Watch Talk

In-house Movements

Q:  What is an in-house movement? What makes them so special?


We discussed a question regarding watch servicing and mentioned in-house movements very briefly.  We received a few requests to explain what an in-house movement entails, and we’d like to expand on that topic.

In short, an in-house movement is a watch movement that is produced by a specific brand.  The definition and details of what is classified as an in-house movement can get a little hairy, but we will touch that later. 

An In-House Movement

Many movements (ETA, Miyota, etc.) are produced in large quantities and sold for other companies to use. Consequently, it is common to find a wide variety of brands that use the same movements.  This doesn’t happen with in-house movements.  An in-house movement is used exclusively within the brand.


Why An In-House Movement?

If you’ve spent any time around watch forums, it is likely you’ve witnessed some of the opinions that always pair with in-house movement discussions.  Many collectors favor these selective movements because of the engineering innovations needed to create these complex machines; others are swayed by the exclusivity present in them.  Regardless of the nature of these opinions, an undeniable appeal powers the popularity of these movements.  If you are a committed customer of a brand, an in-house movement adds to that brand loyalty.  To create an in-house movement, the brand must invest money, time and man power to produce a movement that will be used only by them.  When you are wearing a watch with this kind of movement, you aren’t just representing the brand style; you are representing the engineering and technological strides made by them.


Why Not An In-House Movement?

Why are in-house movements so scarce in the watch market?  Among many things, it is much more cost efficient to outsource watch movements and allocate funds towards other branches of a company.  It is no coincidence brands with in-house movements are much more expensive than others (with one big exception).  From a consumer’s viewpoint, it is also very important to consider the inevitable servicing costs for an in-house movement.  Any competent watchmaker should be able to service an ETA/Sellitta and Miyota movement. However, in-house movements require the work of a watchmaker with the knowledge and expertise of the specific brand’s engineering.  You guessed it: This will result in pricier service charges.


What's Classified As An In-House Movement?

As mentioned above, the parameters of an in-house movement are a bit blurry and raise a lot of questions.  For example, how much of the movement must be produced by the company to fall under this category?  Must a company produce everything, like their own jewels and hairsprings, or can they outsource certain parts?  Should heavy modified standard movements be called in-house movements? 

There isn’t a clear-cut answer to these questions.  It is up to the discretion of the consumer to draw the line and purchase accordingly.  All we can do is provide the information needed to make an informed decision.

-Affordable Wrist Time

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