They were once a feature of many high streets, little workshops usually occupied by a lone chap with a steady hand and an eyepiece, surrounded by tiny metal parts and the gentle tick-tock of a dozen clocks. 

The watchmaker’s art faded with the arrival of quartz and battery-operated timepieces. Digital technology and more recently the continual buzz and beep of smartwatches replaced the traditional mechanical watch, with its skeleton of minuscule screws and intricate moving parts. 

Even the sprawling Timex factory in Dundee, which at its peak employed more than 5000 people making timepieces to send around the world, couldn’t survive the march of time.

But times have certainly changed, it seems the gentle art of making wristwatches is now enjoying an albeit small but still remarkable Scottish-led revival. 

In a workshop at Glasgow Green, ten handmade watches a week are being laboriously crafted, each featuring a prized enamelling technique typically only found in a very select few high-end watchmakers’ in Switzerland and Japan. 

Surrounded by shelves heaving with jewel-coloured enamelling powders, one of horology’s trickiest creative processes – the making enamel watch dials in the ‘grand feu’ tradition, and the task of constructing each watch by hand – is being undertaken with painstaking attention to detail. 

The idea, says Lewis Heath, an architecture graduate who decided to turn attention to the rapidly disappearing art of watchmaking, was to create something which combines the prized enamelling technique with contemporary design and classic mechanical movement.

As a result, anOrdain watches with their richly coloured enamel dials – made by laying glass powders onto a blank copper disc, firing at high temperatures to melt the powder, cooling it and then firing over and over again to reach the required depth - are flying from his Glasgow workshop. 

Incredibly, he’s found some are almost instantly sold on the second-hand market for twice their original four-figure price. 

One of the beauties of the enamel technique is the depth of colour that comes from multiple layers of glass. “The melted glass will never, ever lose its colour. It is much better quality than a painted dial that you can’t get anywhere else,” he says.

“There are so few people in the world that can do this, and no-one involved in watchmaking expects a Scottish company to be doing it.”

But it’s not the only Glasgow watch studio seeing rising demand. At design studio Instrmnt in Parnie Street, design team Pete Sunderland and Ross Baynham’s Swiss-movement timepieces have broken into the Japanese market – home to some of the biggest watchmaking brands in the world such as Seiko, Citizen and Casio.

While celebrities may seek out expensive designer brands to showcase their wealth, Mr Sunderland says others are shifting towards a more low-key and unique style statement.

“A lot of people are buying watches that don’t have that obvious branding; they want people to have to ask what brand of watch they are wearing,” he says. 

The firm is now preparing to expand beyond its quartz collection to include traditional mechanical watches and is eyeing the South Korean market. 

Meanwhile, at Paulin in Great Western Road, founded by sisters Charlotte and Eleanor Paulin amid frustration at finding a classic but contemporary wristwatch among a sea of glitzy designer brands, the watches are particularly prized for its subtle ‘Glasgow’ stamp on the dial of its most popular wristwatches. 

Even the ‘heritage’ end of the market appears to be thriving. Alness-based pocket watch business Dalvey has seen such demand for its classic timepieces soar to such an extent that it has recently revived production of classic Albert pocket watch chains, a throwback to the business’s Victorian roots. 

Mr Heath believes demand for classic wristwatches is being partly driven by people turning away from technology and the constant ‘ping’ of text, email and step counters emanating from mobile phones and smartwatches. 

“People are looking for something that will last forever – there are very few things in life that are used so much but will be there after you are gone. It’s a very reassuring thing to have,” he said.

“They don’t have apps or make noises, so you can go for a walk and your watch isn’t vibrating, telling you to check emails or texts.”

The art of grand feu enamelling in watchmaking is carried out by only a tiny handful of highly sophisticated watchmakers in the world because of the highly precise nature of the work and time taken to produce each piece. They include Hermes, which recently launched a grand feu enamel version of its classic Slim D’Hermes watches, which instantly added almost £20,000 to the price tag.

In the case of anOrdian’s watches, each 1.2mm dial consists of several layers of glass which must be delicately sanded to absolute perfection – the slightest kink or warp is discarded. The challenge of conquering the technique took Heath and his team of enamellers almost three years to perfect. 

The watches are then carefully constructed by one of Scotland’s few watchmakers who, bizarrely, learned the craft by taking a British Horological Institute distance learning course while working as a picker in Amazon. 

Alan Burtoft of the British Horological Institute says there appears to be a shift in how many consumers are choosing their watch, boosting the once disappearing art of the watchmaker.

“We have seen a steady increase in interest in people looking to learn about watchmaking and clockmaking. 

“It may be because people are realising you can make quite a good living from repairing clocks and watches, but there also seems to be a resurgence in interest in mechanical timepieces. 

“It could be that people are just fed up with novelty and ‘throwaway’ watches and want something that they can keep.”