During the 2010s, the Swatch Group successively announced its plans – involving varying degrees of imminence – to phase out movement supply to third parties. The countless brands relying on reliable and cheap ETA products would have to accept price hikes and dwindling deliveries of non-personalized movements. Confronted with this decision and its progressive implementation, many brands turned to alternative suppliers. Sellita, in particular, which provides calibers interchangeable with those produced by ETA, took the lion’s share of these transfers. A few more upscale manufacturers such as Soprod and Vaucher lowered their prices to meet demand, which has continued despite the crisis endured by Swiss watches. These replacement calibers deliver more or less the same performance as ETA calibers, which in fact remain available…
The Bulgari Octo Roma is powered by the caliber BVL-191 © Bulgari
In parallel, 20 or so brands have opted to acquire greater and in some cases total movement manufacturing independence. They have developed or commissioned exclusive movements. In certain instances, they have undertaken to produce them. Yet these calibers feature a major drawback : they are simple. We are not talking here about chronographs, tourbillons or complex specialties produced in small series, whose errors can be corrected as one goes along. They are instead base movements, generally of the three-hand plus date self-winding variety. These ‘workhorses’, like ETA calibers, are the backbone of the mechanical watch industry. Produced in large series, they must remain economical so as not to upend the final price of watches. And they must feature impeccable reliability, which is a tough ask for mass production.
The Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Power Control is powered by the caliber 01.08-C © Chopard
The motion featured here’s your lasting Valjoux 7753 that offers a sufficient 48-hour power reserve. The 7753 is observable through the instance back via a different sapphire crystal and defeats at 28,800vph. This is the same movement as was housed from the previous Baume & Mercier Capeland Shelby Cobra Limited Edition watches, and while the 7753 might not be the prettiest of motions, you are not necessarily buying this watch for your case-back. You are buying this watch for its sporty design and racing legacy it is meant to honor.Each of those four Baume & Mercier Legendary Driver Capeland Shelby Cobra watches is limited to some 15-piece run and will be available exclusively in North America in the Feldmar Watch Company in Los Angeles, CA, and Celebrities D’Oro in Las Vegas, NV, beginning in October 2016. When it comes to dress watches, it looks like purists appear to favor a smaller (generally round) black dial using a simple two-hander movement. While I appreciate a good dress watch, I am more than prepared to detract from the “black tie” normal, as it is handy to mix up things today and again. For instance, I actually prefer a white dial, and should you swap this case shape outside to a compact rectangle, you’ve got what we’re looking at now — the Baume & Mercier Hampton.And a compact case it’s, measuring in at 42.6mm x 29.2mm, using an instance thickness of 8.1mm. Nevertheless, that thickness dimension may be a bit misleading, because of one of those very sudden (but pleasant) surprises using the Baume & Mercier Hampton, it is sapphire crystal. You see, its thicker crystal, curved from top to bottom. You could be thinking, well, what’s so special about this? You may really see a large part of this curve because of the fact that the situation sides scoop down from it. Not only does this provide you with a view of the crystal, but it retains the sides of the watch out of appearing to be overly thick.
This costly and difficult choice has led these brands to embark on industrial paths involving long-term commitments. It has proved decisive, since these in-house calibers now dubbed ‘Manufacture’ movements have brought fresh diversity to the watchmaking scene, and increased benefits for watch lovers. The latter have thus been able to enjoy the advantages offered by calibers such as Bulgari’s BVL-191, the MT5601 and its variations from Tudor, the 1887MC from Cartier, the Chopard 01.08-C and the UN-118 by Ulysse Nardin, among other successful ventures. These movements are tailored to contemporary demand, with features including autonomy ranging from 60 to 65 hours, compared with 45 previously ; a large size ; as well as regulating organs sometimes made from silicon for enhanced precision timekeeping, often chronometer-certified by the COSC. Most importantly, the cost increases due to these transitions have had a very limited impact on the final price. And when they do involve a significant rise, it is because the benefits have significantly increased, as in the case of Caliber 110 by Oris, with its 10-day power reserve.
The Montblanc TimeWalker Manufacture Chronograph is powered by the caliber Montblanc MB 25.10, originating from Valfleurier © Montblanc
At last !
One particular case worth a closer look is ValFleurier. The discreet Richemont Group movement-making company supplies components to brands such as IWC, Panerai and Cartier, and has been offering complete and affordable calibers for several years. Its catalog includes an ETA 2824-type column-wheel chronograph movement now used by Montblanc in its TimeWalker watches. It has however taken a whole new step with the self-winding caliber that Baume & Mercier has fitted in its Clifton Baumatic. This 2018 new model features a 120-hour power reserve, COSC certification, a double-core silicon balance spring and an enlarged date display. It sells for 25% less than its equivalent with an ETA caliber, offering eloquent proof of the benefits that well-managed – albeit belated – industrialization can offer watch aficionados.
The Clifton Baumatic is powered by the caliber Baume & Mercier BM12-1975A, Originating from Valfleurier © Baume & Mercier
Paul O’Neil’s advice, Chief Editor of WorldTempus.com
It takes between three and five years to develop a new watch movement from scratch, so it is only over the past few years that we have seen the first genuine responses to the Swatch Group’s decision to throttle back supply of its ETA movements at the beginning of the decade. Since then, the market situation has changed considerably and ETA is now actively seeking customers. Those brands who invested in their own vertical integration are now reaping the rewards at ETA’s expense with some incredible in-house movements. The Baumatic mentioned by David sets a new benchmark. Scan the QR code for all coverage on WorldTempus related to in-house movements.