Watch Microbrands Verge on Becoming Macro Watch Businesses

Budget-friendly in collector terms, independents gain ground with the aid of tools like e-commerce sites.

In 2017, Dr. Nathaniel DeNicola attended a conference at the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization, where he delivered a lecture on the effects of environmental contaminants on maternal and child health. During a break, he went shopping with the stipend from the speaking gig.

“I looked around the watch boutiques on the main drag in Geneva,” Dr. DeNicola recalled in a recent phone call. “I was struck by the craftsmanship and the intricacy of the inner workings.”

The doctor, an obstetrician based in Southern California, said the mechanical watches, most of which started at around

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