The 10 Best Watch Brands That Aren’t Swiss
The very first watch was invented during the 15th century by inventor Peter Henlein. Watches became incredibly popular as they were utilized by many as a way for a person to keep track of time in an age where technology was not as advanced as it is today. Over the years, many watch manufacturers have developed some truly unique and awe-inspiring pieces.
Interestingly, wristwatches became the norm after pocket watches went out of fashion. Although wristwatches are not as popular today as they were decades ago, they’re still a staple fashion piece for many. It takes time to choose a watch that will become a collector’s item or your new favorite fashion accessory.
Furthermore, a watch can tell a person a lot about your character without you ever having to say a word. When it comes time to eventually choose a new watch from a famous brand, you should take your time exploring your options.
Most of us are aware of the big Swiss watch manufacturers, but the Swiss are not the only ones who know how to design and execute a memorable piece. There are many other reputable watch manufacturers that have created some remarkable watches. In this article, centered around watches, we will provide you with a brief overview of 10 of the best watch brands that aren’t Swiss, as well as an idea of the watches each brand produces.
1. Grand Seiko (Japan)
The Japanese Grand Seiko brand was built on the foundations of the Seiko brand. Grand Seiko was founded in 1960 after many years were spent debating ways to implement the concept of a watch that was beautifully designed while being durable and capable of precisely telling time.
The first Grand Seiko 25 jewel manual winding caliber 3180 was incredibly accurate and offered an impressive power reserve of 45 hours. Additionally, it was the first Japanese watch brand to comply with the standard of excellence needed by the Bureaux officials de Controle de la Marche des Montres.
Today Grand Seiko watches are well known for their revolutionary spring drive movement system, which combines automatic and quartz timekeeping methods. This groundbreaking technological watch-making invention has seen Grand Seiko watches become one of the most accurate watch brands in the world.
One of the best watches produced by Grand Seiko is their SBGA011 Grand Seiko Snowflake model. If you want an incredibly accurate yet timeless piece that is handcrafted by meticulous craftsmen, you should look into the Grand Seiko watch brand.
2. Bell & Ross (France)
Bell & Ross is a French luxury watch brand founded in 1992 with a key focus on providing a unique watch face that could be used for professional use. The brand began as a university project between its founders Carlos A. Rosillo and Bruno Belamich. Since then, Bell & Ross watches have become very popular amongst celebrities.
The company’s BR watch models have become instantly notorious due to their unique square faces designed to resemble specific instruments found in an aircraft cockpit. With the success of the BR models, Bell & Ross has gone on to manufacture three product lines, namely Vintage, Aviation, and Marine. Additionally, they also manufacture high-end diving watches that are water-resistant.
Interestingly Bell & Ross have been providing the French air force with watches since 1992 and are even the official watch supplier to the French Space program. In 2016 the brand collaborated with the French car manufacturer Renault and created specialized watches for the car brand that had a visual appearance inspired by Formula 1 racing cars.
A Bell & Ross watch would definitely suit professionals looking for a watch with a standout face with an overall luxury appearance that doesn’t take away from its ruggedly unique design.
3. Nordgreen (Denmark)
In recent years there has been a feverous spate of start-up watchmaking companies that have been testing the metaphorical waters. Nordgreen is a Denmark watchmaking brand that is one of them. Nordgreen started as a Kickstarter campaign and was founded in 2017 with the partners Vasilij Brandt and Pascar Sivam.
The brand’s vision is focused on creating a designer watch brand that is aesthetically pleasing and functional. At the helm commandeering the sleek Nordgreen watches is Copenhagen-based designer Jakob Wagner, who is well known for his prestigious work.
Nordgreen is one of the most sustainable modern watch brands in the market. Every member of the Nordgreen team works towards designing and manufacturing modern Danish watches that are sustainable. The brand is involved in numerous sustainability projects and aims to continue being carbon neutral.
Every Nordgreen watch follows a traditional Danish design, but consumers are given a range of different strap options so that they can always change up their look.
Those looking for a beautiful yet versatile traditional Danish watch that won’t cost them a fortune should consider Nordgreen. Their direct-to-customer platform allows them to keep their pricing affordable without reducing the quality of their products.
4. A. Lange & Sohne (Germany)
Over the years, a few watch brands have ceased to exist, only to be revived again later. A. Lange & Sohne is one of these companies. In 1948 the brand Lange Uhren GmbH was nationalized after World War Two, and it wasn’t until 145 years later in 1990 when it was re-registered by the great-grandson of the original founder Ferdinand Adolf Lange.
This watch brand is a German manufacturer of prestigious luxury watches that have a Glashutte appearance and design, which differentiates them from classic Swiss styles. Interestingly many influential and famous people have worn watches by A. Lange & Shone, such as Alexander II of Russia, German Emperor Wilhelm II, actor Brad Pitt, and politician Vladimir Putin. In 1994, the brand released its first range of wristwatches that became popular amongst traditionalists.
Unlike many other watch brands, A. Lange & Sohne watches contain mechanical movements instead of quartz movements. The brand is also renowned for its complicated yet straightforward watch designs, split-second chronographs, and perpetual calendars. One of the very best watches you can purchase from the brand is their Lange 1.
Although A. Lange & Sohne watches are quite pricey, the prestige of owning one of their pieces is incredibly attractive for many people. If you have a larger budget to splurge on a new watch, you should certainly look at the various models on offer by the brand.
5. Sarpaneva (Finland)
Sarpaneva watches are not just for telling time. These are beautiful works of art adored by those lucky enough to be able to afford them. Although this brand is not as well-known as others on this list, it’s quickly becoming a recognized name in the watchmaking industry.
The Sarpaneva brand is a Finnish watch company founded in 2003 by one of the most renowned Finish watchmakers of this decade; Stepan Sarpaneva. It’s believed Sarpeneva draws his inspiration for his designs from the beautiful harshness of his country and his love for motorcycles.
The Sarpaneva watches are easily distinguishable from the more conventional watches on the market due to their incredibly unique melancholy-designed faces. These watches are meant to be worn by expressional people who have a taste for a watch that is going to immediately draw the eye of anyone who catches a glimpse of it.
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6. Gronefeld (Netherlands)
Since 2008 watch brand Gronefeld has been taking the world by storm with its modern take on classic watch styles. Unsurprisingly this relatively young yet successful watch brand has a deeply entrenched history in the watchmaking world.
The Gronefeld founding family can date their watchmaking history back to 1912 when Gerhard-Lois Gronefeld began his career as a watchmaker. It’s his grandsons Bart and Tim Gronefeld who have now continued the family legacy.
The first Gronefeld watch was the GTM-06 minute repeater which featured the prestigious in-house Cal. G-01. Since the release of their first modern model, the brother watchmaking duo has managed to design and manufacture a few watch models that have won numerous prizes.
Each model goes through a rigorous two month sketch and conceptual period. During this period, the brothers embrace the technical challenges and utilize their expertise and traditional, time-honored techniques to create memorable watches.
Anyone wanting a trendy yet classically created Gronefeld branded watch should opt for the 1941 Principia. This model comes in either stainless steel or white gold, has a cream lacquer dial, five different watch face colors, and has six different strap options.
7. Timex (America)
One of the most well-known watchmaking brands in the United States is Timex. This brand was founded in 1984 with the sole purpose of combining European clockmaking with American ingenuity. By doing this, Timex was able to bring watches to the masses and away from the elite.
The first watches designed by Timex, then known as the Waterbury Clock Company, had gears that were stamped out of metal instead of wood which was an unheard-of practice at the time. As the company continued to be successful, they moved from only manufacturing pocket watches to wristwatches.
By the 1960s, Timex watches were so incredibly popular due to their durability, affordability, and classic look, that every third watch sold in America was a Timex. After nearly half a century, the Timex Marlin model is still one of the most popular watches made by the brand. On the other hand, the Timex Easy Readers simplistic and utilitarian design has managed to keep its relevancy and is still one of the brand’s most-loved models.
In the 1980s, Timex took a leap of faith that many watchmaker brands have stayed clear of and produced their first digital watches. This innovative move led to Timex developing the world’s first smartwatch. The Timex Datalink is one of the only wristwatches that is officially certified for space flight by NASA.
A Timex watch could be perfect for you if you love a watch that has its roots steeped in tradition. The brand manufactures several different watches with varying price points. However, recently, they have created an affordable range suitable for entrepreneurs and those starting out in the business world.
8. Panerai (Italy)
The Panerai brand is one of the oldest Italian luxury watch brands in the world. It was founded in Florence, Italy, in 1860 by Giovanni Panerai. Interestingly Panerai didn’t officially start producing their own commercial watches until 1993, as before they worked with the Marina Militare on a contractual basis.
During the brand’s time contracting with the military, they only produced one watch type known as the GPF 2/56. When it became apparent that working with the military was neither cost-effective or boosting the brand’s success, they decided to enter into the civilian market as a luxury brand.
Currently, the brand manufactures four different marketing lines. You can choose a watch from either the Historic, Contemporary, Manifattura, or special edition categories. Since it was founded, the brand has continued to flourish and has opened numerous branches in many different countries. If you love Italian luxury goods and are looking for a new timeless watch with rich history, you may want to purchase a Panerai watch.
9. Bremont (U.K.)
The British Bermont luxury watch brand produces aviation-themed watches that, although expensive, are incredibly fashionable and memorable. Bremont watches uniquely only manufacture an estimated 10,000 pieces each year, but this doesn’t mean they lose revenue as they gross approximately $56 million. However, it is believed that with the opening of the company’s new factory in 2021, they will be able to produce around 50,000 watches annually.
The founding faces behind the brand’s success belong to Giles and Nick English, who founded the brand in 2002. Impressively Bremont watches have won many exemplary awards despite being in business for less than two full decades.
The brand has stuck to its military roots and has designed and produced several special edition watches for former and presently serving members of the armed forces. Additionally, all Bremont watches are handmade in the United Kingdom, and each one comes with a three-year warranty.
Currently, the brand has released many new watch models, with the latest and most remarkable being the new S302. This watch has a chronometer-tested movement, a Supermarine seaplane design on its back, and is specifically designed and engineered to be a professional dive watch. Those wanting a watch that highlights the intrinsic connection between the sea and air with a modern aviation design will likely enjoy the various watches produced by Bermont.
10. Erroyl (Australia)
It’s often hard for new watch brands to compete with some of the more established ones. However, the Australian brand Erroyl, founded in 2014, manages to keep its head above water against the competition.
Wes Knight founded Erroyl with the sole purpose of producing elegant and luxurious automatic movement timepieces that were more affordable and accessible to people with lower budgets. By doing this, Erroyl has allowed more people access to the experience of appreciating a high-quality watch with a beautiful appearance.
Each model by the brand features exceptional details that give each watch a minimalistic look with subtle complexity. The brand continues to grow and has sold its watches to consumers located in more than 50 different countries. This fact is awe-inspiring considering the entire company is staffed by only three people.
Should you like a classic watch with beautiful fine detailing and a micro band, you would likely like the Erroyl E30 watch model. This timepiece is magnificently designed with fine concentric circular ridges that are engraved on its silver dial. Additionally, the E30 also has faceted-style dagger hands and a gorgeous sapphire crystal.
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