High-end mechanical timepieces often come with technical specifications-dial, case, bracelet, buckle-every element you can name is split and detailed. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about terminology: in-house, the topic concerns the origin of the timepiece movement. Which watches are equipped with movements independently developed and manufactured by the brand, old players know this. In general, watches equipped with a self-made movement are more praised than watches equipped with a controlled movement.
However, in the not-so-distant past, the entire industry relied on a few movement makers; brands were even happy to equip them with high-end unique timepieces. So why has “homemade” suddenly become the focus, and has it turned into a strong selling point?
Designing and building a new movement from scratch is easier said than done, even today with computer assistance during the prototyping stage, so watchmaking brands generally turn to movement suppliers to obtain complete sets of blanks. Either simply retouching by hand, or replacing key components, or adding functional modules, watchmaking brands transform the movement blanks into their own use. One of the largest movement suppliers in the industry today is ETA SA, which dates back to 1793. Knowing that the movement is doomed to change its fate, ETA SA is still happy to sell blanks. ETA SA builds a common foundation for a large, if not most, part of the watchmaking industry (whether quartz or machinery).
ETA SA is owned by the watchmaking giant Swatch Group, which owns many famous watch brands, including Breguet, Blancpain, Omega and Tissot. In order to ensure sufficient production components of its own brand, in 2002 Swatch announced that it would gradually reduce the external supply of movements, which caused a thousand waves. At that time, the brand was unprepared to produce its own movement, and other suppliers were unable to meet the growing demand.
Of course, this does not mean that the production of movement blanks by ETA SA and other suppliers is completely exhausted, but such production no longer accounts for the vast majority, especially in the high-end part of mechanical watchmaking. Many resource-rich brands have almost established independent production capabilities, which raises an interesting question for us: given that homemade movements have become the norm, can they maintain their former reputation and add value to market sales?
Watch enthusiasts always want their precious timepieces to be as unique as possible. It is even better if this uniqueness can extend to the core of timepieces. Establishing independent production capacity will significantly increase costs. Brands must increase investment in machinery and manpower. This cost is usually passed on to consumers at a premium. However, the watch market in the last two years has been changing, and the continuous demand has suddenly become calm and gentle.
For several months, watch sales have been declining, especially in the Asian market. No light can be seen at the end of the tunnel. What does this mean for independent production capacity? One obvious trend is that self-control is no longer closely linked to high prices. The brand that started betting a long time ago has gradually matured, with sufficient production and cost control, so the price of watches equipped with homemade movements has become more affinity.
It seems that the self-made premium selling point is no longer applicable, because self-made is losing its unique attributes and becoming more common; market conditions also indicate that few consumers are willing to pay for the premium, and they would rather choose a more competitive price, better production, and faithful Reliable movement.
Betting on self-made has triggered a wave of innovation in the watchmaking industry. New materials and movements have sprung up, endless. It may be time to put aside the arms race and focus on the interests of the entire industry, seeking cooperation, sharing and win-win results, and ultimately let the innovation results benefit consumers.