Before analysing the deluge of watches presented recently at the Geneva show SIHH, here is a post on a watch by San Francisco-based start-up Linjer. Another start-up? Another would-be watch brand? But Linjer is an example of what is happening in the mechanical watch industry. Up until a few years ago, mechanical watches were by definition luxury products. Today, new brands are appearing all the time, inventing Swiss or Italian-sounding names and placing Chinese-built movements into Chinese-built cases. For online consumers, it’s confusing. Luckily there are some characteristics that shout out “this watch is rubbish,” for example the watches that look like chronographs but instead have illegible subdials for day and date.
Swiss ETA movement
The Automatic by Linjer is in a different class. It has an ETA 2824-2 calibre, a classic Swiss-made automatic movement providing a 38 hour power reserve. The watchglass is sapphire crystal, and likewise the display caseback. The case is in stainless steel, 38 mm in diameter and just 8.4 mm thick. This makes it thin enough to be a dress watch, slipping effortlessly under a shirt cuff. Technically the only thing that prevents it from being a through-and-through dress watch is the presence of a small date window. The case is available in two versions, bright stainless steel, or rose gold PVD. In the latter version, the movement seems to be plated in rose gold PVD as well. The minimalist dial is very Piaget, pure elegance.
Italian leather straps
Linjer started life in 2014 with the idea of making briefcases in soft, quality leather, and so their watch straps are high-quality, Italian full-grain, vegetable-tanned leather, available in a range of colours. The watch straps have deployant butterfly buckles, and quick-release spring bars. So you can buy extra straps to give the watch a different appearance.
Price of the Linjer Automatic
At prices of $549, with some models available at $412 as a clearance sale, this is an attractive deal. Extra 18mm straps cost $85. Free shipping. The negatives? Perhaps a bit more transparency on manufacturing would be nice – the watches are presumably assembled in Hong Kong. Just the movement is Swiss-made. Comparing the Linjer Automatic with a similar operation, the watches by Helm which cost around $300, the price probably gives them a comfortable margin.
Linjer was founded by San Francisco entrepreneurs Jennifer Chong and Roman Khan. Roman was born in Oslo, and the brand name Linjer means “lines” in Norwegian. Their business model is based on a small team, trusted external suppliers, and large investments in Facebook and Instagram marketing. That’s where that comfortable margin is going. Read more about Linjer watches on their website. All images courtesy of Linjer.