One of the great things about the current state of the watch world is the insane variety of watches that are available. We’re at a point (or at least approaching one) where brands of all stripes are willing to get creative in ways we haven’t seen in years. We’ve come out of a long period of time dominated by vintage inspired watches that all felt cut from the same cloth, and it feels like we’re now at the beginning of a new movement where makers large and small are aiming for narrower and narrower niches. I’m lucky to have seen some of the watches coming from brands we all admire later in the year, and I’m confident that when the dust settles we’ll be talking about a sea change toward more adventurous designs and a level of watchmaking once reserved for the super wealthy being made accessible to new customers for the first time.
This is why I’m more interested than ever in the micro indies I’ve discussed in these pages previously. It feels like there’s a nearly infinite opportunity for brands to create special, unusual, innovative, and original watches for an audience that’s simultaneously incredibly broad and highly specialized. There’s no shortage of collectors interested in getting something unique – a byproduct of the aforementioned decade of lookalike black dialed divers. And yet, each individual watch forces you to ask, “Who is this for?” That’s a question that most of us wonder everytime we look at an MB&F or De Bethune, and the answer has always been “rich guys.” Now, with similarly adventurous watches exhibiting high levels of craft coming in at less than $10,000, it’s a harder question to answer.
The Atelier Holgur Frømand, on the one hand, is literally a black dialed diver. But it doesn’t feel like an homage to classic watches of the past. It has a funky case design and little flourishes and details throughout that elevate it aesthetically, and a movement that is surprising and also somewhat confounding. It’s not a perfect watch, but it’s a near perfect example of the type of highly specific, niche oriented watch making that I think is currently the most exciting thing happening in the industry.