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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Back in 2014 or so Omega made a big deal about opening a new facility in Villeret to manufacture their state of the art movements that we now know as Master Chronometers. These would be the current gen movements like the 8900, 8800, 9900, etc. Those are based on previous movements like the 8500 and 9300 which were made by ETA, though exclusively for Omega. This new facility is dedicated to only making Omega movements.

Here's a picture from when Daniel Craig paid a visit with then President Stephen Urquhart.



One annoying thing about Google Street View, particularly in Switzerland, is how much of it is old imagery. Apparently the captures around Villeret are from back when the building was still in progress. Some views still show scaffolding around it. However, one view shows us this:

Tire Wheel Automotive parking light Car Land vehicle


This is obviously the same location as the press photo above, but the ETA logo has since been swapped out for Omega.

Another curious finding is on the ETA website itself, where they list the Villeret location as one of their facilities.

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So... questions...

Who owns this building? Whose name is on the employees' checks? Is it all just "Swatch Group" and they just throw the brands around as it suits them? Or is there some meaningful separation within the organization?

And does it matter?

I know a lot of hay was made in the past about Omega's movements being just rebranded or enhanced ETA movements and they've somewhat graduated from that... but have Omega really gone "in house" or has Swatch Group just moved the branding around to make it look that way? There seems to be some resistance to calling mass produced movements by the likes of Seiko or ETA "in house" even when they are found in brands within the same corporate umbrella, but it seems like the same internal dynamics may be at play for a Tissot Powermatic 80 as for an Omega 8900.

I personally feel like we should still legitimately call these movements "in house" as they are made in a dedicated facility for just this brand, regardless of who is actually making them. Just like Rolex movements were for practical purposes "in house" even when Aegler was a separate company. The fuzziness around the ownership of facilities does add some nuance, though.

What do you guys think?


On a completely separate note, there's a Nivarox-FAR facility right next to it, where one could assume the balance and escapement parts are produced, again just for Omega's movements.
 
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I get it, but there's really little use in worrying over the definition of "in-house movements". Even Rolex has to source some parts. We should all be more concerned with the quality and specs on a movement, and the reputation regarding things like accuracy, durability, etc. And Omega has some fantastic movements.

If you look at a watch as a luxury item (as most of them are) exclusivity is really the key, not whether every aspect of a movement is designed, manufactured, and assembled by the name on the dial. The reality is even if ETA did all the work for Omega no one else uses Omega's movements, even within the Swatch group. Did my hard earned money buy something that is a) awesome, and b) not something you can get from somewhere else or find in something cheaper? Yes.

Yeah, no one wants to buy a Cadillac and find out the same engine is in a Chevy (which very much used to be the case with GM). That said, if the amazing, exclusive engine in my Caddy was made by the same factory that make's a Chevy engine (or if the engine was sourced from a third party like Yamaha) I'm fine with that.

As an aside, I don't own a Caddy, nor can I afford one. Sadness.

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I get it, but there's really little use in worrying over the definition of "in-house movements". Even Rolex has to source some parts. We should all be more concerned with the quality and specs on a movement, and the reputation regarding things like accuracy, durability, etc. And Omega has some fantastic movements.

If you look at a watch as a luxury item (as most of them are) exclusivity is really the key, not whether every aspect of a movement is designed, manufactured, and assembled by the name on the dial. The reality is even if ETA did all the work for Omega no one else uses Omega's movements, even within the Swatch group. Did my hard earned money buy something that is a) awesome, and b) not something you can get from somewhere else or find in something cheaper? Yes.

Yeah, no one wants to buy a Cadillac and find out the same engine is in a Chevy (which very much used to be the case with GM). That said, if the amazing, exclusive engine in my Caddy was made by the same factory that make's a Chevy engine (or if the engine was sourced from a third party like Yamaha) I'm fine with that.

As an aside, I don't own a Caddy, nor can I afford one. Sadness.

Well yeah everybody has to source parts. I don't think Swatch Group nor Rolex have their own iron ore or nickel mines.

I guess my point is that we all draw a line somewhere on what "in house" means, and sometimes that line can be blurry.

Agreed on all counts... including lamenting the lack of a Caddy in my carport.
 
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Watch calibres are not "made" at the new facility. It is not a production centre. They are assembled and tested there much like Tudor.


Just another watch nerd.
 

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Can't say for sure on the new facility but have listened to countless podcasts and read many articles and watched some YouTube videos and Omega's modern movements are made in house, a clean sheet design and ALL parts (bracelets, etc) are sourced within the Swatch group. Swatch is deliberately trying to keep Omega as separate as possible and keep every part of an Omega watch Swiss made. There could be some cross-over with ETA, but why wouldn't there be? ETA makes a quality product.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Watch calibres are not "made" at the new facility. It is not a production centre. They are assembled and tested there much like Tudor.


Just another watch nerd.
Not sure what you mean. Can you explain the difference?
 

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Not sure what you mean. Can you explain the difference?
This is a production facility where Omega produce their watches. They don't make all the individual parts that make up the watch though. They claim that 100% of parts are made in Switzerland though.

At the facility they do T2, T3 and T4. Watch assembly, bracelets and shipping. Components are not made but are received from their partners, eg. ETA.


Just another watch nerd.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
This is a production facility where Omega produce their watches. They don't make all the individual parts that make up the watch though. They claim that 100% of parts are made in Switzerland though.

At the facility they do T2, T3 and T4. Watch assembly, bracelets and shipping. Components are not made but are received from their partners, eg. ETA.


Just another watch nerd.
You're talking about the Bienne facility. The one I'm referring to in the OP is the Villeret facility which specifically focuses on movements.
 

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You're talking about the Bienne facility. The one I'm referring to in the OP is the Villeret facility which specifically focuses on movements.
Oh. Sorry. Villeret is operated by ETA. They only do Omega work here but it is ETA who create the Master co-axial calibres.

At Villeret they are also given to COSC for testing before being shipped to Bienne for assembly and MASTER CHRONOMETER testing.


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Omega doesn't manufacture their own movements anymore since 1984 , here is the swatchgroup report mentioning Omega calibers being manufactured by ETA from 2019 swatchgroup 2019 report
 

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Basically all Omega movements are ETA movements regardless of the branding used, the Omega movement branding is just a PR stunt as in the last few years watches with in house movements are considered the real thing in watch making...

Fact is not all movements are created equal, an inhouse movement is not necessary better than ETA one, as many manufacturers can use upgraded materials and improve the finishing of basic ETA movements.
 

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Basically all Omega movements are ETA movements regardless of the branding used, the Omega movement branding is just a PR stunt as in the last few years watches with in house movements are considered the real thing in watch making...

Fact is not all movements are created equal, an inhouse movement is not necessary better than ETA one, as many manufacturers can use upgraded materials and improve the finishing of basic ETA movements.
How am I supposed to know whether I like my speedmaster or not if I don’t know exactly what percentage of it is in house?

On a serious note, I never hear people on the forums really caring about whether Omega is in house or not, other than just for curiosity’s sake. Does anyone really care about this on a mid end watch? If so, why isn’t Seiko (who takes in house to a level with no competition) dominating those communities who do put such importance on it?
 

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The modern interpretation of in-house sits well with Omega. As it does with Panerai, Montbanc, Tudor, IWC and quite a few others. The quality of the product is what is important. Do you know our care where every component of your other luxury items are made? Not likely. The fact is that Omega has the co-axial movement and at this stage no one else does. In the Swatch group, no one else will.

It's also worth looking into the history of any brand or model you like. Once you do you'll learn there are no lone players. Horology is a story of shared, copied, bought and stolen innovation.


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As far as I know, modern Omega co-axial movements are exclusive to Omega watches. They're not ETA movements that you will find inside watches of many different brands. This makes these movements interesting, and considering that ETA and Omega are companies within the same Group, and that the watches are mass-produced, they're in-house enough for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
How am I supposed to know whether I like my speedmaster or not if I don’t know exactly what percentage of it is in house?
I totally get that you're being tongue in cheek and I'm right there with you... but I actually do kinda wonder where those Speedmaster movements (1861, 3861, 321) are made and by whom. They are unique enough from the rest of the Omega or ETA movements that I kinda wonder if they are their own thing. Could Frederic Piguet maybe have some involvement with those?
 
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