As with any household appliance or electronic equipment, the manufacturer doesn't necessarily put its own name on the products. This is particularly true with the inexpensive models of micrometers which can appear in numerous different guises.
The big players have everything to lose if their products are sold under various names, so they've been careful to keep their brand identity. Mitutoyo, Starrett, Brown & Sharpe, Tesa and Etalon are among these.
The cheap stuff carries various names, some of them quite well known, such as SPI and Fowler. These respected resellers can give you the false impression that you're buying something of quality, even though you're paying only a fraction of the price. You ought to know better.
Major imports from China and Poland sell "by the boat load" according to one big catalog house. Another one counters that "Yes, and they arrive already rusty."
Polish micrometers either have no name on them, or the word Poland, or the brands Lincoln or VIS. Chinese micrometers can carry any name. Swiss Precision Instruments (SPI) sells these and one has to wonder what these micrometers have to do with Swiss and/or Precision?
The problem with unusual brands - even if they're very popular in their country of origin - is that parts are probably not available when repairs are needed. PAV (Präzisions-Apparatebau Vaduz) micrometers are made in Liechtenstein. If you want these repaired, you may have to plan a vacation abroad to that charming mountain principality. Not a bad business expense deduction, eh?
Mahr micrometers made in Germany are of very good quality and quite expensive. Parts are, or should be available from Mahr-Federal in Rhode Island but they have a high minimum purchase which can make these repairs problematic.
Swiss made Tesa, Etalon (and some Brown & Sharpe) micrometers are the cream of the crop and parts can be gotten through Long Island Indicator Service. If you can afford it, these would be the ones to get. Digital models, however, may not be economically repairable, regardless of their original cost.
American made Brown & Sharpe micrometers are made by S-T Industries (Brown and Sharpe no longer makes anything of their own). They very obviously lack the finesse of their European cousins.
Swiss-made Brown & Sharpe micrometers are the only ones we genuinely recommend. They'll cost a bit more but they'll last longer and you'll feel better. Designed for the professional. Forget all others.
Scherr-Tumico now goes by the name S-T Industries. They pioneered the "tubular" frame which allows for lighter weight micrometers of extremely large sizes. These American made micrometers tend to be on the cheap side and it often shows. However, you may have no other choice for a particular application such as enormous diameters.
Central Tool of Cranston, Rhode Island, makes micrometers aimed at the automotive industry. They're on par with the other American made micrometers.
Fowler sells some quality Swiss gages under the name Sylvac. Fowler also sells a lot of Asian junk. Polish indicating micrometers are also sold with the Fowler name on them. Spare parts are hard to get or not available and service is probably not possible.
Mitutoyo offers mechanical micrometers for all budgets and parts are easily available. The digital models won't be repairable if the models are obsolete, which happens about every 3 years. Mitutoyo is an innovator in digital measurement so if you're looking for the latest technology, look no further.
Mitutoyo indicating micrometers use epoxy to hold the anvil bushings in place. Unfortunately, this epoxy softens with time (and oil based solvents) and the micrometer will lose accuracy. Rubber bellows are supposed to keep the solvents away so don't remove them and replace the bellows if the rubber deteriorates..
Standard Gage is a brand name which you will now also encounter on inexpensive Chinese tools. It used to be one of the American stalwarts but has sadly been bastardized over the last decade.
436.1 Series Outside Micrometers - t436.1xrl-2 outside micrometer 1-2" range .0001
Starrett does not make a good quality micrometer although it's highly popular. Repairs sent to Starrett incur a high bench charge so it's probably more economical to find an independent repair shop to deal with these when the time comes.
Carl Zeiss made in Germany. Hefty construction but repairs probably won't be possible because of the lack of parts. The dial micrometer could be used in the upright position because the dial is at right angles to the spindle, unlike all the other indicating micrometers.
Etalon micrometers are the best Swiss-made OD micrometers available. This is an excellent micrometer which can be recommended. Experience shows that these have a long useful life (we encounter Etalon micrometers that are 60 years old and still worth repairing).
If we were to make one suggestion it would be to buy something as expensive as you possibly can afford. The quality of these items increases with the cost. If you plan on using it professionally, or over a long period of time, you'll have made the right choice.
Lastly, these are our own opinions based on years and years of repair work. The repair man knows what's under the hood and can't be fooled by advertising hype. Some manufacturers will be upset by these comments—they usually are—but we hope that it might spur them on to producing a better quality measuring tool for everyone's benefit.