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  1. #1
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    Default In-house vs ETA movements

    Omega and very likely some others (who, I do not know) are now no more producing in-house movements but use ones from ETA for virtually all their watches. What is the reason for doing this?

    Modern movements are presumably more accurate and require less maintenance, compared to those yesteryear in-house movements. However there are many who still prefer the ‘tired’ old movements which are already approximately half a century old. In some instances, lovers and collectors of time-pieces are even more than willing to pay a higher price for a certain brand old ‘junk’ against one which is a re-edition. Most of the jewelers stock re-editions, crying to be put on one’s wrist. I do not understand and would like to know why the old horses are still preferred, not only by the middle-aged but the younger generations, as well.

  2. #2

    Default Here's my take on it (RE: watchman)

    When the quartz watch hit the market, most watch companies embraced it with a vengeance. It was cheap, didn't need to be wound and was super accurate. The advantages over all other electric types were beyond question. It seemed too good to be true and it was. The shortcomings of the quartz watch didn't manifest themselves for several years and by that time most watch companies and the ebauche industry had been dramatically downsized. Omega stopped making their in house movements because it seemed that they wouldn't compete against the new technology. Movado did the same. Ebauche companies were devastated. AS and ETA were already the big players so they stayed in business. The rejection of quartz by consumers of high end watches was settled fairly quickly as $1000 premium watches began dying. Old established companies like PP, Rolex and JLC wisely kept their mechanicals coming and benefitted greatly. Omega at one point discovered a supply of old manual wind movements put aside years before because they wouldn't sell as manual winds. They cased them into retro solid gold cases and got over $1000 each for the lot. At this point in the game Omega and virtually all the other brands use the ETA 2824, 2892, and 7750 or a derivative thereof. Rolex still makes the Rolex, PP still makes PP and JLC dabbles in new technology of their own design but stays with their automatics.

    Why do we prefer the old in house movements? They were beautiful and unique. Omega won many many timekeeping awards with their in house products.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Here's my take on it (RE: Dave Haynes)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Haynes View Post
    When the quartz watch hit the market, most watch companies embraced it with a vengeance. It was cheap, didn't need to be wound and was super accurate. The advantages over all other electric types were beyond question. It seemed too good to be true and it was. The shortcomings of the quartz watch didn't manifest themselves for several years and by that time most watch companies and the ebauche industry had been dramatically downsized. Omega stopped making their in house movements because it seemed that they wouldn't compete against the new technology. Movado did the same. Ebauche companies were devastated. AS and ETA were already the big players so they stayed in business. The rejection of quartz by consumers of high end watches was settled fairly quickly as $1000 premium watches began dying. Old established companies like PP, Rolex and JLC wisely kept their mechanicals coming and benefitted greatly. Omega at one point discovered a supply of old manual wind movements put aside years before because they wouldn't sell as manual winds. They cased them into retro solid gold cases and got over $1000 each for the lot. At this point in the game Omega and virtually all the other brands use the ETA 2824, 2892, and 7750 or a derivative thereof. Rolex still makes the Rolex, PP still makes PP and JLC dabbles in new technology of their own design but stays with their automatics.

    Why do we prefer the old in house movements? They were beautiful and unique. Omega won many many timekeeping awards with their in house products.
    Thanks for the information.

    This is just a wild guess: Was it the Japanese who started with the quartz movements? If so, why did not the Swiss take this competitor head-on, since the Swiss had already conquered the world market?

  4. #4

    Default Re: In-house vs ETA movements (RE: watchman)

    I like the old ones better myself...

    here is a picture of one of the eta movements..
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Image023.jpg  

  5. #5
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    Default Re: In-house vs ETA movements (RE: s. smith)

    Quote Originally Posted by s. smith View Post
    I like the old ones better myself...

    here is a picture of one of the eta movements..
    Thanks for the illustration. It is not surprising, you prefer the old one better.

  6. #6
    Registered User RON in PA's Avatar
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    Default Re: In-house vs ETA movements (RE: watchman)

    The Swiss and the Japanese were working on the quartz oscillator movement at roughly the same time. Seiko put theirs on the market first, Dec.,1969 and the Swiss followed soon after. The Swiss made a major error, they believed that the quartz watch, because of its superior timekeeping, would become the top of the line and that mechanical watches would remain dominant at the lower and middle levels. The Japanese figured out how to make inexpensive quartz movements and by the late 1970s had put approximately two-thirds of the Swiss watch industry out of business. Major Swiss companies like Omega and Longines, both old line companies making excellent in-house movements, survived only because they became part of what is now called the Swatch holding group. Since ETA is a major part of Swatch holding it made financial sense to use ETA movements in most Swatch group watches. It's only been in the last few years that Omega has come up with unique movements using the Daniels co-axial escapement, but in truth there is considerable input from ETA.

    The haute horology watches always maintained their own movements. Rolex has made it a major marketing ply that because they have inhouse movements their watches are better.

    My observation of the watch industry is that there is much snobbery, status consciousness and "mine is bigger than yours" involved. I am not convinced that ETA movements are in any way inferiour to "inhouse" movements, especially since they are available in 3-4 grades with increasing accuracy and number of adjustments as the grade goes up.

    From a purely rational, practical and accuracy point of view you can't beat a quartz watch as a timekeeper, but who wants to rational all the time. I have two Omega vintage watches, one from the 1950s and one from the 1960s, their movements are beautiful and they are excellent timekeepers after all these years. A contempory US made Hamilton movement looks even more well finished.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: In-house vs ETA movements (RE: RON in PA)

    Quote Originally Posted by RON in PA View Post
    The Swiss and the Japanese were working on the quartz oscillator movement at roughly the same time. Seiko put theirs on the market first, Dec.,1969 and the Swiss followed soon after. The Swiss made a major error, they believed that the quartz watch, because of its superior timekeeping, would become the top of the line and that mechanical watches would remain dominant at the lower and middle levels. The Japanese figured out how to make inexpensive quartz movements and by the late 1970s had put approximately two-thirds of the Swiss watch industry out of business. Major Swiss companies like Omega and Longines, both old line companies making excellent in-house movements, survived only because they became part of what is now called the Swatch holding group. Since ETA is a major part of Swatch holding it made financial sense to use ETA movements in most Swatch group watches. It's only been in the last few years that Omega has come up with unique movements using the Daniels co-axial escapement, but in truth there is considerable input from ETA.

    The haute horology watches always maintained their own movements. Rolex has made it a major marketing ply that because they have inhouse movements their watches are better.

    My observation of the watch industry is that there is much snobbery, status consciousness and "mine is bigger than yours" involved. I am not convinced that ETA movements are in any way inferiour to "inhouse" movements, especially since they are available in 3-4 grades with increasing accuracy and number of adjustments as the grade goes up.

    From a purely rational, practical and accuracy point of view you can't beat a quartz watch as a timekeeper, but who wants to rational all the time. I have two Omega vintage watches, one from the 1950s and one from the 1960s, their movements are beautiful and they are excellent timekeepers after all these years. A contempory US made Hamilton movement looks even more well finished.
    Thanks for the information.

    I will still keep and wear my very old faithful stainless steel Cyma watch and will not part with it, even though someone offers me a spanking new ETA movement Cyma that comes in a box with all papers.

    Though it is only a Cyma and not a Rolex or Patek Philippe, my feeling is, a Cyma with an ETA movement has lost its identity.

    Approximately four years ago, a friend of mine was offered a new Omega Co-axial 18k solid pink gold in exchange for his very beautiful Omega Constellation 18k solid gold with a bumper movement. His vintage watch comes with arrow head indices on an 18k mirror dial. After he consulted a few of his friends, he declined the offer, even though the price of the Omega Co-axial was then approximately three times more expensive than his old Omega Constellation.

    Till today, I will not wear a quartz watch, even though in terms of accuracy, it will beat my Cyma, hands down.

  8. #8

    Default The Swiss invented the Quartz Watch.... (RE: watchman)

    Quote Originally Posted by watchman View Post
    Was it the Japanese who started with the quartz movements? If so, why did not the Swiss take this competitor head-on, since the Swiss had already conquered the world market?
    From the NAWCC Bulletin of December 2007
    The Quartz Crisis a/k/a/ “the Watchmakers’ Crisis of the 1970’s” a/k/a “the Second Technological Crisis” completely upset the Swiss watch industry.[1] The Swiss had 90% of the world watch market when a new quartz technology was developed by Swiss nationals and offered to the industry. Swiss manufacturers refused to embrace the technology. Others, however, saw the advantage and developed the technology.[2] The Swiss lost market share to the less expensive quartz watches produced outside of Switzerland. However, several factors combined to slow down the development of technology and production in Switzerland despite the fact that Swiss companies were at the forefront of the technology. The chief factors were a lack of conviction on the part of the industry leadership for either the need for or the possibility of the coexistence of electronic and mechanical watches, by the same brands,[3] in the same markets and; the loss of the control of the mass production of watches with broad market diffusion.[4] The years of comfortable revenues from the well protected monopoly from 1938 to 1952[5] cost the industry what had formerly been its most invaluable asset – the joy of innovation. A handful of watch makers were disposed to make some copies of the quartz prototypes—history proves that they were capable—but they were not ready to launch into series production[6] until the Swatch in 1983.
    [1] Le Rouage dégrippé, Les crises horlogères, une fatalité en voie de disparition? Convention patronale, La Chaux de Fonds, 1995, at page 12.
    [2] Cooke, P. and Hastings, J., New Industries: Imperative for Agriculture’s Survival, Regional Australia Summit, Oct 27-29, 1999 at page 8.
    [3] Longines Legendary Watches, at page 13. Longines was a notable exception and from 1970 ran parallel production lines of both quartz and mechanical watches.
    [4] Hieronymi, O., Gabus, A., Hattemer, H. and Sallin E., La diffusion de nouvelles technologies en Suisse, Editions Georgi, Saint-Saphorin, 1983 at page 89.
    [5] Jaquet, E. and Chapuis, A., at page 252.
    [6] Landes, D. S., L'heure qu'il est, Gallimard, Paris, 1987 at page 474.

  9. #9

    Default You come to the gamea bit late (RE: watchman)

    Quote Originally Posted by watchman View Post
    Omega and very likely some others (who, I do not know) are now no more producing in-house movements but use ones from ETA for virtually all their watches. What is the reason for doing this?
    Actually, today we are seeing the opposite of your observation: more and more proprietary or in-house movements are being brought to market. In the olden days that you are speaking about and up until the recent break up of the ETA monopoly (which arose for a number of reasons which permitted the consolidation of the watch movement industry) most movements were made by a few (although more than today) specialized movement makers, anyway. The nature of the Swiss watch industry was quite different from the American system (which was always in-house). Sure a few Swiss brands recognized the benefits of having all operation under one roof, e.g. Longines and Jaeger-LeCoultre, but most were comptoirs, middlemen, who bought movements, cases and dials and assembled them under their own names...déjà vu all over again!

  10. #10

    Default Re: In-house vs ETA movements (RE: watchman)

    Quote Originally Posted by watchman View Post
    Thanks for the information.

    I will still keep and wear my very old faithful stainless steel Cyma watch and will not part with it, even though someone offers me a spanking new ETA movement Cyma that comes in a box with all papers.

    Though it is only a Cyma and not a Rolex or Patek Philippe, my feeling is, a Cyma with an ETA movement has lost its identity.
    I understand your feelings, but I think you're attaching a bit too much romance (and emphasis) to the "in house" movement.

    Up until the 1940s, many Swiss makers, at all but the lowest price levels produced many "in-house" movements, some good, and some not so good.

    The ebauche industry had started much earlier, but by the late 1920s had seen great consolidation and was producing not just raw movement parts, but complete movements, leaving only finishing and adjustment to the "maker". The economies of scale offered by their large scale production, the pressure forced by the combined market disruption and increased demand of the Second World War, and the competitive advantage afforded to the movement makers by Swiss national policies made it difficult for smaller firms to compete, so a great many of what we consider mid-level firms (and more than a few of the "high grade" ones) began offering watches with movements based upon these outsourced movements. After many, many mergers, acquisitions and take-overs ETA (which had formerly been Ebauches SA emerges as the dominant manufacturer, but they too are eventually incorporated into the vast watchmaking holding company Swatch Group.

    Cyma was not immune to these pressures, and was taken over in 1966 by Chronos Holdings. Even before that, they had begun using outsourced movements. A quick glance through my Bestfit guide shows Tavannes (Cyma) movements produced by Aurore, Peseux, Fontainmelon, ETA and A.Schild.

    You may want to refer to this article by Claude Girardin to gain a bit more understanding of the inter-relation of Swiss watch firms.

    The romance of in-house movements, at least to serious collectors, is generally associated with those things that make the in-house movement different from the ebauche movements. Design, detail, finish and function are all different, and this can help to reinforce the "snob-appeal". To the majority of wristwatch collectors that I know, it is a small component of the overall appeal of the watch. Wristwatch collectors tend to go for the total package. The design, the case, the lugs, the dial, the movement, and in some cases even the strap, combine to make a watch that for whatever reason is attractive and thus collectible. I have friends who collect uncased pocketwatch movements, just for their mechanical attributes. I don't know anyone who collects uncased wristwatch movements other than for spare parts.

    And while an "in-house" movement can make your watch more "exclusive", it can also help to make your vintage watch harder to maintain and service, as parts are more difficult to obtain and specialized procedures are less likely to be known. Try to find someone with a stock of vintage Pierce or Movado parts, and you'll see what I mean.

    My two cents,

    Cary
    Cary Hurt


  11. #11

    Default Re: In-house vs ETA movements (RE: Cary Hurt)

    I am confused. Omega and ETA are the same company, The Swatch Group. So ETA is "in-house" for Omega, Longines, Hamilton, Swatch, Rado, Tissot, Mido and a half dozen more names. ETA makes the movements, but uses different specifications for different brands. I do not know where the final finishing and timing is done, at ETA or Omega.

    Don

  12. #12

    Default Re: In-house vs ETA movements (RE: Don Dahlberg)

    Don i can,t answer your question for sure but several of the different co,s are using the eta movements,,the Omega i posted a picture of is marked Omega 1111 on the rotary but also marked down by the balance with the Eta grade ..,,This watch is a good runner but i still like the eariler movements the finish and quailty is much better i think..

  13. #13

    Default Re: In-house vs ETA movements (RE: s. smith)

    Here is a picture of one of the older in house movements the grade 550 ..
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Image003.jpg  

  14. #14
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    Default Re: In-house vs ETA movements (RE: Cary Hurt)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cary Hurt View Post
    I understand your feelings, but I think you're attaching a bit too much romance (and emphasis) to the "in house" movement.

    Up until the 1940s, many Swiss makers, at all but the lowest price levels produced many "in-house" movements, some good, and some not so good.

    The ebauche industry had started much earlier, but by the late 1920s had seen great consolidation and was producing not just raw movement parts, but complete movements, leaving only finishing and adjustment to the "maker". The economies of scale offered by their large scale production, the pressure forced by the combined market disruption and increased demand of the Second World War, and the competitive advantage afforded to the movement makers by Swiss national policies made it difficult for smaller firms to compete, so a great many of what we consider mid-level firms (and more than a few of the "high grade" ones) began offering watches with movements based upon these outsourced movements. After many, many mergers, acquisitions and take-overs ETA (which had formerly been Ebauches SA emerges as the dominant manufacturer, but they too are eventually incorporated into the vast watchmaking holding company Swatch Group.

    Cyma was not immune to these pressures, and was taken over in 1966 by Chronos Holdings. Even before that, they had begun using outsourced movements. A quick glance through my Bestfit guide shows Tavannes (Cyma) movements produced by Aurore, Peseux, Fontainmelon, ETA and A.Schild.

    You may want to refer to this article by Claude Girardin to gain a bit more understanding of the inter-relation of Swiss watch firms.

    The romance of in-house movements, at least to serious collectors, is generally associated with those things that make the in-house movement different from the ebauche movements. Design, detail, finish and function are all different, and this can help to reinforce the "snob-appeal". To the majority of wristwatch collectors that I know, it is a small component of the overall appeal of the watch. Wristwatch collectors tend to go for the total package. The design, the case, the lugs, the dial, the movement, and in some cases even the strap, combine to make a watch that for whatever reason is attractive and thus collectible. I have friends who collect uncased pocketwatch movements, just for their mechanical attributes. I don't know anyone who collects uncased wristwatch movements other than for spare parts.

    And while an "in-house" movement can make your watch more "exclusive", it can also help to make your vintage watch harder to maintain and service, as parts are more difficult to obtain and specialized procedures are less likely to be known. Try to find someone with a stock of vintage Pierce or Movado parts, and you'll see what I mean.

    My two cents,

    Cary
    I thank you for the information.

    It is difficult for me to part with this old watch of mine, a simple stainless steel Navystar with manual winding, bought second-hand.

    The word 'in-house' was unheard then but over the years, after knowing friends who own better brand names and also watch-collectors, as well as, after reading some literatures about watches, there was an indication that watches with 'in-house' movement are better than those that came with ETA movements. Of course, this applies to other exclusive brands and not my watch which any collector will not want to have a second look.

    As with regard to spares, I agree with you that a time will come when they are not easy to come by. However, with regular servicing, I do not need any. Each time the watch was serviced, the watchmaker might have replaced a part or two without my knowledge. I know nothing about watch movements.

    Over a period of time, most of the collectors and some dealers tend to preach or believe that a watch with an 'in-house' movement is better than another without. Of course, this belief or feeling may be reserved for Rolex and Patek Philippe watches only and not many others.

    Whatever said, any watch today, whether it comes with an 'in-house' or ETA movement does not come cheap.

    Though there are many good new watches in the showroom, I just love to look and handle only yesteryear watches of any brand name, from Oris to Patek Philippe. Maybe, one day I too will be able to own one.

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    Default Re: In-house vs ETA movements (RE: s. smith)

    Quote Originally Posted by s. smith View Post
    Here is a picture of one of the older in house movements the grade 550 ..
    Thanks for the picture.

    Looks-wise, this is definitely better

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