Orient’s In-House Movement: The Mark of a True Watchmaker?

August 29th, 2012 Posted in Orient Watch Reviews | 6 Comments

Ever wonder why Orient has been called “a true watchmaker’s watch“? Is it the look, the feel, the trusted brand name?

Sure, it’s a little bit of all those things, but the mark of a true watchmaker is all in the in-house movement.

In-house movement? What’s the big deal? Read on to find out!

What is an in-house movement?

Watchmaking starts with the intricate design, development, and construction of the mechanism that operates the watch, i.e. the movement. In-house movements are watch movements that are developed and manufactured by a company for their own line of watches. That sounds pretty standard, right?

Well, in fact, many watch companies do not develop and manufacture their own movements, and as a result, many people argue that such watch companies are not properly representing the amazing art of watchmaking. Rather, they design a watch around an outsourced, often mass produced, and generic movement.

ETA mechanical watch movement

Most Swiss-made watches, for instance, use movements developed and manufactured by ETA. ETA produces several models of mass-produced movements that can be found in very expensive Swiss watches as well as those on the lower end. But why?

Having one movement manufacturer that distributes movements to a variety of watch companies, at least in Switzerland, essentially aims to do these 3 things:

  • Ease regulation requirements to ensure quality
  • Create economies of scale to drive down cost
  • Help copyright protection


What makes in-house movements better than outsourced movements?

Good question. If ETA produces movements for many watch companies that ensure quality, cost, and copyright protection, then how can an in-house movement be better?

While the outsourced movement may ensure these things through regulation, an in-house movement ensures these things through innovative watchmaking mastery as developed solely by the brand, not another company. Furthermore, if you’re spending hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on a watch, don’t you want it to have an exclusive look, feel, and movement, not just the look, feel, and movement of hundreds of other watches?

Orient in-house mechanical watch movement

As noted on As the Watch Turns, would you buy a BMW with a VW engine for the same price as a BMW with a BMW engine? Probably not, at least not knowingly. Similarly, a watch’s movement, or engine, should be as exclusive, innovative, and unique as the watch itself.

Now that you know a bit more about in-house movements, check out the brands that do and don’t use them, and then tell us what you think about in-house versus outsourced movements.

Which brands use in-house movements? Outsourced movements?

As you may know, Orient is one brand that uses in-house movements 100% of the time. In addition to that, what really sets Orient apart from other brands is the production of in-house movements and high quality watches at extraordinarily low consumer costs.

So who else uses in-house movements 100% of the time? To name a few:

  • Citizen
  • Patek Philippe
  • Seiko
  • Rolex
  • Zenith
  • Audemars Piguet
  • SeaGull
  • Prim
  • Wempe

And brands using outsourced movements include:

  • Breitling
  • Chopard
  • IWC
  • Tag Heuer
  • Omega
  • Invicta
  • Tissot
  • Hamilton
  • Mido
  • Certina
  • Tudor

Additionally, fashion brands such as Michael Kors, Guess, and Marc Jacobs all use outsourced movements.

While they may look nice, focusing primarily on current designs and trends, fashion watches are low in horological value. Now, it may be time to ask yourself, do you want a true watchmaker’s watch or a watch that’s merely a trendy timepiece?

In your opinion, is an in-house movement the mark of a true watchmaker? Why? Why not? Leave a comment below!

  1. 6 Comments | Tell us what you think!

  2. By Amelach on Aug 29, 2012

    I was completely unaware that so many high end timepieces outsource their movements. If you’re paying for a “quality” time piece, it’s reassuring to know that their movements are made in house and that they have full control of the quality of said movement. It’s great knowing that Orient is among one of those companies who innovates and designs every aspect of their product in house.

  3. By Vince G on Sep 3, 2012

    It’s good to know that companies are still making mechanical movements, and that movement designs are continuing to be developed and improved.

  4. By Will on Sep 5, 2012

    I love the concept of Orients in house movements for the same reasons that I want to own a Rolex someday. It’s just old school craftsman ship. I really enjoyed the video of the Orient factory, makes me even more proud to wear my Orient.

  5. By Donaldo Kuningas on Sep 8, 2012

    The destination is the same, but the road taken is not. That DOES make all the difference.

  6. By Chris on Sep 26, 2012

    All great points and I agree orient has the best in house bangfor the buck,not to mention bullet proof reliability. Does citizen own miyota because I know theymake auto movement for many watches including citizen? Anyways point being great job orient keep up the good work:)!

  7. By Mike on Oct 10, 2012

    Great article! That’s why I love Orient because of their in-house movements. Great quality at a fair price. On a side note, I always thought Tudor used in-house movements…guess I’m wrong!

6 comments | Tell us what you think!