Well here you have it, the year is coming to an end, presents are being bought, Nic is basting the turkey, everyone is in the festive spirit. For the last Halfwatchtuesday article of the year we thought we’d give a rundown of the movements commonly found in boutique brands
You know the love we have for the enthusiast sphere on HWT, however, sometimes the options of what makes their watches tick can be a little confusing, we are at hand to clear the mist and show the way.
The first thing we should state is none of the movements we are about to mention are bad, if they were brands wouldn’t use them. Many movements share qualities and, in some cases, could be described as clones. The question is more is the movement correct for the price of the watch?
The most commonly used movements by enthusiast brands today would include the Seiko NH35, Miyota 9015, Selitta SW200 and of course the ETA 2824.
Let’s get some commonality out of the way first. All these movements have time and date with central seconds. All have hacking seconds and hand-winding, a power reserve of 38-42 seconds and beat at 28800 bph unless otherwise stated. So, let’s kick off starting with the movement that will be expected in the most affordable watches.
In Seiko circles this is known as the 4R35, but takes on the moniker NH35(a) when made available to other companies. It is one of the world’s most popular movements and is widely used in enthusiast brands as it allows the cost to be kept down whilst still having a reliable and robust movement. The movement beats at 21600bph, pushing out a power reserve of 41 hours; accuracy is not a strong point with a range of -20 to + 40 seconds per day.
This movement will be found in many of the most affordable watches that Seiko and microbrands push out, but don’t let that put you off, there are some great watches that tick with the NH35 including the Seiko Samurai, the Zelos Swordfish and the brand new Nodus Sector. Expect to see this movement in watches costing sub £100 like The Invicta Pro diver up to around £400 (the most expensive watch I can find with an NH35 is the Alsta Nautoscaph at £795!). The good thing with the NH35 is there is only one grade so you know what you are getting.
One issue is what to do when your movement needs a service, especially when they quote can come to half of the price of the watch, one option is to just flip out the movement for a new one, given they cost less than £40
This is the new kid on the block having been introduced in 2009 and has great popularity in the enthusiast realm for good reason. Owned by Citizen, the Miyota 9015 is only 3.9mm tall so allows watch brands more versatility in terms of case design, it also beats at a faster 28800 bph for a smoother second-hand sweep than the NH35. Although accuracy is stated as -10 to +30 seconds per day, real-world experience (including my own) tends to be a lot tighter than that. I have also found hand-winding this movement to be the smoothest of the four mentioned here.
The movement is actually quite pleasing to look at, perhaps the best looking of the four mentioned here. Miyota ship the movement with tastefully polished stripes. The rotor is fairly blank though, but this is fertile ground for brands to add a bit of customisation
You will find the 9015 in watches starting at around £200 such as the Corniche Heritage 40, but more commonly expect to pay somewhere between £350-£800. Two watches that have really impressed me with this movement are my own Nodus Contrail and the Visitor Linden. My favourite watch with a 9015 is the Autodromo Group B which come in at a budget-stretching $975.
Many might sniff at the 9015 wishing for a swiss counterpart instead, but in this humble reviewer’s opinion it is not a lesser movement and I am more than happy owning a watch with it inside.
‘Swiss Movement’ are words that carry gravitas, so it is no surprise that many brands have looked to Sellita for their ebauches. The movement can be described as an ETA 2824 clone, its popularity has grown in recent years due to the relative scarcity of the ETA movements (although we are hearing Sellita movements are also becoming harder to get a hold of).
Like ETA, the Sellita comes in four grades ranging from ‘standard’ (-12 to +30 secs/day) to Chronometer (-2 to +6 secs/day). For this reason the SW200 can be found in a huge range of watches from brands such as from the excellent Raven Endeavour to such well-known names as Oris and IWC, which is testament to its reliability, however I’ve never found it the most appealing movement to look at. And whilst I would not be so delighted to pay IWC money for one, I’d be more than happy with it inside my Christopher Ward Trident.
Finally, the big dog, the movement the others aspire to be and the one brands love to offer you. You just have to mention ETA in the technical specification and buyers are happy to pay the extra, it is Volkswagen, dependable, recognisable, easily serviceable…safe.
The issues are cost and supply. Owned by Swiss behemoth Swatch, the company flexed its muscle about a decade ago to try and throttle supply of movements to outside brands. Manufactures had one of two options, create their own in house movements, an expensive venture, or to look elsewhere (see above). There is some talk rearing its head again regarding the scarcity of supply.
The list of brands that tick with an ETA is long and recognisable. Names such as Stowa and Sinn sit alongside cult enthusiast brands such as Halios and Ming. You don’t however have to pay big bucks to rock a 2824, given the come four grades of accuracy, they can also be found in the much scoffed at Steinhart, for a tantalising value proposition.
There is of course in-house movements to be had in enthusiast brands, but that is a whole different article.
As can be seen there is a reasonable amount of choice to be had in movements with a fair crossover in prices. Part of the fun of watches is the chase and research for the next piece, we hope this article at least gives a small platform to build with. There is no good or bad movement here, just the best fit for different buyers.
Phew, now I’ve got that over with, it gives us great pleasure to present to you the last Halfwatch Tuesday’s Top picks for the year.
Where would we be without our friends who show up week and again with amazing shots. One of our most ardent supporters is the great @watchworldnz who shows of a characteristically excellent shot of the new Limited Edition Seiko Chronos, both of which are delicious.
Another friend who we’d be lesser without is the ultra-cool @iwcfishcrown, who treats us with this super moody Ingenieur shot, love the details in this Genta inspired case.
A lady who has brightened up our year with splashed of colour mixed with razor-sharp humor is @dianaevandillustration, she is a Top Gun in our book.
When @thewatchzealot comes to a party he goes the whole hog, we loved his Explorer ii shot.
We love a halfwatch lume shot so step up @givemeyourdough for his first entry in top picks
Screw shades of grey, we love @chrono.anachronist’s shades of blue, with two GMTs to boot.
Last up is our third new entrant of the week, @maxx_vdv has class oozing out of his Omega Constellation shot.
Time for one last shout out for the year. Halfwatch Tuesday is very happy to welcome @zippalini to the party. Their Instagram is just in its infancy, but it looks like they have a very individual looking design. We wish them luck in their endeavours.
Well, I guess you have worked it out, this is our last article of the year. We still pinch ourselves at what Halfwatch Tuesday become in the short time we have been about. We are blown away with the brands who have been kind enough to use our hashtag and even more delighted that many of you come back week in, week out and treat us to such amazing shots. We can’t put into words how much it all means to us or thank you enough. We hope it has been as much fun for you as us.
We always want to give back to the community and have enjoyed such ventures as the very successful Live reviews and helping community members make choose their next watch with #watchdeciderday. We are glad to announce more Live reviews will be coming in the new year.
One thing we have also realised is how much time and work is taken up with doing this the way we want to. We pride ourselves on being a hard-working hashtag and the time has come for us to take a short break until the 7th January to recharge our batteries and come back reinvigorated. Please keep posting your shots, have a great Xmas and we will see you in 2020.
Omair & Nic