Are the new in-house movements really the best thing ?
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  1. #1
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    Are the new in-house movements really the best thing ?

    I used to think so, and still do to certain extent
    I mean, with the price we are paying for watches these days, the least they can do is have something unique about the movement, no ?

    Recently I have started to question this.

    It was brought home to me, when someone said their new Tudor Blackbay had simply stopped working after 6 months, and they had to send it to Tudor under guarantee.
    Now I am not saying that Tudor's mechanisms are bad or there is any systemic issue. This is probably just a one off which can occur in any watch brand. Last year I received a watch with an ETA GMT movement and it was DOA. Although frankly I blame the watch brand more then ETA for not checking properly before they sent out ....

    But it does make you think

    Movements which have proved their worth over time, for example, the ETA 2924, 7750, the Rolex 3131, 3132, Zenith El Primero, etc. there is something to say about the fact that these things really have lasted the test of time, and can be shown to have run for 70 years with servicing.

    New silicon balance springs are probably ok !! but what about escarpments which trade smoothness over reliability ? New materials which have not stood the test of time, finer tolerances, as opposed to over engineering in the old days, to bring down costs or make the reserves longer ?

    Are the new Tudor, Breitling, Tag Heuer 02 movements not just a reaction to the overcrowded watch market, where manufacturers need to differentiate themselves more and also a reaction to ETA stopping ebauche supply to non-subsidiaries ?

    Effectively, whatever modern innovations there have been, like the internal combustion engine, the mechanisms we use today are essentially the same we the first pocket watch mechanisms before the 20th century. Yes, there have been tweaks, but very marginal.

    Its difficult to know, in functionality stakes, apart from the inner working craziness of some of the tourbillons or manufacturers like Richard Mille, what more we actually want. In fact there has been a reverse fashion of complications in the last 10 years, many now favouring even no-date dials. Perhaps the length of reserve is the last frontier. But frankly anything that gets me through the weekend is good enough. I have manuals winds and really don't mind winding occasionally.

    I am told, BTW, that manually winding your automatic watch full every week, makes it more accurate. I guess it depends on the manufacturer ?

    The move from 40 to 70 hour movements has been more a result of computer aided design and the shaving off of weight and tiny modifications. The reduction in cost for certain movements has been the move to lower cost parts and automated machining. In fact, IMHO, one of the best movements today is in the £115 automatic Swatches. Its completely machine made, not sure even if any human hand touches it. Also it has moved to 70 hours. A real achievement. Will it last 50 years ? probably not but if it did that would be very interesting ...

    In conclusion, I now have a more a more nuanced view. There is value in movements which have stood the test of time. My latest watch is a Rolex with a 3131. Perhaps I will let others test out some of the 5-10 day reserve movements for the next 10 years and see how they settle in ....
    Last edited by colonelpurple; February 23rd, 2018 at 15:53.

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    Member DilliTime's Avatar
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    Re: Are the new in-house movements really the best thing ?

    Are you including the Omega Co-Axials? Obviously time will tell if the claims on significantly extended service intervals will hold up, but beyond some teething issues with the earlier models my understanding is smooth sailing with the current gen (in terms of performance - thickness is still a problem IMO). Certainly my 8400 has greatly exceeded my expectations thus far.

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    Re: Are the new in-house movements really the best thing ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DilliTime View Post
    Are you including the Omega Co-Axials? Obviously time will tell if the claims on significantly extended service intervals will hold up, but beyond some teething issues with the earlier models my understanding is smooth sailing with the current gen (in terms of performance - thickness is still a problem IMO). Certainly my 8400 has greatly exceeded my expectations thus far.

    Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk
    That is a new tweak. Although interestingly one of the very few that was actually primarily implemented to improve reliability.

    For smoothness I was rather referring to things like the columnar wheel introduced by Longines in its 7750 derivative, which have also spread further, e.g. the Omega 3330. However this one has been going for some decades, although I did read an article once by a jeweler about the extra wear of this arrangement compared to the previous cruder cam

    rgds

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    You are reaching wisdom. What actually matters is the quality control.

    Btw, the final frontier is not the longer power reserve but the constant force escapement - yet to see it in a mass produced watch.

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    Re: Are the new in-house movements really the best thing ?

    I think the average watch buyer doesn't care what's in the watch as long as it keeps good time!!

    A well regulated ETA movement will do this, and will save you a fortune at service time.

    I recently had a crown stem issue with my Panerai submersible, and was quoted over £300 for a repair via Panerai.

    However when I pointed out that the watch used a 7750, the total cost went down to £75 All in.

    So really from a WIS point of view, if it's got a display back I want something special to look at, but closed caseback I'll have a good old ETA please.
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    Re: Are the new in-house movements really the best thing ?

    I've been thinking a lot about this. There is a knee-jerk reaction among certain watch enthusiasts to disparage watches without in-house movements, and now a reaction among makers to emphasize their "new, exclusive calibres".

    I'm sure I'm not the only WIS here to do some research about how it used to be that hardly any watch makers made their own movements...and if you go back far enough, they used to be assembled from ebauches by farmers or whatever. Companies made movements for each other, relabelled movements from spare parts, etc.

    I gather the "in house movement" craze is relatively recent, and at least partially tied to marketing. So when, say, Montblanc starts making their own movements, it makes me wonder what's actually the better thing to have in your watch: a movement from a company like ETA with decades of heritage making these things, or something Montblanc now makes as a way to position their watches as more "upscale"?

    I'm not knocking Montblanc, by the way, they make great watches. I'm just saying that I think the "in-house movement" craze makes a lot of emotional sense, but I'm still sorting out whether it makes logical sense.

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    Re: Are the new in-house movements really the best thing ?

    Colonelpurple:
    Love your analogy. Concise IMHO.
    I'm not as in luv with In house movements as I was.
    Currently I'm on a Selitta 500 penchant! For 30 years
    of the 40 years I was a RR Engr, I was a Hamilton pocketwatch fan. Still
    am. But I had to put away the things of my RRing career. Sold both (992b
    950b) to local vintage watch dealer for a tidy profit.


    X Traindriver Art
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    Are the new in-house movements really the best thing ?

    In house movements are great for the manufacturers as you are tied to them for servicing which will generally be at a premium price!
    However, based on my experience of RSC in Kent, I'd prefer to use my local watchmaker which makes the ETA calibres far more attractive.
    As I understand it, not being a watchmaker, the ETA2892-2 is a match for almost any calibre (and formed the basis of the Omega 2500 Coaxial range) whilst the workhorse 2824-2, found in many premium brands, is not far behind.


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    Last edited by adg31; February 23rd, 2018 at 19:30.

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    I feel like in house designs are best kept at the bottom and top range... when you're buying a watch with this sort of movement, you're paying the manufacturer for the research and development (and therefore it will, necessarily amortize these inherent costs, fall either at a point where a small number of pieces are made which sell for a very high price, or they push out pieces by the millions at a low cost). When you get to the other, smaller and less "prestigious" houses, with neither the capital nor resources to make this investment (which is always done at great risk, if this design ends up being a flop or if they can't get the right watch to market with it at the right price), the idea of them going to a reputable manufacturer who has an established off-the-shelf component that can be incorporated into their pieces at fixed cost (and reasonable prices of the final piece can be much more reliably determined) makes a lot of sense, in addition to the obvious concerns regarding service and spare parts.
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    Re: Are the new in-house movements really the best thing ?

    Quote Originally Posted by skuzapo View Post
    I feel like in house designs are best kept at the bottom and top range... when you're buying a watch with this sort of movement, you're paying the manufacturer for the research and development (and therefore it will, necessarily amortize these inherent costs, fall either at a point where a small number of pieces are made which sell for a very high price, or they push out pieces by the millions at a low cost). When you get to the other, smaller and less "prestigious" houses, with neither the capital nor resources to make this investment (which is always done at great risk, if this design ends up being a flop or if they can't get the right watch to market with it at the right price), the idea of them going to a reputable manufacturer who has an established off-the-shelf component that can be incorporated into their pieces at fixed cost (and reasonable prices of the final piece can be much more reliably determined) makes a lot of sense, in addition to the obvious concerns regarding service and spare parts.
    although interestingly, many of the smaller companies with in-house movements are designing them, usually with 3rd party assistance, and contracting their manufacture to a 3rd party. Which perhaps indicates we might be back to square one, with a few "hub" movement manufacturers making "in-house" movements for many different companies. This has bad (not really in-house) and good (standard parts and a bigger company backing up future servicing) points.

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