What are some truly dismal microbrands?

Or at the very least, ones that have little to no originality, or anything noteworthy? Either by design, lack of finishing / regulation, things of that nature. 

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I think it can be a slippery question, as most are good people who are genuinely trying to bring a product to market they love and many of the owners and designers are active on this site. I own a lot of them and by large most are on par if not better than larger brands.

I say the following not trying to punch down. I think many brands people think are "micro" because they are inexpensive and I will reiterate: Inexpensive does not equal micro. IE:

  • Pagani Design, San Martin, Invicta, Borealis, Oceanus, and Tactical Frog (basically 80% of the watches on Just One More Watch) are not micro brands. They steal IP and slap their logo on imitation versions. They have their place in the community but they exist simply to provide a cheap option for those that cannot or do not want to afford the original. 
  • Many Kickstarter brands - Largely, also not micro. Most are using the same couple of private label makers, thus they feel and look the same. 

Both of those situations the "brands" often use largely unregulated, unfinished, starter movements and probably forget to remove the ghost position, plastic movement holders, perhaps unsigned crowns, etc. The signs are usually all the same. Some are better than others.

Then we have legacy brands people think are micro, but are more or less the same as above; Steinhart, Sturling, etc; when one looks at the catalog, they offer little to no original design. They are more or less homage brands.

There is nothing wrong with any of the above, like I said, they have their place and I have seen so many cool collections made up of those that folks love. From what I have witnessed, especially during the micro tournament, so many confuse price with the concept of micro brands. I would bet many of those named would be those brands vs. the likes of Atelier Wen, Oak and Oscar, etc. 

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Oceanus is Casio isn't it?  I also was under the impression Borealis was considered a micro and one a lot of people liked.

But yes, a lot of people get confused about what is and isn't a microbrand.  Seems the definition is in a constant start of defining.

I think of microbrands as brands with very few employees, using mostly off the shelf movements, putting out limited numbers, and trying to make interesting watches.

For example, I've had a hard time thinking of Christopher Ward as a microbrand and after their latest release, REALLY have a hard time with it.

I don't really want to focus on the dismal microbrands.  Plenty of good one to focus on.

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AllTheWatches

I think it can be a slippery question, as most are good people who are genuinely trying to bring a product to market they love and many of the owners and designers are active on this site. I own a lot of them and by large most are on par if not better than larger brands.

I say the following not trying to punch down. I think many brands people think are "micro" because they are inexpensive and I will reiterate: Inexpensive does not equal micro. IE:

  • Pagani Design, San Martin, Invicta, Borealis, Oceanus, and Tactical Frog (basically 80% of the watches on Just One More Watch) are not micro brands. They steal IP and slap their logo on imitation versions. They have their place in the community but they exist simply to provide a cheap option for those that cannot or do not want to afford the original. 
  • Many Kickstarter brands - Largely, also not micro. Most are using the same couple of private label makers, thus they feel and look the same. 

Both of those situations the "brands" often use largely unregulated, unfinished, starter movements and probably forget to remove the ghost position, plastic movement holders, perhaps unsigned crowns, etc. The signs are usually all the same. Some are better than others.

Then we have legacy brands people think are micro, but are more or less the same as above; Steinhart, Sturling, etc; when one looks at the catalog, they offer little to no original design. They are more or less homage brands.

There is nothing wrong with any of the above, like I said, they have their place and I have seen so many cool collections made up of those that folks love. From what I have witnessed, especially during the micro tournament, so many confuse price with the concept of micro brands. I would bet many of those named would be those brands vs. the likes of Atelier Wen, Oak and Oscar, etc. 

This post inadvertently sums up watch snobbery. You just lumped all "Just One More Watch" brands together, disregarding each brand's individual history. 

Oceanus is a sub-line of Casio watches. 

Borealis is a micro from Portugal run by a husband and wife, and while their watches tend to lean heavily on other brands, they aren't Pagani Design direct copies. 

Pagani, San Martin, Tactical Frog, Steel Dive, etc., the "Ali Express" brands, aren't microbrands, and aren't considered microbrands by most people. 

Lastly, original design isn't what makes micro brands interesting, it's quality/dollar spent that does. 

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KristianG

This post inadvertently sums up watch snobbery. You just lumped all "Just One More Watch" brands together, disregarding each brand's individual history. 

Oceanus is a sub-line of Casio watches. 

Borealis is a micro from Portugal run by a husband and wife, and while their watches tend to lean heavily on other brands, they aren't Pagani Design direct copies. 

Pagani, San Martin, Tactical Frog, Steel Dive, etc., the "Ali Express" brands, aren't microbrands, and aren't considered microbrands by most people. 

Lastly, original design isn't what makes micro brands interesting, it's quality/dollar spent that does. 

Thanks @KristianG and @Jimmer for pointing out Oceanus, mistook them for a different brand, that is on me. As far as Borealis, their catalog is largely homages. My larger point is many do consider Ali/homage brands micro. Only have to go so far as to read some other micro threads.

I agree that value, design, and materials do help separate micros. I would take it a step further, but it is harder to draw a line; intent. Many of the great micro brands are started to bring something new, something not currently offered in the market place. Perhaps it is a relaunch of design, perhaps a new take, but it is done with a genuine passion for the hobby. Yes, they want to make money, but many of the brands masquerading as micro brands are simply cash grabs.

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Don't ask me I hate everything. 

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Funny question to ask on this sunny morning because I just posted my thoughts on the Smiths Everest PRS-25, which is a fine watch by the way.

Sadly, the brand itself, Timefactors, isn't fine in any way. It's a perfect shitstorm of disappointments, starting with the abrasive online personality of its owner, who spend far too much energy trying to prove that he is right rather than fixing the problems raised by his customers.

Then there is the management of expectations, or more precisely - the complete lack of it. The stock is limited, the purchase windows are infrequent and time constrained and anything put into the shopping cart will automagically disappear before completing the ordering process. it's all gone within a few seconds of a free for all reminding more of a pub brawl then anything resembling an online sale.

Timefactors is in a class of its own when mentioning dismal microbrands. It is truly something inspiring in it's awfulness.  

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Jimmer

Oceanus is Casio isn't it?  I also was under the impression Borealis was considered a micro and one a lot of people liked.

But yes, a lot of people get confused about what is and isn't a microbrand.  Seems the definition is in a constant start of defining.

I think of microbrands as brands with very few employees, using mostly off the shelf movements, putting out limited numbers, and trying to make interesting watches.

For example, I've had a hard time thinking of Christopher Ward as a microbrand and after their latest release, REALLY have a hard time with it.

I don't really want to focus on the dismal microbrands.  Plenty of good one to focus on.

Christopher Ward is a success story. They are graduating. The way I see it, a micro is a start-up. They either die (most), become popular and increase production volumes to become a real brand, or focus on quality in low volumes and increase prices to become independent brands.

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Catskinner

Funny question to ask on this sunny morning because I just posted my thoughts on the Smiths Everest PRS-25, which is a fine watch by the way.

Sadly, the brand itself, Timefactors, isn't fine in any way. It's a perfect shitstorm of disappointments, starting with the abrasive online personality of its owner, who spend far too much energy trying to prove that he is right rather than fixing the problems raised by his customers.

Then there is the management of expectations, or more precisely - the complete lack of it. The stock is limited, the purchase windows are infrequent and time constrained and anything put into the shopping cart will automagically disappear before completing the ordering process. it's all gone within a few seconds of a free for all reminding more of a pub brawl then anything resembling an online sale.

Timefactors is in a class of its own when mentioning dismal microbrands. It is truly something inspiring in it's awfulness.  

Totally agree regarding timefactors , even though they sell some nice products as you say ( must check out your recent review of the PRS25) but companies need to make an effort to make the purchase process a little bit better than these guys do. Or I for one won't be adding to their bottom line.

While I don't like the negative nature of this particular question I feel that timefactors are so bad they need calling out.

However as others have said there are some fantastic companies out there such as Aera and CW