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Yes, absolutely. As I said, the movement isn't the only thing that adds value in a watch. Design, finishing, additional improvements and even history all play a role.

Now whether any of that matters to you is a personal decision.

But I don't see a big difference, as far as economic justification goes, in terms of paying $5000 for a watch with an ETA movement, vs $7,000-10,000 for a similar watch with an in-house variant of the same movement.

If one doesn't make sense in terms of value, neither does the other. And that becomes a personal decision.



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But how much? Or what is the cut off?

There gets to a point that the simpler things like case work becomes closer to equal as costs increase. And for myself I apply a semi unconscious 'degree of difficulty' analysis to my comparison. Different brushing between brands can come down to a style choice by the designer but there may be no more or less effort put in. But when you throw a movement that's a stock, even Chronometer, 2892 or SW300 vs say an 899/1, well there's no contest for me, especially at a close price. One may have put the effort to make (or select most likely) excellent components, but they fundamentally took a shortcut on their movement choice. If they can't make the movement, why should their inability to match the effort and expertise that JLC put in be rewarded with a similar price?
 

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What is the amount of capital, any idea? And can it be brought down by making most of the parts internally but outsourcing a few sub-components to someone else?

This is not a pointed question, I am just curious.





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I actually can't imagine at the scale that Seiko operates at, and I work in manufacturing. And we have probably a couple million dollars in just CNC machines. The low price point actually makes it even more difficult, in my opinion. Doing many cheap things adequately and consistently is actually way, way harder in manufacturing than doing few superb things at high cost.
 

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Yes, absolutely. As I said, the movement isn't the only thing that adds value in a watch. Design, finishing, additional improvements and even history all play a role.

Now whether any of that matters to you is a personal decision.

But I don't see a big difference, as far as economic justification goes, in terms of paying $5000 for a watch with an ETA movement, vs $7,000-10,000 for a similar watch with an in-house variant of the same movement.

If one doesn't make sense in terms of value, neither does the other. And that becomes a personal decision.



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This is so true. Great Design in any capacity, is one: expensive and two: very important to the look and feel of something. I have find how much design and finishing has been undervalued in these threads.


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But how much? Or what is the cut off?

There gets to a point that the simpler things like case work becomes closer to equal as costs increase. And for myself I apply a semi unconscious 'degree of difficulty' analysis to my comparison. Different brushing between brands can come down to a style choice by the designer but there may be no more or less effort put in. But when you throw a movement that's a stock, even Chronometer, 2892 or SW300 vs say an 899/1, well there's no contest for me, especially at a close price. One may have put the effort to make (or select most likely) excellent components, but they fundamentally took a shortcut on their movement choice. If they can't make the movement, why should their inability to match the effort and expertise that JLC put in be rewarded with a similar price?
How much and what's the cut off are very valid questions - and I suspect the answer to that is going to be different for every person.

A Rolex Sub, by all cost-based measures is as overpriced at $8000 as a $5000 watch with an ETA movement, going by price. It just has other things (history, brand, marginal improvements in bracelet and materials) for which people are willing to pay the premium.

That same "willing to pay a premium for other features" can also be extended to explaining why people buy $5000 watches with ETA movements.

And incidentally, my decision making isn't that far off from yours: I care for looks and history first and foremost - but in-house vs ETA is a factor for me, although a little more complicated, as in some cases, I prefer ETA (in tool watches) and in others, I prefer in-house. This isn't a deciding criteria for me, though - a really interesting design (e.g. Aquatimer 3767 or Panerai) makes up for the ETA inside.

Ultimately, though, it boils down to a pretty emotional decision: do I want this watch badly enough to pay the price for it? And that "want" is triggered by different things for different watches.


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I actually can't imagine at the scale that Seiko operates at, and I work in manufacturing. And we have probably a couple million dollars in just CNC machines. The low price point actually makes it even more difficult, in my opinion. Doing many cheap things adequately and consistently is actually way, way harder in manufacturing than doing few superb things at high cost.
Sorry, I meant for a small watch company like Nomos. Really, a couple of million dollars isn't a big sum of money for a "real" watch company (with employees, internal manufacturing capabilities, etc - as opposed to a guy with a website and a contact in China).

If we say 5 mill, amortised over 10 years, that works out to half a mill per year. Sell 20,000 watches and that is $250 per watch in costs.

Hmm, ok, add maintenance, staffing, etc and I can see why in-house movements do jack up in price.


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Sorry, I meant for a small watch company like Nomos. Really, a couple of million dollars isn't a big sum of money for a "real" watch company (with employees, internal manufacturing capabilities, etc - as opposed to a guy with a website and a contact in China).

If we say 5 mill, amortised over 10 years, that works out to half a mill per year. Sell 20,000 watches and that is $250 per watch in costs.

Hmm, ok, add maintenance, staffing, etc and I can see why in-house movements do jack up in price.


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With Nomos it's a bit interesting. They didn't go 'all in' from scratch. They started assembling outsourced parts and gradually grew sales and in-house capacity sort of together I would assume. And there is the previously mentioned government assistance for supporting one of the poorest parts of post-reunification Germany. They took a careful approach, conservative technical development, and had government assistance. Unfortunately they are pretty much the only company that has made that type of transition, so it's difficult to identify the important stuff they did or see patterns.
 

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I haven't really noticed that (although I have been skimming).

I still feel that rationally, it is absurd that brands make a bog-standard 3-hand movement, a designer hats been around for over a 100 years, and act as if it is a great accomplishment and charge thousands of dollars more for it.

However, of late, I do find in-house more attractive. Chuasam's post a little above mine neatly sums up why. Whatever floats our respective boats, I say.



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My money is my vote. Buying inhouse is my way of rewarding the companies that go that extra mile.
I can understand why many go with ebauche but at the same time I want to be able to support the companies that show innovation.
With Computers and 3D printing, developing further movements should be easier and easier.
 

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My money is my vote. Buying inhouse is my way of rewarding the companies that go that extra mile.
I can understand why many go with ebauche but at the same time I want to be able to support the companies that show innovation.
With Computers and 3D printing, developing further movements should be easier and easier.
Agreed, but innovation in altering ebauche movements might exceed innovation in manufacturing in-house right? I mean, Seagull has ETA 2824 clones that are 100% in-house but few would say it is innovative. On the other hand, Habring and Ochs und Junior are both based on ETA movements but I would personally prize their innovation over Nomos.
 

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What is the amount of capital, any idea? And can it be brought down by making most of the parts internally but outsourcing a few sub-components to someone else?

This is not a pointed question, I am just curious.





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Significant, I am afraid. A mechanical movement is a complex machinery like a mechanical gearbox or an engine, first you would require people who are actually able do design a new movement from scratch (Nomos had the fortune to be in the technological centre of the DDR for watches, they had schools for watchmakers etc...), then of course CAD systems (a Catia V5 license costs milions) possibly with a CAM module, then you need some CNC working centres, possibly 5 axis, that costs again milions, then you need to have a chain of suppliers, other watchmakers to assemble the watch etc...
 

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Agreed, but innovation in altering ebauche movements might exceed innovation in manufacturing in-house right? I mean, Seagull has ETA 2824 clones that are 100% in-house but few would say it is innovative. On the other hand, Habring and Ochs und Junior are both based on ETA movements but I would personally prize their innovation over Nomos.
While a Habring movement is probably far more valuable and contains much more manual work, for an every day watch I would probably prefer a good stock ETA movement (or a Nomos, that is also mass produced).
 

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Do either of you gents make any allowances for other people having different tastes?

Or are those factors even visible up from the "shear" heights at which you obviously dwell, as you peer down on us sheeple with bemused amusement?
I think it's clear that they don't. Interesting the number of forms that internet extremism can have!
 

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Significant, I am afraid. A mechanical movement is a complex machinery like a mechanical gearbox or an engine, first you would require people who are actually able do design a new movement from scratch (Nomos had the fortune to be in the technological centre of the DDR for watches, they had schools for watchmakers etc...), then of course CAD systems (a Catia V5 license costs milions) possibly with a CAM module, then you need some CNC working centres, possibly 5 axis, that costs again milions, then you need to have a chain of suppliers, other watchmakers to assemble the watch etc...
Way over budget for a movement startup. OnShape or Fusion instead of Catia, design is simple for 17-21 jewel handwinders, mature tech. Personally though, I'd just do what Nomos did and copy and cosmetically change an existing movement. I'd choose an old Unitas 6325, basically a 6498 that's shrunk down to 13" and runs at 3 Hz.

3 axis handles the bulk of CNC, small precision collet lathes and small hobs or specialized indexing tooth cutter for pinions are not ridiculous, might want some specialized die-blanking machinery or laser cutter for keyless works stuff, majority of component polishing can be handled through barrel or vibration, with some hand finishing. Plating setup isn't that expensive. Limited to outsourcing jewels, escapement, and main springs.

That's for an in-house movement.

The caveat is it would be for small volumes. The difficulty and cost is in scaling up volume.
 

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Be prepared to be told you're wrong. I can think of another parallel this morning, oddly enough
Yes we have seen the sheep have voted, ETA for everybody! Make the Watch Industry great again!

Way over budget for a movement startup. OnShape or Fusion instead of Catia, design is simple for 17-21 jewel handwinders, mature tech. Personally though, I'd just do what Nomos did and copy and cosmetically change an existing movement. I'd choose an old Unitas 6325, basically a 6498 that's shrunk down to 13" and runs at 3 Hz.

3 axis handles the bulk of CNC, small precision collet lathes and small hobs or specialized indexing tooth cutter for pinions are not ridiculous, might want some specialized die-blanking machinery or laser cutter for keyless works stuff, majority of component polishing can be handled through barrel or vibration, with some hand finishing. Plating setup isn't that expensive. Limited to outsourcing jewels, escapement, and main springs.

That's for an in-house movement.

The caveat is it would be for small volumes. The difficulty and cost is in scaling up volume.
You are optimistic.
 

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My money is my vote. Buying inhouse is my way of rewarding the companies that go that extra mile.
I can understand why many go with ebauche but at the same time I want to be able to support the companies that show innovation.
With Computers and 3D printing, developing further movements should be easier and easier.
Theoretically possible. But here's the reality: There is probably little innovation left to be done when it comes to mechanical movements. Even if you move to silicon-based parts, and use 3D printing, the movement isn't likely to perform any better than an existing ETA, Sellita, Seiko, or Miyota movement. That's because the basic operations of mechanical movements have been set a long time ago -- and surpassed by quartz and smartwatches. Therefore, there is little economic incentive to do more other than to copy some old movement designs, adjust accordingly in order to appear innovative, and produce.

As far as I am concerned, the movements in watches are like engines in cars: Great to admire and enjoy as well as important in keeping time, but not the only thing that matters. A car with a great engine is meaningless if the styling and the amenities are not to my liking. Same with watches. Because I look at dials of watches more than I peer at the rotors of movements.

The good news is that we have choices that meet our desires -- and we can act accordingly.
 

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I haven't really noticed that (although I have been skimming).

I still feel that rationally, it is absurd that brands make a bog-standard 3-hand movement, a designer hats been around for over a 100 years, and act as if it is a great accomplishment and charge thousands of dollars more for it.

However, of late, I do find in-house more attractive. Chuasam's post a little above mine neatly sums up why. Whatever floats our respective boats, I say.



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The whole industry isn't really rational but work is work and someone was willing to pay them to design an in-house bog standard 3 hand movement. People don't work for free you know and if it was really that easy, we would all make our own movements and charge less than ETA does.

What I find more absurd than expensive in-house movements that do not perform that much better than ETA is paying 2017 labour prices for a movement someone designed in the 1850's. I mean an 1850's product that is still in production should be much cheaper by now and they should have been paid many times over by now and definitely shouldn't be charging that much for them in 2016-2017.

I think it should all depend on the design principles when it comes to in-house movements. If they made a genuine effort to make it thinner, more accurate, or more robust than an ETA, I give them a free pass for coming up slightly short and we should all incourage attempts at improvement and not just keeping the status quo.

If the design principle is to half ass design a movement that is less reliable and accurate than an ETA and just use in-house as a marketing tool and an excuse to charge thousands more, then of course we shouldn't support that.

The problem is that we really do not know their true intentions and every aspect of a watch is overpriced. So I am willing to give the designers the benefit of the doubt and support the in-house direction. Let's just vote with our wallets. If most companies are all going the in-house route and hurting the industry, like this article and ETA lovers suggest, then we know what the market research is telling the big companies.
 

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There isn't anything here requiring a million dollar CAD suite or 5 axis CNC.
Really? Do you know the tolerances used on those pieces?

Tip: the backlash between the teeth of a bevel set of a TRACTOR is 0.18-.025mm. A bevel set like that has a pinion 30 cm long, the diameter of the crown is in the 40cm range and the assembly weights 16 kg.
 
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