As a watchmaker with over 50 years of experience, I have repaired many types of timepieces, from wristwatches to grandfather clocks, with most being Swiss or Japanese. With my training in the old country, naturally many of the Swiss watches were either hand-wound, or automatic. The automatics of the day were just starting to come into their own with longer power reserves and accuracy. Swiss watches were the norm with minor influences of Japanese timepieces, prior to the 70’s.
As the mid-70’s wore on, the quartz revolution decimated the Swiss watch industry. Much has been said and written about this period of horological history, so I won’t dwell on it. As such, the Japanese watches were excellent timepieces with well-built cases and bracelets, and were ever so accurate. However, as time wore on (so to speak), the Japanese always changed parts and cases every few years, which made their watches obsolete after awhile. Only after many searches with the right contacts could I find parts to repair these watches, albeit at a high cost to the consumer. With the advent of digital quartz watches, it seemed the death knell was complete for the Swiss watch industry. To be fair to the Japanese, they introduced a low cost watch that looked good, and ran well. However, most digital watch repairs were limited to battery replacement, and minor movement regulation, since they were made of electronic components.
During the course of time up to and including today, I repaired many Swiss watches, both old and new. Except for the higher end watches such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Ulysse Nardin, etc. (which are a pleasure to work on) most Swiss watches contained the ETA, AS, or Valjoux movements. With the advent of major competition with the Japanese, most of the Swiss industry shifted from in-house to outsourced movements, namely ETA.
I saw this consolidation as a problem, not because the movements were not any good (they are and have always been good), but rather the cost associated with the purchase. Many famous Swiss watch companies started using ETA as their base movements, or templates with their own parts such as balance-staffs, polished and personalized rotors, etc., otherwise known as Ebauche. The problem I saw (and still do) is that except for the cases, the consumer is paying a high price for a name brand that contains movements that are inexpensive. In some cases, the consumer pays at least 5 times the value of the watch.
I personally like the ETA movements because they are proven workhorses and their longevity in the marketplace allow for easy parts replacement. With average high beats/hour (BPH) of 28,800, they are accurate for an automatic, and extremely easy to regulate. There are a variety of ETA movements suited to different watch styles and accuracy. Although I like ETA, it has been at least 15 years since I saw a watch that is worth the value placed in the making of the watch. Even some of the higher end brands (not naming names) cut corners in movement development, which is a shame.
To overcome this high cost, I decided to develop my own Sports watch. Our 200 meter ARA diving watches are produced with the ETA 2824-2 workhorse movement, and the cases and dials are marvelous. The key here is the price. These watches are worth the money. Take a good look at one of our watches and compare to more expensive brands in the $1,000 to $2,000 range, and you will be hard pressed to see a difference in quality.
Our new Quartz watches contain the Swiss Eta Quartz and is recommended for those seeking precise accuracy at a more economical price.
I personally pressure test our ARA Diving Watches and meticulously inspect all parts of the case, as well as the crown for any leakage and/or moisture. The gaskets hold up well under rigorous testing. I can tell the consumer with confidence that these watches are worth the money.
If you want to further discuss watches and their inner workings, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected]aw.ca or start a thread in our new watch forum. I look forward to hearing from you.