How to choose a movement in a Swiss mechanical watch?

Today we’re going to tell you about the movement of Swiss watches. In particular, of mechanical ones. We’ll discuss quartz models next time.

Different producers can have different watch movement (or as it is also called calibre).

1. Brand production

Zenith, Rolex, IWC, Patek Phillipe, JLC, Omega and a number of other brands produce watches with their own movement. As a rule, serial calibres are used in economy and business segment. And a unique movement developed for specific watches is used for rare, exclusive models.

For elite series of these brands, individual calibers are created with modern technical features like double or gyrotourbillon.


2. Serial production

Major manufacturers (for example, Swatch Group) use the same calibres in several brands. For example, Panerai, Breitling, Chopard and other put ETA-movements in the most popular and large-lot lines.

That being said, an individual movement is developed for rare models.

3. Third-party movement use

Some manufacturers put only borrowed calibres in their brand watches. Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior are among such manufacturers. Exchange of movements sometimes takes place in the format of “mutual assistance”. For example, there was a time when Zenit movements were supplied to the Rolex company, and Cartier watches were manufactured with JLC calibres.  

What to choose?

The statistics of FrezerHouse store demonstrates that movement exclusivity is not always an advantage. And the point is not the watch price. The service also will be more expensive. Not all exclusive calibres are serviceable. In many cases one has to wait components for a long time, search for a service centre. Besides, high uniqueness doesn’t always mean high reliability.

At the same time, a serial movement can be repaired in any respectable watch workshop at $150-300K. This repair usually takes a week.

For comparison, you have to send an exclusive manufactory calibre to Switzerland in 95% of cases. The repair cost starts from $730, and the service may take to 6 months. This doesn’t mean that you need to abandon the exclusiveness at all, but since a Swiss watch is, above all things, a status accessory, it’s reasonable to choose models with a serial movement for first-second purchase. In order not to wait half a year in case of break when you watch will come back to you.

In any case, if you haven’t yet decided on the model, we recommend you to get a consultation of FrezerHouse specialists. We’ll help you to choose a Swiss watch ideal for you by all parameters.


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