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Very very similar. Rotor noise is a bit loud and not the nicest sound, but you don't hear it that often because it doesn't free spin like a Miyota. The 3-13 has a swan neck regulator which you won't find in the ETA or Sellita, but I don't think those have appeared outside of the new Zodiac models yet.
 

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I've used them in 650 watches to date, so we've got a reasonably large enough number to form an opinion about them.

The good - On paper, they offer a fantastic bang-for-the-buck proposition. Purchased in bulk, they cost slightly less than a standard grade ETA 2824-2 or Sellita SW200, but have a longer power reserve, adjusted to 5 positions, have incabloc shock protection, the higher grade of nivarox hairspring, and are beautifully finished. They compare to a top-grade ETA 2824-2.

The bad - we found a higher defect rate with them, around 10% on the 650, but at times it seemed like it might have been higher (we made two batches, one 300 pieces production, and one 350 piece production, the 10% is an aggregate figure).

To put that 10% number into context, I've had several watchmakers tell me they expect a 5%-6% defect rate with ETA's, and slightly higher with Sellita's, but our defect rate with Japanese movements is close to 0% - we replace maybe 1 in 500, if that, so a rate of 0.2%, at most.

It seems that they are most likely a "Swiss" movement which starts out with some portion of Chinese production. The good units perform very well, but the bad ones we've found had some issues which were fairly surprising.

Before buying a watch with an STP, I'd just make sure I had confidence in the seller's post-sale support, in the event I need to return the watch under warranty. It wouldn't hurt to inquire about the company's testing/QC pre-shipment. Once we discovered the defect rate, we made it a point to test them more thoroughly during QC.

One thing which may be worth consideration - long term maintenance. Like most entry level movements, including the ETA's and Sellita's, it will almost certainly be cheaper to replace the movement than to have it serviced by a watchmaker in 5-7 years, but whereas most parts suppliers currently stock ETA's or Sellita's, I've yet to see any stock replacement STP's.

The good news is that an ETA or Sellita is a drop-in replacement, but assuming your STP was a unit which performed well, you'd be getting an ETA/Sellita with a lower power reserve, adjusted to fewer positions, etc - in other words, you'd be dropping in a movement which isn't "as good".

Lastly - as STP is owned by Fossil, my observation of the anecdotal experience people report suggests that Fossil brands (primarily Zodiac) may be getting the better quality units, whereas non-Fossil brands which buy the movements may be getting the lesser quality units. So again, it's important that companies using them do good testing before shipping them to customers.
 

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I've used them in 650 watches to date, so we've got a reasonably large enough number to form an opinion about them.

The good - On paper, they offer a fantastic bang-for-the-buck proposition. Purchased in bulk, they cost slightly less than a standard grade ETA 2824-2 or Sellita SW200, but have a longer power reserve, adjusted to 5 positions, have incabloc shock protection, the higher grade of nivarox hairspring, and are beautifully finished. They compare to a top-grade ETA 2824-2.

The bad - we found a higher defect rate with them, around 10% on the 650, but at times it seemed like it might have been higher (we made two batches, one 300 pieces production, and one 350 piece production, the 10% is an aggregate figure).

To put that 10% number into context, I've had several watchmakers tell me they expect a 5%-6% defect rate with ETA's, and slightly higher with Sellita's, but our defect rate with Japanese movements is close to 0% - we replace maybe 1 in 500, if that, so a rate of 0.2%, at most.

It seems that they are most likely a "Swiss" movement which starts out with some portion of Chinese production. The good units perform very well, but the bad ones we've found had some issues which were fairly surprising.

Before buying a watch with an STP, I'd just make sure I had confidence in the seller's post-sale support, in the event I need to return the watch under warranty. It wouldn't hurt to inquire about the company's testing/QC pre-shipment. Once we discovered the defect rate, we made it a point to test them more thoroughly during QC.

One thing which may be worth consideration - long term maintenance. Like most entry level movements, including the ETA's and Sellita's, it will almost certainly be cheaper to replace the movement than to have it serviced by a watchmaker in 5-7 years, but whereas most parts suppliers currently stock ETA's or Sellita's, I've yet to see any stock replacement STP's.

The good news is that an ETA or Sellita is a drop-in replacement, but assuming your STP was a unit which performed well, you'd be getting an ETA/Sellita with a lower power reserve, adjusted to fewer positions, etc - in other words, you'd be dropping in a movement which isn't "as good".

Lastly - as STP is owned by Fossil, my observation of the anecdotal experience people report suggests that Fossil brands (primarily Zodiac) may be getting the better quality units, whereas non-Fossil brands which buy the movements may be getting the lesser quality units. So again, it's important that companies using them do good testing before shipping them to customers.
Truly very interesting hearing an experienced perspective------Thank you!
 

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As someone with a Zodiac hoping that my STP 1-11 isn't isn't a lemon, I can't abide by the theory (which I've heard before) that STP gives the "better" 1-11 movements to Zodiac and those that buy in bulk get everything else.
How would that even work? You either have decent QC or you don't. Unless you have differing levels of QC for different batches? Sounds crazy.
I used to work in a biomedical manufacturer and the same product got the same QC regardless of the market or the customer.

Are the STPs sold in batches with "Swiss Made" on them? they'd have to be which means they're all coming from the STP Swiss facility which means that even though there are absolutely Chinese parts in these things, I can't see how Zodiac gets better ones unless they somehow get a "Top" grade and batch buyers get an "Elabore" or "Standard" grade.
 
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As someone with a Zodiac hoping that my STP 1-11 isn't isn't a lemon, I can't abide by the theory (which I've heard before) that STP gives the "better" 1-11 movements to Zodiac and those that buy in bulk get everything else.
How would that even work? You either have decent QC or you don't. Unless you have differing levels of QC for different batches? Sounds crazy.
I used to work in a biomedical manufacturer and the same product got the same QC regardless of the market or the customer.

Are the STPs sold in batches with "Swiss Made" on them? they'd have to be which means they're all coming from the STP Swiss facility which means that even though there are 100% chinese parts in these things, I can't see how Zodiac gets better ones unless they somehow get a "Top" grade and batch buyers get an "Elabore" or "Standard" grade.
Well, in the course of quality control, you'll test the accuracy of the movement, and you can certainly cherry pick the best performing ones for your in-house products.
 

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Own only one STP1-11, inside a really gorgeous Borealis Cascais, that is accurate and smooth with good PR.

 

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Well, in the course of quality control, you'll test the accuracy of the movement, and you can certainly cherry pick the best performing ones for your in-house products.
For performance you could, but stories I've heard of STP 1-11s failing also include things like the stem not working properly to set time and date or coming off altogether (on someone's Sea Wolf). I wonder if they have a "wobbly stem" test as well.
 

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As someone with a Zodiac hoping that my STP 1-11 isn't isn't a lemon, I can't abide by the theory (which I've heard before) that STP gives the "better" 1-11 movements to Zodiac and those that buy in bulk get everything else.
How would that even work? You either have decent QC or you don't. Unless you have differing levels of QC for different batches? Sounds crazy.
I used to work in a biomedical manufacturer and the same product got the same QC regardless of the market or the customer.

Are the STPs sold in batches with "Swiss Made" on them? they'd have to be which means they're all coming from the STP Swiss facility which means that even though there are absolutely Chinese parts in these things, I can't see how Zodiac gets better ones unless they somehow get a "Top" grade and batch buyers get an "Elabore" or "Standard" grade.
It's a fair question. The answer is a bit of "inside baseball", I'm afraid, but here goes...

When we first started working with STP, I was in direct communication with people at STP. Normally, when we produce watches, our OEM would deal with each vendor, including the movement manufacturer, so this was a little out of the ordinary. I actually liked being able to speak to them directly, particularly when it came to addressing the issues we found.

When we found those issues, the factory asked us to note the markings on the movements. Each one had a 3-character code on the bridge, which I took as an indication of either when it was produced, or perhaps more likely, where and by which sub-vendor. We did find a very high correlation between one of the markings and the defects we found, whereas one of the other markings seemed to indicate a more reliable batch.

From that point on, I made it clear to them that we only wanted movements with the markings we'd associated with the higher level of reliability. As it happens, we ended up getting movements with yet two more sets of markings on them, and we weren't able to determine if either of those markings was generally better or worse overall.

In speaking to retailers, I've been told that generally, the Zodiacs they get are all very reliable. Few if any come back with problems to be sorted out under warranty. So, if they're just "lucky", then they've been remarkably lucky.

In speaking to other manufacturers (other microbrand owners), my experience with them is not at all unusual, so if I was simply "unlucky", I've got lots of unlucky company.

I can't say with certainty that Zodiac is able to source a better quality STP than what I and other micros sourced, but the anecdotal evidence makes that a reasonable inference, I think.

It makes sense. If you're a Fossil employee within Zodiac, you probably know the defect rate of STP, and you probably know which sub-vendors are producing the more reliable units. You can probably put in a call to STP and ask them to ensure you only get those units. If you're working inside STP, you certainly don't want the higher-ups coming down on you for hurting Zodiac's reputation as a brand by supplying them with $hltty movements.

On the other hand, if they sell me bad movements, who am I? I'm a guy who bought 300 movements with his first order, which is a small number, and I may be out of business in 6 months. They don't know I've been around for 6 years, and I'm kind of an internet loudmouth.

To be fair, I did make clear to them that I know at least 30 of my peers, well enough that we share our experience, and I'd make certain to let them all know if STP made things right with me, or if they decided to not just $hlt the bed, but lie in it.

I added that regardless, if they continued to ship shoddy movements, it didn't matter what I said, because the industry would wise up eventually. They had the opportunity to straighten up and fly right.

As it stands, my factory and I have agreed not to use STP movements until such time that we've got multiple and reliable reports from others that they're as good in the case as they are on paper.

I hope people understand - I'm not trashing STP. They make some really nice movements, albeit with a higher than it ought to be defect rate. I don't think watch buyers should avoid them. Like I said, just make sure the seller has a good reputation for post-sale support, and if you feel like going the extra mile, inquire about their QC and testing protocols. We added a late-stage, third round of movement tests for our second production, and it dramatically reduced the number of watches we had come back as warranty claims.
 

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For performance you could, but stories I've heard of STP 1-11s failing also include things like the stem not working properly to set time and date or coming off altogether (on someone's Sea Wolf). I wonder if they have a "wobbly stem" test as well.
I should mention that computer processors rated to different clock speeds were all produced in the same production process, but passed the stability test at different clock speeds.
 
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As someone with a Zodiac hoping that my STP 1-11 isn't isn't a lemon, I can't abide by the theory (which I've heard before) that STP gives the "better" 1-11 movements to Zodiac and those that buy in bulk get everything else.
How would that even work? You either have decent QC or you don't. Unless you have differing levels of QC for different batches? Sounds crazy.
I used to work in a biomedical manufacturer and the same product got the same QC regardless of the market or the customer.

Are the STPs sold in batches with "Swiss Made" on them? they'd have to be which means they're all coming from the STP Swiss facility which means that even though there are absolutely Chinese parts in these things, I can't see how Zodiac gets better ones unless they somehow get a "Top" grade and batch buyers get an "Elabore" or "Standard" grade.
Sorry, I got stuck answering the "how would that work" question, and neglected to respond to the more salient points.

A lot of the warranty claims we got turned out to have causes which were were hard to identify. In many cases, the symptoms weren't apparent early on, but rather, developed later, after we shipped to customers.

But, to be sure, even if the causes were hard to find, some of those symptoms were easier to notice with a bit of time on a timegrapher. As such, we have to wonder what sort of QC they were doing. How many of the defective units we got actually tested fine before we got them, assuming they were tested? We really can't know.

STP's don't really have different grades, the way ETA's do. They're all "top" grade. Even with ETA, the grades only differentiate two component differences (shock protection and hairspring material), and the number of positions a movement is adjusted in. If there's a cracked jewel (something we found here and there) or a loose fiber, it could as easily end up in a top-grade as a standard-grade movement.

All that said - if you're a Zodiac employee, and you know STP sources from multiple vendors, you probably know the good from the bad, and have better control over which ones you get.
 

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OK, that all makes sense.
When I was working in biotech, the main product was manufactured in-house and it was only the peripherals, battery units and microphones that were sourced from sub-contractors and even then, we only had the one source of external supplier.
If STP 1-11s are being assembled with the same parts that come from a range of different Chinese suppliers, that adds a whole new dimension of variability to quality control.
Still, to qualify as a supplier, you'd need to pass all sorts of tests on tolerances and defect rates before you were able to integrate yourself into the manufacturing cycle. This whole part of the watch industry is so opaque but you still have to wonder why certain suppliers managed to put less than optimal parts in the STP (an educated conclusion) and ALSO, are they still supplying the company or have they been "flushed out" of current and future manufacturing runs?
 

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STP's don't really have different grades, the way ETA's do. They're all "top" grade. Even with ETA, the grades only differentiate two component differences (shock protection and hairspring material), and the number of positions a movement is adjusted in.
there should be a third difference: standard and elaboré are using Polyrubin as jewels, top and chronometer red rubin. I could not find a translation difference for Polyrubin (artificial rubin) and red rubin.
 

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OK, that all makes sense.
When I was working in biotech, the main product was manufactured in-house and it was only the peripherals, battery units and microphones that were sourced from sub-contractors and even then, we only had the one source of external supplier.
If STP 1-11s are being assembled with the same parts that come from a range of different Chinese suppliers, that adds a whole new dimension of variability to quality control.
Still, to qualify as a supplier, you'd need to pass all sorts of tests on tolerances and defect rates before you were able to integrate yourself into the manufacturing cycle. This whole part of the watch industry is so opaque but you still have to wonder why certain suppliers managed to put less than optimal parts in the STP (an educated conclusion) and ALSO, are they still supplying the company or have they been "flushed out" of current and future manufacturing runs?
I think you're doing what many others do, by imagining the watch industry works like other industries do, and/or overlaying your experience in a different industry. The practices between industries vary a lot, so things don't always translate.

To make this as simple as possible - every movement, good or bad, no matter which manufacturer makes it, has a defect rate. The vast majority of defects are caught early on, before shipping to customers.

Those that made it to customers - in the vast majority of cases, they would NOT have been caught by "better QC". There wasn't any failure in QC, at all. These movements simply develop problems down the line, problems which didn't exist when QC when was done. When we get problems, very often, we don't even bother to look for the cause, we just replace the movement and move on. The causes often remain undiagnosed, and unreported up the supply chain.

To give an easy example of what I mean - Seiko NH3x series movements have plastic gears in the date-change mechanism. Some people believe the gears can be easily broken if you set the date between 9pm and 4am, or whatever the prohibited time frame is. Those people are wrong.

We (more precisely - a local WIS who is also a self-taught watchmaker) subjected a few NH35 movements to an absolute torture test (he hooked the stem up to a drill and spun it at high speed) - and the gears didn't break. If you want to see videos and read the hilarious commentary, you can find it all here - https://www.watchuseek.com/f71/nh35a-stp-9015-quick-date-set-4728251.html.

It was our final assessment (his, and that of other watchmakers we spoke to about it), that there's just a percentage of them which are eventually going to break, no matter what you do. It might be one gear in 10,000 produced, but that's the percentage defect, and no amount of QC is going to prevent it.

This is just reality with movements. There are problems you can catch in QC, and problems you can't. The ones you can't - that's the defect rate I watch out for, mostly, though I also have to consider how many my suppliers catch pre- and post-assembly, before they ship to me. This is part of why we're not using STP for now. It's not just the 10% we experienced, it's also the percentage we didn't see, because they caught it first.

A certain number of movements are going to end up with some loose fiber, a chipped jewel, a poorly-finished part, or some other small problem which gets through testing, but causes a problem later. The difference in defect rates comes from better engineering, cleaner/better assembly, tighter controls enforced on the production of each constituent part, etc.

Assume you're STP, looking at potential suppliers. How would you vet them? You'd tour their facilities, perhaps, but certainly you'd have them submit samples to you. That's exactly what I did to vet STP - I had them send me samples. The three samples were awesome, the three hundred we ordered for production, not so much.

It takes a while to change vendors. I was already committed to using STP in our next model when we started to find the problems in the previous model. I'm sure it's difficult for STP to not just pinpoint the source of their production issues, but to solve those issues.

It's not like other industries, where there are dozens of vendors able to provide identical services/products. In the watch industry, there are only a few good sources for most components. If you have a problem, you don't change vendors, you work with the vendor to improve results, and it takes as long as it takes.

I've had to change factories. It sucked, but I did it. But just changing factories didn't fix all our issues, so we had to focus on the processes involved in getting from design to delivery. I had to make special trips overseas to tour vendors' plants, see each component being made, discuss not just QC standards, but the methodology for enforcing them, the cost of improving them, what can go wrong, etc.

The extremely limited choices in affordable mechanical movement sources is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry right now. Fixing STP's issues is easier said than done.
 
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