And Now for Something Completely Different: the Atelier Holgur Frømand

Atelier Holgur is a new independent brand based in Singapore that is the latest in a series of upstart watchmaking outfits offering interesting, low production timepieces at what can only be described as a high end luxury price point. These brands set themselves apart by skipping over the usual entry level segment and competing directly with established brands in the $10,000 range. Havid Nagan and their $8,000 HN00 comes to mind as an obvious comparison point. These are the types of watches that clearly offer some kind of impressive mechanical or craft component, but have the majority of onlookers wondering who is about to send a wire to an unknown brand when there are plenty of reliable, established options to consider. This type of thinking is obviously antithetical to the type of watch community I think all of us want, where creative people with cool ideas have the freedom to find their niche audience. Such is the case with the Atelier Holgur Frømand, a deeply strange diver from an unknown brand with a price tag of CHF 8,850, WIth only 100 available, though, Atelier Holgur seems to be banking on reaching a core audience of enthusiasts with just the right taste to take a flier on something like this. 


What immediately appeals to me about the Frømand is a recognition that it is meant to be a luxury object, with pleasing aesthetics, and not a high priced take on a “tool watch.” In the brand’s press materials, they discuss how dive watches are no longer the utilitarian objects that end users once required, and the Frømand has been outfitted with high end touches that are primarily aimed at the desk diver. When seemingly every press release is trying to convince you that this new diver is the tool watch for a new generation of watch lovers, it’s refreshing when Atelier Holgur wants you to know that they were just trying to make the coolest looking diver they could in the most high quality way possible. 

The 40mm case is Grade 5 titanium, and it has an unusual, angular shape with alternating polished and micro blasted elements. From the top down, the watch appears to have a cushion shape, but maintains well defined lugs, which is a somewhat unusual design quirk. What we’re seeing is the somewhat unusual method by which straps are fitted to the case. As you can see in photos, there appears to be a fixed bar through which pass through straps can be attached. The Frømand comes with two straps that are designed to loop around these bars while still providing a view of the movement. It’s not unlike the fixed bar execution of Tudor’s Pelagos FXD, but in the case of the Frømand the “bar” is hidden when viewing the watch from the front side.

In comparison to the case, the dial is relatively simple, and trades in well worn dive watch tropes to maximize legibility through contrast and the liberal application of luminescent material. The dial is jet black with a matte finish, and hands and hour markers are white and easy enough to see at a glance. A nice aesthetic touch that Atelier Holgur has applied here is a very subtle snailing pattern through the dial, a finishing technique usually reserved for subregisters (as is the case on the Frømand’s running seconds register at 6:00, as well). 

The movement is perhaps the Frømand’s biggest flex. Made by Schwarz Etienne, the caliber is equipped with a micro-rotor and has been largely skeletonized to Atelier Holgur’s specifications. Like the case, the movement incorporates a mix of both refined and more industrial style finishing, including sandblasted bridge surfaces along with hand polished bevels. In the supplied photographs it certainly appears very nicely decorated and a pleasure to look at. Atelier Holgur claims an impressive 86 power reserve. 

Independent watchmaking, when it is at its best, is all about following a creative spark, and then finding the small handful of enthusiasts with whom your project really resonates. The Frømand strikes me as a genuinely unique creation that will have a very limited appeal, but that’s kind of the point. This new watch is a reminder that there truly is something out there for everyone. More information can be found at the Atelier Holgur website, and deliveries are slated to begin in the first quarter of 2023.   Atelier Holgur

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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.