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.