Watch Insider’s 6 Most Underestimated Watch Manufacturers


Some watch brands get all the credit, while others deserve more than they get. This six-pack – Breguet, Cartier, Chopard, Glashütte Original, Nomos and Tissot – does a great job. All six are extremely innovative and have a huge range of in-house-manufactured calibers. But the greater public of watch collectors and aficionados may not realize all that these brands are doing. In this article from my blog, Watch-Insider.com, I discuss the unsung strengths of these six watch brands.

Disclaimer: this is purely your Watch Insider’s personal opinion. And I want to note that I mention these six brands not to criticize them but to put them in the spotlight, since I know what they are capable of. In what follows the brands are in alphabetical order, so this is not a ranking. And after you read, please do comment – it’s much appreciated!

Breguet

In the high-end segment of watchmaking, everybody talks about Patek Philippe as the be-all and end-all. Because Patek Philippe’s marketing is so strong, people tend to forget about other companies in this tier. But Breguet operates in this same segment and, in terms of innovation, it is the leader of the pack. Each year Breguet presents at least one stunning timepiece that highlights high-tech, high-end watchmaking. The brand has innovated by using magnets in watch movements and by developing ultra-thin and ultra-complicated timepieces. True to the legacy of its founder Abraham-Louis Breguet, who invented the tourbillon, today Breguet builds and sells more high-end tourbillons than any other Swiss manufacturer. Breguet manufactures some of the most beautiful dials in the industry and is a master of quality finishing. It also makes some of the most beautiful women’s watches and sports watches in its segment. The Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique shown here is one of the thinnest automatic tourbillons on the market, and one of the most beautiful.

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Cartier

Cartier has a history so rich that it would take several tomes to tell the brand’s entire story. Early in the 20th century, Cartier was an early adopter of the wristwatch and cooperated with the best movement manufacturers. Since 2009 Cartier has focused intensively on developing high-end and extremely creative in-house calibers. Carole Forestier-Kasapi, the head of the brand’s movement production, and her team of developers and master-watchmakers are responsible for more than 30 new in-house calibers. Many of the innovations presented through the Cartier ID One and ID Two concept watches were world-firsts. Cartier has also shown expertise in materials engineering: it has plans for an innovative approach to protecting its movements from magnetic fields. The brand operates out of several ultra-modern factories, the most impressive of which is in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Unfortunately, Cartier is still seen by some as a jewelry brand with minimal legitimacy in manufacturing wristwatches for men. The opposite is true! Cartier offers a variety of useful and/or so-called small complications as well as absolutely high-end timepieces. The Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Second Time-Zone Day-Night watch shown here is a good example of the brand’s creativity in working with a small complication.

Cartier_Rotonde-de-Cartier-Second-Time-Zone-Day-Night-watch-Calibre-1904-FU-MC-2_WI556241-1-560 Cartier_Rotonde-de-Cartier-Second-Time-Zone-Day-Night-watch-Calibre-1904-FU-MC-5_W1556368-2-560
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Caliber 1904-FU MC

Chopard

Chopard has the same image problem as Cartier: many see it as a maker of bling-bling jewelry and not as a successful watch manufacture. However, the brand’s L.U.C movements have been entirely developed, crafted and assembled at Chopard Manufacture in Fleurier since 1996. Chopard’s range of calibers is huge and includes all complications, big and small, as well as a high-speed escapement. Some of the movements are even manufactured to the rigorous specifications of the Geneva Seal and the Fleurier Quality Foundation. Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, one of the presidents of Chopard, is the mastermind behind these developments. He also spearheaded Fleurier Ébauches, a Chopard subsidiary that manufactures a variety of movements at lower price points and equips a growing number of Chopard wristwatches with 100% in-house calibers. The new Chopard Superfast sports watches are the best example: the collection includes an in-house automatic caliber, an in-house automatic caliber with power reserve, and even an in-house automatic chronograph caliber. Scheufele also invested in his own hairspring production many years ago, by buying 25% of the shares of Atokalpa. But the question is: who knows about all this? I do not understand why Chopard does not make even more effort to let the world know what it’s capable of. The Chopard L.U.C 1963 Chrono PuristS Edition shown here is a limited edition done for the PuristS watch forum.

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Chopard L.U.C 1963 Chrono PuristS Edition. Caliber L.U.C 03.07-L
10 Responses to “Watch Insider’s 6 Most Underestimated Watch Manufacturers”

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  1. Your artice is very helpful. Brequet looks cool. Few months back I went surfing on the internet for a watch but ended up confused with so many models. I am a bit more decided now. Thanks for the information.

    Reply
  2. Fabio Anderaos

    I believe to have the solution for both Chopard and Breguet increase their sales.

    Reply
  3. John Thompson

    This is a great article for those of us who find the “too many brands – too many models” confusing.

    Trying to find good quality watches at a fair price is very challenging. Obviously, the retailers and manufacturers won’t help us, so I very much appreciate your comments.

    thank you, john

    Reply
  4. srhardy

    Powermatic 80 movement is in Tissot & the Certina & is an awesome buy. The Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar has the problems of the original Tissot T-Touch sorted out now (battery life, cost of replacement & water proofing) and the original can be had for as little as $350US now online! I know, i bought one and except for the fake/fixed non-rotating bezel its awesome! When it dies or is going to cost i might just get get the newer solar one instead! Bang4buck Tissot/Certina are amazing value watches with SWISS quality for normal consumers like most of us and have a place in all our watch boxes.

    The Certina DS dive watches are the cheapest dive ISO certified watches i found after investigating & are a worthy purchase as a dive log backup for dives….

    Reply
  5. mircea calota

    Cool piece :) worth expanding to feature level. Maurice Lacroix is clearly worthy of the list, but I reckon there is a top ten in this line of thought. Piaget seems to suffer from the same stereotyping that afflicts Cartier and Chopard. They have the heritage and their work in slim dress watches is always drool-worthy. Tudor is also a bit under the radar. But the big elephant in the room is Seiko. They are probably the biggest and most innovative name in watchdom. Nobody comes close, Rolex included, yet they’re not able to get us out of our Swiss Made obsession. Real shame.

    Reply
    • Moritz Elsaesser

      Correct . Great comments from someone who obviously knows what’s happening out there,like a few of us.

      Reply
  6. Evan Roklen

    Alexander, great idea and good that you are helping make people aware of excellent in-house manufactures. However, how could you miss Maurice Lacroix? Yes, they put out a lot of ETA- and Sellita-based movements. But they make some incredible in-house ones, especially the new Masterpiece Gravity that I just purchased.

    Please take a look at the book “Movement” by Guido Mocafico. Just photos of beautiful movements from all the top houses and independents. Out of all the Pateks, Journes and Vacherons, there’s a M.L. movement that is simply stunning.

    Keep up the good work.
    Evan

    Reply
    • srhardy

      cool, thanks for the heads up Evan, did a google/price and they look like a nice add to my collection, just have to decide which one now ;-)

      Reply
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