This week, I’ll be rounding up 8 of my favourite underrated Singaporean watch brands. If you didn’t already know, there are multiple homegrown watch brands here on our sunny shores, each trying to make their mark in the watch industry. At current standing, there are over 80 Singaporean watch brands – I’ve shortlisted 8 of my personal favourites, brands that I believe will become highly successful in the upcoming future. I’ve met with most of the owners of the brands listed below, and interacted with watches from all of them. I’ve listened to their stories, their highs and lows, and I’ve seen the outcome of their hard work. These brands are pretty affordable too – all the watches highlighted in this listicle can be had for less than S$700. Yet, most of these brands still fly under the radar, with a majority of Singaporeans and watch enthusiasts at large probably having never heard of any of them. Hopefully, this article changes some of that.
With that in mind, the following 8 brands are those that I respect, and believe in.
Update: I’m pleased to list some of the below-mentioned watch brands on my new web-store, The Shiok Shop. If you’re looking for bang-for-buck deals, do check out the web-store.
The “biggest” brand on this list, Aries Gold is a brand that some of us would be familiar with. If you didn’t know that it is a homegrown brand – well, now you know.
Who they are: “Amid an ambitious global expansion blueprint, Aries Gold is now an international brand sold in 28 countries (including USA, Australia, Germany) – a hard-earned milestone for the only “Made in Singapore” watch brand. After a successful collaboration with International Rock Band Foo Fighters last year, Aries Gold continues to break new grounds by collaborating with International Rock Band Aerosmith in 2017 to promote their unique code: Combining worldclass design with quality watchmaking.”
My opinion: Aries Gold is a brand that is often scoffed upon by watch enthusiasts, and I think that’s a shame. Personally, I sincerely believe that Aries Gold offers some of the best value propositions that you can get for $200-300+. Take the El Toro for example – you get a striking skeletonised watch face, a reliable Miyota automatic movement, and sapphire crystal. The design language is great, and with a wide catalog, there’s bound to be something available for everyone. Whether you’re a seasoned watch collector or someone looking to get his first watch, Aries Gold provides a lot for very little.
Review: I reviewed the Aries Gold Jolter here, the Aries Gold Cruiser here, the Aries Gold Roadster here, the Aries Gold El Toro here, the Aries Gold Vanguard here, the Aries Gold Black Sea here, and the Aries Gold Dreadnought here. I also did an article on why I believe that they are one of the best watch brands under S$200 here.
Where to buy: Click here. Aries Gold is also a partner of Wah So Shiok – readers can enjoy a crazy 20% off all products on their web-store. Simply quote “WAHSOSHIOK” upon checkout to enjoy the discount. A curated selection of Aries Gold watches can also be found on The Shiok Shop.
If Aries Gold is a tad too mainstream for your tastes, Coup De Coeur watches also provide a lot of bang for your buck, and come with a variety of strap options as well!
Who they are: “Coup De Coeur is Singapore’s response to the modern timepiece. Our durable and rugged watches can stand up to the most active lifestyles, while adding a classy aesthetic to your boardroom presentation. Interchangeable coloured straps and unisex designs make these watches a beloved addition to anyone’s daily wardrobe.”
My opinion: To sum it up in one word – value. I sincerely believe that Coup De Coeur offers some of the best bang-for-buck watches in the microbrand market today. Their watches use a workhorse Seiko NH35A movement, sapphire crystal, and come with a variety of strap options – you can pick one that suits your personality best! Phenomenal value for money – if you’re someone who wants a “proper” mechanical watch but doesn’t wish to spend too much, Coup De Coeur watches are a perfect starting point.
Reviews: I did a review of the Coup De Coeur SGC Classic, which you can read here. I also thereafter did a review of the Coup De Coeur Elan, which can be read here. Between the two, my preference would be the Elan due to its more intriguing design. Most recently, I reviewed the Coup De Coeur Ultra-Thin Mechanical here.
Where to buy: Coup De Coeur’s web-store. Coup De Coeur is also a partner of Wah So Shiok – readers enjoy 10% off products on their web-store. Just quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy the discount.
Perhaps the best value proposition I’ve reviewed, Kent Hall & Co’s Revival series offer a lot for very little.
Who they are: Based in Singapore, Kent Hall & Co was first founded in 2015, before shuttering operations in 2019. However, the brand recently reopened its doors with a focus to “bring unique mechanical watches to the everyday watch collector”, and introduced the aptly named Revival series, which offers an automatic, skeletonised integrated sports watch (in a variety of finishes) at an affordable price.
My opinion: The integrated sports watch is in vogue stylistically, and with Kent Hall & Co you don’t have to fork out an arm and a leg (or endure an eternal waiting list) to scratch the itch. For less than S$250, the Revival features a sapphire crystal and an automatic movement. It’s also eminently captivating due to its skeletonised dial and integrated bracelet. It’s possibly the most affordable of its kind on the market, making it a great entry point into the world of horology.
Review: I reviewed the Kent Hall & Co Revival here.
Where to buy: Kent Hall and Co’s web-store. Kent Hall and Co is also a partner of Wah So Shiok – readers enjoy 10% off products on their web-store. Just quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy the discount. A curated selection of Kent Hall & Co watches can also be found on The Shiok Shop.
A local brand known for their watch straps, Vario made a splash in the crowded Kickstarter watch space recently with their art deco inspired watch, the Empire.
Who they are: “VARIO is an online store for watches and watch accessories that allows users to show off their unique style and grow their personal collection with custom strap designs. Our brand is about variation and striking a balance between sophistication, quality, and fun.”
My opinion: While they offer a variety of stunning straps (the vintage Italian straps are my favourite), I personally believe Vario to be at their strongest with watches. In my opinion, the Vario Empire (pictured above) has to be one of the best dress watches for under S$500. It’s hard to make a distinctive dress watch that doesn’t come across as generic, but Vario nails the design through several art deco inspired touches, as well as a unique guilloche pattern in the centre. Traditionally sized at 38mm, and with a handwound movement to boot, the Vario Empire is a amazing value proposition at under S$500.
Review: I reviewed the Vario Empire here, whilst it was still on Kickstarter.
Where to buy: Vario’s web-store. Vario is also a partner of Wah So Shiok – readers enjoy 8% off all purchases. Just quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy the discount.
Reverie made a huge splash in the microbrand community with its debut watch -the Reverie Sea Spirit- due to its unique guilloche dial. Since then, this Singaporean brand has continued to make guilloche a mainstay in their designs.
Who they are: “Reverie is an independent watch company based in Singapore which creates limited edition timepieces with ornate guilloché dials. Our name stems from our dream to create beautiful watches which stand the test of time.”
My opinion: With beautiful guilloche dials as its trademark, Reverie offers watches that are a touch more sophisticated than the norm. Take the abovepictured Reverie Diver for instance. Affordable dive watches are a dime a dozen, but the striking guilloche dial and 12-hour bezel of the Reverie Diver set it apart from its peers. Specifications are great for the price too – sapphire crystal, 200m WR rating, a solid bracelet (with an additional rubber strap), Miyota 9039 movement, and dual Swiss Superluminova are all features on the Reverie Diver. If dive watches aren’t your thing, consider the Reverie GT – also available on Ths Shiok Shop – which is the brand’s lovely take on a dressy sports chronograph.
Where to buy: Reverie’s web-store. Reverie is also a partner of Wah So Shiok – readers enjoy $40 USD off products on their web-store. Just quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy the discount. A curated selection of Reverie watches can also be found on The Shiok Shop.
Advisor watches is an interesting Singaporean watch brand, which offers vintage-inspired watch designs for modern desk divers.
Who they are: “Advisor Watch Company is a young independent micro watch brand from Singapore. Our watch concept and inspiration are derived from I (Iconic design) + M (Modern style). Watches we produced every year is in limited pieces to ensure its exclusivity to our customers. We take pride in the quality and uniqueness of watches we produce.”
My opinion: If you’re a fan of vintage-inspired dive watch design, and are on the hunt for an affordable daily beater, then Advisor has got you covered. Their watches, despite being priced affordably, are solidly built – expect sapphire crystal, Seiko NH35 movement, top-grain leather strap, and even lume. The finishing is one of the best I’ve seen at this price point too. In particular, I like the enduring design of the Advisor Ascent (pictured above) – it is probably the best supercompressor that you can find for under S$500.
Where to buy: Advisor’s web-store. Advisor is also a partner of Wah So Shiok – readers enjoy $40 USD off all purchases. Just quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy the discount. A curated selection of Advisor watches can also be found on The Shiok Shop.
The most recent local watch brand that I reviewed, Gane reminds me of why I fell in love with local microbrands in the first place.
Who they are: GANE was founded by Raymond Pee just last year. The brand states that the name is derived from Hagane – the Japanese word for steel – with “brushed steel metalwork” being a mainstay of GANE watches. The mission is to deliver “old school cool automatic timepieces”, which Raymond elaborates on in a CNA interview with Aun Koh (brother of Revolution’s Wei Koh) here.
My opinion: Gane represents the manifestation of its founder’s artistic vision, thus encapsulating the ethos of what a microbrand watch should be. The Type C (pictured above) has decent specifications and a well-conceived aesthetic that displays a maturity rarely seen in debut collections. It’s well put together, and remains fairly affordable. It’s one of the most impressive microbrand watches that I’ve reviewed in recent years. Singapore may not be short of watch microbrands, but GANE is a notable addition.
Review: I reviewed the Gane Type C here.
Last but certainly not least, it’s no overstatement to describe Humism watches as art on the wrist.
Who they are: Humism is a Singaporean watch effort, who aims to “turn the movement of time into mesmerizing art.” According to Humism, it view watches as an “art canvas”, seeking to “re-imagine watch design, to create a timepiece that makes the most of this medium’s uniqueness.” In fact, Humism describes itself “as much an art studio as a watch brand”.
My opinion: Humism is easily one of my favourite microbrands for a simple reason – its offerings are eminently unique. Its originality is a breath of fresh air, with its watches functioning as art on the wrist. The watches are well-built too, featuring sapphire crystal and a robust Seiko automatic movement. For less than S$500, Humism watches are affordable conversation starters. There’s nothing quite like Humism’s watches, which is high praise in itself.
Review: I reviewed Humism here.
If you found this tailoring listicle helpful, do check out some of my other listicles below:
- 6 Affordable Briefcases in Singapore
- 12 places to get Watch Straps in Singapore
- 6 Perfume Brands in Singapore to check out
- 6 Affordable Wallets in Singapore
- 9 Affordable Tailors in Singapore (Complete Guide!)
- 4 Affordable Dress Shoes in Singapore
- 11 Affordable Hotels for Staycations in Singapore
Hopefully, this article shows that homegrown watch brands not only exist, but are in fact thriving. As microbrands gain in popularity due to the perpetually rising prices of luxury timepieces, I’m confident that some, if not all of the above Singaporean brands will carve out a niche (if they haven’t already done so) and make a name for themselves. As aforementioned, I’ve met with most of the brand owners mentioned above – all of them are passionate about what they do, and their enthusiasm and passion are heartwarming. I wish them all the best and hope that this website can play a small role in helping them soar to new heights.
The majority of watch brands mentioned in this listicle can be found on The Shiok Shop, which serves as a curation of my favourite local items that I’ve reviewed. If you’re looking for the best prices, check the new web-store out.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.