Australia is the land of plenty, but when it comes to stylish watch brands , even the average timepiece collector will have some trouble spotting one.
Today that changes, as we forego the illustrious Swiss, Japanese and German brands to show you some fine Australian watches from brands who are doing horology right, and taking it to the world.
Melbourne Watch Company
Melbourne Watch Company hails from, you guessed it, Melbourne. They’re all about providing premium-grade watches that are accessible to both watch enthusiasts and casual collectors alike.
The Australian brand arrived on the international watch scene in 2013 after launching their first-ever timepiece (the Flinders) via crowdfunding. It was a new way of doing things in an old game, but the gamble paid off quickly with the brand’s elegantly designed timepieces garnering a strong contingent of backers.
The rest, as they say, is history with Melbourne Watch Company adding three additional models to their line by 2014 and another two in 2015 in order to meet demand. Every timepiece from the brand is named after a defining aspect of Melbourne – Hawthorn, Parkville, Portsea, Avalon and Carlton – and are all crafted with quality materials that balance aesthetics and affordability. Think surgical-grade 316L stainless steel, DLC coating, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and precision Japanese movements.
Melbourne Watch Company founder Sujain Krishnan says that being one of only a few Australian watch brands in the world is truly something special.
“We’ve certainly enjoyed a great ‘home court’ advantage in terms of our local sales, with many people telling us that they’re keen to support local businesses,” says Krishnan.
“People are also happy with the direction we’re taking, which is to gradually do more of the manufacturing side of things locally here in Melbourne as well, starting with our new office and showroom in Carlton, opening December.”
The only reason most will travel to Australia’s capital city of Canberra is to become a politician, look at flowers with nan, or go have a vodka cranberry at Mooseheads. Thankfully the sleepy city’s saving grace has come in the form of independent watch brand Erroyl.
The local name, which began life in 2014 with the goal of bring affordable luxury automatic watches to the discerning masses, has a robust focus on designing elegantly crafted pieces with precision.
This design ethos is reflected in their classic-looking watches which feature simple aesthetics on the surface but a lot more detail upon closer inspection. Their most popular models to date include the Heritage and Regent Collections which have reached customers in over 50 countries from around the world.
One local watch brand that is embracing ‘Swiss Made’ is Bausele. The watch company, the first to marry Swiss quality construction with a distinct Australian design, comes from the mind of founder Christophe Hoppe’s passion for watches and love affair with Australia.
As a brand, Bausele timepieces are inherently Australian and defined by a signature hollow crown. That’s not all though: every Bausele timepiece embeds an actual element of Australia into it, including red earth from the Outback, sand from one of the country’s finest beaches, or ‘Aussie diamond’: opal.
This unique approach to watch design has allowed Bausele to stand out amongst a sea of competitive Swiss and local brands.
Haigh & Hastings
Haigh & Hastings is a watch brand built on the dream of distilling the quintessential Australian spirit of sun, sand, sea and sport into timepieces.
As such, their range is extensive and includes active-inspired watches designed by Swiss watch designer Emmanuel Gueit. Punters can also expect automatic divers watches with a host of interchangeable straps, a city-inspired model and limited edition pieces inspired by Australia’s flight, military and racing heritage.
Aegir literally emerged from the depths. Commercial diver and Perth local Todd Caldwell was working the offshore oil and gas industry of the North Sea, and ventured into the world of watchmaking when he had to spend copious amounts of time in a diving bell to decompress. His only companion in that decompression chamber? A diving watch, that he thought he could make better himself.
This precipitated the CD-1 divers timepiece in 2007, a watch which was built purely for function rather as opposed to sales. Life had a different plan though, and Aegir soon found itself forging a niche in the market, slowly growing beyond Caldwell’s initial side project ambitions. The CD-2 was eventually created and Aegir the company was born.
Since Aegir is a purist diving concern, all of their watches carry the 701M water resistance rating which abides by commercial stringent diving standards, as well as paying homage to Theo Mavrostomos, the man who holds the record for the deepest dive.
On the technical front, Aegir watches exude relentless precision and quality. Every piece is either German or Swiss Made with some components sourced from the UK. The robust and masculine cases are then paired with Metta Catherina leather straps to ensure they can effortlessly straddle the world between the water and the office.
One of the newcomers to the local watch game is backed by Dane Rumble, a recording artist-turned-jeweller-turned-watch-aficionado who now calls Australia home.
His latest venture into the world of horology is Creux Automatiq, a fresh brand that borrows heavily from some of the world’s finest skeletonised designs.
The Ghost is the brand’s debut timepiece, inspired by modern architecture and luxury vehicle design. A Swiss Made movement shows off a skeletonised date wheel which reveals all of the intricate moving parts that make up the automatic timepiece.
Exotic materials employed by the Ghost also ensures that the local brand has what it takes to meet the expectations of watch buyers in this price segment. Think 316L surgery-grade stainless steel, a sapphire crystal face and an interchangeable strap system for a decent variety of styles.
Rumble told us that being an Australian brand in the current market definitely has its advantages.
“This is due to our reputation for being an easy-going and friendly nation, plus we are known for being hardworking and forward-thinking. I’ve personally found people from the international watch community to be very welcoming and open to forming business relationships.”
No prizes for guessing which luxury watch brands Panzera takes inspiration from. Nevertheless, this Sydney-based watch company was founded in 2009 with a mission to “bring classically designed watches from yesteryear alive with modern interpretations.” Not only does the company produce watches with familiar silhouettes, but it sells them for a fraction of the cost of the models that they’ve been inspired by.
As with most watch companies, Panzera has collections covering land, sea and air, with a comprehensive of strap options for each. Much of the production for every watch is taken care of in either Sydney, Australia or Lugano, Switzerland, with the Flight Master being certifiably Swiss Made.