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Thread: Will generic movements improve?

  1. #1
    Craftsman Idontgram's Avatar
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    Will generic movements improve?

    I was watching a review of the new Longines spirit watch and its modified ETA-movement today and it got me thinking...

    Isnít it odd that in this day and age so many watches still use 2824s, 2892s and 7750s? Those movements are now 20-40years old! I appreciate that the 2824 comes in its 80hr version in many Swatch offerings now and the 2892 is the basis of the omega co-axial. But with so much consumer interest in new movements and specs, surely ETA would have upped their game, or at least Sellita would have seen an opportunity to Ďovertakeí them with a thinner chrono / a traveller GMT / longer service intervals etc...

    Iím sure there will be the usual arguments about servicing costs, a reliable workhorse and so on but given how many brands are offering new movements, itís surprising more hasnít come from the places where they specialise in mass movement manufacture

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    Master earlofsodbury's Avatar
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    It's interesting to browse movement catalogues and see quite how much variety is potentially available that almost never finds its way into independent makers inventories.

    Aside from in-house exclusives, it's possible that established OEM houses like Miyota, Seiko and ETA in particular choose to make the prices and/or MOQs of interesting and newer movements inaccessibly high, so as to preserve an element of exclusivity within their own stable.

    It's equally possible that smaller makers are simply lazy, unimaginative creatures of habit, who maximise their margins by using the cheapest acceptable movements - let's face it, most normal people can just about grasp that (nowadays) mechanical > quartz; well-informed forum geeks with a more nuanced understanding are an insignificant market, few buy new, and most are fishing in more exclusive ponds when they do.

  3. #3
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    We reached perfection with the 7750!

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    Craftsman Idontgram's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by earlofsodbury View Post

    It's equally possible that smaller makers are simply lazy, unimaginative creatures of habit, who maximise their margins by using the cheapest acceptable movements - let's face it, most normal people can just about grasp that (nowadays) mechanical > quartz; well-informed forum geeks with a more nuanced understanding are an insignificant market, few buy new, and most are fishing in more exclusive ponds when they do.
    Youíre probably right, the market likely demands very little so thereís no incentive to innovate, still, theyíre clearly capable of it!

    Quote Originally Posted by ach5 View Post
    We reached perfection with the 7750!
    But itís so thick!

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    Master Alansmithee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Idontgram View Post
    I was watching a review of the new Longines spirit watch and its modified ETA-movement today and it got me thinking...

    Isnít it odd that in this day and age so many watches still use 2824s, 2892s and 7750s? Those movements are now 20-40years old! I appreciate that the 2824 comes in its 80hr version in many Swatch offerings now and the 2892 is the basis of the omega co-axial. But with so much consumer interest in new movements and specs, surely ETA would have upped their game, or at least Sellita would have seen an opportunity to Ďovertakeí them with a thinner chrono / a traveller GMT / longer service intervals etc...

    Iím sure there will be the usual arguments about servicing costs, a reliable workhorse and so on but given how many brands are offering new movements, itís surprising more hasnít come from the places where they specialise in mass movement manufacture

    What percentage of people buying watches actually know anything about movements? Very few I'd guess?

  6. #6
    Master
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    They have ran out of companies to take over and inherit ideas and hard work lol. They cant come up with much themself obviously.

    My powermatic 80 i like, super accurate and consistant and i like the longer power reserve.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alansmithee View Post
    What percentage of people buying watches actually know anything about movements? Very few I'd guess?
    This!

    I tried talking to a good, intelligent, friend about watch movements once, even his eyes glazed over.

    99.9% of the real world couldnít give a proverbial about whatís inside their latest bauble. The name on the dial/box, whether itís WP and what accuracy it offers, is about the extent of their interest. The latter two being optional depending on whether they actually intend to use it day-to-day or simply show it off.

    I suspect all that means there is limited value in using or developing new and interesting movement, for most manufacturers. Which is a shame for the 0.1% like us.


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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by ach5 View Post
    We reached perfection with the 7750!
    I always like this article when someone mentions how awesome the 7750 is (it is awesome!) - https://quillandpad.com/2018/09/22/v...y-and-numbers/

    And it has been improved on - IWC have done so recently.

  9. #9
    Master aldfort's Avatar
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    This is an interesting question.

    Why would a generic movement need to improve?
    ETA are part of Swatch, do they need to improve given that some years ago they created uproar by suggesting they'd seek to limit supply? I often wonder if they did it to encourage others back into the market? Selita seem to have stepped up but they need to recover the investment cost they've made. Hard to know for sure given how closed most of these firms are. Who exactly does what for who is a carefully guarded secret. Then you've got the relative newcomer Kenissi, now do we want to call that generic given that it has links to Chanel, Breitling, Tudor and by implication to Rolex?
    In fact does the 70 hour power reserve of the new Rolex movement owe something to Kenissi?

    What am I saying? I guess two things:
    Firstly we don't see that many actual inovations in movement design. Materials and service life yes, but design, not so much.
    Does it actually matter, we are buying old mechanical technology safe in he knowledge that quartz is way more accurate than even the best mechanical design?
    Last edited by aldfort; 24th November 2020 at 13:33.

  10. #10
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    I do think they should keep improving, until such time as they no longer need any servicing due to the materials used. However, that may not make them more attractive. Jewels have their appeal, even if there are better solutions.

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    Craftsman Idontgram's Avatar
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    I guess the prevailing view is that most consumers donít care and there is no demand pressure for improved movements.

    Whilst the above is fair, I would make 3 counter points:

    1. It is an unnatural state for an industry not to innovate and improve. Cars, home appliances , computers, power tools all undergo improvements year on year, why should watches be different? Yes quartz is more accurate but whilst there is an interest in mechanical watches, there will be an apetite for Ďnew and improvedí movements.

    2. To that point, when Rolex/Tudor/omega releases a movement upgrade, there is usually some hullabaloo about it. Iím confident the same would be true of ETA/Sellita. If Damasko loses sales because their chronos are too thick and slab sided, surely they would consider using a new version of the 7750 which was 2-3mm thinner, even if it did raise the cost by a hundred quid.

    3. Companies like IWC/Breitling/Oris have been wondering in with newly developed movements over the last few years to a whole load of praise and interest. Sure, they may not have the same market share as Rolex/Omega but they are Ďhigh streetí brands and they must see some benefit in movement development or else they would continue to sell ETA-powered watches to the naive general consumer.

    The Ďno one caresí argument seems strange, why was the 2892 developed at the end of the quartz crisis if no consumers cared? Why was the Daniels co-axial escapement adapted for mass production? Why the powermatic 80?

    I think that for decades, the industry has relied on ETA, hopefully the emergence of competitors (Sellita, Kenisi, Soprod) will drive innovation as they all look for larger market shares. Maybe itís a pipe dream though...

  12. #12
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    It is an interesting point. A company called Horage has been promoting it's own movements to watch manufacturers for some while as an alternative to the usual suspects like ETA, but I'm not aware of any company taking them up on the offer.

    As an aside, I've been wondering whether any of these new variations of the tried and tested ETA movements like the Powermatic 80, especially those variations that are made exclusively available to brands like Longines, will have to be sent back to the manufacturer for servicing, or be serviceable by any watch maker like the basic 2824, 2892.

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    Master aldfort's Avatar
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    I wanted to throw in another random thought that came to me.

    Marketing has changed. It's all about the opinion leader now if you're below a certain age as far as I can see.

    You have the likes of Adrian and Jenni banging on about watches on Youtube and Instagram so maybe innovation is now more important?

    Imagine, if you will, Adrian telling you that the movement in this watch is exactly the same as the movement in this watch. Not great channel content is it. Hardly likely to drive sales either?

  14. #14
    Craftsman rodia77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Idontgram View Post
    I guess the prevailing view is that most consumers don’t care and there is no demand pressure for improved movements.

    Whilst the above is fair, I would make 3 counter points:

    1. It is an unnatural state for an industry not to innovate and improve. Cars, home appliances , computers, power tools all undergo improvements year on year, why should watches be different? Yes quartz is more accurate but whilst there is an interest in mechanical watches, there will be an apetite for ‘new and improved’ movements.

    2. To that point, when Rolex/Tudor/omega releases a movement upgrade, there is usually some hullabaloo about it. I’m confident the same would be true of ETA/Sellita. If Damasko loses sales because their chronos are too thick and slab sided, surely they would consider using a new version of the 7750 which was 2-3mm thinner, even if it did raise the cost by a hundred quid.

    3. Companies like IWC/Breitling/Oris have been wondering in with newly developed movements over the last few years to a whole load of praise and interest. Sure, they may not have the same market share as Rolex/Omega but they are ‘high street’ brands and they must see some benefit in movement development or else they would continue to sell ETA-powered watches to the naive general consumer.

    The ‘no one cares’ argument seems strange, why was the 2892 developed at the end of the quartz crisis if no consumers cared? Why was the Daniels co-axial escapement adapted for mass production? Why the powermatic 80?

    I think that for decades, the industry has relied on ETA, hopefully the emergence of competitors (Sellita, Kenisi, Soprod) will drive innovation as they all look for larger market shares. Maybe it’s a pipe dream though...
    Updates for the sake of updates or are there any specific improvements that you're interested in? What advantages of the much hyped about movements (say, Rolex) do you see over the 'generics' (say, ETA)?

  15. #15
    Craftsman Idontgram's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodia77 View Post
    Updates for the sake of updates or are there any specific improvements that you're interested in? What advantages of the much hyped about movements (say, Rolex) do you see over the 'generics' (say, ETA)?
    Thinner movements, longer power reserves, better lubricants, more consistent performance, longer service intervals all strike me as worthwhile updates.

    I donít see any inherent advantage in a movement being made by Rolex, though, if they fulfil the above criteria, they are objectively a better movement. Iím sure that if Sellita offered a slimmed down chrono with a 70hr power reserve and 10 year service intervals, at a competitive price, they would clean up, for instance.

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    Craftsman rodia77's Avatar
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    ^^^
    Of the above, only the better lubricants speak to me (to a limited extent, though), your other points are either subjective (for one, I don't care much either about the movement thickness or PR) or rather vague (consistent performance, service intervals). In case of ETA there is a good variety both when it comes to the thicknes (2824 vs 2892?) and refinement (gradation). I'm not against innovation but in case of mechanical movements I kinda appreciate the 'if it ain't broken, don't fix it' approach (which, btw, should translate into performance consistency, too). What I'd like to see improved is the embarrassing 'ETA movements don't like handwinding' weakness (would that be the reverse wheels design or lubrication issue, I'm still not sure).

  17. #17
    All the movement manufacturers will have r&d departments working away on improving and developing watch movements. The technology used in watches has been developed constantly over the past 500 years, and I would suggest that we are in fact in a golden age of watch development. There are more advances in the technology, materials, lubricants etc going on now than at any time before.

  18. #18
    Master sweets's Avatar
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    Yes, they will improve.
    There is a massive new market for the "boutique" brands, all of whom need movements.
    There used to be a near monopoly on movements, ran by ETA, who supplied a large proportion of the movmeents used by smaller brands who wanted to offer quality.
    They have given up that monopoly, and now there are quite a few companies competing for that market.
    This will drive improvements. It is bound to.
    D

  19. #19
    Master aldfort's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweets View Post
    Yes, they will improve.
    There is a massive new market for the "boutique" brands, all of whom need movements.
    There used to be a near monopoly on movements, ran by ETA, who supplied a large proportion of the movmeents used by smaller brands who wanted to offer quality.
    They have given up that monopoly, and now there are quite a few companies competing for that market.
    This will drive improvements. It is bound to.
    D
    ETA didn't actually give up the monopoly. They carefully announced that they were not going to keep supplying everybody for ever.
    It was an odd strategy and perhaps it has blown up in their faces. Maybe they didn't anticipate the reaction or maybe they did. Whatever it is a breath of fresh air for the industry. Coming back to the OP's question, maybe it should be "Will there be generic mechanical movements in 10 years time?"

  20. #20
    Craftsman Idontgram's Avatar
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    Itís interesting that for years, ETA has threatened to stop supplying movements. It seems that instead of that they now simply refuse to supply movements which have had the most recent innovations, to companies outside the swatch group (or perhaps those innovations are done by swatch group companies). Again, this surely creates a gap in the market for other manufacturers

    To that point, Itís also curious to see what companies outside Swatch do with those generic ETA movements. By all accounts Tudor really tunes theirs, other companies change out parts (eg silicone hairsprings), and some only seem to bang on a branded rotor and call it a day.

  21. #21
    Master sweets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aldfort View Post
    ETA didn't actually give up the monopoly. They carefully announced that they were not going to keep supplying everybody for ever.
    It was an odd strategy and perhaps it has blown up in their faces. Maybe they didn't anticipate the reaction or maybe they did. Whatever it is a breath of fresh air for the industry. Coming back to the OP's question, maybe it should be "Will there be generic mechanical movements in 10 years time?"
    Sorry, but if you supply most of the movements to third parties, then tell everyone that you in the future you won't, and then you don't, you are giving up your monopoly (in effect). It's done.

    I am not going into the whys and wherefores, that is what they did.
    Personally, I think it is a disaster for them.
    And it has manifestly benefitted Miyota, Sellita, Seiko and many others who now have filled the gaps ETA left.
    It has also spurred many others to produce movements, for themselves, and possibly for others.
    D

  22. #22
    Master aldfort's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Idontgram View Post
    Itís interesting that for years, ETA has threatened to stop supplying movements. It seems that instead of that they now simply refuse to supply movements which have had the most recent innovations, to companies outside the swatch group (or perhaps those innovations are done by swatch group companies). Again, this surely creates a gap in the market for other manufacturers

    To that point, Itís also curious to see what companies outside Swatch do with those generic ETA movements. By all accounts Tudor really tunes theirs, other companies change out parts (eg silicone hairsprings), and some only seem to bang on a branded rotor and call it a day.
    As I said, life is complex in this industry. Breitling using Seiko movements has done the rounds as have many other stories.
    We also need to be careful talking about movements when we might mean ebauche. Who supplies what to who is hard to fathom. Who inovates what and who then licences it or simply buys the relevant part ever harder to figure out.

  23. #23
    Master aldfort's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweets View Post
    Sorry, but if you supply most of the movements to third parties, then tell everyone that you in the future you won't, and then you don't, you are giving up your monopoly (in effect). It's done.

    I am not going into the whys and wherefores, that is what they did.
    Personally, I think it is a disaster for them.
    And it has manifestly benefitted Miyota, Sellita, Seiko and many others who now have filled the gaps ETA left.
    It has also spurred many others to produce movements, for themselves, and possibly for others.
    D
    I took you to mean that ETA had lost their monopoly by not trying hard enough or failing to inovate. As a part of the Swatch group I imagine they have access to plenty of good ideas.

  24. #24
    Master earlofsodbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Idontgram View Post
    Itís interesting that for years, ETA has threatened to stop supplying movements. It seems that instead of that they now simply refuse to supply movements which have had the most recent innovations, to companies outside the swatch group (or perhaps those innovations are done by swatch group companies). Again, this surely creates a gap in the market for other manufacturers
    Understandable that Swatch Group would wish to keep ETA to itself - hardly in their business interests to assist their competitors when their in-house market is plenty large enough. COMCO's intervention allowed smaller makers to survive, but their edict was only ever going to be temporary, and naturally Swatch has no motivation to supply its innovations outside the Group.

    Sure, a market gap exists, but who outside of Epson and Seiko has the resources and scaling to innovate in areas requiring highly specialised materials knowledge? Which is not to say it can never happen - there are independent specialist engineering companies - but you have to wonder if the scale will ever be large enough?

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