Watch Snob on In-House Movements and Classic Watches

Watch Snob on In-House Movements and Classic Watches

Watch Snob Dissects the In-House Movement

You Don’t Forget the First Time

My first admiration to luxury watches was recently started upon receiving a Grand Seiko SBGJ219 as a gift from my wife. In fact that’s the only luxury watch I have. As my passion grows, I found myself in the pre-owned watch markets, but I often get confused with the use of the term “in-house movement” which generally receives higher appreciation than ones with outsourced movements (Breitling may be the perfect example).

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Although it is not always the case for brands such as Zenith or Grand Seiko that are reasonably priced, the assumption of non in-house movement watches received less appreciation can totally be misleading for brands such as Rolex Daytona 16520 with Zenith movement, Panerai Radiomir PAM 190 with Jaeger movement, or Montblanc with Minerva or any holy trinity watches with Caliber 920 supplied by Jaeger.

My questions are: Would it be significant to consider buying watch with in-house movement? Would it be poor judgement if I consider in-house movement the last priority? How could I justify in-house movement when buying pre-owned watches?

The whole in-house movement issue is an interesting one on so many levels. I suppose you could say that it matters, if it matters to you. Taken on its own, whether a movement is made in-house or not tells us little to nothing about the quality or inherent interest of a watch. You have only to look at how many different watches used variations on the Valjoux 72, or the Lemania CH27; some of them have as little to do with each other as chalk with cheese and yet technically they’re all using the same movement. Except, of course, they’re not. Different makers have done very different things with the same base movement, in terms of construction and finishing. The fact that Patek used the CH27 while Omega used another version of the same movement doesn’t diminish the value of what Patek historically added to the base caliber in terms of finish and construction.

Rolex makes its own movements, in-house, but that would not matter very much if they were not excellent movements.

In general, I would suggest evaluating watches on a case-by-case basis, rather than with the blunt instrument that is in-house vs. outsourced. Historically, most of the Swiss brands didn’t make their own movements anyway — Vacheron Constantin, for example, after World War II generally had its movements made by Jaeger-LeCoultre and did so until relatively recently, and the quality of its watches are none the worse for it.

You Can Go Both Ways

After having devoured your articles to gain an iota of horological knowledge, I’ve finally made it to a juncture of having to choose a watch. For me it will be an everyday watch for work and socialising, now as to the dilemma a Tudor Pelagos (LHD) or an Omega Speedmaster racing? I’m ambidextrous so can get away with either.

I think you will probably find the two watches more or less the same when it comes to sartorial versatility — they’re neither of them especially a dress watch although the Speedmaster Racing might be just a marginally better fit with business attire. It really depends on what kind of office you work in — increasingly, standards for dress in the workplace continue to drop and the notion of having to wear what used to be called a dress watch no longer really obtains (much of this is due to the pernicious influence of tech culture, but there is no turning back that particular tide of mediocrity).

Personally I have had, since it came out, rather a sneaking admiration for the Tudor Pelagos Left-Hand Drive. There is no reason whatsoever for me to especially like the watch as not only am I not left-handed, I am not even remotely ambidextrous (I am however an excellent juggler as well as reasonably good at sleight-of-hand for an amateur; Nature does not distribute her gifts equally).

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However there is something about that one, quirky detail that I find strangely appealing. This is probably an inevitable consequence of age and too close attention to an article of connoisseurship; you find you can only be titillated by the outre.

Your Choice is Clear

It is my 29th birthday today and I told myself I would buy my first $4,000-to-$5,000 watch when I reach 30 (and before I get married). I would like to consult your wisdom as part of my due diligence.

I would like to ask your advice to make a good decision because I will not be able to afford another purchase of this amount for a long time as I’ll be saving for the necessities — house, car, future family, etc. So let’s just say I’m looking for a one-watch that will be my companion for at least the next five to 10…

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