History[ edit ] ETA is the result of successive consolidation of the Swiss watch industry, a combination of several former Swiss watch movement manufacturers including Valjoux , Peseux   and Lemania. In at Grenchen , Urs Schild, a schoolmaster, and Dr. By consolidating companies that produced high-quality movements and a number of watch brands, SSIH gradually established a strong position in the Swiss watch industry. ASUAG had been founded in ASUAG expanded through the purchase of companies that made movement-blanks and a number of finished watch manufacturers that were subsequently brought together under the subsidiary General Watch Co GWC. Foreign competition and the mass production of cheap new electronic products were taking over the market.
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Wednesday, March 27, Integrated vs. We concluded that an overhaul is a labour intensive and time consuming process which requires skills gained by years of practicing. We also concluded that the more complex the movement, the more costly it is to service it. Over the years many watch manufacturers went out of business for the very reason they got into it in the first place: a complex product which required labour and skills in both manufacturing and maintenance was often too expensive for the average watch owner.
The advancement of battery operated watches in late 70s and early 80s brought the Swiss watch industry to the brink of extinction. Only the fittest and strongest of watchmakers survived the Japanese onslaught. Small guys disappeared, and those in middle who had manufacturing capabilities or provided a unique service to the industry were eventually absorbed by the big players.
In the s some Swiss makers ventured into the field of modular engineering. This was an effort to retain mechanical complexity, yet to make the end product easier to manufacture and assemble - and eventually, easier to service. In reality, the concept itself is as old as watchmaking. More about purists later. Here is the essence of modular watch technology. And then, there are some which are only engaged on demand - like a stop watch. Ironically, those blocks which do the least amount of work are often the most complex ones to pull apart, assemble and adjust.
Practically, due to functional integration and complexity you hate that word too, do you? So, you may ask and rightly so! The answer is yes - and it is called the ETA It is a self-winding automatic watch with date and chronograph stop watch function.
There is not much to be seen from the dial side, so here is a photo of the back: Again, from this view, looks like any ordinarily automatic watch- except for one detail: there is no sign of a chrono unit! On the right, the chrono module hoses a very complex but low-maintenance unit.
The level of modular integration or should I say: modular separation is really amazing. Unfortunately, the photos above do not reveal much of the complexity - not only each unit contains close to parts, but each module does what it is supposed to do even when completely separated!
If you are a mechanically minded person, then you would appreciate how difficult it is to "break" the motion yet still maintain precision in execution and accuracy in performance. Here is a photo which shows those 3 points of connection: It goes without saying that watchmakers just adore the modular concept! If there is no fault in the chrono or calendar unit, a watchmaker can overhaul the watch without even having to remove the dial and hands! A 4 hours job reduced to 45 minutes.
Now, by disclosing all this information to you, you may think you have enough ammunition to accuse your watchmaker of cutting corners. In case of fault, ETA would supply a complete module only. So by not pulling it apart, your watchmaker is actually saving you some serious money! Of course, the base module should be serviced the same way as any other automatic watch. Apart from TAG Heuer, there are number of other Swiss makers who happily use the very same movement — most noticeably, the Omega Speedmaster Reduced automatic chronograph.
The answer to this question is: blame the purists! If the critics are failed actors, then the purists are failed critics! There is of course nothing wrong with that - except that such view is based on an extremely narrow minded understanding of watchmaking and horology in general. If I make a statement that "classical music is the only one worth listening to, except perhaps for jazz" then that would give you a fairly good idea of how narrow minded and disjointed I am.
Also, this would be a great moment to switch to a completely different subject - or even better, leave the room. Watch purists are exactly like that. They only recognize a handful of watch manufacturers as "true watchmakers" and everyone else who does not fit in their narrow-minded view are not worth worshiping. For a purist, a modular movement is a betrayal of the watchmaking tradition, which, according to them, demands that all components must be placed in layers only above or below the main plate.
Of course, the current trend of the Swiss industry is towards complex, labour intensive, highly branded products designed to please wealthy purists, not an average watch owner or God forbid - a watchmaker.
Old-fashioned watchmakers believe in conspiracy theory that Swiss watch houses are infiltrated and managed by a new generation of purists who come from high fashion, banking and management background, not the watchmaking side of business and who will continue to push watch production beyond common sense. Practical, serviceable and affordable are no longer engineering pre-requisites. Posted by Nick at.
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