Rise Of The Independents: How Indie Brands Like Brew, Monta, And Furlan Marri Are Winning Enthusiasts’ Hearts
These three brands are impressing new and established collectors with their style and substance.
Watch enthusiasts are a dedicated bunch. When some were priced out of haute horology, they turned to the secondary market to find affordable versions of their grail watches. And now that hammer prices at auctions have begun to soar too, collectors are now exploring a world of watchmaking outside of the many established brands.
Three brands, in particular, have caught our eye: Brew, Furlan Marri, and Monta. Each delivers a strong stylistic point of view in addition to excellent value for the money. And since a picture is worth a thousand words, we decided to go macro on our favorite models from these indie brands to illustrate their allure.
Brew: Brew Metric
Designer Jonathan Ferrer first thought up the concept of Brew Watches in a New York City café in 2015. The microbrand was part of the first generation of crowd-sourced watch companies. The first offering, the 1970s influenced Special Blend, established Brew’s voice right out of the gate. Each successive limited-run launch has only increased the fan base.
While Kickstarter is no longer part of Brew’s marketing and distribution plan, one of the things fans admire most is the fact that they are still buying directly from Ferrer. There is a personal touch at play that bigger brands can’t replicate.
They also connect with Ferrer’s caffeine-driven aesthetic. Launched in 2021, the Metric became an instant hit amongst collectors because of its 36mm stainless steel, chunk of funk silhouette. But while it has retro vibes, a closer look reveals more layers.
We shot this green-dialed version of the Brew Metric, which was released in January and already sold out. When you go in for a closeup, the dial feels avant-garde in its use of color and texture. The brushed surfaces make the judicious use of orange and yellow on the hands and scale pop. There is also a surprising amount of depth between the crystal and sunken sub-dials. And while it might feel a little quirky, finishes such as the snailed counters add a luxe touch.
Brew’s success can also be attributed to good timing. In general, watch fans are becoming less dismissive of quartz watches. The Metric’s mecha-quartz movement brings the price down while at the same time providing the satisfying reset snap-back that one gets with a mechanical chronograph.
Furlan Marri: Mare Blu
Andrea Furlan is a Swiss industrial designer and Hamad Al Marri is a watch collector and artist from the Middle East. Both are also entrepreneurs who combined their expertise and passion for historic timepieces to create Furlan Marri. The aesthetic is inspired by refined vintage pieces from haute horology houses. The ten-sided case back, for example, is informed by the designs of François Borgel, who made cases for Patek Philippe, Movado, and IWC.
Furlan Marri also makes watches that are more than an homage to the past. The brand has been rightfully celebrated for the sensibility of its chronograph dials. The brand has intentionally chosen unique typefaces such as Decimal, which was designed by Hoefler&Co., the New York-based studio featured in the Netflix documentary series “Abstract: The Art of Design” and Henderson, a font created by Argentinian studio Sudtipos for logo and dial elements. Dials are so important to Furlan Marri that each one has its own reference number.
The model we photographed here is the Mare Blu (reference 1051-A). This beauty features a vertical brushed center surrounded by a circular brushed finish. This creates an enchanting effect as the light hits it. The indexes are highly polished and applied, while the hands are domed and curved. Considering that this chronograph also includes an asthmometer scale, indicating the number of respirations per minute, all of the information is presented in a clear and balanced way. The 38mm case is made of highly polished 316L stainless steel.
Like most independent watchmakers, Furlan Marri produces watches in small batches. To keep costs down, they use a mecha-quartz movement made in Japan by Seiko. The watches themselves are made in Shenzhen, a large manufacturing city in southern China at a facility that Furlan and Al Marri personally visited in search of the highest quality workshop. The leather straps delivered with the watches are Italian.
Furlan Marri has proved especially popular amongst watch enthusiasts who aren’t hung up on the “Swiss made” assignation. Considering that the Mare Blu was priced at under $600, the brand is also popular for those looking to up their wrist game. The upstarts are still distributing through Kickstarter, but you can visit the Furlan Marri website to register for the next drop.
Monta: Noble Blue
One thing we appreciate about the proliferation of indie watch brands is that there is something for everyone. Monta, a St. Louis-based company, is an excellent example of the diversity on the market today.
Stylistically, Monta falls between the eccentric Brew and the more traditional Furlan Marri. The brand has five different collections: Atlas, Noble, Oceanking, Skyquest, and Triumph. Each family represents a different take on sport-chic, ranging from simple time and date models to more rugged divers.
Here we chose to take a closer look at the Noble Blue (reference B70BCLT00ST). Details such as the sunburst blue dial and graceful shape of the 38.5mm case make it a dressier alternative to the sportier Atlas and Triumph models. The way the bracelet melds with the cushiony lugs makes the design stand out in a very crowded field. It’s a distinctive look that works well with a variety of wrist sizes and lifestyles.
With 150 meters of water resistance, a screw-down crown, and sapphire crystals front and back, the Noble Blue is still a sturdy watch. Unlike Brew and Furlan Marri, Monta uses mechanical mechanisms to power their watches. The Noble Blue employs the brand’s M-22 automatic calibre – a Swiss made Monta-decorated and adjusted Sellita SW300.
Even with the automatic calibre and degree of finishing, the Noble Blue is accessibly priced at $1,760. It’s not a limited edition piece, but because Monta is a smaller operation it can only produce about 200 examples per year. Visit Monta’s website for more details.
(Photography by Kat Shoulders & Pierre Vogel)