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Ooh la la! The French brands we think you’ll love! By Extropian

French watch
Made in France
French brands
Mid-watch market
Indy brands
Micro brands
SYE Watches
Reservoir Watch
Montmartre Watchworks
Charlie Paris
Ooh la la! The French brands we think you’ll love! By Extropian

As we’re sure you already know, France has a long and illustrious history of watchmaking. Names like Breguet and Cartier are world-famous, and Franco-Swiss watchmaking was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2020, being defined as part of the “intangible cultural heritage of humanity”. Well, that’s not bad for starters! 

But the French watch industry is still going strong, with a number of intriguing micro-brands starting up in recent years, alongside some older players who’ve been in the game for decades. Let’s take a look at some of our favorites.


Based in Nantes, near the West coast of France, Akrone was founded by Jean-Francois Kerboul and Erwan Kerneur in 2015 with the aim of producing superbly designed, durable, and affordable automatic watches

With a great line in chronographs, divers and pilot’s watches they’ve established a reputation making watches for professions including the armed forces, airline pilots, extreme divers, and sailors. But thankfully also for us regular joes! Using top quality Swiss, Japanese (and even some French!) movements, they design, assemble, and test everything in their own workshop.

The C-03 is a great-looking pilot’s watch, both sporty and refined, with an instantly legible Sandwich dial, sword hands, a distinctive crown shaped like an airplane turbine, and a titanium case to guarantee lightness and robustness. It comes in a couple of great GMT versions too! 

Akrone C-03

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If you’re looking for a dressier option, The C-04 collection combines elegance and modernity, with a minimalist dial (available in a wide range of striking colors) and retro-styled curved crystals, making it ideal for any formal occasion.

C-04 Goldeye

221124 C04 Goldeye

Baltic Watches

Fascinated by the pictures his photographer father took of his large watch collection, Etienne Malec developed a lifelong passion for horology, which eventually led him to launch his own company, Baltic, in 2016. With a workshop in Besançon, not far from the Swiss border, Baltic creates timeless watches which blend retro flair with a modern twist, using components made in Hong Kong and vintage-inspired Italian accessories including a great range of leather straps.

A classic dress watch, the MR-01 has a grained dial with a contrasting guilloché second counter, elegant leaf-shaped hands, and a full exhibition caseback to display the automatic movement with its micro-rotor. The discreetly sized 36mm case and 9.9mm width makes it an ideal choice for both men and women

Baltic MR-01 - Salmon

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Equally gorgeous, the Bicompax is a manual chronograph inspired by watches from the 1940s, featuring an eye-catching Art Deco dial with a sandy matte finish, a raised circular chapter ring, and twin sub dials.

Baltic Bicompax 002 - Blue Gilt

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Charlie Paris

Founded in 2014 by childhood friends Ambroise and Adrien, Charlie Paris has grown into a dozen-strong team producing refined, elegant watches which aim to honor the long history of French watchmaking. All their watches are designed and hand-assembled in France with a less-is-more approach that eliminates any superfluous details in favor of a timeless, minimalist aesthetic which blends tradition with modernity. 

With a climate-positive business philosophy that uses eco-friendly leathers and packaging, along with a recycling program for old watches, they’re also doing their bit for the planet. And they even have their own store in Paris, so you can drop in next time you’re paying a visit!

The Initial is a stylish automatic that comes in various unique versions, from a quirky “open-heart” dial with 24-hour counter to a limited edition designed in collaboration with celebrated Icelandic Pop artist Erró. There’s even a version for women, with Rose Gold PVD coated case, a striking skeleton dial, leaf-shaped hands, Milanese bracelet, and an exhibition caseback. 

Charlie Paris Initial - Rose Gold/Green

Montre Homme Francaise Automatique Coeur Ouvert Squelette or Rose Vert 33 2048x

In contrast, the Concordia is a dynamic tool watch with a Count-Up bezel, 38-hour power reserve and an impressive 300m water resistance.

Charlie Paris Concordia

Montre Homme Francaise Automatique Plongee Concordia Expedition 40mm Bleu 01 2048x


After turning his back on a career in nuclear research, Clément Meynier launched Depancel in 2018, inspired by his dual interests in the art of watchmaking and vintage cars (the brand’s name is a contraction of three historic French car manufacturers – Delage, Panhard, and Facel Vega). 

With a logo inspired by the 1954 Facel Vega coat of arms, dials that look like dashboards, and leather straps inspired by driver’s gloves, this automotive DNA is apparent in every watch they produce! 

Envisaged as a community enterprise, the brand actively invites suggestions and comments from its clients, and only sells its products via pre-order (although they also have a boutique in the picturesque town of Annecy, just a stone’s throw from Geneva).

The f-back is a racing chronograph which nods to, but totally re-imagines, the iconic Heuer Monaco, with its square case housing a boldly designed dial which combines Côtes de Genève and Guilloché finishes and three separate sub-dials, along with a full exhibition caseback. 

Depancel f-back - Dusk Blue

Serie R Fback Blue Soldat Racingbrown 1000x

Inspired by classic races like the Dakar Rally, the Offroad is built for adventure, with a 60-hour power reserve, a strap made from the same material as seat belts, and a compass bezel that resembles the wheels of a 4x4 – the iconic desert racing vehicle!

Depancel Offroad - Khaki

Pistaoffroad Kaki 3 4 1000x


After years spent working in the watch industry, Henrick Gauche founded Hegid with his brother Grégory in 2017. Taking an unusual approach to watch design, their patented “Evol” system allows you to construct your own watch from a series of three interchangeable elements (Capsule, Carrure, and Bracelet) which you can mix and match however you like. This means you can adapt or update your Hegid watch at any time, without tools, in just a few minutes! 

Designed and made in France (using Swiss movements), they have a modern, minimalist aesthetic which highlights the brand’s innovative take on watchmaking. They even offer handsome wooden box sets containing a single capsule and a range of different carrures and bracelets so you can transform your watch as often as you like. 

Or, if you don’t feel like designing your own watch, there’s a whole range of ready-made models to choose from (all of which can be adapted later on if you change your mind!). A standout has to be the Celeste, with its futuristic dial and octagonal case which looks like something from a vintage episode of Star Trek! They also have a showroom in Paris, so you can check it out in person if you’re in the area.

Hegid Celeste

Celeste Yellow Gold Packshot Vf 2000x@2x.progressive

Montmartre Watchworks

With a nod to the nonconformist spirit of the famous Parisian neighborhood, with its long history of rebellion, great artists, and cosmopolitan creativity, Montmartre Watchworks aims to do things a little differently. 

Founded by owner-designer Robert Morrison in 2015, their watches offer a striking blend of tradition and modernity, whether they’re updating the classics or trying something totally new.

The MW3 is a bold reimagining of the classic tonneau, with a curved, sculpted case featuring the brand’s signature lumed slot design at the 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock positions, a 2-layer sandwich dial, and semi-skeletonised hands. 

Montmartre Watchworks MW3 

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At the other end of the spectrum, the MW1 is a distinctive, modern-looking sports watch with a modular design that allows you to switch bezels and shrouds to achieve your own personal look.

Montmartre Watchworks MW1

M W1 Teal Rotary Cushion Blue Dlc Oval


Inspired by the unconventional worlds of retro-futurism, Neucarl’s stated aim is to “draw on the past and the future to reinvent our present”. Founded by Francois Carlier in 2015 and based in Paris, their watches have a refined, minimalist aesthetic which blends the Streamline Moderne era with 21st Century flair to produce something simple, timeless, and elegant.

Their signature watch, the Sept Mai features a polished stainless-steel case, domed sapphire crystal, a sandwich dial with minimalist indices and lumed apertures, and elegant skeleton hands. It's available in a range of versions, with different dial and strap colors, which can give it a dressy, sporty-chic, or bold and dynamic look, depending on what you choose. 

The Roma edition has a classic white and silver dial with a simple brown strap, while the New York has a vibrant blue dial with contrasting orange indices and a matching blue strap.

Neucarl Sept Mai - Roma Edition

Neucarl Packshots 01 Front Bd


Founded by Bruno Marmeys and designer Guillaume Bellon in 2020, Paris-based Pathengers creates watches inspired by the rhythms and beauty of the planet Earth, with each model designed to capture the spirit of a city or location around the globe. 

Even the design of their packaging reflects this love of travel and the spirit of exploration, as each watch is housed within a globe-shaped spherical case marked with lines of latitude and longitude. What’s more, part of their profits are donated to WeForest, a Brussels-based organization which helps communities to restore forest landscapes!

Elegant and urbane in design, the Triomphe is a tribute to the brand’s home city of Paris. It features a round polished case and a refined, understated dial split between a central area of eggshell white and a surrounding band of brushed steel. The 3 o’clock marker is a triangle of denim blue and carnelian red, alluding to both the city’s coat of arms and the French flag, and the whole package is complemented by a vibrant blue crocodile-patterned leather strap. 

Pathengers Triomphe

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The Orcia shifts from city to country, with its brown cotton strap and matching earth tones reflecting the rustic character of the Val d’Orcia in Tuscany.

Pathengers Orcia

Orcia 239066 1000x


One of the oldest brands on this list, Péquignet has been making watches in the Jura region of France since 1973. Originally established by Emile Péquingnet, the company has undergone a series of takeovers since the early 2000s but is still committed to the same blend of beautiful design and advanced technical quality pioneered by its founder. 

Having established its own Haute Horlogerie laboratory in 2008, it now designs and manufactures its own movements in-house, including the Calibre Royal and Calibre Initial, and in 2014 the brand was awarded the designation of a “Living Heritage Company” to reflect its years of innovation and quality.

Watches in the Royale collection are available in many different variants, all sharing the same level of classic design and refined elegance. Most versions feature two separate sub-dials, one for seconds and one to indicate measure the power reserve, although there’s also a Moonphase option, and even a super-intricate perforated dial with rotating date indicators which is a wonder to behold! 

Pequignet Royale - Paris

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The Attitude is a much simpler affair – a classic dress watch for men or women with a minimalist Sunray dial, Roman or Dagger indices, date complication, and an impressive 65-hour power reserve.

Pequignet Attitude - Opaline White

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Reservoir Watch

Turning his back on a 25-year career in the banking industry, François Moreau founded Reservoir in 2015. Taking its inspiration from measuring instruments, the brand’s design aesthetic reflects the functionality and aesthetic appeal of counters, manometers, and other gauges from the automobile, aeronautics, and marine fields. 

Easy to read and accurate (like the instruments which inspired them), but packed with innovative design details, Reservoir’s watches are bold, modern, and extremely eye-catching. French-designed and Swiss-Made, the brand has a range of collections, all of which showcase their striking aesthetic. 

The GT Tour range is inspired by the RPM counters on classic racing cars, the Airfight by cockpit instruments found on aviator jets, the Tiefenmesser by the pressure dials and periscopes found on submarines, and the Sonomaster by measuring instruments used in the world of audio and Hi-Fi. This is definitely a brand worth exploring!

Reservoir Sonomaster Chronograph

Reservoir Watch Sonomaster Chronograph 34


Founded by Armand Billard in 2015, Sartory-Billard offers a bespoke watchmaking service which allows customers to co-create their own watch. Production numbers are kept deliberately low, which allows Armand to work with his clients in real time, keeping them updated on the progress of their watch at every stage of the design process, while encouraging them to play with colors and materials, and to add a personal motto or phrase to the back of the case. 

Every aspect of the watch can be customized, including the dial, numbers, indices, hand finishes, case finishes, and strap, with a final price calculated according to the choice of materials.

Once the client is happy with the design, the actual production takes between six and nine months, with only 125 examples of each watch being produced each year. So, while it may not seem like a great choice if you’re the impatient type, the results are definitely worth waiting for!

Sartory-Billard SB05



Founded in 2019 by Jérome Burgert, Paris-based Serica has a very straightforward aim: to produce unique watches that combine elegance and durability, with a great focus on technical details. 

Named after a remote province that was known as the best trade stop along the famed Silk Road, Serica has built a reputation for its clean dial design, often monochromatic color schemes, and vintage touches, making their watches effortless to wear with any kind of outfit. They’re also available in both left and right-hand configurations, which is great for all those southpaws out there!

Based on an iconic design from WWII, the 4512 Field Watch has a black lacquered dial, easily legible indices, and 200m water resistance. It’s also available with a California dial if you want to give it a twist! 


The 8315 GMT Chronometre has an intriguing two-tone ceramic bezel divided into two 12-hour segments with a highly visual am/pm and day/night indicator. Another great detail is the GMT hand itself, which breaks with convention by swapping a red/orange arrow hand for one with a bright orange lollipop tip!

Serica 8315 GMT Chronometre - Black


SYE Watches

Paris-based SYE was launched in 2017 by Arnaud Pézeron, who works in collaboration with designers Ludovic Blanquer and Michel Berra to produce watches which evoke the gleaming chrome and aged leather of automotive adventure. 

Bringing the concept of “Sports Tailoring” to the wrist, they conceived the idea of combining an integrated leather strap with a stainless-steel case packed with sharp design details. Working with the famous French company Jean Rousseau, they developed a system which seamlessly incorporates metal inserts into tailored Alsace leather to ensure that the strap will sync perfectly with the watch case.

The result was the MOT1ON Automatic-24, a dynamic sports watch with a stainless-steel case combining brushed, polished, and sand-blasted elements, a brushed steel dial with a date complication and 24-hour sub-dial, and lumed Diamond-shaped hands. 

It’s also available as a racing chronograph, but whichever version you choose you can turn it over to discover the brand’s patented “Fastback” mechanism, which allows you to remove the back of the case and swap out the integrated strap with just a few twists of a simple tool!

SYE MOT1ON Automatic-24 - Silver Edition



By far the oldest company on this list, Yema’s history stretches way back to 1948 when it was founded by Henry Louis Belmont, a graduate of the National Watchmaking School in Besançon. Based in Morteau in the Jura region of France (not far from the Swiss border), the company forged a reputation making sturdy tool watches for professional divers, soldiers, sailors, astronauts, racing drivers, and explorers.

In 1963 they launched the Superman dive watch, which is still in production today, and over the years their watches have been worn by Formula One champions, Olympic athletes, Polar explorers, and even the first French astronaut in space! Although the company has changed hands several times over the years, it still has a great reputation, and remains the official supplier of watches to the French Armed Forces.

One of the few French brands that manufactures its own movements in-house, Yema’s watches remain as timeless and reliable as ever. One of their recent models – the Spacegraf – was designed in collaboration with CNES, the French Space Agency, in honor of the Proxima space mission in 2017.

Older models like the Superman continue to evolve, with the addition of a 3-time zone GMT function and 500m water resistance, making it perhaps the ultimate French diver. 

Yema Superman 500 Dato


Another classic, the Flygraf Navigator, is an archetypal aviation chronograph which retains its classic ‘70s design, with a cut-out insert for the three sub-dials, a Tachymeter bezel, and a day/date window thoughtfully available in either French or English. The ideal combination of history and modernity!

Yema Flygraf Navigator



So, once again we’ve given you a lot to chew on! Check out any of these brands on Extropian’s database and we’re sure you’ll find something irresistible, something exciting, something with that certain French je ne sais quoi

Created the 2023-09-07

Modified the 2023-12-01

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