Here's what I know (or think I know):
- Unitas vs. ETA: no technical difference, Unitas came first, got bought by ETA, ETA continued to label movements with Unitas for a while, then eventually started labeling with ETA.
- Ends in 7: 4th wheel (optional seconds hand) directly across movement from crown ("intended" for crown-at-twelve pendant watches, with the seconds hand at six).
- Ends in 8: 4th wheel (optional seconds hand) ninety degrees clockwise from crown ("intended" for crown-at-three pocket or wrist watches, with the seconds hand at six).
- (Admittedly, the 7 vs 8 distinction is often ignored w.r.t. pendant/pocket/wrist so as to intentionally place the seconds hand at three, six, or nine).
- Lack of -1 or -2: smaller palette bridge with single screw.
- -1: larger palette bridge with two screws.
- -2: like -1 but beats faster.
Here's what I'm not sure about and would love some help with:
- Is it true that all base models (no -1 or -2) are "old" in some sense, namely that they aren't made anymore?
- Followup: If all base models are "old" (I think this only implies a few decades) do they predate cheap Chinese replicas? Are they always necessarily Swiss?
- What is the purpose of the base vs. -1 distinction? In other words, what purpose does a larger palette bridge serve? Why develop the -1 variation at all?
- What is the purpose of the -1 vs. -2 distinction? I believe the -2s are more expensive. Does a higher beat-rate offer higher accuracy, longer life-per-wind, simply a smoother "buzz", or some other primary benefit? As above, why were they developed at all?
I ask because I just bought a rather unique partially skeletonized Arnex watch (I presume it's truly Arnex) with a 6497 (smaller bridge, single screw) and I'm curious what its characteristics are relative to the -1 and the -2? The movement itself is virtually unlabeled (it has "unadjusted" written on it, nothing else), although it has been partially skeletonized with a router so perhaps previous labeling was simply removed (although I don't think so since the place where labeling would occur is still blank). The two larger gears are stamped "17 jewels Arnex unadjusted swiss made" with a very distinct picture of five stars (really, it's quite odd, I haven't seen other Arnex watches with these "stars"). I've only seen watches configured this way three other times: two ebay auctions that both ended in October, and a third auction on some other auction website back in 2004 (and the third is only a partial confirmation in that it didn't show the back of the movement so I'm not sure it had those weird "stars" on the gears).
The weirdest thing is that I wouldn't expect Arnex to use a totally unlabeled completely generic looking movement, yet the movement contains practically no writing. Likewise, I think the 6497 is older than the -1 variant and I'm not sure it was ever generically and cheaply replicated. I was wondering if it predates the era of cheap mass-produced Unitas/ETA replicas. What are the implications of an Arnex-labeled watch with a completely unlabeled movement?
Here's the complete ebay auction with the seller's photos if you'd like to see what I'm talking about (if you think I massively overpaid, it doesn't really matter now, although in my defense the two similar auctions from October had relatively similar ending prices if you account for various details I won't go into here):
Vintage Arnex Skeleton Hunters Case 17 Jewel Pocket Watch 14S Free Shipping | eBay
Does anyone have any thoughts on this?