Independent watchmakers

Portraits of a new wave


April 2023

Portraits of a new wave

A new wave is coming to watchmaking. It’s not a tsunami and it won’t change the face of the industry, but it will have an effect. These are a new generation of watchmakers who grew up with new technologies and the resurgence of the mechanical watch. They are a collaborative generation; they crave independence and creative freedom, with a sometimes quasi-religious devotion to the mechanical oeuvre of centuries past.


new generation of watchmakers is coming through.

What does the future hold for them? Not even they can say, but they do know it will be independent – and independence means setting the bar high. For a watchmaker to pursue his or her goal with absolute freedom, they must excel. But that doesn’t mean trampling all over the competition. In fact, one of the most striking things about these talented individuals is the vast, open, friendly network to which they belong. Rather than viewing each other with suspicion, they talk, interact, discuss, help each other out and learn from one other. And every one of them remembers the teacher or mentor who helped them on their way, passing the flame that kindled their passion. Learning and dialogue are essential to their journey.

Born in the social media era, their entrance into the globalised and highly sophisticated milieu of mechanical watches is perfectly timed.

They have many things in common. They were all “hooked” from an early age, enthralled by the magic of mechanical objects. Often there’s a mother who’s skilled with her hands, a watchmaker grandfather, an uncle who does woodwork on the weekends. Sometimes there were broken alarm clocks in a corner of the attic, waiting to be taken apart. And then, having indulged this childhood fascination, for every one of these young watchmakers there would be an encounter with a teacher, a mentor; someone who, like them, couldn’t get enough of the mechanical arts.

Born in the social media era, their entrance into the globalised and highly sophisticated milieu of mechanical watches is perfectly timed. Their seat at the table is ready and waiting for them. Not only are there substantially more collectors today; the collector profile has changed. Watch collecting is no longer the pursuit of wealthy old bachelors, as it was fifty years ago. Now, watchmaking for connoisseurs is all the rage. As auction prices have rocketed, the saleroom successes have become investment vehicles. The true connoisseurs, the genuine watch lovers (at least, those with the requisite financial resources) are seeking out independent watchmakers. Following in the wake of the first generation of independents, who now occupy a commanding position in the horological landscape, a new wave of talented individuals is coming through. They are young, but well-versed in the history and lessons of the past. They are at home with file and lathe, CNC and CAD. They are blessed with an artistic sensibility and acknowledged talent. They are focused, skilled, connected.

Spend time with them, and what will strike you most is how genuinely and enthusiastically passionate they are. We give you five portraits. And these are just the beginning.


Photo: Down the rabbit hole that is Vianney Halter’s workshop… Vianney Halter knows mechanisms inside and out. Naturally affable, a gifted maker whose inspirations run the gamut from Breguet to Bradbury, his creativity and independence have made him a model for the next generation of watchmakers. Credit: Guillaume Perret for Europa Star.

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