, my mad respect for them is a result of Moser’s incredibly simple, elegant timepieces in the process (see: the Endeavour collection). They’re a force to be reckoned with, and nobody does Moser better than Moser. Oh, and the produced a watch made of cheese – check it out here.

Chronometre Bleu by F.P. Journe
Source: F.P. Journe

F. P. Journe – The Chronometre Bleu is tied with the Patek 5970 as my all-time grail. It was the first watch I ever saw that legitimately made my heart skip a beat, and nothing since has ever come close. Journe, based in Geneve, is owned and run by its namesake François-Paul Journe, and has done some truly incredible things with case materials, movement designs, and complications over the years that would make most modern watchmakers cry themselves to sleep. The fact that they can keep their pieces looking pretty in the process is just icing on the cake.

Laurent Ferrier Galet Classic Double Tourbillon Hairspring
Source: Laurent Ferrier

Laurent Ferrier – I’ll admit, I had a hard time deciding whether to put Laurent Ferrier or Philippe Dufour in this spot, but ultimately the Galet line from Laurent Ferrier takes my breath away instinctively. These pieces are the epitome of simplicity, and they’re some of the most refined I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

The homepage of Laurent Ferrier says, “I nurtured a dream of making watches that represent my horological values: simplicity, precision, and pure uncluttered beauty.”

Ferrier’s pieces exude overwhelming confidence in his craft so much so that he produced a tourbillon that is hidden from view, only visible through the caseback. That, as far as I’m concerned, is the peak of confidence in your brand.

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the final entry in the series, where we talk about the major conglomerates. Until then, keep it classy, watchfam.