Many, if not most, watch-aware enthusiasts enjoy timepieces as a means of self-expression. This typically requires developing a sense of style quite independent of current fads or fashions. Sure, many enthusiasts focus on popular or highly revered brands and designs, but not every collector wants to see his or her choice of timepiece mirrored on every other wrist.
This is in part the driving force behind many independent watch brands. Creative case shapes, dials with unusual graphics or layouts and innovative technical solutions mark why so many collectors seek watchmakers who make a clear statement with their offerings.
Below are just three recent examples from independent watchmakers that qualify as idiosyncratic.
Korona K0 Daredevil
From Stepan Sarpaneva, the Korona K0 Daredevil offers the Finnish watchmaker’s singular scalloped Korona case shape around a bold star that glows in the dark. The 46mm steel watch, with its multi-layered DLC-coated dial architecture, is meant to recall the relief work of early 20th century pocket watches, but thanks to the star I think of either Captain America or Evel Knievel. If you turn the watch over, you’ll see an engraved moon face that, as Sarpaneva fans know, looks more than a bit like the watchmaker himself. The Sarpaneva Korona K0 Daredevil comes in two variants, Dusk and Dawn, both limited to only twenty made-to-order pieces. Price: $10,225. See www.sarpanevawatches.com.
Specifications: Sarpaneva Korona K0 Daredevil
MOVEMENT: Modified Soprod A10 calibre, 11.5 lines, 28,800 vph, mechanical automatic self-winding, rhodium-plated, perlage finishing
CASE: 46mm stainless steel, 11.2mm thick, 2.5 mm sapphire crystal, multi anti-reflective coating, double secured, water-resistant screw-down crown, signature stainless steel moon face relief on caseback, water-resistant to 200 meters.
DIAL: Two-part stainless steel skeleton dial, DLC black, DLC blue, three-part Super-lumiNova base plate, SuperlumiNova indexes, powered by RC Tritec AG’s LumiCast. Red gold-plated hands, polished, matte-blasted, blued steel seconds hand.
STRAP: Calf leather, black, white with stainless steel buckle
When they debuted in 2016, the glow-on-demand dial on certain models of the HYT H4 only added to the already heightened wow factor built in to the entire premise behind this one-of-a-kind Swiss hydro-mechanical timepiece maker. In this just-released H4, the light source is under the dome at 6 o’clock. Two purple LEDs are activated by the wearer and immediately flood the entire dial with light. At night, the fluorescent colored fluid and the dial (made with fluorescent particles) are energized by this light source and set the dial glowing. HYT emphasizes that no battery and no electronics are required here. Price: $95,000. See www.hytwatches.com.
Specifications: HYT H4 Neo
CASE: 51mm charcoal grey titanium and titanium DLC with micro-blasted finishes, height 17.9 mm, rubber-clad screw-down DLC titanium crown at 2:30 and at 4:30, charcoal grey titanium dome at 6 o'clock, convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the dial side, screw-down sapphire case-back, water resistant to 50 meters.
FUNCTIONS: Green retrograde fluidic hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve
MOVEMENT: skeleton mechanical hand-wound movement, HYT exclusive caliber, 28,800 VpH, bridges hand-beveled and micro blasted, rhodium-plated bellows, 65-hour power reserve
HYT MICRO-FLUIDIC MODULE: Two multi-layer metal bellows, capillary tube in medical grade glass, interior nano-coating, two immiscible liquids; one transparent and the other colored with dye, thermal compensator with bellow containing a special liquid, ceramic fluid restrictors
PURPLE LIGHT MECHANICAL MODULE: Rewinding and push-button system with a crown at 4:30, the micro generator works when the crown is compressed at 4:30. As soon as the button loosens the light stops working until the full decompression of the additional barrel spring
DIAL: Unstructured, fluid hour display, luminescent minute, seconds and power reserve dial, white Super-LumiNova minute indexes and numerals, black hour dial with white Super-LumiNova numerals, luminescent black minute hand, transparent composite dial loaded with fluorescent nano particles, regulator at 12 o'clock, small seconds wheel at 9:30, power reserve indicator at 2:30
BRACELET: Black reinforced fabric, composed of fire-resistant, water resistant and anti-allergen fibers; sustainably produced; black topstitching; Velcro clasp with keeper
REF: 512-TD-65-GF-TS; Limited edition of 15 pieces
From Copenhagen, this three-year old brand specializes in sporty timepieces made from the recycled metal and parts of automobiles. Previous watches incorporated the metal from specific Mini Coopers and Ford Mustangs, and as you may have guessed by its name, the REC 901 collection is a series of watches made using recycled Porsche 911 parts. In fact, the name REC stands for recover, recycle and reclaim. REC is also a play on the pronunciation of the word “wreck”.
The 901 series incorporates many subtle odes to the Porsche 911, especially referencing the car’s rear air grille, dashboard and nameplate font. There are three different styles in this series, and every watch is engraved with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the salvaged 911 from which it was made. With every watch comes a Story Card that, when scanned, will take the owner online to a video documenting the stories, anecdotes and origin of the specific car which became part of their specific watch. All 901 watches feature Miyota automatic movements. This latest endeavor by REC will sell for $1,795 this October, though pre-orders will be priced much less as the collection is currently on offer at Kickstarter. www.recwatches.com.
Specifications: REC 901
CASE: 44mm four-piece steel, 13.2mm thick, screw-down crown, sapphire crystal, transparent mineral crystal caseback, decorated rotor
MOVEMENT: Automatic Miyota Cal 9100
DIAL: Recycled Porsche 911 parts, SuperLuminova on hands and indicators
FUNCTIONS: Day, date, month, power reserve
STRAP: Calf leather with protective inner lining and quick-release system