If you’re here, you’re probably much like us. You like watches due to the fact that they’re tiny, purpose-driven machines that we can carry around with us in daily life. Mechanical watches personify this, and the ease an automatic winding movement provides is certainly to be appreciated. However, an automatic movement makes for a thicker watch than a manually-wound one. That is, until you realize that there is such a thing as a micro-rotor movement.

What is a micro-rotor movement?

It’s precisely what it sounds like. Rather than having a rotor that is the same diameter as the movement, you have one that is significantly smaller (for more details and some history, check out this article). Most times, the diameter of a micro-rotor is the radius of the overall movement. With this smaller size, it can be tucked into the movement itself, which reduces the overall thickness of the movement. This, in turn, leads to a thinner watch. A thinner watch makes things lighter and more comfortable on your wrist. With those basics out of the way, lets move on to our current Top 10 micro-rotor watches, in no particular order.

Ulysse Nardin Blast Tourbillon Dragon micro-rotor

Ulysse Nardin Blast Tourbillon Dragon

We talked about the micro-rotor equipped Ulysse Nardin Blast Tourbillon Dragon earlier this year (you can read more about it here), as it came in as part of the wider range of releases celebrating the Year of the Dragon. While it does have a micro-rotor tucked away in the movement, that’s actually the least-impressive thing about the design.

The star of the show is – undeniably – the sculpted dragon that weaves its way through the X-shape of the bridges in the movement. This adds flash and flair, and naturally draws the eye to the pearl that is set on the tourbillon cage. A tourbillon, of course, is an intricately delicate part of the mechanics. Ostensibly, they help offset the effects of gravity on the accuracy as the energy unwinds through the movement. If it weren’t for that micro-rotor helping turn your movement into energy for the watch, we’d be looking at an even beefier case design.

Atelier Holgur Frømand

Next up, we have a watch that we reviewed at the end of last year, the Atelier Holgur Frømand. If the first watch was all about flash, this one is for elevating the humble diver. As you can see in the image above, the micro-rotor is definitely the star of the movement. It’s seen plainly, and the main plate of the movement is also partially skeletonized. This allows you to see the gear train that delivers the energy from the micro-rotor to the mainspring, and then from the mainspring to the balance wheel.

While the micro-rotor is less common in automatic watches, it does lend a sense of robustness. How? By having the rotor is tucked in there, keeping a more common plane. Then again, it could just be the Grade 5 titanium case with its fixed lug bars that really make for a solid package. All in all, this is a design that is an extremely subtle interpretation of luxury and mechanical prowess.

Baltic MR01

When it comes to affordable micro-rotor watches, the brand that immediately comes to mind for us is Baltic. They’ve produced a number of great designs, and more than a few of them have contained a micro-rotor. Up above, you can see the latest version done in gold PVD, and there’s also the original, which has a stainless steel case.

Compared to the first micro-rotor watch we listed, the Baltic MR-01 is more reserved. And, frankly, that’s why it shines. It’s a classic look, with a refreshed twist placing the subdial in an unexpected location. That aside, from the front, it looks like a vintage watch. Flip it over, and from that expansive exhibition case back, you have a lovely view of that micro-rotor. In other words, vintage looks with a modern update that keep you from having to wind the watch manually.

  • Yema Superman Slim
  • Yema Superman Slim
  • Yema Superman Slim

Yema Superman Slim: their production micro-rotor

The Yema Superman Slim is one of the more recent entries into the micro-rotor category. We wrote about it here, and came away quite impressed. This particular design takes the classic Yema Superman look, and leaves it mostly unchanged. From the front, you might just recognize that it seems a bit slim for a 300m watch. And of course, that bracelet is quite lovely. When you flip it over, well, that is when you recognize just why the watch is thinner. It’s due to that in-house movement, the CMM.20, which first appeared in a bronze limited edition.

If you’re wondering how the Yema Superman Slim might be in person, well, we can’t tell you that just yet. We are working on getting in a review loaner. In the meantime, you can check out this review – or this one in GMT guise – of one of the original Yema Superman designs.

  • Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto micro-rotor

Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto

While I had quite a drought in my watch reviewing career when it comes to micro-rotors, that turned around a bit in the last year. Another one that we went hands-on with is the Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto. This is a watch that does not rely on the movement alone to step forward. Instead, it has a dial and bracelet design that sets the stage.

Done up in titanium, the Laurent Ferrier Sport Auto keeps things light on the wrist. Visually, this is a larger watch, so the lighter material is welcome. The titanium is tough, which will help protect that micro-rotor tucked away in the case. The dial is bold without being overdone, and the large indices keep things legible. Another detail we enjoyed was the attention drawn to the date wheel, without resorting to a cyclops on the crystal. If you’re looking for a luxury sport watch with a micro-rotor movement, this is one that deserves to be on the short list.

Bell & Ross BR-X2 Skeleton Micro-Rotor

For Bell & Ross, we’re very used to seeing variations on their square-cased watches. More often than not, these are aviators. Then you have something like this. The movement is skeletonized, and the case is sandwiched with sapphire crystals. This means that, not only do you see the micro-rotor powering up the movement, you also have an unobstructed view of the tourbillon. Given that only 50 of these were made, it should not be a surprise that the Bell & Ross BR-X2 Skeleton Micro-Rotor is a watch worth more than the car in your garage.

  • H. Moser Streamliner Small Seconds Blue Enamel micro-rotor
  • H. Moser Streamliner Small Seconds Blue Enamel

H. Moser Streamliner Small Seconds Blue Enamel

If you like a luxury watch with an integrated bracelet, and want a textured dial? Then the H. Moser Streamliner Small Seconds Blue Enamel is where you want to stop next. The crew over at H. Moser has been creating some amazing dials for years now, and what they’ve put into this one is nothing short of spectacular.

Then again, this company is definitely not all show, no go. They’ve also introduced some very unique movements into their designs, housing not just micro-rotors (as we have in this one), but also whirlwind-enabled tourbillon designs. Here, though, we do need to also point out that it features another innovation you might not expect. In this case, it’s the lume. Rather than painting it on, they’ve come up with a luminous ceramic material. This Globolight not only lights up in the dark, it gives amazing dimensionality. While there are a number of great H. Moser designs, this particular example stands at the top of the mountain for us.

  • Sjoo Sandstrom Royal Capital micro-rotor
  • Sjoo Sandstrom Royal Capital micro-rotor

Sjoo Sandstrom Royal Capital

Along with finding watches with interesting movements, we find great joy in uncovering watch brands that hail from countries we had not seen a watch from before. For Sweden, there are just a few options. One brand that I find myself rather fond of is Sjoo Sandstrom. For the Sjoo Sandstrom Royal Capital, they’ve given us what I consider to be a sporty take on a dress watch look.

Often, we find ourselves looking at a sport watch – say, a diver – and debating if the bracelet or a leather strap would make it more fit for pairing with a suit. While that can certainly work, the Sjoo Sandstrom Royal Capital starts from a dress watch design, and bulks up the shoulders of the case to give it a hint of sportiness. Though the brushed bezel on the case is wider, you still have a polished bevel to give it some sparkle.

Of course, you also have the micro-rotor movement – visible through the case back – helping to keep the case slimmer, allowing it to easily slip under a cuff. There are a number of different finishes, and this looks to be a design ready to go on an exploration of strap options as well. If you’re looking for something none of your watch friends have, why not a watch from Sweden?

  • CORUM Heritage Lab 01
  • CORUM Heritage Lab 01 micro-rotor
  • CORUM Heritage Lab 01
  • CORUM Heritage Lab 01
  • CORUM Heritage Lab 01
  • CORUM Heritage Lab 01

CORUM Heritage Lab 01

Corum is another brand that has been doing some very fun and clever stuff with their movements, and how they are presented in a watch. Most famously, of course, there’s the Corum Golden Bridge, and then big, bold designs like the Corum Bubble. If you want to marry that unique approach to movement packaging with a bold design, then you’re headed to their Lab collection.

The CORUM Heritage Lab 01 first strikes you with the fact that the case is made of damascus pattern steel, something more commonly reserved for knives and swords. It gives the tonneau case immediate visual interest. Then your eye drifts to the dial, and along with being partially skeletonized, you realize that you can see the rotor (a micro-rotor) from the dial side (as well as on the reverse). Corum never ceases to surprise us, and this combination of sword steel and arrow-fletching handsets certain sets a high-water mark.

  • Yema Wristmaster micro-rotor
  • Yema Wristmaster micro-rotor
  • Yema Wristmaster micro-rotor
  • Yema Wristmaster micro-rotor

Yema Wristmaster Traveller micro-rotor

Finally, we have a surprise second entry from one of the smaller brands in our list, Yema. Back in 2022, they started a crowd-funding campaign for the Yema Wristmaster Traveller micro-rotor. This was actually the first model that they put a micro-rotor movement into, and also started to get us familiar with other designs in their catalog that don’t carry the Superman name.

Along with that movement, the Yema Wristmaster Traveller micro-rotor also grabbed on to some current trends, giving us an integrated bracelet as well as popular dial colors. Aside from all of that, what particularly stands out about this design is that scalloped bezel, that gives things just the right amount of whimsy to the design.

Wrapping things up

And there you have it, dear reader – our current top ten list of micro-rotor watches. As we mentioned at the outset, these were presented in no particular order, and we’ll undoubtedly be updating this over time. If we’ve overlooked your favorite design, feel free to drop us a line. You can also check out what others we’ve written about either via our search function, or by looking specifically at articles we’ve tagged.

ByPatrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

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