What is Watchmaker

Watch brands, there are almost like the sand of the sea-really good this filter is often difficult. In this context the term watchmaker appears too often, to differentiate (supposedly) very high-quality brands of others. But what is even a watch manufacturer and watchmaker which watch manufacturer may call themselves?

In this article I show why the high-flown term “Watch manufacturer” should be not on the gold scales and what you should consider when purchasing a watch.

What is a watch?

You type in Google “Watchmaker”, you arrive quite quickly at all possible collections of all superior brands in Glashütte, Germany, and the Switzerland.

By definition, a manufactory (from the Latin manus “Hand” and facere “manufacture”) is especially characterized by steps that are done with much hand work by using tools. So are all watches by luxury manufacturers such as Breitling & co. so expensive, because it’s manufacturers with much hand work? Of course, some production steps these producers are not to do hand work:

However, This historical definition is less true with glance on the watch industry-established producers of luxury watches such as Rolex, whose models you can hardly see the price of a small car, there is highly automated processes using by coating equipment, machine tools (E.g. milling machines), test equipment, etc.

Nomos puts it relatively sober glass works on his website:

Traditional craft here, high-tech production methods because:

Both together make individual pieces of precision our watches.

Here are a few impressions from the production of Rolex, TAG Heuer and Breitling:

The watchmaker term of the Swiss Watch Industry FH

The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH (Fédération Horlogère) has an old definition from the year 1961 ready:

In the Swiss watch industry refers to those factories, which almost make the whole watch, in contrast to the completion operations, which get only the set up, make fine, show replacing and bowls a so.

Interesting in this context: from January 2017 applies to at least 60% of the production costs in the Switzerland must apply, baptize a product of Swiss made – that is in the Swiss trademark law held.

For watches made in Glashütte is regulating rather imprecise in the so-called of Glassworks rule . This States that

the vast majority of which must be added value in Glashütte.

Only cock fight of two Glashütte manufacturer to the denomination of origin made in glass works shows that this vague, unwritten Glashütte rule allows for quite a lot of room for interpretation and has therefore even the courts.

Every clock manufacturer who meets the requirements for Swiss made or made in Glashütte is a watch? If you look at the criteria to meet not -, rather is the value creation ratio that must be satisfied in the Switzerland / glass works as a prerequisite for this, so a manufacturer at all at some point to a real watchmaker can mutate.

All in all shows that it is not much further comes with official terms and definitions.

However, the term “accounting” is important to watchmakers from different manufacturers to differentiate. Anatomy is company – often in the lower price segment – who buy the watch movements of established manufacturer “off the rack” and in the “shells”. Here, the body, hands, dials etc often come from far eastern production.

In contrast to often by watchmaker spoken, if the movement a watch is a personal creation of the manufacturer (so-called calibre)…

Watch manufacturers: Properties, advantages and disadvantages of manufacture calibres

In itself it is not objectionable to buy a business Watch: the default automatic works by ETA, Sellita & co. like E.g. the millions produced ETA 7750 are proven, relatively inexpensive and can be serviced by nearly every watchmaker. Also in quartz watches very often used the battery works the company Ronda example based on rock-solid technique, you should have little trouble with.

The sticking point is often a psychological: even if the inside a watch the Otto-normal citizens of generally even less interested as the brand itself, hardcore watches fans often argue that a movement that is turned on simply the special or that something is missing – considering the investment of often several thousand euros in a watch quite comprehensible.

A calibre creates an added value usually (in comparison to standard works), E.g. by a higher power reserve, better durability, less maintenance and better accuracy. A good example is the Co-axial escapement by Omega, which is used in the 8500er manufacture calibres. Would this calibre added value is missing, the plant would have no raison d ‘ être when compared to a standard factory (modified). But equal more.

Often, the added value created by a calibre is optical nature but also less technical, but more likely. Glashütte original Senator chronometer for example has

typical three-quarter plate with Glashütte stripes, screwed gold chatons, a Swan-neck fine adjustment and a hand-engraved balance cock. Much handmade in Germany so what can explain also the price of 27,200 euro.

My personal opinion: of course chic looks when you takes time off the clock and look into the Interior of the watch through the glass floor. The purpose of why they should pay a surcharge in the triple-digit for such optical gadgetry but not really me opens up.

The value added by manufacture calibres has so or so its price, whether they are primarily optical or technical nature: watches with calibre are most often (much) more expensive than comparable models. The model of Black Bay Tudor Rolex daughter for example has a modified ETA 2824 aboard and is €2900 (EIA) on a leather strap. The price for the 2016er new edition with MT5602 (“Mouvement TUDOR”) Manufakturwerk is €3140 (EIA) on a leather strap. A surcharge of less than 10%, which is more than fair, if you look at the project page:

  • Power reserve 38 hours at the old version almost doubled with 70 hours to
  • A bridge span it warrants additional robustness.
  • The movement was officially certified by the Swiss Testing Institute Contrôle officiel Suisse of the Chronomètres (COSC).This guarantees a high precision of the tested works.

Otherwise it at Omega looks: the MSRP for the latest Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 42 mm with stainless steel bracelet and 8500er Manufakturwerk is €5000, while the old 2500er variant with modified ETA movement at just under €3000. This corresponds to a surcharge of almost 70%. In fairness, but must say that not only the inner workings of the model has been improved: so the dial of the new model is more complex (numbers sewn-on and the Omega logo instead of prints) and the bezel is made of scratch-resistant ceramic instead of aluminium. The bottom line, Omega is still handsomely pay the calibre.

In addition, calibre can be usually only official manufacturer from waited alone due to the procurement of spare parts. This is usually much more expensive than E.g. the revision of a standard of ETA by the watchmaker around the corner.

Tricky: Many standard works such as the ETA 7750 are used not only by brand in the lower price segment, but also by companies that are generally regarded as luxury watch manufacturers.

For example, The two chronograph TAG Heuer Carrera day-date CAL. 16 and that Hamilton Khaki X-wind use both versions of the popular ETA 7750 of automatic movement.

EIA of TAG Heuer: €4.650

EIA of Hamilton: €1.345

Of course you should the value for money a clock not only on the inner limit. Also in case processing, with the bracelet etc., there are of course differences in quality. The stainless steel bracelet of the TAG Heuer Carrera day date is for example excellent workmanship – as the Hamilton can’t keep (logically at the price difference).

Yet nasty: Camouflage manufacturers Turned on standard works often with own labels such as TAG Heuercalibre 16 day-date automatic movement. The description on the website of TAG Heuer is sober:

TAG Heuer calibre 16 Swiss made.
Automatic movement.
Diameter: 30.4 mm (13 ¼ “‘)-25 jewels.
Rapid date and day of the week correction.

The balance frequency: 28.800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz).
Power reserve: approximately 42 hours.

No reference to the origin of the work – in the case of the Swatch Group, the ETA 7750. For a rather uninformed customer not a beautiful situation, even if it comes with some Google search quickly behind the used base works.

Automatic watches with display back the origin of the work usually does not at first glance is also evident: the flywheel, which draws an automatic watch, is almost always individually fitted with the brand name:

In addition, the devil is in the detail: the automatic works by ETA & co. is available in different levels of quality, the prices vary greatly. As the three levels of Elaboré, top, and Chronometè are at the ETA 7750. The purchase prices for standard Swiss automatic movements will likely be partially in quantities in the four-digit range according to my research at well below €100 per piece – depending on the quality level. A press release concerning a legal dispute between the Nomos and mill States Glashütte:

In the movement, which (this is equivalent to 43 percent) finished buys mill [glassworks] for 22.95 euro in the Switzerland, working for 30,45 EUR (57%) will be added according to the opinion. However, is above all costs for vehicles and accounting, management, so the so called “administrative overhead”-put more than 17 euros. Services are all 8.39 Euro-only 15.7 per cent-according to this site on the clock, so Glashutte manufacturing costs incurred in the processing.

Here it is again clear that standard works “off the rack” often farther from the manufacturers be modified, such as the work that in the Hamilton Khaki X-wind is used: under the name H-21, Hamilton has modified the plant to ensure power reserve 60 hours. This is considerably more than on the DAY, although the TAG Heuer is significantly more expensive Heuer Carrera day-date-and that. The example shows that a value can be created also with a standard work-for a calibre is not necessary…

Watchmakers and calibre: The most important manufacturers and conclusion

Eventually introduces the concept watch manufacturer like marketing communications departments, to lift its own brand in the Olympus of the top watch manufacturers-liability he has none. Bluntly, almost any “more upscale” watchmaker can write the term watchmaker to the flag – the sticking point is the credibility of communication this very stretchable concept rather.

Put it another way: the term watchmaker, it behaves as with non-protected job titles which can be misconstrued as official designations are anything but official nature (E.g. Financial Advisor, coach, translator).

What is left, is to a watchmaker by tuck a company at least a little to differentiate the production of his own works and a significantly higher depth of production than for Swiss made or made in Glashütte is at least necessary.

A “hard” criterion, there is no order to entitle a watchmaker as such anyway.

Are on the basis of my research, E.g. Patek Philippe and Glashütte original in the “select” group of watchmakers to settle, i.e. here very much value added with hand work is carried out and the works are produced in-house. The look in the price list shows this manufacturer but also very clear that these also vigorously to pay their handiwork can be.

Other manufacturers should care to be just as a buyer, what really hides behind the lofty term watchmaker-you should make no mistake and assume that each watch beyond the X-thousand was automatically created euro with a lot of manual work.

If you value for money a watch would like to estimate, is it so, for example, also recommended to investigate, whether in the clock a calibre or a (modified) standard work is installed.

I personally can befriend me with standard works as well as manufacture calibres-as long as the prices of the watches in the right proportion. Of course, it may have a certain charm, if works are decorated with hand work, the technical aspect is but more important to me personally. And technical improvements are achieved in many cases also of modified standard works which demonstrates the above Hamilton sample.

An extensive list of watch manufacturers and other watch manufacturers can be found in this article: