In the pages of the Wall Street Journal the wise and insightful Adam Craniotes, co-founder and president of the RedBar Group defined microbrands as ‘the start-ups of the watch world’.
Start-ups of any kind are notoriously prone to failure. Happily that is not the case with Carpenter Watches of Brooklyn. Even more happily the brand’s founder Neil Carpenter has lost none of his sense of adventure. A penchant for adventure, or if you prefer daring or risk taking, is a necessary component in the make-up of any entrepreneur (along with a lack of a fear of failure). Neil’s risk taking is intact both in terms of the brand and his watch designs.
Carpenter’s first watch The Brooklyn Field boasted a distinct design including wire lugs that reminded me of pocket watches which were converted to wristwatches during WW1. The Brooklyn Field instantly shot Carpenter into the (growing) ranks of microbrands that do not slavishly imitate the designs of famous brands.
Carpenter’s second watch, The Gent also represents a certain daring. In some circles The Brooklyn Field is considered a casual, almost sporty watch with a bold, take no nonsense attitude – like some residents of Brooklyn. ‘Hey’, the watch says ‘you can wear me with a t-shirt and jeans or a suit. I can do casual or sophisticated. It’s cool’
The Gent is different. And, that difference proves that Neil Carpenter, the brand’s founder and chief designer still has a fully functioning willing-to-go-his-own-way mojo.
The easy thing for Neil to do would be to build on the success and the aesthetic of his first watch. Instead, he chose to go in a new direction. The Gent possesses none of the casual chic of Field. The first watch has no flat surfaces the second uses flat surfaces to accentuate its vintage look. The Gent is a formal watch. I am not talking about the correct attire to wear with the watch. These days you can combine just about any watch with just about any type of clothing. I’m talking about the appearance of the watch. Where The Field is in-your-face, The Gent is subtle, quiet and refined. The shape of the case, the lugs, the hands the typography and markers on the dial blend together into one classical, decorous whole. This effect is noticeable regardless of the dial/case combination; stainless steel or bronze with a champagne or black dial.
One feature that connects The Gent to its older sibling is the bezel on the day aperture.
The change of gears from The Field to The Gent is not restricted to design. Most of the movements in the first Carpenter watch were Miyota 821a 21 jewel automatics. The Gent houses only ETA 2824-2 25 jewel automatics. I know many people will maintain that there is not so much variance between the two and they may be right. Still, the Swiss movement represents Neil’s willingness to invest in his brand.
So, to re-cap, The Gent is pure vintage look watch but with great reliability and a lower price tag than similar efforts from big brands. Prices range from $725 to $795 depending on the case/strap/bracelet combo.
As for microbrands let’s all hope My Craniotes is right in labelling them the start-ups of the watch world – because some start-ups grow into venerable brands.