Titular photo courtesy of @dotted.culture
In September of 2019, Professor Bill Sullivan of Indiana University wrote for National Geographic, “Our actions are governed by hidden biological forces—which is to say that we have little or no control over our personal tastes.” I therefore choose to believe that my fanatical predilection for watches was delivered to me in utero through a biological freeway directly linked to my father. I am helpless in my addiction. By extension, it stands to reason that my attraction to Lorier watches can also not be explained. But bear with me while I try…
Lorier is a true microbrand by almost any definition of the term. Cofounders, Lorenzo and Lauren Ortega launched their young brand in the Spring of 2018. At the time, they were school teachers in New York and neither had any experience in watchmaking. This is more common than you would imagine in the dynamic world of microbrands. Legend has it, that a pre-wedding watch disaster left Lorenzo searching for a “go-everywhere-do-everything” watch that fit his middle-class budget, but also one that reflected his unavoidable biological attraction to classic vintage styling.
After coming up empty, the husband and wife team began to dream about their ideal watch.
That a microbrand might wish to democratize the watch purchasing process—that is, avoid markups while producing a quality product—is nothing new. What does, however, differentiate Lorier from other brands is that they are not fixed on collectors. Lorier, instead, has constructed their brand around the principle of the “one watch collection.” And while I cannot fathom such a thing, myself, I must admit that the romanticism of that notion—wearing one watch for a lifetime of adventures—does have a certain siren song.
Lorier released its first three watches in 2018, but in short order, they have increased their offerings to five different models—some already into their second and third generations. What is immediately striking about the Lorier catalogue is “the look.” Each of the five models share a case design that harkens back to mid-century skin divers (a personal favourite). They are stainless steel with predominant brushing and have a discriminating polished chamfer along the edge and through the drilled lugs. Except for the latest in the Falcon series, all models share a vintage-correct sizing of 39mm in diameter and 47mm lug to lug. Also shared, and true to their retro inspiration, is the application of a warm Plexi dome. In addition, each sports the brand’s custom bracelet with flat, fully-articulating, screwed links.
This adherence to a particular aesthetic has rendered Lorier watches easily recognizable among enthusiasts. Paired with prices, which for the most part, remain under $500USD, Lorier watches have quickly carved out a niche in the microbrand market with affordable, polyvalent vintage styles.
Collector photos courtesy of @northernwrist
Already into its third generation, this 60s skin diver embraces its heritage with both arms. Of particular charm are its large crown with deep, well-spaced teeth, and its glorious acrylic dome. Its case shape, hands and slim bezel conjure up images of the Seamaster CK14755, but its indices are more reminiscent of a vintage Bathyscape. With its curvaceous, chamfered lugs, and relatively slim profile (for a dive watch) of 12.7mm, the Neptune III is designed to hug the wrist nicely. Powered by the Miyota 90S5, it is available in four colourways, but the navy and gilt is particularly alluring.
The Falcon is a tool watch built for the gentleman explorers of old and would be equally at home on the trail or in the board room. Unlike other Lorier watches, the Falcon II is a handsome 36mm (11mm thick with dome) and 44mm lug to lug. This has been reduced from the original (39mm), allowing it to slip discretely beneath a shirt cuff at the office, patiently awaiting weekend adventures. Its case shape and size are very much like the 6350, but it has the hands of an Omega Railmaster 2914. The Falcon II also employs a waffle pattern dial that adds refinement to the design. It uses the Miyota 90S5 for its thinness and its Plexi-dome reduces glare when in the field. The Falcon is also offered in four colourways. My favourite would have to be the green and gilt, even though it might not be as versatile as the black dial variation. The Falcon II is also available in PVD gold.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, chronographs are just cool. But automatic chronographs are not cheap. The Gemini is a bicompax (making its name rather appropriate). Comparisons could easily be drawn with the Heuer Autavia or the Brietling Co-Pilot, but the Gemini really leans on the Eberhard Contograf 31501-806 for its overall aesthetic. I really appreciate the use of a 12-hour bezel, which aside from tracking hours, can double as a GMT. The Gemini uses the Seagull ST19—a movement with its own interesting history. It is made in both the famous panda and reverse panda colour schemes, in addition to a blue dial variant.
The Hydra is Lorier’s interpretation of a Super Compressor. The watch is a blend of other legendary compressors like Longines, Lecoutre and Clebar. Like most compressors, it employs two crowns. The interior bezel can track minutes elapsed during a dive, or another time zone. The Hydra uses another of Citizen’s Miyota line, the 9015. It is offered in two colourways, but the black and gilt oozes vintage goodness.
The Hyperion is the latest addition to the Lorier lineup. And it is a popular one. There are not many automatic GMTs out there for under $800USD. The Hyperion is a close rendition of the classic Rolex GMT-Master 6542, or even the Current Black Bay GMT—itself a vintage-inspired watch; however, the Hyperion employs a muted Pepsi bezel for a slightly classier look. The Plexi bezel in the Hyperion has also been lumed with C3 (green), while the dial hands and indices use BGW9 (blue). This makes tracking your time zones even easier at night. The Hyperion is also only 10.7mm thick, making it the perfect pairing for a suit and tie. It is powered by the Soprod 125 movement, which, admittedly has no quick-set hour hand. However, this cost-saving choice also happens to be period-correct. The 6542 didn’t have one either. The Hyperion comes in two different colourways. But I am a big fan of the black and gilt, which sets it apart from both the Rolex and Tudor offerings.
My overall impression of Lorier is that it is a brand that seeks balance. They are not chasing after fads which may fade out over time. Neither are they producing watches without distinction. They are a brand that has thus far remained true to their founding vision—to produce high-quality, classic designs for the common person. Any one of their burgeoning collection would suffice as a “one watch collection.” And while there are echoes of Rolex and Tudor and Omega in all of their designs, Lorier has done enough to make their watches discrete. They would make the perfect gift for a graduation or a wedding or a retirement. You won’t ruin their value by personalizing the caseback with an engraved message, and they are built to be both durable and versatile. If care is taken, a Lorier will be something you can leave behind for the next generation to wear with pride.
For my part, I have my eye set on the Hyperion (or maybe that Falcon…) and the seductive promise of the Lorier website, “Returning Soon.”
Source photography was provided by the brand itself through press packages, websites, and/or upon direct request. Many thanks to our collectors and fans for providing additional images. Please follow them on Instagram.
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