is a Swiss
producer of mechanical and quartz watch movements.
It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swatch Group
(full business name ETA SA Manufacture Horlogère Suisse
) is a Swiss
producer of mechanical and quartz watch movements
. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swatch Group
. The company specializes in the production of ébauche
movements which are used in a number of mechanical watches
. ETA has owned several important Swiss watch movement companies including Valjoux
, Peseux and Lemania, for a number of years. In fact the company is the result of successive consolidation of the Swiss watch industry. ETA manufactures quartz movements, hand wound movements and mechanical movements powered by self-winding mechanisms
. Because ETA maintains vertical
control over the manufacturing of all of the components required to create a watch movement (save for the hairsprings which are made by its sister company Nivarox
) ETA may be considered a true manufacturer
A Brief History
ETA SA Manufacture Horlogère Suisse
is one of the world's largest manufacturers of watches and movements. In 1856 at Grenchen
, Urs Schild, a schoolmaster, and Dr. Girard set up a watch movement (ébauche
) factory which eventually became Eterna
. In 1926, ETA AS (the movement branch of Eterna, founded in 1896) and FHF (founded in 1793) took part in the creation of Ebauches Ltd. In 1978 AS and ETA merged and in 1985 ETA took in all the activities done before by Ebauches Ltd and FHF (both part of SMH/Swatch Group).
In 1998, SMH Swiss Corporation for Microelectronics and Watchmaking Industries Ltd, founded in 1983 through the merger Swiss watchmakers ASUAG and SSIH, was renamed the Swatch Group.
At the time, both SSIH and ASUAG held a number of well-established Swiss watch brands. ASUAG had been founded in 1931. ASUAG expanded through the purchase of companies that made movement-blanks and a number of finished watch manufacturers that were subsequently brought together under the subsidiary GWC, General Watch Co. Ltd.
SSIH was founded in 1930 through the amalgamation of Omega and Tissot. By consolidating companies that produced high-quality movements and a number of watch brands, SSIH gradually established a strong position in the Swiss watch industry.
In the 1930s, both ASUAG and SSIH entered into complementary research and development programs to combat a severe economic crisis. Following repeated crises in the Swiss watch industry, by the 1970s both ASUAG and SSIH were again in trouble. Foreign competition and the mass production of cheap new electronic products were taking over the market. Eventually, both ASUAG and SSIH faced bankruptcy.
In 1983, critical steps including the merger of ASUAG and SSIH into SMH and the launching of a low-cost, high-tech, artistic and emotional “second watch” - the Swatch.
Brands using ETA movements
Mechanical ETA movements are commonly used in many "mid-range" brands such as Bulova
, Mido, Oris
, TAG Heuer
, and also in many "high-end" watch brands such as Breitling
, Officine Panerai
, Porsche Design
, Rado , certainly among others. ETA's Quartz Movement lines are used in both "high-end" quartz brands as well as more affordable brands, such as Calvin Klein, flik-flak, Swatch and Swiss Army among others. At the very least, the ETA movements usually carry the watch brands' name on the automatic rotor or otherwise on the top plate if the watch is a manual-wind movement. The more prestigious brands such as Omega and IWC, undertake significant modifications of the basic ETA movement. The numerous modifications and the great care taken, completely transform the original, mass-produced movement by ETA into something new.
Workhorse mechanical movements
In recent years there has been an increase in interest in mechanical watches. ETA supplies the overwhelming majority of mechanical watch movements found in Swiss watches. As such, the ETA movements are considered the workhorses on the industry. Moreover, ETA has come to control a virtual monopoly
over the production and supply of watch movements, more on that issue below
One workhorse of the ETA mechanical line is the ETA 2824-2, The 2824 is an automatic winding, twenty-five (25) jewel movement, available in four executions or grades: Standard, Elaborated (improved), Top and Chronometer
. The key components which differ at the line of demarcation between Elaborated and Top are the barrel spring, shock protection system, pallet stones, balance wheel & hairspring and the regulator mechanism. To illustrate the differences in accuracy garnered by the successive grades, consider the following specifications:
- the Standard grade is adjusted in two positions with an average rate of +/-12 seconds/day, with a maximum daily variation of +/-30 seconds/day;
- the Elaborated grade is adjusted in three positions with an average rate of +/-7 seconds/day, with a maximum daily variation of +/-30 seconds/day;
- while the Top grade is adjusted in five positions with an average rate of +/-4 seconds/day, with a maximum daily variation of +/-10 seconds/day.
The Chronometer grade must meet strict standards prescribed by the COSC. Chronometer grade movements are serial numbered as that is a requirement of the certification authority. Moreover, it should be noted that the degree of decoration on the movement's parts, generally only an aesthetic improvement, increases as well with the grade.
The ETA 2892.A2 Or for a description in English see is
however, widely considered the more upscale of the basic ETA movements, and it certainly a newer design dating to the 1970s where as the 2824 traces its roots back to the 1950s. The 2892 is fitted with top quality components. The 2892 is an automatic winding, twenty-one (21) jewel movement, available in three executions or grades: Elaborated, Top and Chronometer. The key components which differ at the line of demarcation between Elaborated and Top are the pallet stones, balance wheel & hairspring
, and the regulator mechanism. To illustrate the differences in accuracy garnered by the successive grades, consider the following specifications:
- the Elaborated grade is adjusted in four positions with an average rate of +/-5 seconds/day, with a maximum daily variation of +/-20 seconds/day;
- while the Top grade is adjusted in five positions with an average rate of +/-4 seconds/day, with a maximum daily variation of +/-15 seconds/day.
The Chronometer grade must meet strict standards prescribed by the [COSC]: an average rate of -4/+6 with a maximum daily variation of +/-5 seconds/day. The wider range for the Chronometer grade is designed to take into account the differences in a watches rate between static positions, as when the tests are performed, and the dynamic positions as when a watch is actually worn. Chronometer grade movements are serial numbered. Moreover, the degree of decoration on the movement's parts, generally an aesthetic improvement, increases with the grade.
The 2892.A2 is regarded by many horologists as being in the same 'quality' range (accuracy and reliability) as the in-house produced Rolex movements. Insofar as accuracy is concerned any movement which is expected to be COSC-certified, or is in fact COSC-certified, must meet the same standards. The ETA 2892.A2 is usually found in the more expensive and prestigious watches and brands. Owing to its relatively slim height of 3.60 mm, the 2892.A2 is a favorite of watch brands that market complicated movements such as Breitling with its trademark chronograph (stop watches). Given the slim dimensions of the 2892, it provides a good platform on which to add or build a chronograph complication.
The Omega Coaxial based upon an ETA movement
Omega's popular Seamaster line of watches currently use an embellished version of the ETA 2892.A2, which is known as the Omega 1120. As an adjunct, some versions of the Omega watches may be fitted with the proprietary Co-axial escapement
invented by George Daniels
, an English horologist and exclusively marketed by Omega
a sister company of ETA. The movement with the co-axial escapement
is known as the Omega 2500 series and is derived from the ETA 2892.
The Valjoux 7750 a/k/a ETA 7750 is a widely used chronograph (stop watch) movement operated by with cams integrated into the movement. The traditional mechanism used in the chronograph is known as the Column Wheel. With the advent of the Valjoux 7750, the column wheel was abandoned for a three (3) plane cam system. The three plan cam system is properly known as the Coulisse Levier
mechanism. The system and movement were developed by Edmond Capt in 1970, as a fully integrated self-winding mechanism with quick-set day/date based on the Valjoux 7733.
The movement is an automatic winding, twenty-five (25) jewel movement, which can be fitted with a variety of features including the triple date (day, date, month and moon phase) or a variety of two and three register models with totalizers or counters for minutes, seconds and hours. It is available in three executions or grades: Elaborated, Top and Chronometer. The key components which differ at the line of demarcation between Elaborated and Top are the pallet stones, balance wheel & hairspring and the regulator mechanism. To illustrate the differences in accuracy garnered by the successive grades, consider the following specifications: the Elaborated grade is adjusted in three positions with an average rate of +/-5 seconds/day with a maximum daily variation of +/-15 seconds/day; while the Top grade is adjusted in five positions with an average rate of +/-4 seconds/day with a maximum daily variation of +/-10 seconds/day. The Chronometer grade must meet strict standards prescribed by the [COSC]: an average rate of -4/+6 with a maximum daily variation of +/-5 seconds/day.
Monopoly allegations and investigations
In the Swiss watch industry, there was a two-year investigation into certain aspects of the business practices of ETA SA. The investigation was concluded in November 2005 by the Swiss Competition Commission with the finding that ETA was abusing its dominant market position. ETA had had the intention to discontinue its supply of ébauches
(movement blanks) as of January 2006 and thereafter to supply only fully assembled watch movements and its own brands (the so-called “phasing-out”).
ETA argued that it was overwhelmed with orders and that its ébauches were sometimes ending up in fake (a/k/a replica or trademark pirated watches). ETA also warned that there could be another crisis in Swiss watch making unless there was more innovation and investment. Nicolas Hayek, then the CEO of Swatch, the parent of ETA observed,
"[t]ere was no innovation, no new development, and when I pushed them to start doing new production, everybody started shouting... I said I was not going to deliver any more of my movements unless they try to do their own production... Otherwise the Swiss watch industry will suffer exactly the same problems it had before and it will go down.
However, the investigations revealed that ETA held a dominant position in the market for Swiss made mechanical ébauches up to a unit price of CHF 300. The regulators determined that stopping deliveries to third parties would have threatened the future of many small watchmakers in Switzerland and the termination of supply was to be regarded as an unlawful refusal to do business and therefore as an abusive practice. For numerous competitors, the implementation of the phasing-out within such a short time meant in practical terms that they had been deprived of the basis for their business activity, as there was no alternative supplier.
In an amicable settlement, ETA committed to supply the ébauches until the end of 2008 at the current volume and thereafter for two additional years at a reduced volume. This will create a situation in which alternative production plants may be set up. The regulators said the agreement gives small watch making companies in Switzerland enough time to adapt to the market and find new producers.
This has spurred on progress in the watch movement circles with several brands developing proprietary movements, for example Panerai. Another discrete movement maker, Progress Watch Corp. also came into the market for a period of time. ETA movements have also been duplicated by various enterprises including Asian manufacturers and are usually being produced without license.