Off the Beaten Horological Track

There is so much more to the world of watches than merely the big, marketed Swiss brands. In the run-up to this year’s Salon QP at the Saatchi Gallery, we investigate a few of the independent watch players

Article by John Galt

With the lead up to what is the UK’s finest and best watch show that is Salon QP, I’ll be opening your eyes to the world of watches that are away from the main stream; not your everyday pieces that are seen on most high streets or wrist on a daily basis, but ones that are from small independent makers.

Some call them avent garde, niche or even mavericks but the world of watches always needs those few that break the mould and do it their way or nothing at all. Those makers who definitely do not follow trends or the masses with their designs, they don’t care if it’s conventional or not and no one can tell them otherwise. The big hitters in the watch world say that watches have to have hands to tell time or functions and so on but some independents have ripped the rule book which has been around for hundreds of year and brought us watches from like the likes MB&F who, with collaborations with other watch makers, have brought us pieces that look like space ships or robots. Then there is Urwerk whose watches have no hands at all to tell the time just pointers and cubed satellites that rotate to indicate time.

There are two favourite houses of mine that couldn’t be any different if they tried but are exquisite in their own right. First off we have HYT which burst on the scene around  five years ago and blew the watch world well and truly apart as they were the first and still the only watch maker to use fluid to tell the time. If you don’t know or haven’t  heard of them, please look them up as the minutes use a conventional hand on small sub-dial in the middle of the case but round the outside in a small tube is the coloured liquid they slowly circumnavigates the dial showing hours – so unique and jaw dropping to see.

My other personal favourite is a small independent watch maker and designer who is about 30 minutes from where I live and makes superb niche pieces that do use the traditional hands but who has a background in design. The owner Giles Ellis is meticulous about design and makes his products how he would like – not predominantly what will sell like other watch companies. Schofield watch company has become more a traditional gentleman’s brand with only a handful of  different watches, but over 20 different straps to marry to your timepiece – from the conventional through to straps made from cricket ball leather and gymnastics wrist strap leather – plus also leather watch wallets and other accessories.

There is so much more to watches than just the big hitting power houses and the likes of Rolex and Omega, so hopefully over the next couple of issues leading up to Salon QP your eyes can be opened to the world of independent watch making both from the UK and further afield. When your are looking for a new timepiece perhaps this will make you hopefully delve a little deeper away from the main stream and see what these alternate brands have to offer, as you get more than just a timepiece – it’s their personal sweat and tears. riddle_stop 2

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