Microbrand Trend: Integrated Bracelet Sport Watches

Microbrand Trend: Integrated Bracelet Sport Watches

The giants of the watch industry routinely create new trends. Be it a new dial color, a funky material, or even a race to create the most extreme, deepest-diving watch. There is room for anything and everything. Micro and independent brands are actually no different. Sometimes they follow a trend set by a Swiss giant, but sometimes they create their own. A trend I’ve seen develop in this segment of the watch industry is that of the integrated bracelet sport watch. It’s not just a few brands making these, but quite a few. Most have price tags well below $2,000, and in many cases, below $1,000. So why not discuss this trend and take a look at some of the most noteworthy releases? 

Everest Band Journal Microbrand Trend: Integrated Bracelet Sport WatchesSource: www.fratellowatches.com

Why Sport Watches with Integrated Bracelets? 

A while back, I watched a YouTube discussion between Adrian Barker, Andrew McUtchen, and George Bamford on their About Effing Time podcast. They discussed the reasons why sport watches with integrated bracelets are so popular today, as well as why they have been for the past six decades. They explained that it's due to their perfect form and functionality, how the look of a steel bracelet melting into a steel case is timeless, and how these types of watches are actually very versatile. Of course, you’re out of luck if you don’t care for how they look, however one would argue that you have a few options for designs coming from Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Vacheron Constantin. Perhaps there is one for everybody. That is, of course, if your watch budget is very large.

Everest Band Journal Microbrand Trend: Integrated Bracelet Sport WatchesSource: www.zaeger.com.au

Moreover, it seems that young brands embark on designing such watches because of how iconic and out-of-reach they otherwise are. Only a few select humans can buy a Royal Oak or 222: brand owners decided that something had to be done about it. This is what we could refer to as “affordable luxury”. A well designed, well manufactured integrated bracelet sport watch is quite an experience to have on the wrist. It looks nice, feels special, and is quite versatile. Thus far, I’ve counted a half-dozen models from popular or new micro and independent brands. Below we’re going to take a quick look at three of them—three of my favorites. 

Everest Band Journal Microbrand Trend: Integrated Bracelet Sport Watches

Source: www.chrono24.be

The Christopher Ward Twelve 

British brand Christopher Ward is known for offering excellent value and making beautiful watches. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a few of their models including the Twelve and I’ve got to say: the quality is there. Furthermore, Christopher Ward is one of the few brands I know of that openly indicate their inspiration from Gerald Gente directly on their website. At the time of writing this article, there are about 20 variants of the Twelve available at prices ranging $1,168-$2,214 depending on the case diameter (36 or 40mm,) case material (stainless steel or titanium) and whether one opts for a rubber band or a stainless steel bracelet. All of them are made in Switzerland, powered by a Sellita caliber, and showcase a twelve-sided fixed bezel (hence the name) and a gorgeous dial texture representing the brand’s dual flag logo (it’s an amalgam of the British and Swiss flags.) 

Everest Band Journal Microbrand Trend: Integrated Bracelet Sport Watches

Source: @mainspring.watch

Retter 22 

Retter is a US-based brand which released its first model the 22 in 2022. It is named after Vacheron Constantin’s 222 and is inspired by AP’s Royal Oak and Patek’s Nautilus. Just like Christopher Ward, Retter clearly indicates on its website what inspired them to create this model. If my memory serves me well, they are the ones who came up with the “affordable luxury” idea, or at least those who gave this expression a true meaning. Key features include a 14-sided fixed bezel, a Sellita SW400 (a larger version of the SW200 which comes with a large date disc,) a 222-like bracelet that matches the bezel design, as well as superb finish. (You’re going to have to take my word for it.) Perhaps more impressive is the fact that the Retter 22 retails for $895 which is a great price for a watch that is both elegant and well executed. (I saw both dial variants white and blue in person and was left wanting more.) 

Everest Band Journal Microbrand Trend: Integrated Bracelet Sport WatchesSource: www.watchclicker.com

The Maen Manhattan 37 

Not borrowing directly from any of Genta’s designs, the Maen Manhattan 37 heralds from Sweden and showcases an 8-sided fixed bezel design and Côtes de Genève textured dial, making it perhaps the most original of the three examples mentioned here. The Manhattan 37 retails for roughly $850 and is powered by a Swiss made Ronda R-150 caliber. Its superbly geometric case flows gently into the bracelet that displays similar angles and finish, creating a coherent design. The dial is shaped like the case, having eight sides which gives it an air of Cartier Tank where the hour markers and minute hash marks are not all at the same distance from the hands. 

Everest Band Journal Microbrand Trend: Integrated Bracelet Sport WatchesSource: www.wristreview.com

Final Thoughts 

If you are curious about sport watches with integrated bracelets, then I’m glad you came here. I won’t even bother telling you how much a Royal Oak or Nautilus retail for today, whether brand new or pre-owned. But as you can now tell, micro and independent brands offer options for quality models that are much more at our reach than those that inspired them. Not only because they can be bought or pre-ordered, but also because they cost much less. While the Christopher Ward retails between $1,000 and $2,200, the Retter 22 and Maen Manhattan 37 live below the psychologically traumatizing one thousand dollar limit. Are these watches your cup of tea? What do you think of the expression  “affordable luxury?” Please leave your comments below. 

Featured image: @mainspring.watch

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