Watch Companies and the huge markups. A luxury watch shouldn’t cost a fortune.
Wright Watches is a watch studio based in Europe, trying to enter the watch industry as a startup company. We would like to talk about the many factors around the concept of a watch, the design, prototyping, the production and finally the marketing.
First things first! The movement is the first thing that needs to be decided above all else. It is one of the most important decisions (if not the most important) before the actual design and prototyping of the watch.
The reason? Well, it is the core of the watch. It’s the beating heart of the timepiece that will last decades to come. Moreover, the movement is the key factor that decides how the watch will look. It determines the size, the dial, and the hands.
Basically everything around a watch revolves around the movement.
In the movement world there are 2 paths that can be followed. The quartz or the mechanical.
Quartz movements are known for their reliability and their precision due to the fact that they have substantially fewer moving parts than their mechanical counterparts. Also, they are much cheaper than a mechanical movement which makes them very affordable and easy to source from almost any factory in the world. They are also battery powered. This means that a quartz movement runs non-stop from the second the battery is inserted until it runs out.
Good Quartz movements have batteries that last around 3–5 years unless they are assisted by an additional solar panel, then they last forever.
Quartz movements are essentially a great choice when designing a watch. The reasons being, they are cheap, reliable, thin and they offer unlimited design options when it comes to the dial.
Every quartz movement can easily be housed into a custom case with a unique custom dial on top of it. I won’t get into much detail about it because I wouldn’t want to bore you.
Mechanical movements on the other hand need a much different approach and technique. A mechanical movement is naturally less accurate and at the same time less reliable than a quartz movement. The reason being, the immense amount of moving parts inside a tiny case. Moreover, they are very vulnerable when it comes to dropping them or mishandling them.
Mechanical movements can be found in 2 categories; Manual and Automatic. Automatic movements have a noticeable weight difference than manual, due to the rotor that spins around the mechanism to keep the watch wound and accurate. This means as long as you wear the watch it will never stop.
Manual movements need to be wound almost every single day in order to keep them ticking. Manual or Automatic need to be cleaned and re-lubricated often in order for all the parts to run free without any friction or wear. Lack of service in a mechanical watch will cause it to be inaccurate and most probably to fail.
Mechanical movements are the opposite of quartz movements. They are much more expensive than quartz and of course very hard to find. (Unless you know where to look).
The most known mechanical movements are manufactured by a company called ETA which is owned by the Swatch Group. For many years the ETA movements were very easy to source, until the Swatch Group put a stop to that.
The availability of the movements were drastically reduced and now it is almost impossible to source, unless you are working alongside them as an approved partner. Furthermore, there is no way anybody can source them directly from the company.
By 2019, Only the Swatch Group will be able to use ETA movements in their timepieces and that includes huge names in the industry.
Only a select few brands will be unaffected, such as Omega, Tissot etc. All these changes were made to avoid big risks in regards to manufacturing. The most logical reason behind it, is to force Swiss Watch brands to manufacture their own mechanical movements rather than just sourcing them from ETA in order to keep alive the Swiss Watch Industry and at the same time to have a healthy competition between them. The decision is/was a very reasonable one but not one that was liked by many.
That being said, small watch manufacturers can still source ETA movements but they need to head down the grey market path. In the grey market excess stock can be found in random quantities and uneven accessibility; but even if a company can manage to source them from the grey market it still will cost an arm and a leg because the minimum quantities to purchase would be around 2,000 expensive mechanical movements.
That again gives us the conclusion that is again impossible to do. (If you are a small/startup watch company/studio)
However, there are other manufacturers in Europe that have reliable movements and much easier to source such as; Soprod, Concepto, Sellita. The problem with those is that they are still extremely expensive like ETA. Their entry level prices ranging from 150–200$/movement. Which again rules out the use of them for a studio like Wright Watches who is trying to create a complete watch experience for under 250$ in order to be competitive.
It is humanly impossible to be able to manufacture a 250$ watch with a 150–200$ movement inside of it. Don’t forget it’s not only about the movement. There are still other parts to take into consideration; hands, crown, pushers, dial, straps, boxes etc.
That’s when a watch company turns to the Japanese movement scene, specifically, Miyota. Whose movements are manufactured by the Citizen Group, a worldwide known corporation. Miyota movements are very reliable, precise and of course the attention to detail is enormous. We as a team set out for the Miyota 8215 to power our timepieces because we wanted an affordable robust movement that can easily “beat” for decades to come.
It is an extraordinary world-known, Japanese automatic movement featuring a power reserve of more than 40 hours. It has a high bph of 21,600 (6 half-cycles per second) accompanied by 21 jewels for high/reliable accuracy. (Just for comparison, an average automatic watch features only 15–17 jewels) Moreover, the movement 8215 that can be found on all of our watches incorporates Miyota’s proprietary shock resistance technology “Parashock” which ensures better stability, minimizes friction and ensures an amazing watch experience.
This exceptional movement features 3-hands and a date. It has been compared countless times against the ETA2824 movement that can be found in other luxury watches such as Tudor. Our movement has been developed and manufactured by Miyota, an outstanding Japanese manufacturer with a worldwide presence and a reputation for quality, precision and accountability on every single movement they deliver.
On the other hand, in the watch industry, Japanese and Chinese movements are often described as untrustworthy and poorly made. Some of these justifications are mostly true. Many movements out there are cheaply made and of course they are unreliable. But, for someone who took months of investigation, had a number of debates on many different forums, had many conversations with horologers and summed it all up, Miyota movements and more specifically Miyota 8215 was the perfect choice for our line of watches that can easily satisfy anyone wearing it.
I can keep going about the movement’s matter which as we said in the beginning is the most important decision a watch designer must make but I don’t want this story to bore you.
As a final point I would like to thank every single one of you, who took the time to read our story (more to come). Let’s stay connected. You can sign up to our mailing list and receive all of our updates/offers before anyone else. I would also like to mention that we will be going live early next year (Q1) on Kickstarter so if you want to learn more subscribe. Also you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and of course here on Medium.
Thanks and I hope you have a good one! Stay tuned for more.