Early morning thoughts on movements...

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Re: Early morning thoughts on movements...

Post by Stuart1 »

From my perspective there seems to be a lot of smoke, mirrors and marketing between ‘in house’, ‘in group’ and ‘proprietary’ movements. In the 40’s,50’s and 60’s most Swiss brands bought in movements from the like of AS, Venus, Valjoux, Minerva, ARSa,ETA and others and no one really minded. Even the larger brands such as Patek (Valjoux), Rolex (Cortebert, Valjoux) and Omega (lemania) used practically off the shelf movements. Now it seems to be an obsession to use ‘in house’ when in some cases where they are just as good as Sellita equivalents. The biggest down side is that you get sucked in to pay servicing costs that are a fortune. In most cases the source of the movement is hidden behind layers of marketing- TAG, Bremont. As time has gone on in my collecting journey I prefer an honest brand that states where the movement originates, easy and reasonable servicing which is why now I think the CW and Oris are head and shoulders above other brands at double and triple the price.
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Re: Early morning thoughts on movements...

Post by rkovars »

missF wrote: Thu May 18, 2023 9:30 am That’s good insight thanks. So ‘highly modified enough’ to need IWC servicing and parts.
And your point of whether an in-house movement actually offers anything more than a base movement is well made, thanks :thumbup:
Just to add a side note here, the modifications might be in materials not necessarily in physical changes. Parts made of brass might be changed for a more durable alloy etc. The word modification can cover a whole gamut of changes that are possible.

The watchmaker in this case was covering the bases to some extent. A typical service would be not much more than taking it apart, cleaning it, putting it back together and lubrication. Now, if he found something broken that he couldn't see then it might require parts that he couldn't get. Or if god forbid he misplaced a part or broke something taking it apart he would be in the same boat with no access to parts. In these cases it is better for them to pass than to take the chance.

I think part of the issue is that there is no industry standard for in house. The definition is whatever the speaker decides it is. If a big name brand decides to one day buy the manufacturer that makes its movements is that automatically in house? This is what Rolex did in 2004. If someone designs a movement but then contracts the manufacture is that in house? Some would say no. The waters are murky at best. Is Tudor's Kinissi in house? Chanel owns a stake in the company too. Other manufacturers are being allowed to use the movements too (Norquain and Breitling for example - with Breitling it is a technology swap as Tudor is using one of their movements in return).

I don't think that in house movements are the problem perse. More that manufacturers more often than not are withholding access to parts. Which is concerning.

In house from a Manufacturing perspective:

It can matter from a QC standpoint as you can make the level of quality whatever you want if you are running the line. You aren't beholden to what a supplier says they can provide. You can also hire and retain engineers and technicians that can tweak every bit of tolerance out of a process that might be even above and beyond what the manufacturers of the equipment will admit that they are capable of. So there is some advantage there.

It would also make you more agile to make changes. You could implement design and process changes much quicker by cutting out supplier layers and having everything under your direct control. There is a reason, for example, that Apple has an entire division dedicated to making processors now. They now drive their own roadmap and don't rely on third parties for moving their tech forward (at least from the silicon design and performance standpoint).

I read somewhere that with Tudor they started the move away from ETA before the supply constraint announcements because of QC. They were having to rework a large number of movements from ETA in order to get them within spec. I believe this as I found in an ETA datasheet that a certain percentage of movements would be delivered out of spec. Even if the number was as low as 2% this would be problematic. If you were making 26000 watches a year like CW you would either need to rework or bin 520 movements. This is probably doable. But if you manufacture 200K like Tudor then you are talking 4000 movements and it becomes a much larger problem.

From a watchmaking perspective:

I think that it is correct to look at in house as being more important in the high end and independent realm. Here it matters more because you are talking about highly skilled artisans that are touching almost every part in the movement in some cases. Here in house translates to craftsmanship.
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Re: Early morning thoughts on movements...

Post by missF »

rkovars wrote: Thu May 18, 2023 5:22 pm I think part of the issue is that there is no industry standard for in house.
I’m quite surprised by this. OK - maybe a bit naive too! I did think that companies would have to reach a certain percentage of components produced ‘by them’ to be able to use the term’in-house’ legally.

For me, then, a big part of the issue is transparency. An example- I really enjoyed reading about the production of the Bel Canto FS01 movement - the initial inspiration that the JJ01 movement could be modified in this way, and the many steps between there and completion. I couldn’t really care less whether the world considers it an in-house movement or not - for me the real watchy stuff - the creativity, mechanical skill, vision sell me the watch a hundred times over. Few companies seem to share their watchy enthusiasms in this way :(
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Re: Early morning thoughts on movements...

Post by ajax87 »

@missF Yes 100%. I recall when the bel canto was released, someone on the forum was super upset that the Bel Canto was basically just a standard sellita with a module (a severe understatement). And they completely short changed it and missed the point you stated beautifully here.

I'm 99% sure there are regulations on whether a company can call a watch swiss made. But I'm surprised too that calling a movement "in-house" has no regulatory oversight. Especially as I recall some kind of fiasco a few years ago over Panerai or some similar company getting in trouble for using "in-house" too loosely?
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Re: Early morning thoughts on movements...

Post by rkovars »

ajax87 wrote: Thu May 18, 2023 7:15 pm I'm 99% sure there are regulations on whether a company can call a watch swiss made. But I'm surprised too that calling a movement "in-house" has no regulatory oversight. Especially as I recall some kind of fiasco a few years ago over Panerai or some similar company getting in trouble for using "in-house" too loosely?
Panerai, Bremont and a whole host of others (EDIT TO ADD Tag was a big one too in recent history). It is largely watch enthusiast ire however. There is nothing official.

Yes, there are rules governing Swiss Made but they in practice leave a lot of leeway. 60% of the manufacturing cost must be generated in Switzerland. The watch’s movement must also be considered Swiss, the movement must be encased in Switzerland, and the final manufacturer’s inspection must take place in the country. To call a movement Swiss 60% of the manufacturing cost must be Swiss and 50% of the parts VALUE excluding the cost of assembly must be Swiss. I don't know for a fact but a silicon hairspring alone might make up 50% of the value. Since manufacturing costs include labor if the work is done in Switzerland you are already ahead of the game because of the high Swiss labor costs.

Swiss made is nowhere near as stringent as Made In the USA which states all or virtually all significant parts, processing and labor must originate in the US. Although you are able to make 'qualified' claims like 60% U.S. Content. You can also claim Designed or assembled in the USA etc. For instance all Apple products say Designed in California.
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Re: Early morning thoughts on movements...

Post by jkbarnes »

rkovars wrote: Thu May 18, 2023 5:22 pm Just to add a side note here, the modifications might be in materials not necessarily in physical changes. Parts made of brass might be changed for a more durable alloy etc. The word modification can cover a whole gamut of changes that are possible.

The watchmaker in this case was covering the bases to some extent. A typical service would be not much more than taking it apart, cleaning it, putting it back together and lubrication. Now, if he found something broken that he couldn't see then it might require parts that he couldn't get. Or if god forbid he misplaced a part or broke something taking it apart he would be in the same boat with no access to parts. In these cases it is better for them to pass than to take the chance.

I think part of the issue is that there is no industry standard for in house. The definition is whatever the speaker decides it is. If a big name brand decides to one day buy the manufacturer that makes its movements is that automatically in house? This is what Rolex did in 2004. If someone designs a movement but then contracts the manufacture is that in house? Some would say no. The waters are murky at best. Is Tudor's Kinissi in house? Chanel owns a stake in the company too. Other manufacturers are being allowed to use the movements too (Norquain and Breitling for example - with Breitling it is a technology swap as Tudor is using one of their movements in return).

I don't think that in house movements are the problem perse. More that manufacturers more often than not are withholding access to parts. Which is concerning.

In house from a Manufacturing perspective:

It can matter from a QC standpoint as you can make the level of quality whatever you want if you are running the line. You aren't beholden to what a supplier says they can provide. You can also hire and retain engineers and technicians that can tweak every bit of tolerance out of a process that might be even above and beyond what the manufacturers of the equipment will admit that they are capable of. So there is some advantage there.

It would also make you more agile to make changes. You could implement design and process changes much quicker by cutting out supplier layers and having everything under your direct control. There is a reason, for example, that Apple has an entire division dedicated to making processors now. They now drive their own roadmap and don't rely on third parties for moving their tech forward (at least from the silicon design and performance standpoint).

I read somewhere that with Tudor they started the move away from ETA before the supply constraint announcements because of QC. They were having to rework a large number of movements from ETA in order to get them within spec. I believe this as I found in an ETA datasheet that a certain percentage of movements would be delivered out of spec. Even if the number was as low as 2% this would be problematic. If you were making 26000 watches a year like CW you would either need to rework or bin 520 movements. This is probably doable. But if you manufacture 200K like Tudor then you are talking 4000 movements and it becomes a much larger problem.

From a watchmaking perspective:

I think that it is correct to look at in house as being more important in the high end and independent realm. Here it matters more because you are talking about highly skilled artisans that are touching almost every part in the movement in some cases. Here in house translates to craftsmanship.
This is a fantastic post! Your knowledge base and the ease with which you can clearly communicate it always blow me away.
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Re: Early morning thoughts on movements...

Post by Murphy20 »

I’ve really enjoyed reading this thread, and learned a great deal too. Thank you.
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Re: Early morning thoughts on movements...

Post by rkovars »

Interestingly enough there is a lot of stuff hitting the feeds that I pay attention to about this subject.

In some respect you can't talk about the explosion of in house movements without talking about the history of ETA and what part they play in the Swiss watch industry.

This 2013 article from A Blog To Watch is a good starting point.

Here is a followup article from A Blog To Watch on ETA and its part in the in house rush.

Here is the latest 40 and 20 podcast talking to Mike DeMartini of Everest products about the Swiss Watch industry with some relevant information on how it all works.

@jkbarnes it helps to have built a career building things :lol: . People give very little thought about what it actually takes to get something manufactured from scratch (not ordering pieces out of a catalog). I guarantee the big brands have started work on the watches they are going to release in about 2028. 2024 designs have been locked down for some time and they are finalizing production processes now. Look at the length of time it is taking for our LE and we are talking about 1 custom component.
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Re: Early morning thoughts on movements...

Post by missF »

Murphy20 wrote: Thu May 18, 2023 9:43 pm I’ve really enjoyed reading this thread, and learned a great deal too. Thank you.
Agree! I’m so grateful to everyone who’s commenting- I’m learning so much. :thumbup:
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Re: Early morning thoughts on movements...

Post by Thegreyman »

Some great knowledgible posts above. I think for me, there is an element that if you are buying an expensive watch, there is some cachet to having an in house movement, something that has been specially developed by the manufacturer rather than a generic, bought in movement.

Having said that, despite owning a few such watches, it wouldn't be the key buying criteria for me, much less than merely do I like the watch at the price point.

Interestingly a parallel in the world of cars, many a number of high end cars share similar engines e.g. the Mercedes AMG 4.0 twin turbo V8 appears in the Aston Martin Vantage.
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Re: Early morning thoughts on movements...

Post by Noush »

I want to throw a controversial watch into this mix for discussion. The Vacheron Constantin Fifty Six Self-Winding.
I've worn one, and it looks and feels like it comes from a 'Great House'. Really impressive.
In order to keep the price 'down' *cough* it uses a ValFleurier movement that is finished, assembled and regulated at VC.
VC purists cry foul, it is not therefore a Geneva Seal movement. These days, that apparently matters, but why exactly?

As mentioned earlier, many 'Great Houses' bought in movements for their watches for a very long time. It is in part how JLC got their name as the Watchmaker's Watchmaker. Does that make say, a Patek of that era any less a Patek? Not a bit of it in my view. Apparently today it does....

Snob value. Priceless.
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Re: Early morning thoughts on movements...

Post by Greatpotfarm »

Fantastic posts in this thread, folks! Thank you.
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Re: Early morning thoughts on movements...

Post by Stuart1 »

Noush wrote: Fri May 19, 2023 11:08 pm I want to throw a controversial watch into this mix for discussion. The Vacheron Constantin Fifty Six Self-Winding.
I've worn one, and it looks and feels like it comes from a 'Great House'. Really impressive.
In order to keep the price 'down' *cough* it uses a ValFleurier movement that is finished, assembled and regulated at VC.
VC purists cry foul, it is not therefore a Geneva Seal movement. These days, that apparently matters, but why exactly?

As mentioned earlier, many 'Great Houses' bought in movements for their watches for a very long time. It is in part how JLC got their name as the Watchmaker's Watchmaker. Does that make say, a Patek of that era any less a Patek? Not a bit of it in my view. Apparently today it does....

Snob value. Priceless.
In the VC case I can understand the problems. If you watch the Timeteller on YouTube or Perezcope.com you can see how the ‘in house’/ ‘in group’ can be just used for profit squeezing. The Richemont Group is used as an example IWC,Panerai and VC being quite impacted. In the case of vintage timepieces the movement issue is slightly different as brands outsourced to get specialist movements.
The question I would ask is.. Would you pay £3,500 for a Grand Seiko with a NH36 / 4R36 movement ?
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Re: Early morning thoughts on movements...

Post by Noush »

In the end we all look at the totality of what is offered against its price and decide whether it is interesting enough to us to fork out our hard-earned money.
Would I pay what's asked for the VC Fifty Six? It's a nice looking and beautifully finished watch but no chance. Others clearly will.
Would I pay 2.5 times that for a VC Americain 1921? Fabulous piece, perhaps my all time favourite VC, but no again. Simply too expensive for what it is in my opinion - I would say the same of any 'top-tier' watch - and others will disagree.
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Re: Early morning thoughts on movements...

Post by Stuart1 »

Noush wrote: Sat May 20, 2023 9:21 am In the end we all look at the totality of what is offered against its price and decide whether it is interesting enough to us to fork out our hard-earned money.
Would I pay what's asked for the VC Fifty Six? It's a nice looking and beautifully finished watch but no chance. Others clearly will.
Would I pay 2.5 times that for a VC Americain 1921? Fabulous piece, perhaps my all time favourite VC, but no again. Simply too expensive for what it is in my opinion - I would say the same of any 'top-tier' watch - and others will disagree.
But still the question that arises with regard to ‘ in house’ / ‘in group’ movements.

Would you pay £3,500 for a Grand Seiko with a NH36 / 4R36 movement ?

In my case no! I would buy a Seiko 5 for £350, it has the same movement and the GS will not be 10 times better.
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