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Italian Micro Brands by Extropian

Italian brands
Indy brands
Dive watch
Echo Neutra
Bencler Watch
Italian Micro Brands by Extropian

Italy may not be the first place you think of when it comes to quality watchmaking. Despite a few famous exceptions like Bvlgari and Panerai (which is now technically a Swiss company), it tends to be eclipsed by major centers like Switzerland, Germany, and France. But look a little deeper and you’ll discover that some very interesting smaller brands have emerged over the past few years, and they are definitely worth your attention! Here’s a list of some of our favorites, along with a few examples of what they do.

Bencler Watch

Launched in 2022, Bencler Watch is the newest brand on this list, with a focus on Italian design, quality materials, and a blend of classic and unconventional colors and finishes. Their initial Kickstarter campaign was a great success and following a sell-out of their original stock they’re adding new inventory at a steady pace.

Their flagship collection, the Rocks Diver blends the classic style of ‘60s and ‘70s Dive watches with some nice modern touches. Boasting 300m water resistance, it has a handsome 316L Stainless-steel case which alternates sinuous curves and sharp edges to great effect. It also features a distinctive sandblasted fumé dial whose transition from light in the center to dark around the edges recalls the gradual loss of light as a diver descends into the depths. Other features include elegant Dauphine hands, applied circular markers with custom shapes at the cardinal points, a color-matched date window at 6 o’clock, a stylish Beads of Rice bracelet, and an engraved screw-down caseback.

Bencler Rocks Diver - Purple Rock Special Edition




With disparate backgrounds in Object Design, Brand Creation, Aerospace Engineering, and Extreme Sports, co-founders Nicola Callegaro and Christiano Quaglia bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their latest venture, echo/neutra. Launched in 2018, they’ve built a solid reputation for their innovative design and quality finishing, creating a strong range of Swiss-made (but Italian- designed) watches blending retro flair with some distinctly modern flourishes.

Designed to commemorate the first Olympics held on Italian soil after WWII, the Cortina 1956 is a classic sports Chronograph with a brushed and polished Stainless-steel case, a dial with twin counters, and a ceramic Telemeter bezel. We love the Black edition with sand-colored subdials and black leather Rally strap with red stitching.

echo/neutra Cortina - Deep Black


The Cristallo is a serious-looking Diver with a bold, modernist design incorporating several handy features such as a power reserve indicator on the dial, a bezel showing no-decompression times, a Helium Release Valve on the side of the case, and a Diver Extension Clasp on the bracelet.

echo/neutra Cristallo - Green



After meeting at university, mechanics and watch enthusiasts Federico Del Guerra and Federico Zulian joined forces and formed HTD in 2002. Based in Florence, the brand (whose initials stand for Horological Tool Department) is inspired by a spirit of fun, adventure, and practicality, approaching watches as everyday instruments with a flair rooted in the Dolce Vita of mid-20th Century motor racing, diving, and sailing.

Produced in very limited quantities, early models like the Aquatic and Safarigraph are long sold-out, but the brand’s signature collection, The Hesagraph continues to find new life in different iterations. Inspired by motor racing of the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, it’s a sports Chronograph with a stylish vintage aesthetic and bold curves influenced by classic sports cars. The latest version, the Dollarone, features a stunning racing green Sunburst dial and Tachymeter scale around the chapter ring, along with twin silver subdials which recall the chrome headlights of a vintage Porsche 912.

HTD Hesagraph - Dollarone



Milan-based Unimatic was founded in 2015 by Giovanni Moro and Simone Nunziato, both of whom trained as industrial designers at the Politecnico di Milano. Conceived as an ongoing “watchmaking research lab”, the brand combines excellent design with up to the minute technical solutions to produce an ever-evolving series of individually numbered limited edition timepieces. Once each model is sold out, it will never be repeated!

Their first project was the Modello Uno, which was soon followed by a Field watch and a Chrono-Diver, all sharing a hyper-modernist aesthetic with brushed Stainless-steel or Titanium cases, minimalist dials and bezels, and futuristic rubber straps.

The U1S-8N is a perfect example, with its vintage navy dial, gold metallic trims, and matching ultra-minimalist aluminum bezel with no markers except a single raised lume dot.

Unimatic U1S-8N


The U2S-MN takes the minimalism even further, with its black DLC case, matte black vacuum dial with ladder phantom hands, and simple black calf leather strap. If you like black, this could be the watch for you!

Unimatic U2S–MN



Founded by brothers Alberto and Alessandro Morelli in 2017, Venezianico’s name is a neologism which deftly combines the Italian adjective “Veneziano” (meaning “relating to Venice”) and the latin suffix “-ico”, meaning “a way to be”. So, in other words, it conjures a sense of a lifestyle and culture which is inherently Venetian; stylish, cosmopolitan, and colorful - just like the brand itself!

Unsurprisingly, the brand’s aesthetic is deeply inspired by the city for which it's named. Its logo is taken from the cross on top of the clock tower on St. Mark’s square, while all their watches come in a range of different versions reflecting the various colors of the Venetian cityscape, from steely grays to vibrant reds, blues, and greens.

The brand’s signature model, The Nereide is a rugged Diver designed to stand up to any challenge. With 200m water resistance and a modern, refined 316L stainless-steel case, it comes in a choice of colorful dial and bezel options, including some very cool limited editions such as black mother-of-pearl dial or a sleek forged carbon dial-bezel combo. And be sure to check out the Ultraleggero version with its distinctive skeletonized dial dial.

Venezianico Nereide Ultraleggero


The Redentore has a timeless elegance which lends it great versatility, but it would be a particularly good choice for more dressy occasions, featuring a delightfully minimalist dial with faceted Dauphine hands and markers giving it a hint of the 1930s. 

Venezianico Redentore 36



Friends and fellow watch enthusiasts Nicolò and Omar began their career in 2012 by founding 2D Straps, an Italian brand which made leather straps for luxury watches. By 2017 they’d branched out and formed their own watch brand, Viqueria, based in their hometown of Voghera near Milan. With a blend of retro and modern style, they’re producing some highly distinctive (and very affordable) watches with unusual quirks that really set them apart from the crowd.

The Sagittario is a great example, as its classic looks and beautiful Sunburst dial are complemented by the inclusion of an Inclinometer on the caseback, which uses the rotor to measure angles of slope, elevation, or depression of an object in relation to gravity. Now that’s something you don’t see on many watches!

Viqueria Sagittario - Bursting Blue


The Heritage is equally quirky. Dedicated to the legendary astronaut Yuri Gagarin, who wore a watch powered by a Russian Poljot 2609 movement during the first manned spaceflight, Viqueria have serviced and regulated 120 NOS Poljot 2609 movements to create this new watch in his honor. Well, it certainly makes a change from the usual Miyotas or Sellitas that we see so often!

Viqueria Heritage - Ocean Blue



So, as we can see, there’s a lot happening in Italy right now. To find out more, head over to Extropian’s database and explore at your leisure!

Created the 2023-08-26

Modified the 2024-04-15

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