Independent watchmaking is a trend, but not for the watchmakers who are doing so. They have been working on these watches for many years, thinking over their designs, the use of certain type of movements, dials and new materials. It seems that the watchmakers who have been working on their watches for so long now, finally gain the respect they reserve. It seems that people are fed up with the same old same old that the large watch companies and luxury groups are putting them up with.
If you are interested in independent watchmaking, one of the shows you've just got to attend this year is the Watch 2009, organized by (a.o) WatchUseek. I've visited Watch 2008 in Maastricht and I was more than impressed by the laid-back atmosphere, the exhibitors and the location. A report on this event can be read here.
The WatchUseek blog team will high-light a few of the watch brands attending the Watch 2009 in Maastricht and Hamburg. Today, it will be the fabulous watchmaking skills by Armin Mantei (named after the founder himself). Affordable handcrafted watches, made all by the master himself. And more, there will be only one of each watch, the so called 'Einzelstücke'.
A. Mantei watches are available in stainless steel only, but the dials are either silver or gold, but finished with pulverized enamel, as shown in the model above (Merak). The stainless steel watch cases are fairly big (approximately 42mm) but flat enough to make it a useable watch for all kinds of occasions.
Mantei watches are truly handcrafted, which means that no CNC-machines have been used, and the hands, dials and lunettes are all labour by hand. Because of this, Armin Mantei is able to create unique watches entirely based on the customer's demand. Opposite to a lot of other watchbrands who have their watches assembled and crafted somewhere else, Armin Mantei does everything by himself, except for creating the mechanical movement. However, he does make sure they are getting the right amount of attention.
The movements used are automatic mechanical movements by ETA. The A. Mantei models with hours, minutes, seconds (and some times datewindow) are powered by the proven ETA 2824-2 movement. The 'Benetnash' model for example, a chronograph, uses the famous ETA Valjoux 7750 movement and is nicely engraved by hand (as shown below).
Armin Mantei (1961) is a master watchmaker (Uhrmachermeister in German) since 1977 and started his own watch brand on the 21st of August 2007, almost 2 years ago.
His firm is located in the nortern part of Germany (above Hamburg) and besides the possibility of giving his store a visit, you can also order his watches on-line.
Make sure to pay the A. Mantei booth a visit when you are visiting the Watch 2009 event in Hamburg.