What is the watch brand with the highest vertical integration?
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    Question What is the watch brand with the highest vertical integration?

    What is the watch brand with the highest vertical integration?

    Disclaimer 1: Not a discussion whether vertical integration is good or bad or makes sense or is historically "un-swiss" because the industry was historically horizontally structured.

    Disclaimer 2: This is also not a discussion about whether stuff is made in a mode of production that is artisanal, manufacture or industrial.

    By vertical integration I mean they develop the largest part of their production themselves, they then make it themselves - possibly down to the tooling and machines. They buy as little as possible from outside parties. They do not use movements developed or made by others, not even as a base for their own movements. Ideally, they also wouldn't sell any of their movements to others, so that their movements can only be had in watches with their brand on it.

    To my knowledge Seiko and Rolex are probably closest to that. Perhaps Seiko ranks even higher than Rolex in that regard. I guess A. Lange also has a high degree of vertical integration. I think they only buy some of their balance and main springs from the outside. Their movements cannot be had in other watches and they are entirely original designs. However, the company was reportedly resuscitated with a lot of know-how from JLC. Totally OK in my book. The know how has to come from somewhere. Might as well take the best.

    How vertically integrated is Patek for example? And JLC?

    We know that Patek, AP and VC have all used JLC calibers. We also know that AP and VC also use Piguet calibers. Does Patek still use any JLC?

    We also know that some bracelets and cases even by the big names are not done in-house but by first class suppliers. Again, not a question of quality but a question of degree of vertical integration I am asking.

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    Re: What is the watch brand with the highest vertical integration?

    Seiko by far, Rolex perhaps second.

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    Re: What is the watch brand with the highest vertical integration?

    Swatch might be second

    Quote Originally Posted by Mtech View Post
    Seiko by far, Rolex perhaps second.
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    Re: What is the watch brand with the highest vertical integration?

    Zenith might be in the top 5: 74%-78% vertical integration (in terms of contributing factor to price), JLC for sure.
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    Re: What is the watch brand with the highest vertical integration?

    Interesting answers. Thanks.

    I didn't think of Swatch this time. I wondered about the question before and then I actually thought of Swatch. Good call.

    What about Citizen and Casio. I'd think they might be very vertical, too, no?

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    Re: What is the watch brand with the highest vertical integration?

    You're probably right, I was focusing solely on mechanical watches (and being a little tongue-in-cheek about it).

    Quote Originally Posted by Watchalex View Post
    Interesting answers. Thanks.

    I didn't think of Swatch this time. I wondered about the question before and then I actually thought of Swatch. Good call.

    What about Citizen and Casio. I'd think they might be very vertical, too, no?
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    Re: What is the watch brand with the highest vertical integration?

    Seiko, PP, JLC, Rolex

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    Re: What is the watch brand with the highest vertical integration?

    Yes, focus is on mechanicals for me, too. But I think it's good to have these big guys on board and mentioned. I totally love my Seikos, my Citizens and my Casios. And I have several Swatch pieces. Just recently bought a Rebel in Orange. Unfortunately, the second hand doesn't align at all and because I was in a hurry I didn't notice. I plan to exchange it if possible. It's a nice watch otherwise.

    So back on topic with mechanicals. Oh, and let's exclude, for now, super small boutique brands for the sake of concentration. It is pretty clear that a Richard Mille is very vertically integrated. No reason to mention it.

    Anybody who could answer my questions regarding JLC and Patek?

    So far could we rank?

    Seiko
    Rolex
    Lange
    PP
    JLC
    GO (are they fully in-house? I think so.)
    Zenith
    Girard-Perregaux (uses mainly in-house with some DD modules, also produces for others)
    AP (has some great in-house, but also a lot of JLC and Piguet)
    VC (only the complications are in-house, afaik)
    Breguet (this might rank even higher. Nouvelle Lemania makes all their movements and I don't think they sell to anyone else.)
    Blancpain (Piguet makes all their movements but they also sell to others and it's not really the same brand.)
    Panerai (just came out with a slew of real in-house movements, cases are in-house anyway afaik.)
    Nomos (uses ETA/Peseux base for manuals but in-house for autos. Also produced for others, Wempe.)
    Ulysse Nardin (has some very nice in-house complications but the standard stuff is ETA based)
    IWC (same as UN)

    Omega and Breitling only have 2 in-house calibers each. Most of their production is ETA based. Cartier is definitely not in-house. Mostly JLC, GP and ETA base.

    Does that sound right so far? Trying to get a general grasp here. Not easy.
    Last edited by Watchalex; November 29th, 2011 at 23:01.

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    Re: What is the watch brand with the highest vertical integration?

    Seiko, Citizen, Casio, Timex, Orient and most of the brands under the Swatch umbrella strike me as likely candidates.

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    Re: What is the watch brand with the highest vertical integration?

    Quote Originally Posted by Janne View Post
    Seiko, PP, JLC, Rolex
    Is that ranked? In that case I'd put Rolex and perhaps even JLC before PP. PP does/did use whole movements that are not theirs. JLC does/did not do that. Rolex now also makes their own hairspring (something that Patek was famous for before) and their own shock absorption device. Rolex does not use movements by other manufacturers. Same goes for Lange.

    So in my own list, I'd be undecided if I should put PP higher than JLC or lower. PP uses movements from others but doesn't sell their movements to others. WIth JLC it's the other way around.

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