Following the polls in the previous Chapter we have made some changes to the case, and have also created a third series of 3D printed prototypes… this time we’re there! The proportions are balanced and we have a piece that brings together technical sophistication, elegance and distinctiveness in harmony. In terms of the size, opinion was divided between 42 and 43mm. After testing the prototypes on various wrists, we settled on a diameter of 42.5mm.
GLOBAL MANUFACTURERS OF MECHANICAL MOVEMENTS
Since the start of our project we have seen two distinct groups of people take shape in terms of mechanical movements: those who only want Swiss products, and the others. In actual fact, the selection available beyond the Swiss borders is rich and varied, as shown by this brief overview:
Japan has a long history of watchmaking, and today it produces a significant proportion of the world’s mechanical movements. Although the quality of their finishes is sometimes lacking, Japanese movements are renowned for their reliability and sturdiness. The main manufacturers are: Seiko, Orient (owned by Seiko) and Miyota (part of the Citizen group).
China is a victim of its own image as an imitator and a manufacturer of low-end products. Even if these stereotypes are accurate, we shouldn’t forget that China also produces most of the cases, bracelets and dials for entry-level and mid-range Swiss Made watches, and at a high quality too. There are many manufacturers of mechanical movements in China, but there are only really two that produce reliable and high-quality products: Seagull and Beijing Watch Factory.
Russia has a rich watchmaking heritage. War and the political climate virtually wiped out the industry in the country, but a few years ago Jacques von Polier, a Parisian, and his Russo-British colleague David Henderson-Stewart decided to revive RAKETA, the oldest factory in Russia. Also of note are the manufacturers Poljot and Vostok, even if opinion is divided on the quality of their movements.
Germany watches are very popular throughout the world. Brands which produce movements often only do so to kit out their own watches. Here are a few notable examples: Lange & Söhne, Glashütte Original and Nomos.
In Switzerland you can find mechanical movements ranging in price from US$50 to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Among the industrial manufacturers are ETA, Sellita, Soprod and EMC. Companies such as Dubois-Dépraz produce modules that they add to ETA movements. There are also high-end manufacturers that often remain in the shadow of known brands, which develop made to measure movements; these companies include Concepto, Technotime, Chronode and La Joux-Perret. Not forgetting brands such as Rolex and Patek Philippe, which develop their own movements. The list is long and the possibilities are endless; it’s all a question of costs!
WHAT ARE THE KEY DIFFERENCES?
The internet is bursting with forums and blogs featuring an abundance of debates over the quality of this or that movement. On the whole, the manufacturers mentioned above produce high-quality and reliable movements. If you compare industrial movements, you can see the differences in precision from one model to the next. For example, after 3 days an ETA movement will lose or gain 21 seconds, in comparison with around 60 seconds for a MIYOTA. Yet the main difference for this type of movement lies in the quality of the esthetic finishes; in this regard, Swiss movements are generally above the rest.
A SPECIAL MOVEMENT FOR A SPECIAL COLLECTION
Although our core target lies in the use of standard movements, we would like to work with some of the most talented movement creators to offer you very special collections. Through our policy of transparency and our shortened distribution process we want our prices to be in the range of US$2,500 – 3,500 where similar pieces go for between US$8,000 and 15,000 and beyond.
The aim is not to create a watch with complications (which would certainly be interesting, but would result in skyrocketing costs which would be difficult to manage), but to produce an exclusive movement that enhances the mechanical wizardry.
It is in Switzerland that the best expertise can be found for this type of movement. We are currently in discussion with a number of manufacturers. We will have to work closely with one of them to achieve the best value for money, even if it might mean a reasonable change in the design and composition of the movement; here already we have a first draft.
What do you think of this approach? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.
INTERESTED IN MEETING THE TEAM?
The internet is wonderful, but all the same it would be great to be able to discuss these fascinating topics in person, wouldn’t it? We would like to organise a meet-and-greet between now and the end of September, in the form of a workshop in our studio (8 person max.) and/or a conference/discussion (around 50 people). Naturally, priority will be given to our Sheriffs 😉