Belgium Emerges as a Source of Watchmaking Creativity

Now he is working to bolster the name recognition of his brand outside Belgium because “ideally I’d like to make it my main job” within the next five years, he said. He introduced a new collection of dive watches at the WatchPro Salon in London last month, revamping his debut Bonaire collection of 2018.

Again named for the Caribbean island known for its dive sites, the new 40-millimeter Bonaire watches come with dials in black, blue and a new green (because of its “luxury vibe,” he said); new Swiss mechanical movements; and an open-case back that reveals some of the movement. Pretax prices range from €925 to €1,025. Straps are rubber, leather or stainless steel.

Nate Borgelt, head of watches in the Americas for the Bonhams auction house, said by phone that he would slot Méraud watches alongside brands like Oris, Nomos Glashütte or Tissot, because they have “bang for your buck, that, kind of, goes under the radar; that watch people know.”

Mr. Busschaert liaises with each of his factories to make the cases, dials, hands and stainless steel straps in China, the movements and rubber straps in Switzerland, and leather straps in France. His watches are assembled in Switzerland and shipped to clients from his office in Ghent, he said.

The sight of new apartment buildings springing up along the Belgian coast prompted him to study for a professional bachelor’s degree in real estate from 2006 to 2009 at University College Ghent, where he began watch collecting. He bought a black and orange Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean, he said, after breaking his Rodania chronograph.

He now owns six new and pre-owned watches including a 1962 Rolex Submariner 5512 as “the essence of a dive watch,” he wrote, and a Bulgari Octo Finissimo 103023 with dark green numerals in Arabic for “its distinctive design,” he said. Mr. Busschaert keeps his collection tight by buying and selling them, saying that he has “only one wrist and there are only seven days.”