WatchIt Watch Fair

Top 5 British Microbrands at WatchIt! Watch Fair 2024

6 min read
Safie Agar-Hutton


Edward Christopher Farer Fears Marloe Vertex


Watch Buying Guide

Safie Agar-Hutton


Edward Christopher Farer Fears Marloe Vertex


Watch Buying Guide

If you’re looking for some last-minute weekend plans and happen to be in the West Midlands area today, the annual WatchIt! Watch Fair in Solihull could be well worth a visit. The event, presented by Farer’s James Mulvale and Joshua Clare-Flagg (the team behind online watch magazine 12&60), will run from 11am to approximately 5pm at the Village Hotel.

WatchIt! Watch Fair
WatchIt! Watch Fair - Credit 12&60

With so many microbrands operating on an online-only basis and so few inhabiting an actual bricks and mortar store, it can be tricky to get a real feel of a brand and its models. This is where watch fairs step in, events like WatchIt! give fans the perfect opportunity to access exclusive releases and hands-on time that might otherwise be extremely hard to come by. At the WatchIt! fair today you can expect to meet plenty of likeminded individuals, as well as the teams working hard behind the scenes of some of Britain’s most exciting watchmakers.

Take Studio Underd0g for example, their popular Pizza Party watches are only available to be ‘hand-delivered’. In other words, you can only obtain one of these flavourful timepieces face to face with the man himself, founder Richard Benc. We’ve already seen the crowds, and sales, the brand draws at events like British Watchmaker’s Day and, luckily enough for anyone attending WatchIt! today, the Studio Underd0g team will be on-hand to serve up more smiles with their original, and quite frankly tasty, designs.

Studio Underd0g at British Watchmaker
Studio Underd0g at British Watchmaker's Day - Credit Studio Underd0g

They’re in great company too, as a truly impressive line-up of British brands are expected to be making their way to Solihull. With big names such as Christopher Ward and quirkier microbrands like BVOR due to be in attendance, you know it’s bound to be a good time.

Earlier this week I laid my cards down on the table and let you all know my stance on 2024’s Top 5 Microbrands. Having checked out the comments, it’s clear that there are those amongst you who feel I missed out on a good opportunity to show some love to the microbrands you hold near and dear to your hearts.

Well, now could be their chance, as today we run through a few more potentially unsung heroes with our Top 5 Microbrands at WatchIt! Watch Fair 2024.

1. Farer

A number of you took to the comments section of our Best Microbrands of 2024 article to express your desire to see Farer mentioned in one of these lists, and the truth is, they very nearly were the first time around. Better late than never though, here they are in first place as the brand we’re most excited about seeing at WatchIt!

Farer Lander IV
Farer Chrono-Contempo
Farer Durham Pullman Green

Originally founded back in 2015, the team at Farer have perfected the art of serving up classics from our favourite watch genres with an often-needed contemporary twist. Built for adventure and designed to be enjoyed for a lifetime, Farer’s models are offered in a ‘universal’ range of colours and sizes, and each is the perfect fusion of British design and Swiss craftsmanship. From GMT and Moonphase complications, to World Timers, Pilot, Dive and Chronograph models, there really is something in the Farer collection to suit every wrist.

2. Marloe Watch Company

Marloe Astro
Marloe Pacific 76
Marloe Tay 35mm

Another name that came up in the wake of our Top 5 Microbrands article was Marloe, and theirs is an interesting story to tell. Having discovered a cheap, plastic quartz movement at the heart of his fairly pricey branded watch, a disheartened Oliver (Co-Founder of Marloe) teamed up with Gordon, an industrial designer, in the hopes of putting things right. The pair joined forces in 2015 with plans to create a traditional mechanical wristwatch that was not only beautifully engineered but also as affordable as the likes of a high-street fashion watch. Safe to say, they succeeded. Just 12 months later the first Marloe mechanical watch was sold, and the pair haven’t looked back since.

My personal favourite models can be found in the Astro collection. Housed in chunky, square-shaped cases, they’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s the joy of microbrands, they can get away with stepping a little further out of the box than some of our favourite, more restrained luxury watch brands.

3. Edward Christopher

Edward Christopher Mantra
Edward Christopher Mantra
Edward Christopher Mantra

Behind the scenes of this London-based brand there is something special going on. Far more than simply a purveyor of quintessentially British, sophisticated watches, Edward Christopher are a genuinely big-hearted business who, somewhat rarely, are most interested in giving back.

Founder Seán Edward Brickell named the company after his own father Edward and great-great grandfather Christopher, and the spirit of these two exceptional men now lives on within Edward Christopher’s mission. Having been unable to father children himself, Brickell hopes that that his brand’s rare combination of commerce and charity might allow Edward Christopher to act as a father figure for the children and young people who are most in need. By investing in an Edward Christopher Swiss made luxury Manta dive watch, you are, most importantly, supporting the brand in their pledge to donate 10% of profits to global charities for vulnerable children and young people. 

4. Vertex

It can feel almost as if every micro or independent watch brand sprung to life somewhere within the past ten to fifteen years but with Vertex, we’ve got to rewind a little further to get the full picture. Having been established over 100 years ago by founder Claude Lyon, Vertex carved out an important piece of history for themselves in 1944 when they found themselves amongst the “dirty dozen”, the original twelve watch brands to provide timepieces to British soldiers during WWII. Impressively, they were the only British manufacturer amongst the original twelve and in preparation for D-Day, 4652 of the London-based brands Cal 59 W.W.W navigation watches were delivered to soldiers on the ground.

Unfortunately, in a tale as old as time Vertex fell prey to the 1970’s quartz crisis. Having been recently revived by Claude Lyon’s great-grandson Don Cochrane, Vertex have now proudly entered a new era of modern watchmaking and in 2016 they released the M100, the first new Vertex for 45 years which was based on none other than the iconic Cal 59.

5. Fears Bristol

We’ve already ventured into the past once today, so why not take things even further back? As one of the oldest family-run watch companies in Britain, it feels only natural that Fears take the last spot on our Top 5. Originally founded in 1846 by Edwin Fear, the company flourished pretty successfully under the leadership of Edwin and his decedents for almost 150 years, but, like Vertex, they too ended up shutting up shop in the late 1970’s.

Fears Brunswick

Now in the capable hands of its sixth generation, Fears was revived in 2016 by helmsmen, and great-great-great-grandson of the Edwin Fear, Nicholas Bowman-Scargill. As a proud custodian of his own heritage, Nicholas’ releases typically honour the city of Bristol, the home of the Fear’s since its inception all those years ago. Other quintessentially British releases include the Alliance 01, created in collaboration with fellow WatchIt! attendees Christopher Ward and the Brunswick Au in solid 18ct gold, launched as part of King Charles III’s Coronation celebrations.

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Safie Agar-Hutton

About the Author: Safie Agar-Hutton

As a passionate writer, working on the Magazine Team is a great outlet for my creativity. I joined WatchGecko in 2024 and enjoy the varied nature of my job, but my true motivation comes from delivering horological-focused content. My writing includes press releases containing important news from the biggest brands in the industry, timepiece reviews, and Top Choice pieces showcasing the best products from our online store. If it's watch related, I’ll write about it!

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