It's almost time for DWW 2023!
Time is of the essence, especially at Dubai Watch Week. Register now to stay in the loop as we unveil thrilling information about the 6th edition: 16-20 November, 2023.Register Now Register for DWW 2023
Ubiquitous third-party movements like the ETA 2824 and the Valjoux 7750 get a bad rap. These 'ebauche' movements are typically seen as inferior to a calibre that is labelled 'in-house' and are often cited as the low point in any timepiece that uses them. Every few months, the collective watch community will fall in love with a watch with a gorgeous dial or stunning design. While the majority of the commentary around this watch will be positive, there's always an air of negativity or disappointment that the movement is 'only' an ETA (or Sellita or whatever).
We would argue that rather than being the weak link in the watch, the outsourced movement helps makes this watch great.
It's important to note that there are exceptions — think large, corporately owned watch brands using an off-the-shelf outsourced movement and charging a premium price, but this is very much the exception rather than the rule. Third-party movements, whether from the volume producers like ETA or Sellita or higher-end suppliers such as Concepto, have long been an integral part of the watch industry supply chain and are still important. In fact, the high value we place upon 'in-house' movements is a fairly recent phenomenon, only rising to prominence in the last 20 or so years. Of course, brands like Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet and many more have the capacity to create whatever calibres they want and need, but many top-tier brands still make use of tried and true movements from external suppliers. They're still used because they work. Why reinvent the wheel — especially if the process of reinvention costs years and many millions of francs? TAG Heuer is a great example. For its non-chronograph watches, TAG Heuer makes wide use of supplied movements. Of course, they could develop their own three-hand automatic calibre if they wanted, and indeed its something the brand is starting to do with its Kenissi-supplied movements on premium pieces, but for many of their watches, Sellita are fit for purpose, and there's need to change the formula — so they don't.
If this is the situation for the big end of town, with deep pockets and plentiful resources, the appeal of an ebauche calibre for a smaller brand is even clearer. For brands like this, third-party movements are a reliable lifeline. The 2824 or the 7750 are known quantities — easily serviced, with readily available parts. They also work. The whole 'proven performer' line might seem like a quick throw-away line recycled from a press release, but it's true. If you're a smaller business, what are you going to invest in to power your new watch — the boring but predictable ETA movement or an expensive third-party option that offers little upside and has the potential for a lot of headaches when it comes to performance and servicing down the track. This is especially true if you're looking to make a watch on the less expensive end of the spectrum.
We can take it one step further. If you opt for something like the 2824, you can essentially, as a watchmaker, stop worrying about that aspect of your watch. You know what things will cost, you know the dimensions, and you know how they'll work. You can now invest your limited time and creativity into making other aspects of your watch incredible. This is exactly what some of the most exciting newcomers on the market have been doing. Furlan Marri's historically inspired designs use a Seiko mecaquartz movement, Baltic makes some outstanding watches using Miyota movements, and indie fan-favorites Ming clearly demonstrate that their frequent use of Sellita calibres hasn't held them back when it comes to incredible watch design. But one of the most compelling arguments in favour of third-party movements are Richard and Maria Habring of Habring². In his work at IWC, Richard Habring revolutionised the split-second chronograph by using a Valjoux 7750 as the base calibre, making the highly complicated watch dramatically more affordable. Today the Habring's continue that tradition with their own Doppel chronos.
In all of these examples, the calibre the maker has chosen is perfect for what they're trying to do. These watches aren't about hand-finishing high-performance calibres, but that doesn't mean they're not spectacular watches. For Ming, Habring and Baltic, the ability to rely on proven, third-party movement allows them to focus on the other details, and this makes their watches better overall. That's why we need to stop thinking of ETA, Sellita and the rest as the lesser alternative but rather the drivers of innovation that they are.
How far in advance do you usually book tickets?
- Within 24h Before
- 1-3 Days Before
- 1-3 Weeks Before
- Over a Month Before