Editor’s Note: Watches & Wonders (formerly SIHH) has moved online and Baselworld 2020 is canceled, but that hasn’t stopped watch brands large and small from debuting their new wares. Stay on top of this year’s best new watch releases here.
My, how the time stands still. At the beginning of 2020, we began compiling a list of the most exciting indie watchmakers coming out with new watches in the spring. There was a lot to love. It was going to be a fantastic year for people who liked good, affordable watches. And then…well.
Here’s some rare good news: These watchmakers, the heart of the maturing indie scene worldwide, are still up and running. And though many of their new offerings are going to be delayed, they’re still aiming to have watches for sale by the middle or end of the year. Until then, check out their social media, save your pennies, and stay strong, watch fam.
Here are five of our faves that came out this year or should be available shortly.
Nodus Retrospect II
Wesley Kwok and Cullen Chen started their brand, Nodus, less than three years ago, but they’ve already released a handful of affordable watches with cult followings. Their Retrospect II, a retro diver with an inward-sloping bezel, continues that impressive run. It’s got a sandwich sunburst dial in three pastel color options, two bezel options (glossy ceramic and stainless steel), plus the same great case finishing and same great price as the original.
Movement: Seiko NH35
Colors: Stratus Sky; Salmon Sky; Snowy Sky
Nick Harris’s brand, Orion, has been going for about a decade now — and Harris’s maturity as a watchmaker shows. The follow-up to his excellent thin-and-cozy diver, the Calamity (which just got a 12-hour bezel variant), is something entirely different: a pilot’s watch, with a twist. The Hellcat, in burgundy or black, has Harris’s signature focus on comfort (it’s under 40mm!) and entirely unique design language (sexy burgundy dial, beautiful case back design). COVID has delayed production, but Harris is taking preorders, and hopes the watches will ship later this summer.
Movement: Miyota 9015
Colors: Black, Burgundy
Unimatic’s Italian designers, Giovanni Moro and Simone Nunziato, got their design language damn near perfect the first time around; their follow-up watches are an exploration of tasteful alterations on that design — even their Spongebob watch is recognizably Unimatic. The U1-FN is close to straight down the middle, with a badass bent: blacked-out, lumed-out, DLC, steel. Bravo.
Movement: Seiko NH35A
The last time we spoke to Jason Lim, he told me us wanted to live on an isolated island and build watches all day. You kind of got your wish, Jason! Seriously, Lim’s work is phenomenal; he’s one of the OGs of indie watch building. His latest, the Fairwind, is mesmerizing: the blue dial version, particularly, is a study in concentric circles, subtle pops of color (dat orange-tipped seconds hand, tho), and bezel perfection. With a 12-hour bezel, it’s pretty unbeatable at its price. You should be able to put one on your wrist this June.
Movement: Sellita SW200
Colors: Blue, Gray
Price: $775 (tentatively)
anOrdain Model 1 Version 2
After it was released at the end of 2018, anOrdain’s Model 1 quickly became a darling among watch fans. Who didn’t love its clean dial design and the popping colors of its in-house enamel dials? The new Model 1 has a thinner case and hands produced (and blued) in-house.
Movement: Sellita SW-200 with Incabloc protection
Colors: Iron Cream; Post Office Red; Teal; Parisian Blue; Pink