13 Great Watches That Made Their Debut at Windup San Francisco 2019

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Our Windup Watch Fair started with a simple premise: bring together the great independent brands we cover on the site, put them all under one roof, and give enthusiasts a pressure-free environment to try the watches on and interact with the people who make them possible. Pretty straightforward. As the fair has grown in scope (and as we’ve added a west coast wing), it’s been interesting to see how brands look to the fair as a way to market their products in a really personal and unique way.

To that end, a whole bunch of our favorite brands introduced notable new watches at this year’s fair in San Francisco. Some were casual unveilings of prototypes, some were ready to go then and there. Let’s take a closer look at some of the new releases announced at last month’s Windup.

(Editor’s note: some of the watches featured here are available through the Windup Watch Shop)

Halios – Universa and Fairwind

There might not be a hotter ticket in watches than those from Halios. Seriously. You can at least get on a waitlist for a steel sports Rolex of your choice, but brand founder Jason Lim just isn’t making more of those original Seaforths. Not to fear, though, because if you miss out on one of the limited runs of these highly sought after timepieces, there’s a good chance Jason has something equally interesting and desirable coming in right behind it.

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Introducing the highly-anticipated Halios Universa Prototype.
On the wrist.

We were lucky to get a look at two future releases from Halios at last month’s Windup: the Universa and the Fairwind. The Universa is a simple, conservatively-sized sports watch with Arabic numerals at 12, 3, 6, and 9. At 38mm with a 48mm lug-to-lug length and a fixed bezel, this is a classically sized all purpose watch. The case is brushed all around, with the notable exception of the top lug chamfers, and the dial features squared off applied markers that angle inward toward the center of the watch, completing an extremely symmetrical design that’s simple, clean, and places a high emphasis on legibility. There are a number of dial colors in the works.

Fairwind prototype.

The Fairwind is only slightly more complicated than the Universa, but equally rewarding. Like the Universa, we have an extremely clean, no date dial design, and a relatively conservative size (39mm in diameter). There will be a couple of dial color options, and Jason has indicated we’ll be seeing both 12-hour and 60-minute bezels on this release. The Fairwind will be available on a beautifully brushed three-link steel bracelet.

To learn more and to stay up to date on this release, be sure to sign up to Halios’ email through his website. Halios

Astor+Banks – Sea Ranger

The new Sea Ranger from Astor+Banks hasn’t even launched on Kickstarter yet, but Windup attendees were able to get a hands-on preview at the fair last month. The multipurpose tool watch puts a unique spin on what it means to have “military heritage” in a watch. It’s good looking, easy to read, and the product of a thoughtful watch enthusiast who asked himself what an ideal watch in a combat situation would look like.

When brand founder Andrew Perez answered that question in the context of his service in an infantry unit, what he came up with was the Sea Ranger. It’s durable, water resistant, functional, and with multiple colorways, you should be able to find one that speaks to you.

The Sea Ranger will sell for $875 when it’s released to the general public, but you can get in early on Kickstarter in June and save some money. There’s more  information in our first look hereAstor+Banks

Pelton – Sector (With One-Off Dials)

Pelton arrived at the fair with perhaps the most inside baseball new release of the week, and maybe the most limited (they’re already spoken for, but Pelton has teased on Instagram that more might be on the way). If you’re familiar with their absolutely gorgeous Sector model, these will look similar and have you doing the pinch-to-zoom action on your smartphone to take in the extremely subtle changes from the original.

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Specifically, Pelton has replaced the standard bead blasted finish in center sector with a grained finish, and added a “record turned” sector toward the outer rim of the dial, replacing a brushed element in the original design. If there was one minor quibble with the original Sector (and I do mean minor) it would have been that the finishing of each sector was done in a very similar style. While extremely well done, the brushed-to-brushed transitions just aren’t as visually interesting as the textured-to-brushed transitions.  This new element, something that amounts to an extremely small change, brings the dial to a whole new level in my opinion, and I’ll be interested to hear what the reaction is from Pelton fans should this variant ever get a wider release. Pelton

Damasko – DS 30 Windup Edition

Building on Damasko’s DS 30 platform, the Windup Edition featured here reimagines the fan-favorite tool watch with some subtle, yet impactful design tweaks. It’s still the same great size at 39mm across and 9.9mm thick, and it uses the same extra-hard submarine steel for the case, but with some small tweaks to the dial (which includes a new olive color) and handset, as well as the option of getting a DAMEST black case, the Windup Edition feels and looks like its own thing. 

The DS 30 Windup Edition is now available for pre-order in the Windup Watch Shop.  

Collins – Hyperion

We brought you an initial look at the Collins Hyperion here, and the watch made it’s formal entrance at Windup San Francisco last month. Brand founder Jimmy Collins has crafted a clean design that takes the best elements of aviation and field watches and combines them into something that’s both sporty and casual.

The standard Hyperion…
…and the carbon dial variant.

This is a fairly priced timepiece that could easily serve as a “one watch collection” for someone new to the hobby, and represents an attractive option for the more seasoned enthusiast as well, with its USA-assembled form and Swiss-tuned movement. Collins

Vortic – Springfield (With a Milled Black-PVD Case)

We were thrilled to see Vortic bring their new PVD coated cases to Windup. We took a quick look at them when they were announced here, and fans of the brand had an opportunity to get a closer look at the fair.

This is a sleek and somewhat more modern take on a look that Vortic has been perfecting for years,  and the new PVD-cased watches could be seen as the start of a new chapter. As a service to the watch collecting community, Vortic’s commitment to rescuing old pocket watch movements and giving them new life in 100% American made cases can’t be understated. They continue to impress with each new product they introduce. Vortic

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Archimede – Outdoor Protect With a Bracelet

The Archimede Outdoor is a watch whose purpose is given away in its very name. Simply put, the watch exists to keep time on the wrist of outdoor adventure seekers, and it has been designed to be as robust and durable as you’d expect such a watch to be. The recent addition of a bracelet provides the watch with some additional hard wearing functionality, and also adds some visual cues that call to mind certain integrated bracelet sports watches of the 1970s that exist in a price range that is, to say the least, on the opposite end of the spectrum of the Archimede Outdoor.

The awesome Archimede Outdoor Protect, now with a new bracelet.

The Outdoor’s ICKLER case is made of hardened steel, and brushed all around. It’s likely that 50 years from now, this watch will look much like it does today.  Archimede

Martenero x Windup Watch Shop – Edgemere Reserve Limited Edition

Martenero’s Edgemere Reserve is the newest timepiece to get the Windup Limited Edition treatment, and the new version made its debut at the fair last month. Available in a limited edition of just 75, this Edgemere is cast in a more subdued colorway and takes inspiration from the automotive world, where previous versions were clearly nautically themed. That said, the design language of this new Edgemere hasn’t changed much at all, and it comes with the same great specs as the other versions in the collection.

You can find a whole lot more about the Edgemere Reserve LE here, and you can pre-order it exclusively through the Windup Watch Shop.

anOrdain –  Model 2

It’s fair to say that in the world of smaller independent brands, you need a gimmick of some kind to stand out from the crowd and set yourself apart. Maybe a calling card, or signature, is a less pejorative term than gimmick, but when the hallmark of a brand happens to be enamel dials made with traditional old world techniques, I personally feel like you can call it whatever you want, and the quality will shine through.

If enamel dials are your thing, then this new model from anOrdain may just be right up your alley.

The new models that were previewed by anOrdain at Windup are definitely an expansion on their original Model 1. The case shape feels slightly more compact, maybe even a bit sporty in comparison to the original. The lines still have an almost liquid flow into one another, but the effect is somehow less formal. The skeletonized syringe hands are another new detail for the Model 2, and they give the watch a vintage, military inspired feel.

The dials, or course, are going to be the star of any Anordain watch, and from what we saw at Windup, these won’t disappoint. Even numbered Arabics are still present around the perimeter, but the font has been adjusted and they now have a vaguely art deco vibe to them. There were numerous colors on display at the show, and shown here is a dark green (though it looks more gray here) and a deep purple, but if anOrdain remains true to form we’ll see some additional options by the time these officially launch. anOrdain

VERO – Century Series

VERO’s Century Series is inspired by classic mid century watch designs, but with just a touch of modern flair. Three new additions to the line had their debut at Windup, all available in your choice of a contemporary 40mm case, or a more period-appropriate 36mm. These three new pieces also represent the first automatic entries in the Century Series lineup (the three prior were handwound only).

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To my eye, the seafoam green Tempo is the highlight here, but the Summit (a light lilac shade) and the Crew (in a somewhat muted navy) are both nice looking as well. The colors are all pretty unique for modern watches, and I think VERO deserves applause for experimenting here. Each dial has a complement of colorful rings circling the Arabic numerals track, which adds an extra layer of visual interest and gives the watches a fun sensibility. At just under $1,000, the Century Series represents a great value for an everyday watch that is a little outside what we normally think of as “everyday.” VERO

Nodus – Contrail SS

Nodus made the short trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco for Windup, and brought with them the latest version of their budget friendly Contrail sports watch. The Contrail SS is so named for the stainless steel bezel in a 12-hour configuration, but otherwise shares a great deal with the other watches in the Contrail line. The watch measures a humble 39mm and is available in a total of five dial variants.

Regardless of color choice, the distinctive stainless steel bezel gives these watches the vibe or a hardcore tool, a perfectly proportioned and engineered slab of metal that’s ready for whatever you’re going throw at it. The details in the finishing really reinforce this, particularly the matched knurling patterns on the bezel and crown and the generous bevels on the topside of the lugs. For $600, this new Contrail offers a lot of character and vintage inspired charm at a very fair price. Nodus

Farer Lander Chronograph

Farer chose to launch their brand new Lander Chronograph at Windup, and it’s another strong entry from the British microbrand. This one is a bit of a mashup of the extremely popular Lander GMT and their ’70s-inspired, large register automatic chronos. The sea green dial color on the Lander is totally breathtaking and, genuinely, not really like anything else on the market right now.

As always with Farer, the color combinations are on point; they chose just the right autumnal reds as accents on the seconds hands, and everything meshes together with the stark white numerals. The case, complete with rectangular chronograph pushers, is just under 40mm and boasts finishing that is well beyond what you will typically find from brands in the $2000 chronograph market. Farer

Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.
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