“In-House obscures the quality of movements and insults our intelligence...”

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Amor Vincit Omnia
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Re: “In-House obscures the quality of movements and insults our intelligence...”

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

I’ve watched this thread with interest, and I have to confess that I find myself very much impaled on the fence.

On the one hand (excuse the pun) I have been wearing my C12 Ti all week; it has a Sellita movement that performs brilliantly (no more than +1.5 s/d). It doesn’t bother me immensely that the movement wasn’t created by a small army of horological Oompa Loompas in Maidenhead. Third party movements (ébauches) are nothing new, they were produced in huge numbers by companies such as Schild. Keep it quiet, but a chap called Edmond Jaeger used to supply movements to Cartier.

On the other hand, if people want the cachet, kudos and general bragging rights that go with the manufacture movement, why not? There is more to it than just a question of whether or not the thing works well, or even whether it is easy and cost-effective to service. Some people appreciate truly pretty movements seen through Sapphire case backs, some enjoy the idea that every single part of their watch was created in house to extremely fine tolerances. And some appreciate a piece of machinery that does something very different and totally extraordinary. Like a fine wine, if you can understand and appreciate the differences, and can afford it, go for it.
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Re: “In-House obscures the quality of movements and insults our intelligence...”

Post by Stuart1 »

Historically, most of the Swiss watches houses bought in movements, as previously mentioned. Rolex and Patek bought in from Valjoux, Omega bought in from Lemania. Rolex arguably only became a true ‘in house’ in 2004 by the purchase of Aegler SA (who also made movements for Gruen). Since the Swatch Group (ETA) began to reduce the supply of movements to externals we have seen the rise of ‘in house’ movements.
Being realistic much of the ‘in house’ness is just to tie customers into servicing with the brand. The Richemond Group basically use one movement across the group and claim ‘in house’. Perezcope.com has written some good articles investigating this practice.
For me Sellita makes perfectly good movements at various price points plus you have the option to get your watch serviced locally. With a true ‘in house’ movement PP,H Moser, Armin Strom of course I would get them serviced by the manufacturer. They are things of wonder, with the price tag attached.
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Re: “In-House obscures the quality of movements and insults our intelligence...”

Post by nbg »

An interesting podcast Lindsey. Thanks for posting. :thumbup:

Like the chap in the podcast I think that the quality of the movement is more important than whether it is regarded as in-house.

I did like the examples that he used in his analysis. :)

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Re: “In-House obscures the quality of movements and insults our intelligence...”

Post by Chris GB »

I found it an interesting podcast and agree with much of what was said. There was, for me, one statement that seemed a little naïve though. The idea that if someone has the machinery to make a movement, they will be able to do it as well as anyone else is simply not true. In these days of CNC controlled manufacturing and automation, skilled individuals still have to make the tools, set the machinery and run it. The end results will depend heavily on the expertise and experience of these people.

For me, the definition of movement quality is going to vary depending on the attribute list that I have. However, quality is a nebulous target because it encompasses many factors and varies with the balance of these factors and their importance within the attributes list. Key characteristics are likely to be something along the lines of, in any order you like: durability / reliability / accuracy / power reserve / toughness / serviceability / appearance / functionality (read complications) / innovation content / artisanal content / cost.

If a manufacturer can get an off the shelf movement that matches the attributes they and I want, I have no problem with them using it. I also have no problem with manufacturers making movements themselves to show their prowess or to achieve a particular attribute set.

Where things get murky is when we start using the term "in house". For me, the term could refer to a movement designed in house subcontracted out for manufacture, or assembled in house from bespoke parts sub contract manufactured to the company's specification, or fully made in house where raw bar stock and jewel blanks come in and movements come out. Where I would personally not be comfortable with the "in house" moniker is where a bought in movement is tweaked or altered in such a way that it is tuned up or cosmetically tarted around or where a clone is used.

As for quality, this often comes with quantity. A manufacturer like Sellita makes huge numbers of movements and through this, they can refine their product and processes to a high level, making for reliable, affordable and great performing movements. The artisanal end of the movement market is more likely to have products that are less well time optimised and subject to greater vulnerability to human error. So in theory, a truly great in house movement from a top watchmaker, may be of lower "quality" than the better efforts of Miyota or Sellita.

It is a strange game!
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