Watch Insider’s 6 Most Underestimated Watch Manufacturers

Glashütte Original

Glashütte Original, as the name already tells us, does not manufacture in Switzerland but in Glashütte, Germany. As a result, Glashütte Original always stands in the shadow of Glashütte’s best-known brand, A. Lange & Söhne. Even though Glashütte Original is owned by the Swatch Group and has developed its own style, many still inaccurately classify it as a knockoff of Lange’s designs. However, Glashütte Original today is a highly innovative manufacture with a huge variety of calibers, including almost all small and big complications. The quality of its movements is truly flawless. This year Glashütte Original finally presented its big missing link: the integrated automatic chronograph Caliber 37-01. In my eyes, Caliber 37-01 belongs in the top tier of chronograph movements in Germany and Switzerland. Even more appealing to collectors and aficionados, Glashütte Original offers steel versions of most of its high-end watches, making them much more affordable and accessible. A. Lange & Söhne doesn’t have a single steel watch in its collection, so its entry price is much higher than that of Glashütte Original. With all these wonderful in-house movements and its own original design, this brand deserves much more attention in the world of high-end watchmaking. I’m still waiting for the rise of Glashütte Original.

Nomos Glashütte

Another brand from Glashütte that is absolutely underestimated. Most only know Nomos for its minimalist design. The saying is: less is more. But this is absolutely not true when it comes to the brand’s calibers! While many other design brands just buy any hand-wound and/or automatic movement to put into their cases, Nomos manufactures them in-house. The brand started its own movement manufacturing very early; since then it has extended its collection of calibers to include some small complications. By the way: Did you know that Nomos has even developed and manufactured a tourbillon? Yes, the brand sold it exclusively to Wempe to be used in the Wempe Chronometer Tonneau Tourbillon wristwatch. This year Nomos presented its own escapement including balance and balance spring. This giant step forward makes Nomos totally independent. While many in the industry struggle to secure suppliers for balance springs, Nomos has begun incorporating its new escapement into its first models and is on the way to integrating it into all its watches. This is a big deal, and now’s the time for Nomos to let the world know that its watches have more than a great minimalist exterior. The Nomos Metro was the very first watch the brand equipped with the in-house escapement.

Nomos Metro Nomos Metro


Why include Tissot here? Because Tissot was the pioneer of smartwatches! In 1999, the brand had already started to manufacture a so-called smartwatch. The Tissot T-Touch was the world’s first smartwatch and today still is one of the smartest quartz watches. The T-Touch also was the first tactile multi-function watch in the world. By touching the crystal at particular positions you could access its functions. Tissot has kept improving the T-Touch year after year; the 2014 edition includes a solar panel on the dial. The Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar offers a perpetual calendar with indication of day and week, two alarms (one for the week, the other for the weekend), two time-zone indicators for holiday trips, weather forecast with barometric pressure, an altimeter, a chronograph with lap and split times and a logbook, a compass, a timer, an azimuth and regatta function and a backlight. I am sure we can expect to see further smartwatches coming from Tissot. But also in the mechanical sector Tissot is very active and totally underestimated. The Powermatic 80 Automatic caliber is manufactured by ETA and is exclusively used by Tissot at the moment. This movement has the potential to kick Rolex from the COSC throne. Rolex is the leading company in terms of calibers sent to COSC for certification, but Tissot could easily send many more than 800,000 movements to COSC. The Powermatic 80 caliber is manufactured at a large scale and is of such outstanding quality that it can easily pass the COSC test. Tissot watches with the movement start at around $1,000. Since this Swatch Group brand already has turnover of more than $1 billion, it really belongs among the big players in Switzerland. Tissot still acts very quietly and therefore is totally underestimated. The demand for its watches has increased dramatically because of the attractive price point and exceptional quality. If this sleeping giant really wakes up, anything could happen. Here are the Powermatic 80 movement and the 2014 Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar mentioned above.

Tissot Powermatic 80 Automatic
Tissot Powermatic 80 Automatic


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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.

  2. Fabio Anderaos

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

  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

  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….

  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.

    • Moritz Elsaesser

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

  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.

    • 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 ;-)

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