WatchUSeek Watch Forums banner
1 - 20 of 144 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,645 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Now that we got the basic information out of the way in THIS THREAD, let's get into a few specifics.

First up, the Valjoux 7750. It's the most common automatic chronograph on the market by a wide margin. Longines calls it the caliber L644, L674, or L678. Most of Oris' 67x and 68x series are based on some derivative of the 775x family. Omega dubs it the caliber 1154, 1164 or 3600. Breitling calls it the caliber B13 or B20, of which the B13 will be our example. Here's a picture of my Chrono Cockpit's movement:


Looks pretty good, huh? Who wouldn't like the perlage on the plates and Geneva stripes on the rotor? Breitling probably stripped that ebauché to the bone and refinished it, right? WRONG!!! Have a look at the options ETA offers on the 7750:

www.eta.ch/d/produkte/Mecaline_sp/pdf/775x_decors_eta.pdf

Did you notice the perlage and Geneva stripes are available directly from ETA on the 7750? It's on page 3 - option 11 with a close up in the last picture of page 4. All Breitling did was engrave their name on the rotor. Omega isn't much better when it comes to this movement - compare the options available with their caliber 1164 in this link from Ranfft's database: bidfun-db Omega_1164: Omega 1164 (Valjoux 7750). They engraved and reshaped the rotor - that's it.

Do you remember how we all drooled over the Christopher Ward Speedhawk when it was announced?


Wow, blued screws and everything! They must have put quite an effort into spiffing that beauty up. Not so fast - go back and look at the 7750 .pdf file again. Yep, everything on that CW Speedhawk's movement is an option that can be ordered from ETA. Worse yet, the CW and Breitling are in very different price brackets so it makes it tough to justify the added expense for some 7750 based watches. There are manufacturers who do some serious modification to the 7750 though. IWC does quite a bit of work to it for their watches, especially the calendar pieces.... but they're the exception that proves the rule. For information about the modifications, read THIS and then THIS (thanks to Dr.Brian for digging up the second one). They replace the majority of the drive train (mainspring and barrel, wheel train, balance wheel, escape lever, etc) as well as extensive refinishing to make a more efficient caliber.

How about the 2892? Again, many brands use this movement. Breitling has a number of calibers based on it with chronograph or calendar modules attached. Longines calls it the L614 or L619, Omega names it the 1120 and after retrofitting the co-axial escapement calls it the 2500, and Ulysse Nardin has several calibers based on it including the UN-13. Here's a picture of a Tiffany's Mark Coupe in stainless steel powered by a 2892-A2:


You would think a company that's got over a century of experience finishing high-end jewelry would work wonders on a watch movement. Nope! Most of the same options offered for the 7750 are available for the 289x series, plus a few fancier ones. Here's the .pdf file from ETA:

www.eta.ch/d/produkte/Mecaline_sp/pdf/289x_decors_eta.pdf

Now take a look at the UN-26 and compare it to the ETA options in the above link:


If you didn't see the ETA .pdf, you'd think that was a labor intensive job to create a movement that gorgeous, wouldn't you? Not after seeing it can be ordered exactly like that from ETA amongst the options on page 4 and 5! The 7 extra jewels are in the power reserve module that's attached to the movement, not added to the actual 2892. UN claims that 58 extra parts are added, but doesn't say how many are actually added to improve the 2892 if any at all, nor how many are in the module that's attached. UN isn't the only high-end brand guilty of this either; they're just a typical example. Many companies who charge thousands of dollars for their watches still use a movement right out of the box (with a little regulation for timekeeping's sake).

Let's take a look at Omega now. The caliber 1120 used in the older Seamaster Professional series is an ETA 2892-A2 with 2 jewels added to the ends of the barrel arbor. Omega also reshaped the automatic winding system's bridge to increase the winding efficiency and decrease rotor wobble over their previous version called the 1109. The updated caliber 2500 "C" version has George Daniel's co-axial escapement. There are 4 extra jewels in the escapement bringing the total to 27.




Omega took a proven commodity in the 1120 and modified it by reshaping some plates & bridges to squeeze the new escapement into it, and decreased the beats per hour from 28,800 to 25,200 after some initial trouble at the higher rate because the co-axial was engineered to run at slower speeds. Kudos to Omega for actually doing some improvements to the base ETA ebauché though, because they certainly don't to some - like the 1164 based on the Valjoux 7750. They also had to do some minor changes to the wheel train to change the ratios to slow the bph. You also have to like how Omega reshaped the rotor to resemble their classic calibers from the 60's on all the ETA movements they use. One big drawback is the number of complaints about the 2500 stopping for no reason. Due to the shape of the escape lever's end, it has a tendency to overbank and stop the watch cold. Daniels designed the co-axial to work between 18,000 bph and 21,600 bph - but that's a subject for a different thread. (drawings of the co-axial are HERE - scroll down and you can see that if the tail end of the lever hops over a banking pin it would lock and freeze the whole assembly) We won't go into details, but there were 3 versions of the 2500 due to lubrication and other problems. There was some interesting discussion related to it last March HERE and HERE (please forgive the banal automotive analogies, and feel free to search the Omega Forum for more threads relating to the caliber 2500 and it's pratfalls). Keep your fingers crossed that the new caliber 8500, which was engineered from the ground up to work with the co-axial escapement, has resolved the issues.

Of course the derivatives of the base 2892 are also subject to the same practices. Here's a Tag Heuer Carrera Twin Time with the ETA 2893 GMT movement inside, in this case called the Caliber 7:


The exception to the rule is again IWC. From an article in WatchTime dating to December of 2002 comes information that IWC does similar upgrades to the 2892-A2 as they do to the 7750 to abate friction, tighten tolerances, and increase efficiency.

And now for the 2824 - the rugged workhorse in ETA's stable; built with thicker plates & bridges to be sturdier than the rest of their movements. This caliber is employed in many dive/sport watches by hundreds of brands both large and small. It's dubbed the L633 or L635 when Longines installs it in their products. There are several clones of it too, the most popular being the Sellita SW-200 which Oris uses as the caliber 633, 637, and 654. Some companies, like Christopher Ward, often interchange the 2824 and SW-200 in the same model watches. As tough as it is, the 2824 is not immune from the horological equivalent to blush and eyeliner as you can see in the .pdf file:

www.eta.ch/d/produkte/Mecaline/pdf/28xx_2_decors_eta.pdf

So to the original question of "what do companies do to upgrade / modify ETA ebauchés?" the answer in the majority of cases is "barely anything!". From what I've also been told, Swatch Group (owners of ETA) will even do some further customization to their movements for an extra charge. Or a company could simply buy out a smaller movement manufacturer, change their name, and have them produce "in-house" movements for the brand - like Carl F. Bucherer did in 2007 when they bought Techniques Horlogères Appliquées SA or like Vacheron Constantin did in 1998 with the acquisition of Haut de Gamme. There's more than one way to skin a cat.

While some veterans might already be aware of most of these bogus "upgrades", many newer members believe the renamed ETA movements are actually in-house calibers made by the offending brands. So let's here what you have to say - questions and comments are not only welcome, they're encouraged.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,751 Posts
Re: Smoke and Mirrors - part 2 (ETA "upgrades")

That's pretty comprehensive coverage Dennis, thanks for putting in the time and effort. I'm sure a lot of members (especially newer ones) will benefit from this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,844 Posts
Re: Smoke and Mirrors - part 2 (ETA "upgrades")

Dude, your like the Perry Mason of ETA movements. Since buying my Breitling I have always been wondering what they did to it being that some people say nothing and others say it's "highly" modified. I guess I may never know because I have herd so many conflicting statements. Thanks for the info I guess I will look into it more. The movement I'm refering to is the cal 13 in the steelfish.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,645 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Re: Smoke and Mirrors - part 2 (ETA "upgrades")

Dude, your like the Perry Mason of ETA movements. Since buying my Breitling I have always been wondering what they did to it being that some people say nothing and others say it's "highly" modified. I guess I may never know because I have herd so many conflicting statements. Thanks for the info I guess I will look into it more. The movement I'm refering to is the cal 13 in the steelfish.
That's the same movement as in my Breitling and is discussed above. They do nothing but engrave their name in the rotor - and ETA might even do that for them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
508 Posts
Re: Smoke and Mirrors - part 2 (ETA "upgrades")

Nice follow up article.
Time for me to get another IWC. My current one has a JLC mvt.;-) It probably didn't need much improvement.
P.S. Thanks for the credit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,751 Posts
Re: Smoke and Mirrors - part 2 (ETA "upgrades")

It's strange that I haven't purchased any watches that contain ETA movements since my Stowa ... (I guess the Omega cal. 8500 can be called an ETA mvmt. :-d ... j/k guys). Looks like I won't be getting another ETA powered watch in the near future.

I must add that the chronometer grade 2824 and the 2892 powered watches I have perform very well, so definitely not an ETA-basher here. I just like variety in my movement choices ;-).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
508 Posts
Re: Smoke and Mirrors - part 2 (ETA "upgrades")

Dude, your like the Perry Mason of ETA movements. Since buying my Breitling I have always been wondering what they did to it being that some people say nothing and others say it's "highly" modified. I guess I may never know because I have herd so many conflicting statements. Thanks for the info I guess I will look into it more. The movement I'm refering to is the cal 13 in the steelfish.
Think of it like this. Compared to a bargain basement VJ7750 in the most affordable brands, your breitling 7750 (B13) IS highly modified and upgraded, just by ETA themselves, not actually Breitling. Nothing wrong with that, you're getting upgraded components and finishes, they just sell it like it's their own. Now an IWC Fliegerchronograph (3706) is a different animal, but probably more expensive as well. Sometimes you do get what you pay for.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,164 Posts
Re: Smoke and Mirrors - part 2 (ETA "upgrades")

Another interesting write up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
655 Posts
Re: Smoke and Mirrors - part 2 (ETA "upgrades")

Think of it like this. Compared to a bargain basement VJ7750 in the most affordable brands, your breitling 7750 (B13) IS highly modified and upgraded, just by ETA themselves, not actually Breitling. Nothing wrong with that, you're getting upgraded components and finishes, they just sell it like it's their own. Now an IWC Fliegerchronograph (3706) is a different animal, but probably more expensive as well. Sometimes you do get what you pay for.
That is an important distinction. I was just about to say (when reading ULF article) that this proves the point that people buying Breitlings/ TAG's etc that have the same movements as "lower tier" makes like Tissot or Hamilton are essentially paying for clever branding and marketing and little else. But the movements are strictly 'better', but only by virtue of ETA doing the prettying up, not the manufacturers themselves.

It does make all the fancy names manufacturers give the same movement laughable. You can put lipstick on a horse, but its still a horse!

Great article ULF.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,432 Posts
The way I see it is that you are paying for a "better" movement. It's better because ETA makes it better on order from the company who will eventually call it their own. This makes the term "in-house" as close to reality as the term "Swiss made" in certain circumstances!

N
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
508 Posts
Re: Smoke and Mirrors - part 2 (ETA "upgrades")

That is an important distinction. I was just about to say (when reading ULF article) that this proves the point that people buying Breitlings/ TAG's etc that have the same movements as "lower tier" makes like Tissot or Hamilton are essentially paying for clever branding and marketing and little else. But the movements are strictly 'better', but only by virtue of ETA doing the prettying up, not the manufacturers themselves.
Well, yes and no. You may pay an extra $2500 for that breitling or tag, but the extra cost of the upgraded movement is only a couple hundred dollars, and maybe a couple hundred more if COSC certified (and better regulated). Of course, the affordable chronograph manufacturers most likely couldn't/wouldn't custom order those upgrades for their watches anyway. So to some extent, you ARE paying for the name as well, but that name helps resale, so it's not a total loss. That's true for most luxury goods.:-!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
919 Posts
Thanks, that was very interesting. There seems to be a difference between aesthetic finishing and functional finishing. Is any of the "extra" finishing (done by either ETA or the branding company) functional, or is it all just for aesthetic purposes?
 
1 - 20 of 144 Posts
Top