Having learned about the manufacturing of watches, it’s now time to find out about the manufacturers themselves. The next few blogs will take you through an alphabet of the popular watch brands, as well as a choice few boutique watches – those made by fledgling watchmakers and niche manufacturers.
Along the journey, we will find that the defining aspects of any brand are its heritage, and innovation. The overall aim is to define the brands which have stood and are set to stand the test of time, in order to give a clear indication of present and future value.
Watch Manufacturers We’ll Be Discussing:
- A. Lange & Söhne
- Armin Strom
- Audemars Piguet
- De Bethune
Of the Moment
In our last blog, we discussed the relevance of Swiss watches and whether any manufacturers could hope to contend with, or even topple, the behemoths of that group. And while anything “Swiss-made” remains nye-on impenetrable, the Saxon tradition of watchmaking (dating back to 1540) does give Switzerland a run for its money. While we’ve already featured the impressive works of Glashütte Original, their close neighbours, A. Lange & Söhne, continue to further the German watchmaking cause. Pushed off the map following WWII bombing attacks, the company was revived in the 90s. With a solid heritage and innovational firsts, even the hardest-to-please bloggers, such as the Watch Snob, are hailing them “the best men’s watches in the world right now”.
Up and Coming
We’ve discussed Patek Philippe a lot in recent articles, and unashamedly so – for they push the boundaries, have a fantastic pedigree and never fail to please aesthetically. In short, they are something special and, with limited production lines, unique. In a similar mould is Armin Strom, an independent watchmaker basing all manufacture in-house (no watch-parts are sourced from outside companies). The watchmaker has built himself a reputation for skeletonisation (ridding watch-faces of unnecessary elements so the watchmakings are exposed) and his examples are among the best on the market. As the appreciation for the intricacies of watches continues, these up-and-coming hand-crafted pieces could well become legendary in years to come.
Click through to 1:43 on this video to see a masterful example of skeletonisation.
Of course, we couldn’t leave this blog without mentioning major players such as Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Breitling & Bremont. These are all big names in the luxury watch industry, but one must be cautious of style and a brand name over substance. While these have continued to evolve over recent years, some could be accused of sitting on their laurels and becoming increasingly out of touch. Take Breitling as an example, using pin-ups such as John Travolta and David Beckham to help market their watches is a bold, and somewhat tacky move. Compare that to the emphasis on the timelessness of Patek Philippes, passing tradition from generation to generation and you’ll see where we’re coming from.
Other Brands of Note
Strictly speaking, Cartier is a heavyweight in its own right but is somewhat of a chameleon in nature. With Cartier arguably most renowned for its jewellery, one could be forgiven for forgetting its early origins and classing its watches as a mere extension of the brand. But as readers of the borro watch-blog found in our debut article, Cartier was instrumental in the formation of the men’s wristwatch, being the first manufacturer to feature fully incorporated lugs, with its design for a Brazilian aviator. Indeed, one could say Cartier instigated the male commercial trend for watches, previously seen as feminine fashion accessories. It is for this reason that Cartier actually has one of the strongest pedigrees of wristwatch out there, and one can hardly but marvel at its elaborate women’s designs as well as a new lease of life for its men’s watches, as seen by the latest in the Rotonde de Cartier series.
We’d like to finish without words, but with a picture of this jaw-droppingly beautiful watch by little-known watchmaker, De Bethune, the final manufacturer to be featured here. We think the image says it all, what do you think?
Until next time…
Clocking off, Ed Hallinan and the borro team.