Beginner's Guide to Watch Movement Manufacturers


Although the internal movement trend of high-end watches continues to gain momentum, the vast majority of reasonably priced watches still rely on mass production movements from external suppliers. When entering the world of watches for the first time, it may be difficult to understand the entire situation in order to better evaluate potential purchase volumes. The large number of suppliers and the fact that many of them assign different names to their movements based on the purchasing brand are also of no use. In this article, we briefly introduce the most important participants and their most famous actions in the supplier industry.

Although the internal movement trend of high-end watches continues to gain momentum, the vast majority of reasonably priced watches still rely on mass production movements from external suppliers. When entering the world of watches for the first time, it may be difficult to understand the entire situation in order to better evaluate potential purchase volumes. The large number of suppliers and the fact that many of them assign different names to their movements based on the purchasing brand are also of no use. In this article, we briefly introduce the most important participants and their most famous actions in the supplier industry.
Estimated time of arrival
Although their days as quasi monopolists have come to an end, Swatch subsidiary ETA remains the most important participant in the Swiss manufacturing machinery movement market. The origin of the company can be traced back to three long-standing movement manufacturers, namely FHF (Fabrique d'Horlogerie de Fontainemelon), AS (Adolph Schild), and AMSA (Adolphe Michel SA), which merged in 1926 to form É bauches SA. ETA will appear later.
In 1931, É bauches SA teamed up with a large group of other Swiss companies to create ASUAG (predecessor of the Swatch Group) to prevent a catastrophic price war after the global economic collapse in 1929. One year later, watch manufacturer Eterna merged with ASUAG. Eterna was subsequently forced to split into two independent companies: although Eterna continued to produce watches, their movement division split and became ETA SA. This series of mergers is the reason why ETA still offers a wide variety of movement names and styles: they originate from designs of independent companies in the past. The names Peseux, Valjoux, and Unitas all prove this point.
The most famous and common ETA caliber may be 2824-2. This is a three needle automatic movement with date display. "28" represents the movement series, and the next two digits represent functions or complex functions. Therefore, for example, 2836-2 provides dates and dates, while 2801-2 does not display dates at all.
ETA 2892 is another widely used movement, but it belongs to the higher price category. You can recognize this caliber through its large central rotor bearing, as it is flatter than 2824-2. Haoya refers to 2892 as "Calibre 7", and M ü hle Glash ü tte and Ulysse Nardin each have their own versions of movements.
ETA's Valjoux 7750 is the most popular mechanical timing movement, while the Unitas series works particularly well in larger watch cases because its movement is based on a pocket watch movement. The small and flat manually wound Peseux 7001 movement has been particularly popular in compact men's watches over the past few decades.

 

 

The Maurice Lacroix Les Classique chronograph is equipped with a Valjoux 7750 movement
With the launch of the ETA Valgranges series, the trend of large boxes has begun. You can find variants derived from the Valjoux movement, which have a wider diameter and less attractive names, such as A07.111.
For several years, Swatch members have been able to use the enhanced version of the classic 2842-2 using new materials. The official name is C07.111, and they are sold under the name Powermatic 80. They provide 80 hours of power reserve and also offer silicon components, such as in the Tissot watch.
Another thing you should know is that movements usually have different levels of improvement. Traditionally, these are standard, carefully crafted, top-notch and astronomical observatories. Higher grades come with more luxurious finishes, sometimes improving accuracy, and even having an observatory certificate. If the manufacturer provides this information, please pay attention to the rating of the movement.

 

 

Tianshuo Gentleman Powermatic 80
If we don't mention the automatic movement that was introduced a few years ago, the Sistem 51 with an 80 hour power reserve, we would be derelict of duty. This movement made its debut on the Swatch plastic case wristwatch of the same name. It cannot be adjusted after a fully automated assembly process, using plastic components in escapement mechanisms and other places, and initially did not resonate well with purists. However, now you will still find this caliber in the metal casing. There is also an improved version of optics and technology called "Swiss", which provides power for the model of the same name.
Selita
Since the 1950s, Sellita has existed as a company. However, it was not until 2003, when ETA's suspension of third-party deliveries seemed inevitable, that it emerged as an independent and self marketing Swiss movement manufacturer. They produce movements almost entirely based on ETA prototypes. The relevant patents have long expired, so the best-selling Sellita SW 200 corresponds to 2824-2, SW 300 is modeled after 2892, and SW 500 is a clone of Valjoux 7750. For SW 200, Sellita even offers the same four quality levels as ETA, so former ETA buyers can get the perfect replacement.

 

 

Zhu Besuch Besolita 2018
Although you may find some minor changes here and there, the Sellita movement is at least equivalent to the original in terms of functionality and reliability. Due to inconsistent supply of movements, some watch manufacturers will provide models with ETA or Sellita movements based on current market conditions.
The future development of some large-scale production movements is already under consideration, and the expansion of their production facilities in 2019 indicates that Sellita has the willingness and means to achieve this.
If you want to learn more about Sellita, please check out Chrono24's YouTube channel and watch the video we visited in 2018, which includes a glimpse of a rare production facility. In another article in the "Industry Face" series, we also documented the career of S é bastien Chaulmontet, a key member of the company.
Seiko
Seiko movement is not only present in the company's own watches, but also one of the most common movements among countless international brands of affordable automatic watches.
The name "Jinggong" actually represents the entire group company, and the roots of these companies can be traced back to the clothing family watch enterprise established in the late 19th century. Nevertheless, the subsidiaries are highly diversified and operate independently in many cases. The Seiko subsidiary TMI - Time Module - is not a well-known name. Time Module promotes precision movements to third parties and typically sells them under names that are difficult to determine their specific ownership. TMI's best-selling book may be NH35, which is 4R35 in the Seiko model. As a three needle automatic movement with the potential for date, stop second, and manual winding, it is a cost-effective integrated solution that can even be found in watches priced in two digits.

 

 

Precision Ref.SRP704 paired with 4R35 movement
If you are looking for a reasonably priced but technologically well-equipped mechanical chronograph (vertical coupling and guide wheel!), please pay attention to watches with the very rare TMI NE88 (Seiko 8Rxx series chronograph movement).
Citizen Gongtian
Xitie City is another widely circulated corporate group in Japan. Although the name Xitie City is associated with a large number of quartz watches and the popular Eco Drive series solar watches, Miyota is responsible for the large-scale production of mechanical movements.
The Miyota 821A or 8215 movement has been a reliable choice for decades, especially for low-priced models from micro brands and established companies. However, due to the lack of a stop second mechanism, it was not welcomed by watch enthusiasts, especially since Seiko introduced NH35 to the market. Then came the 2009 Miyota 9015, a movement aimed at those with higher demands. It provides a stop second, more elegant appearance, and sufficient power to handle additional complex functions. However, in order to enjoy 9015, you must be willing to spend a higher price than the entry-level price.
"Honorary title"
Below is a brief introduction to some manufacturers whose movements are not commonly seen in beginner watches but are still worth learning about.
Seagull
Western watch enthusiasts have long scoffed at Chinese movement manufacturers. When Tianjin Seagull became popular with ST19, everything changed. ST19 was a replica of the historic Venus 175 chronograph movement. Whether it's Seagull's own watches or young brands like Baltic watches, this retro movement has achieved success in the West.

 

 

In 1963, the Red Star chronograph with the ST1901 movement was reissued
Direct train
Swiss Technology Production is a subsidiary of FOSSIL. In fact, this company known for its quartz movement fashion watches also produces mechanical watch movements and sells them to third parties, including the Sternglas brand - which is common on German social media. Sternglas equipped one of its models with STP 1-11, and its design reflects the well-known ETA 2824-2.
Longda
Ronda, known for its reliable Swiss quartz movement, announced the release of a new mechanical movement in 2016. The Ronda Mecano R150, based on a completely new design, is rare in the wild, but we are curious if it can establish a place among the top selling books in Switzerland and Japan.
General tips for recognizing movements
Sometimes, it is not easy to determine which movement a watch truly possesses. Many brands use confusing proprietary names to imply exclusivity, although these movements are usually provided by one of the usual suspects. Sometimes this is just to create an illusion of an internal movement, but in other cases, it is more reasonable because the brand modifies, adds modules, or improves the movement in other ways. In these not uncommon cases, higher prices are certainly understandable and reasonable. As a buyer, you should carefully review to determine the product you are selling.
If you are unsure, it can be helpful to take photos of the movement from the back of the display cabinet, as well as online forums and movement databases where you can usually find information about alternative names or brands for installing certain movements in certain models. If you only have one image to continue with, you can take note of any prominent features and compare them with the "classic" photos highlighted in this article.
Released on October 9, 2021 at 21:03

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