Defining what “in-house” means

Defining what “in-house” means

Postby koimaster » May 31st 2017, 10:34am

In-house movements create a lot of conversation and raise a lot of questions. Is an in-house movement truly better? Is it really worth the markup? Also, is it reasonable to expect watch brands to own every single part of their production—especially when that wasn’t industry standard pre-Quartz Crisis? Given the state of the watch industry right now, probably not. But these are all good questions nonetheless.

Defining what “in-house” means

Before we get in too deep, let’s straighten out some facts. Watch movements are difficult to produce at scale. Even the most basic mechanical movement has over 100 parts, and some contain over 1,000. Few companies have the capability or capital to produce all of the parts needed to make an entire watch movement within their own walls. And even the brands that produce true “in-house watch movements” still purchase certain highly-specialized parts from suppliers, including items like synthetic rubies, hair springs, and screws. In the end, brands pushing that “in-house” messaging are really just clever marketers. Which makes the debate all the more confusing.

Do conglomerates count?

These days, individual watch brands and parts suppliers belong to big luxury conglomerates like LVMH or Swatch Group. Which means that brands under one umbrella could claim to produce in-house movements because they source them from a supplier in the same family. ETA, owned by Swatch Group, sells its movements to companies like OMEGA and Hamilton, but neither brand will claim their ETA base calibers are in-house movements. So there’s clearly a limit to the definition. (Read: What is an ETA Movement?)


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