Buy a Japanese Watch Movement: Invest on In-House Expertise

February 5th, 2010 | 14 Comments

When introduced with the competing countries, the question that many watch enthusiasts ask is: who makes a better watch? Since the most important thing that distinguishes a watch’s quality is its movement, we can look to watch movements to answer this question.

The movement drives the timekeeping functions and is essentially the reason a watch tells time. Many people associate fine mechanical watches with the Swiss, even though the Japanese have been producing high quality watch movements for decades.

The key advantages of a Japanese Watch Movement over a Swiss Watch Movement are in-house expertise.

Read on:

Watch Movement Fundamentals

Both mechanical and automatic watch movements are, technically, mechanical watch movements. The only difference is that automatic watch movements wind themselves using the motion of your wrist.


Mechanical movements are powered by a mainspring, which stores potential energy when wound. The spring unwinds slowly, releasing this energy to move the gears. Once wound, the average mechanical watch has a power reserve of 36 to 40 hours. For automatic watches, this means that if you don’t wear the watch for longer than 40 hours, you will have to manually wind and reset the watch before you wear it again.

A well-built mechanical watch can last for generations with regular upkeep (every few years).

Different types of watch movements

Watch movements directly affect both the quality and cost of a watch. Price varies between 3 types of movements: stock movements, modified movements, and in-house movements.

Stock movement

A majority of Swiss watches utilize stock movements manufactured by the Swiss company ETA SA. Stock (or off-the-shelf) movements are typically cheaper because ETA mass produces watch movements and nothing else. However, with mass production, quality can suffer.

Every product is not always checked for quality, but instead a sample is taken to represent the effectiveness of the manufacturing process (for example, every 10th or 20th movement is inspected).

In order to carry the “Swiss Made” stamp, watches must contain only 50% Swiss-made components. This further lowers quality standards because outsourced work is not always held to the same quality standards. ETA holds a near-monopoly.

Modified movement
Some watchmakers alter stock movements by adding, removing, or changing parts. Modified movements tend to be the most expensive movements with the least value.

The extra cost results from the addition of the watchmaker’s “expertise;” but when it comes down to it, it’s still an outsourced, mass-produced stock movement. Many companies try to claim that modified movements are in-house movements.

In-house movements
In-house movements are produced completely by the watch company. Part of the luxury involved in mechanical watches is the complexity and fine detail. It makes sense, then, to choose a movement that has been exclusively designed by the company.

In-house movements are a way for watchmakers to demonstrate their technical expertise and experience. In-house movements are generally the best value because in-house production simultaneously cuts cost and increases quality.


Orient constructs all of their watch movements in-house. Purchasing a watch with Japanese movement ensures that you are getting a quality timepiece for an appropriate price.


Its simple design makes the CEV0M001B perfect for the everyday wearer. With an unobtrusive and clutter-free face, it is business-ready and easy to read.

by Cassie Wallace

  1. 14 Comments | Tell us what you think!

  2. By Boski on Feb 6, 2010

    I would guess that Japanese Watch Movement will become more popular with Swatch stopping the selling of their movements to non Swatch associated watchmakers.

  3. By Catherine Antosh on Feb 6, 2010

    A dream on my wrist ? I defy my age in any way that I can.I love jewelry and dislike anything that forces me to put on my reading glasses to see.It’s my opinion that this is fashionable and yet practical .It preserves my vanity and suits my life style in more ways than one.I don’t think I could ask for anything more.Jewelry that elegantly displays the time !

  4. By Ashton Sly on Feb 7, 2010

    I think the oriental watches are unique and very appropriate. They are stylish and affordable.

  5. By Chris on Feb 7, 2010

    I have a cheaper quartz mvt. watch that the casing is starting to corrode, so I’ve been looking at getting a new watch. For someone like me, there’s way too much info and/or FUD about “better” automatic watches out there. Thanks for clearing up some questions I had!

  6. By Steve Poorman on Feb 8, 2010

    I love the fact that Orient has in house movements. Its a rare thing in today’s watch market.

  7. By Ross on Feb 8, 2010

    I would be very careful before labeling ETA movements as stock and low quality. There is a reason why the majority of the watch world looks to ETA to provide movements. As far as mass production…every quality movement is assembled by hand, both swiss and japanese. This is not done by machine therefor the ‘suffering of quality’ does not exist. This is a company (ETA) that specializes in this field. Although the cost is not cheap does not mean that they lack some extra umph that orient offers. One of the main reasons that orients are more reasonably priced is because of the bare bones nature of the movement. They are as advertised- an in house movement. ETA and other swiss companies for that matter are usually much more detailed and intricate in design and more exciting to look at.

  8. By robert arden on Feb 8, 2010

    I am a watch collector and the son of a Horologist. I purchased a Mako divers watch and all I can say it that it is Perfect! I can’t take it off and I am an Omega lovers for decades. You can not go wrong with this watch company. bob arden

  9. By FernandoC on Feb 9, 2010

    I have both ETA and Japanese (Seiko and Orient) watches. The difference is not in being mass produced or not. It is the quality that reflects on price. Adjusted Swiss movements are more expensive than for example the average Orient, which is unadjusted, but you do certainly see difference in the stability of timekeeping. Sure you can get the same from Japanese movements, like Grand Seiko and Orient Star (they are mostly sold in Japan only) but they cost as much as the Swiss watches. You want quality, you pay for it, Japanese or Swiss. Do not try to pretend that mechanical unadjusted movements used by Orient are the same as Grand Seiko´s or Adjusted ETA´s. They are not.

  10. By ORIENT Cassie on Feb 16, 2010

    Ross -

    Thanks for the comment! This article isn’t meant to imply the ETA movements
    are low quality; rather, we want to point out that when companies produce
    their own movements, they are more invested in the outcome. Additionally,
    outsourced movements often have Swiss parts that have been assembled in
    Asia, which increases cost (for transport) and further removes the
    production process from the watchmaker.

    Orient movements’ simplicity is part of their quality. Reducing the amount
    of parts needed to perform a task (telling time) makes them more efficient
    and durable.

  11. By Greg Cygnor on Feb 16, 2010

    I can tell you this, I have both Swiss and Japanese in house movements and can say there is very little difference between them. Except one thing the higher price of the swiss watches.Give me a good solid japanese movement any day and I’ll spend the money I saved on 3 more watches.

  12. By Lak DeSilva on Jan 10, 2011

    I must say more I learn about quality of Japanese watch movements more I become convinced that Swiss watches are just over-priced ornaments. I already own two Japanese watches and they have very accurate movements and quality of materials and manufacture are excellent and designs are unique.

  13. By S. Huskey on Apr 10, 2011

    I have an Orient watch that is an automatic with a slide rule on the face and I have enjoyed this watch for Sixteen years and still works like a charm

  14. By Liah on Aug 7, 2011

    @ Bob Arden:
    Hi Bob, I wanted to ask you what are the most reliable and durable watch you ever come to know..

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