Swiss watch companies that produce their own movements are rare and exclusively among the most expensive in the world. The majority of Swiss-Made watches’ movements are created by ETA SA, a company with several models of movements that are mass-produced and shipped out to Swiss watch companies. The Swiss watch companies then assemble the watches to market and distribute.
What do the Swiss have to say about the quality of being Swiss-Made?
The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry is a regulatory organization that created a law governing the use of the Swiss Made logo on watches: “This law is based on a concept according to which Swiss quality depends on the amount of work actually carried out on a watch in Switzerland, even if some foreign components are used in it.”
Also stipulated by the law is that 50% of the movement’s components must be Swiss-made and must be assembled in Switzerland.
- Eases regulation requirements that ensure quality
- Creates economies of scale to drive down cost
- Helps copyright protection
In the industry, this system of one movement-producing company supplying the watch companies is known as the “Ebauche tradition.” This means Swiss watches of all price-ranges essentially carry the same or very similar movements.
You may be surprised by some brands that outsource their movements:
- Tag Heuer (a recently released premium model features in-house movement)
- Breitling(released an in-house movement watch this year)
Any watch expert can tell you that these watches are thousands of dollars, yet they lack an in-house movement. They may be excellent products, but they are exactly that – products. Japanese watch companies offer distinctive mechanical watches with in-house movements for prices in the low hundreds.
Buying a Brand
Quite often then, when purchasing an expensive Swiss watch you pay thousands of dollars more for a watch with a movement that can be found in an alternative watch for thousands cheaper. Aside from any precious metals found in the more expensive watch, you are paying thousands of dollars more for a brand. This brand was built by smart brand management and huge marketing budgets.
In this way, many of the Swiss watch companies seem to be more marketing companies than watch makers.
So, a “distinctive” mechanical watch that cost six thousand dollars and is Swiss Made, isn’t really all that distinctive. Clearly, the Swiss concept of quality adheres to the philosophy of accountability being tied to quality, as they want as many of the parts of the watch to be made in Switzerland.
However, if this relation does exist, then wouldn’t an in-house movement-produced watch be superior in quality, because it is accountable for the entire watch production process?