From a utilitarian necessity to an accessory of choice, the wristwatch has climbed a long way up the value chain of the style-conscious. And as with all luxury objects, it too offers the wearer options that are constantly evolving and always wide-ranging.
In recent times, one of the trends that have emerged is the growing appetite of the Indian rich—who swore by their Rolex, Omega, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Breitling, Audemars Piguet or IWC Schaffhausen collection—for watches made by independent watchmakers; they are looking beyond corporate brands.
Globally, too, since the late 1990s, talented watchmakers have broken away from the prestigious companies they worked for and created their own lines. For example, Laurent Ferrier, who was creative director with Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe and had a 37-year stint with the company, began making timepieces that bore his name since 2008.
But while independent watchmakers are getting a lot of attention with their attractive pieces, experts are divided on whether they would succeed in the Indian luxury market.
Viraal Rajan, who heads family-owned watch boutique Time Avenue in Mumbai, is confident that “this trend is here to stay”. “This is the new take on time; these are pieces of art, not just a mechanism to tell time,” he says. Yashovardhan Saboo, chief executive of Ethos Watch Studios, one of India’s largest luxury retailers, however, feels that the Indian market is not ready for independent watchmakers. “The value will not push the needle,” he says. “The segment is too niche at the moment.” To give a sense, dealers say prices can range upwards of $80,000, although all prices are on request.
Although for years, several brands have considered themselves to be independent, here is a selection of those that have been solely established by the actual watchmaker.
So what you get is not just a watch—you get the creativity and innovation of the individual built into it.
All prices are on request; several of these watches can be sourced directly from the independent watchmaker’s official website or select dealers.