Swiss Movement Watches.
In Switzerland the manufacture of wristwatches falls in to two main groups:
1-Manufacturers who build every aspect of the watch.
2 Etablisseurs who assemble watches using parts obtained from other companies.
The internal working of a mechanical watch is known as the movement.
Surprisingly, very few manufactures actually use their own proprietary
movements, preferring instead to use one of the “tried & tested”
calibers from a movement specialist. The simple reason for this is that
movements are complex to design and even more complex to test, often the
sheer cost of research and development on a new movement would make its
sale not viable financially, far better to use one of the “work horse”
movements that are easily available and whose traits and reliability are
well known throughout the industry.
That said, a proprietary watch movement is a prized item and connoisseurs and collectors are prepared to pay large sums of money for them, particularly for very rare examples.
The number of full watch movement manufactures is dwindling but some that still make their own movements include: Breguet, Blancpain,Jaegar Le Coultre Rolex, Patek Philippe. Each movement will have a separate reference number and may be similar to other calibers but with subtle differences.
Until fairly recently there where a number of movement manufactures operating in Switzerland but the digital quartz revolution has put most of them out of business, the demand for mechanical watches has dropped and thus so has the need for movements.
One company still trading and with the vast majority of the market share is ETA (ETA SA Manufacture Horlogère Suisse). ETA is a full manufacturer in it’s own right but it is best known for it’s supply of “ Ebauche” movements. Ebauche” is basically a term that means “incomplete” or” un-assembled” and to this “block” associated components have to be added to make the full working movement.
ETA has grown through a series of consolidations with the industry and now includes within the group other well-known movement makers such as Valjoux and Lemania.
Watch movements or calibers are referred to by the makers name and a
serial number, ETA are responsible for producing two of the most
well-known; the ETA 2824-2, an automatic movement and the more upmarket
ETA 2892 available in three different grades. Included in the group are
Valjoux who make the ubiquitous Valjoux 7750, the movement installed in
most chronographs on the market today.
It’s interesting to note that whilst the majority of watches are using the same movements, the prices can vary quite dramatically depending on the manufacturer’s name.