Why does it matter what country a watch movement is made in?
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  1. #1
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    Why does it matter what country a watch movement is made in?

    I've had a passive interest in watches for most of my life, but I've taken more of an interest recently. I've owned a Victorinox and an Orvis manufactured by Wenger that both belonged to my grandfather. I've always thought they were especially neat because they are both Swiss made, and Swiss watches are said to be good quality...but I'm not really sure why.

    I bought a Seiko SNK809, and noticed the back of the watch says "Movement Malaysia". This made me wonder, what is the correlation between the quality of a watch and the country in which it is made? Why is the country of the movement's manufacture so significant that we as consumers want to know about it? In most cases a quality product is connected with a specific company, but with watches it seems the quality is also connected to it's country of manufacture. As if there are some government laws specifying the quality of parts that go into the watches...

    I'm probably over thinking it, but this just seems weird to me. It seems like it's just a "Made in Blank" label like we see on all products, but with watches it seems to hold prestige and I wonder why.

    Can anyone explain this?



  2. #2
    Member ed21x's Avatar
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    Re: Why does it matter what country a watch movement is made in?

    the swiss spend more in advertising. it's kind of like how germans spend a lot on convincing everyone how good their automobiles are while the japanese don't spend much. rather than focus on reliability, it's more about how the car makes you feel.
    Last edited by ed21x; October 29th, 2016 at 01:33.
    :)

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    Member eblackmo's Avatar
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    Re: Why does it matter what country a watch movement is made in?

    Are we talking assembled in? Designed in...but manufactured in? It depends on the price of the watch. Well it can. It also depends on the person. Generally the more expensive the watch the more "Made in Blank" it will be (provided we aren't talking about the central committee. There are different standards applied to "them"). Because of manufacturing costs and stuff. In regards to cheaper seikos who cares? I certainly don't.

    It's not just watches though. It's just about everything else. I bought a new car recently and one of the things the sales lady pointed out was it's manufactured in japan. It's a selling point and she knows it. Made in japan has taken on an almost mythical quality same as swiss made for watches. Where are the parts that go into these watches and cars made? Who knows. The car was made in japan that's all that matters. Just remember every time you buy a TV or mobile phone you are supporting communism.
    Last edited by eblackmo; October 29th, 2016 at 01:47.
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  5. #4
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    Re: Why does it matter what country a watch movement is made in?

    The short answer: it's a sweeping generalization. It has some basis in truth, but it's much too broad overall.
    The truth is rarely pure and never simple.

    Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

  6. #5
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    Re: Why does it matter what country a watch movement is made in?

    I'm thinking that with the elaborate brand-creation smoke and mirrors that it gives a degree of stability to assumed quality:cost.

    If you have a brand you've never heard of presented, but it's Swiss-Made with an ÉTA movement, there's a degree of faith that it is OK quality, without knowing anything about the brand. It's using a Swiss movement and paying for Swiss labour so the company isn't going for absolutely bottom dollar cost of their products.

    A virtually identical brand presentation, but it's a made in China watch would put my BS meter on alert. The chances of getting crap from China is far higher. This isn't to say that all Chinese products are garbage, but it is the default go-to country for rip-off artists to use for cheapest available production. Western brands don't go to China for quality. They go for low cost.

    The Seiko Malaysia thing is a bit different because Seiko has a very solid brand image, which transcends country. But at the same time we know that a Malaysian Seiko 5 isn't a SARB series, which in turn isn't a Grand Seiko, etc... Si even there there is a quality hierarchy within a single brand's choice of manufacturing location
    slcbbrown and twincity like this.

  7. #6
    Member Metlin's Avatar
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    Re: Why does it matter what country a watch movement is made in?

    It really doesn't from a practical perspective.
    124Spider and John MS like this.

  8. #7
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    Re: Why does it matter what country a watch movement is made in?

    Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. There are lots of fine Swiss watches. There are lots of crappy Swiss watches. And the same can be said about Germany and Japan. And probably some other countries.

    The average person is aware of watches principally because of advertising, and the Swiss (particularly Rolex) lead the world in effective advertising of watches. Not to say there aren't lots of perfectly good reasons to buy a "Swiss made" watch (heck, I own two), but there certainly are artificial reasons to buy Swiss watches, also.

    That said, I agree with those who point out the dark side of many (but certainly not all) goods made in developing nations--child labor and/or poor idea of quality.

    To each his/her own, of course.

    Mark
    Last edited by 124Spider; October 29th, 2016 at 04:41.
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  9. #8
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    Re: Why does it matter what country a watch movement is made in?

    Don't want a piece of schlock that is made by someone who is 6 to 9 years old.

  10. #9
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    Re: Why does it matter what country a watch movement is made in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Friday88 View Post
    I've had a passive interest in watches for most of my life, but I've taken more of an interest recently. I've owned a Victorinox and an Orvis manufactured by Wenger that both belonged to my grandfather. I've always thought they were especially neat because they are both Swiss made, and Swiss watches are said to be good quality...but I'm not really sure why.

    I bought a Seiko SNK809, and noticed the back of the watch says "Movement Malaysia". This made me wonder, what is the correlation between the quality of a watch and the country in which it is made? Why is the country of the movement's manufacture so significant that we as consumers want to know about it? In most cases a quality product is connected with a specific company, but with watches it seems the quality is also connected to it's country of manufacture. As if there are some government laws specifying the quality of parts that go into the watches...

    I'm probably over thinking it, but this just seems weird to me. It seems like it's just a "Made in Blank" label like we see on all products, but with watches it seems to hold prestige and I wonder why.

    Can anyone explain this?




    In terms of telling the time nothing. But I change the batteries in my quartz watches myself to save time and a few bucks. I do notice that the swiss put more effort into their design and ease of servicing the watch. For example changing the battery on a swiss made watch using a rhonda movement requires simply popping the battery out of its cubby. No screws to lose or mess with. A watch with a miyota movement I need to unscrew three screws and remove an entire steel bridge to expose the entire battery cubby holder to remove the battery. Then I need to put the tiny screws back which is very frustrating. You might say the miyota is designed to better guard against the battery popping out if you drop the watch but I still prefer the elegance of the rhonda design in terms of servicing.

    Also the rhonda movement tends to be gold plated at the electrical connections while the miyota is either tin or steel.

  11. #10
    Member KJParlay's Avatar
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    Re: Why does it matter what country a watch movement is made in?

    Reputation is probably all it means anymore. For reasons unbeknownst to me (because I didn't do any research on it) Switzerland was the place that cultivated the watch industry. Now, 200 years later, as ideas and technology have spread, anyone anywhere really is capable of making a good watch. And yes, most still come from Switzerland.
    To me it's kind of like the phrase "Italian supercar." It just has that cachet. But today there are great supercars from the US, Germany, Britain, France, Japan, etc.
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