Chronograph Movements-- Which Ones to Get or Avoid, and Why?
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  1. #1
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    Chronograph Movements-- Which Ones to Get or Avoid, and Why?

    In my last post, I asked how to avoid fake watches, and I got so much great information, so I decided to start another thread for another question. In doing so, I hope other people will benefit from the advice in the future as well.

    I'm quite dumb when it comes to the watch world, even though I've done some researches on Google. I know there are many different chronograph movements, but I don't know what makes a specific movement good, or average (if not bad). Is it accuracy? Or is it durability? I guess the availability of parts also plays a role here? Or there are more to movements that I am still missing?

    When I googled, I found the following movement makers are the most popular (or most seen online): 1. Landeron 2. Valjoux 3. Venus 4. Angelus

    Each maker produced different models e.g., Landeron 39, Valjoux 188, and etc. It seems like Landeron would be more of an average movement maker because it used to mass produce, and on the other hand, Valjoux and Venus were of better quality. But I've seen people giving thumbs up to Landeron movements as well. So, I'm quite puzzled...

    Anyway, is there a movement that is a no-no to a beginner like me? Or is there a great movement for the entry to mid tier level buyer like me?

    Again, any responses will be greatly appreciated!
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  2. #2
    Member trim's Avatar
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    Re: Chronograph Movements-- Which Ones to Get or Avoid, and Why?

    You forgot lemania - the movement in Omega, Longines etc.

    This question has been answered many times - there is quite a bit of snobbery involved in the community.

    I'll have a bash though - following is a brain dump. Which may or may not include errors.

    1. Nothing wrong with a cam switched Landeron, very common, but robust, easy to service and work just fine - you will never have a parts issue and they are the most economical 'proper' chronograph movement to buy as a collector. The earlier column wheel movements can be very nice indeed, but parts are an issue. Landeron made the first cam switched chronograph in 1937 - the 47.

    2. Valjoux, the 72, 23 are premium column wheel movements - used by top end makers. They are lovely to work on, but finding parts while still possible will cost you deeply. The cam switched movements started with the 7730 (rebadged Venus 188) and quickly changed to the ubiquitous 7733 and 7734 family. These are super robust, easy to service modern designs - but prices have gone stupid and parts are starting to be an issue - supplies are still good just getting pricey. The watches themselves have gone up a lot over the last few years. The Val 92 is a swivelling pinion chronograph - with column wheel, its fine.

    3. Venus, was taken over by Valjoux. The 188 cam switched movement became the 7733 eventually. The earlier column wheel 150/170 family were used by makers such as Brietling and are reasonable to work on. Parts are semi difficult. The chinese made a copy of the 175 - the Seagull ST19. The other famous one is the Venus 170 with swivelling pinion, its a bit older, a bit clunky and not as nice to service. These are still reasonable to buy, are cool because they are up-down chronos and used to be cheap. I have seen these getting more expensive.

    4. Angelus - Premium movement - no personal experience, I don't own one and have never serviced one. I hear the parts situation is terrible. They are very beautiful.

    Things you didn't ask about

    5. Lemania. Made wonderful chronos, based on the 27CH family you see these in makers like Longines and Omega. Most famous is the Speedmaster 321 w/column wheel. This was modified to be a cam switched movement and a cheaper family (1270) was also produced. I have worked on these (321 and 1270) and they are enjoyable. Parts supply is variable. They are getting pricey, but Tissot versions are still surprisingly affordable.

    6. Pierce. Long vilified, an incredibly advanced movement for the time, with a vertical clutch - predating modern chrono design. I don't have an issue servicing these and parts are fairly available from cheap donor movements. The best thing about pierce is that the movement was in-house - a truly independent company. I think these should be expensive and collectable, but they're not there yet. They also did a cool thing with waterproof cases and the dials are wonderful. You do run a risk of not being able to find a willing watchmaker, but frankly that's stupid imo. If you hang around long enough on this forum, I'll get around to posting the restoration of one.

    7. Excelsior Park. Premium movement - no personal experience, I don't own one and have never serviced one. I hear the parts situation is terrible. They are very beautiful.

    I am sure I have forgotten some stuff, but this covers roughly the period from the late 30s - 70s.

    No brainers:

    If you have $ - buy a Landeron 48 - 248
    If you have $$ - buy a Valjoux 7733/34, Venus 188, Lemania 1270.
    If you have $$$ - buy a Valjoux 23.
    If you have $$$$ - buy a Valjoux 72, Lemania 27CH.
    If you have $$$$$+ - buy an Omega 321, or the Rolex version of the Valjoux 72

    If you feel like being interesting then:

    If you have $$ - buy a Pierce, Venus 170
    If you have $$$ - buy a Venus 175/178
    If you have $$$$ - Lemania 15, EP or Angelus? Actually these are the only ones I don't own from these lists - so I'm guessing here.

    Things to avoid?

    Well how much work do you want to do finding parts and how much money are you spending, its all relative. Apart from the pin lever fake chronostops, I don't think there really is a terrible movement from this period. I love them all.

    Things I didn't mention - Seiko and the first (arguable) auto - caliber 11. Someone else who know about these can say stuff, I am ignorant of them.

    Kris.
    Last edited by trim; April 3rd, 2018 at 11:45.

  3. #3
    Member arcadelt's Avatar
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    Re: Chronograph Movements-- Which Ones to Get or Avoid, and Why?

    Minerva?

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    Re: Chronograph Movements-- Which Ones to Get or Avoid, and Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by trim View Post
    You forgot lemania - the movement in Omega, Longines
    I'll have a bash though - following is a brain dump. Which may or may not include errors.

    Kris.
    Outstanding post for a brain dump! Thank you


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    Re: Chronograph Movements-- Which Ones to Get or Avoid, and Why?

    Cal.11 needs a really really good watchmaker to hassle with it. It is DD module stacked on Buren microtor movement. The movement itself is great..while it runs. If something breaks (and usually it is rotor axis) it is pretty much PITA to fix.


    as it comes to Seiko movements, the whole 6138/6139 family and its flyback siblings is the cheapest way to get the vintage automatic movement. The problem is :

    - frankens. Frankens all over the place. If you find one with all original parts, get it. Prices have gone all over the place.

    - these watches were often worn to the bone. they were made in large quantities and (atleast over here) worn as everyday watches. My neighbour wears his 6139 since he bough it 40 years ago. chrono is always on, I dont think he ver serviced it. But he wears it every day.

    -they lack running second.

    other than that, they are really durable and actually au pair with any swiss made chronos.
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  7. #6
    Member Dan S's Avatar
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    Re: Chronograph Movements-- Which Ones to Get or Avoid, and Why?

    Martel also made high-quality column-wheel chronograph movements, notably for Zenith and Universal Geneve.
    georges zaslavsky likes this.
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    Re: Chronograph Movements-- Which Ones to Get or Avoid, and Why?

    Informative post trim !
    Please advise
    1. if Val 23 is superior to Val 92 ( as used in first execution Heuer Autavia ) ?
    2. Why is Rolex Val 72 considered better than other watch companies Val 72 ?

    Thanks
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  9. #8
    Member georges zaslavsky's Avatar
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    Re: Chronograph Movements-- Which Ones to Get or Avoid, and Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by kazrich View Post
    Informative post trim !
    Please advise
    1. if Val 23 is superior to Val 92 ( as used in first execution Heuer Autavia ) ?
    2. Why is Rolex Val 72 considered better than other watch companies Val 72 ?

    Thanks
    The 23 was the two subcounters version of the valjoux 72. Better than the 92 hardly. When I see the price that commands an Andretti Autavia with a valjoux 92, I wouldn't call it an inferior movement.
    The valjoux 72 reworked by Rolex had a microstella balance wheel as well as specific accuracy regulator that was not found in any other version of the valjoux 72 allowing better accuracy over the long run.
    kazrich likes this.
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  10. #9
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    Re: Chronograph Movements-- Which Ones to Get or Avoid, and Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by trim View Post
    You forgot lemania - the movement in Omega, Longines etc.

    This question has been answered many times - there is quite a bit of snobbery involved in the community.

    I'll have a bash though - following is a brain dump. Which may or may not include errors.

    1. Nothing wrong with a cam switched Landeron, very common, but robust, easy to service and work just fine - you will never have a parts issue and they are the most economical 'proper' chronograph movement to buy as a collector. The earlier column wheel movements can be very nice indeed, but parts are an issue. Landeron made the first cam switched chronograph in 1937 - the 47.

    2. Valjoux, the 72, 23 are premium column wheel movements - used by top end makers. They are lovely to work on, but finding parts while still possible will cost you deeply. The cam switched movements started with the 7730 (rebadged Venus 188) and quickly changed to the ubiquitous 7733 and 7734 family. These are super robust, easy to service modern designs - but prices have gone stupid and parts are starting to be an issue - supplies are still good just getting pricey. The watches themselves have gone up a lot over the last few years. The Val 92 is a swivelling pinion chronograph - with column wheel, its fine.

    3. Venus, was taken over by Valjoux. The 188 cam switched movement became the 7733 eventually. The earlier column wheel 150/170 family were used by makers such as Brietling and are reasonable to work on. Parts are semi difficult. The chinese made a copy of the 175 - the Seagull ST19. The other famous one is the Venus 170 with swivelling pinion, its a bit older, a bit clunky and not as nice to service. These are still reasonable to buy, are cool because they are up-down chronos and used to be cheap. I have seen these getting more expensive.

    4. Angelus - Premium movement - no personal experience, I don't own one and have never serviced one. I hear the parts situation is terrible. They are very beautiful.

    Things you didn't ask about

    5. Lemania. Made wonderful chronos, based on the 27CH family you see these in makers like Longines and Omega. Most famous is the Speedmaster 321 w/column wheel. This was modified to be a cam switched movement and a cheaper family (1270) was also produced. I have worked on these (321 and 1270) and they are enjoyable. Parts supply is variable. They are getting pricey, but Tissot versions are still surprisingly affordable.

    6. Pierce. Long vilified, an incredibly advanced movement for the time, with a vertical clutch - predating modern chrono design. I don't have an issue servicing these and parts are fairly available from cheap donor movements. The best thing about pierce is that the movement was in-house - a truly independent company. I think these should be expensive and collectable, but they're not there yet. They also did a cool thing with waterproof cases and the dials are wonderful. You do run a risk of not being able to find a willing watchmaker, but frankly that's stupid imo. If you hang around long enough on this forum, I'll get around to posting the restoration of one.

    7. Excelsior Park. Premium movement - no personal experience, I don't own one and have never serviced one. I hear the parts situation is terrible. They are very beautiful.

    I am sure I have forgotten some stuff, but this covers roughly the period from the late 30s - 70s.

    No brainers:

    If you have $ - buy a Landeron 48 - 248
    If you have $$ - buy a Valjoux 7733/34, Venus 188, Lemania 1270.
    If you have $$$ - buy a Valjoux 23.
    If you have $$$$ - buy a Valjoux 72, Lemania 27CH.
    If you have $$$$$+ - buy an Omega 321, or the Rolex version of the Valjoux 72

    If you feel like being interesting then:

    If you have $$ - buy a Pierce, Venus 170
    If you have $$$ - buy a Venus 175/178
    If you have $$$$ - Lemania 15, EP or Angelus? Actually these are the only ones I don't own from these lists - so I'm guessing here.

    Things to avoid?

    Well how much work do you want to do finding parts and how much money are you spending, its all relative. Apart from the pin lever fake chronostops, I don't think there really is a terrible movement from this period. I love them all.

    Things I didn't mention - Seiko and the first (arguable) auto - caliber 11. Someone else who know about these can say stuff, I am ignorant of them.

    Kris.
    You forgot to mention the following calibers:
    1)Venus 150,175,178 which were mostly found in Breitling chronographs from the 30's till the early 70's but they were great movements in the aspects of robustness, quality and durability. Spare parts availability is ok if you go through cousinsuk.com or through kd89.fr and through specific ebay spare parts retailers. $$$$ if you want a chronograph in perfect shape
    2)Longines 30ch and 13zn, the two most legendary handwound inhouse chronos ever made by Longines which were judged equal if not superior to Patek and Vacheron. Spare parts availability is ok if you go through cousinsuk.com and through specific ebay spare parts retailers.$$$$$ for the 13ZN and $$$$ for the 30CH if you want something in perfect shape, and always pay attention to the dial condition
    3)Universal cal 281-287 including the cal 481 are top of the game calibers. Spare parts are very difficult to find. So if you plan to buy a space compax or dato compax, prepare yourself to spend big $$$$$
    4)Zenith 146 and 156, two very refined and well made calibers from them matching with the top quality valjoux and lemania movements.Spare parts availability is ok if you go through cousinsuk.com and through specific ebay spare parts retailers. $$$$ for a nice chrono in great condition
    5)Mido 1300 a very rare and very seldomly seen movement based itself on the top of the end valjoux VZHC, spare parts are difficult if alsmot impossible to find. Greatly collectible but $$$$$
    6)Junghans 88 one of the nicest german made column wheel chrono calibers every bit equal to the Valjoux 23 and the Longines 30ch, rare but very high quality too. Spare parts are not easy to find. Found in the desirable fighter pilot chrono model, $$$$
    7)Hanhart cal 41/51 and 42/52 another great german handwound column wheel movement even though as not as pretty the junghans 88, very robust and reliable.Hanhart WWII luftwaffe chronographs are getting expensive and spare parts for these calibers are scarce, so big $$$$ for a chrono in great condition
    8)Urofa59 a great competitor of the Junghans 88, rare nowadays but greatly finished too, spare parts are very difficult too find and a nice chrono with this movement is pricy $$$$
    9)Movado M95 considered as one of Movado finest piece of engineering done with the help of Frederic Piguet.Beautiful conception and nice finish. Spare parts are not easy to find and big $$$$ for a nice chrono in great condition
    10)Valjoux VZHC and 88, the top of the game from valjoux regarding finish and quality big $$$$$
    11)Angelus 250-252 are high end quality movements and were based of the valjoux 69 but wit hseveral modifications. Spare parts availability is difficult and nice chronos are $$$$
    12)Lemania cam operated chrono movements including the 1280,1873,1340,5012,5100 and 5200 which are already established as legends and great quality movements far above valjoux
    To avoid for me would be anything from landeron and the valjoux 7733,7734,7736,7740,7750,7760,7765 and the venus 188 because they are cheaply made and aren't really collectible
    Omega the sign of Excellence since 1848. Jaeger Le Coultre Horlogerie de Luxe depuis 1833
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  11. #10
    Member Dan S's Avatar
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    Re: Chronograph Movements-- Which Ones to Get or Avoid, and Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by georges zaslavsky View Post
    3)Universal cal 281-287
    4)Zenith 146 and 156
    These movements are the same family, made by Martel, as I mentioned above.

    Quote Originally Posted by georges zaslavsky View Post
    2)Longines 30ch and 13zn,
    9)Movado M95
    Right! I forgot about these.
    georges zaslavsky likes this.
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