Australia is the land of plenty, but when it comes to stylish watch brands, even a seasoned horologist would have some trouble naming more than a few.
Today that changes, as we forego the typical litany of Swiss, Japanese and German brands to show you some fine Australian watches from brands who are doing horology right.
Most Australian watch brands feature pieces that are designed in Australia with movements from Japan or Switzerland. Right in line with Australian watch tastes, they’re typically sporty yet classy, and also exceptionally good value for money.
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 – think 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,” Krishnan explains.
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 (or seven) at Mooseheads. Thankfully the sleepy city has one saving grace: the independent watch brand Erroyl.
The local name, which began life in 2014 with the goal of bringing 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 watches to date include their Heritage and Regent models which have reached customers in over 50 countries from around the world. Not bhed.
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. They even have a boutique in The Rocks, Sydney – an appropriate place for such a great Aussie brand.
Bausele also recently became the first Australian watchmaker to exhibit at Watches & Wonders, the watch industry’s premiere trade show, as well as Geneva Watch Days.
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.
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. It’s called Creux Automatiq and it’s a fresh brand that borrows heavily from some of the world’s finest skeletonised designs.
The Ghost is the brand’s flagship 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.
Rumble told DMARGE 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.”
Panzera, a 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 or Lugano, Switzerland, with many models being certifiably Swiss Made.
We’ve saved the best till last. Nicholas Hacko, a legendary name among Aussie watch fans, is Australia’s only true master watchmaker and the creator of the most ‘Australian’ watch on the planet.
After being denied spare parts by major Swiss watch brands, Hacko was spurred to create his own watch. Now, in 2022, Hacko’s watches remain the first and only watches designed, assembled, adjusted and manufactured in Australia – a truly impressive feat.
Not only that, Hacko has broken new ground in many fields of watchmaking, becoming the first watchmaker to ever work with Timascus – an exotic titanium alloy famed for its vibrant colours – as well as pioneering guilloched titanium dials. Hacko is also entering a watch in the inaugural Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives watchmaking competition this year.
Impeccably crafted, imposing and impressive, Nicholas Hacko watches are the crème de la crème of Australian watchmaking. Short production runs mean that the watches tend to be snapped up pretty quickly, but if you can get your hands on one, you won’t just have a cool watch – you’ll be supporting the future of Australian manufacturing.