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A Guide to Common Automatic Watch Movements

These are the third-party, automatic calibers being utilized by a multitude of brands today.

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Zen Love

A "movement" is what you'll find inside a watch powering it, and companies that design and produce their own in-house are given a good deal of respect in the industry. Many watchmaking concerns, however (and especially many micro-brands), rely instead upon a small number of tried-and-true calibers from several companies whose specialty is in producing movements themselves, rather than complete watches.

Utilizing these commonly available, outsourced movements allows the watchmakers to keep costs down and introduce a known quantity into the equation of watchmaking; these movements are relatively inexpensive, commonly available, and comparatively hassle-free to service.

You'll also find other versions of said calibers with tweaks in their names and features (day-of-the-week display, GMT, etc.), but what follows are some of the most well-known and commonly utilized automatic watch movements available today in their basic forms — along with examples of watches that use them:

ETA 2824-2

Doxa Sub 300
doxawatches.com
$1,890.00

One of the most ubiquitous and well-known automatic calibers available today, the ETA 2824-2 is based upon the Eterna 1247, which was first produced in 1955. The 2824-2 itself has been in production since 1982 and is available in four grades: Standard, Elaboré (improved), Top and Chronometer — as the grades increase, so does the movement’s accuracy, finishing level and price. ETA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Swatch Group, has developed a new generation of upgraded movements for its group brands, while third parties primarily use legacy movements like the 2824.

Features: Hours, minutes, sweep seconds, date window
Diameter: 25.6 mm
Height: 4.6 mm
Jewels: 25
Vibrations Per Hour: 28,800 (4 Hz)
Hand-Winding Possible: Yes
Hacking: Yes
Power Reserve: 38 hrs
Country of Manufacture: Switzerland

Sellita SW200

Mondaine EVO2 Automatic
mondaine.com
$665.00

Sellita originally operated as an outsourced assembly operation for ETA, receiving near-complete 2824-2s and adding wheels, screws and other parts. When the Swatch Group (and thus ETA) started to phase out supply of the 2824-2 to companies outside of the Group, Sellita decided to produce their own clone of the movement, which they could do legally as the design patents on the 2824-2 had long since expired. Though the company added an extra jewel to the SW200, it is otherwise identical to the 2824-2.

Features: Hours, minutes, sweep seconds, date window
Diameter: 25.6 mm
Height: 4.6 mm
Jewels: 26
Vibrations Per Hour: 28,800 (4 Hz)
Hand-Winding Possible: Yes
Hacking: Yes
Power Reserve: 38 hrs
Country of Manufacture: Switzerland

Swiss Technology Production STP1-11/3-13/5-15

Zodiac ZO9269 Super SEA Wolf
Zodiac amazon.com
$1,395.00

Established in 2008, Swiss Technology Production is the Fossil Group’s answer to ETA, and produces movements both for Fossil Group watch brands as well as third parties. The STP1-11 is the company’s base movement and has been engineered to fit anywhere a 2824-2 would, but it also comes in STP3-13 and STP3-15, which offer some differences. While STP headquarters is, in fact, a movement assembly facility, many of the movement components are produced by the Fossil Group or by other Swiss manufacturers, meaning that the STP family of movements is in compliance with the stringent “Swiss Made” standards in effect since 2017.

Features: Hours, minutes, sweep seconds, date window
Diameter: 25.6 mm
Height: 4.6 mm
Jewels: 26
Vibrations Per Hour: 28,800 (4 Hz)
Hand-Winding Possible: Yes
Hacking: Yes
Power Reserve: 44 hrs
Country of Manufacture: Switzerland

Miyota 9015

Marnaut Seascape 200C
marnaut.com
€388.99

Similar in feature set to the 2824-2 and the SW200, the 9015 is an automatic movement made by Miyota, which is part of the Citizen Group. First produced in 2009 and based upon the 8215 caliber, the 9015 differs from the 2824-2 in the number of jewels, the length of the power reserve, its height and the absence of multiple grades. Due to its relatively low price and wide availability, the 9015 is often utilized by microbrands ,but remains a higher-end option than the 8215 and related movements still found in many microbrand and other watches.

Features: Hours, minutes, sweep seconds, date window
Diameter: 26 mm
Height: 3.9 mm
Jewels: 24
Vibrations Per Hour: 28,800 (4 Hz)
Hand-Winding Possible: Yes
Hacking: Yes
Power Reserve: 42 hrs
Country of Manufacture: Japan

Seiko NH35A

Nodus Retrospect III
Noduswatches.com
$475.00

The NH35A is a Japanese automatic movement made by Seiko and unbranded when sold to third parties. When this movement is found in Seiko's own watches, it's called the 4R35. Inexpensive and relatively robust (though not as accurate straight from the factory as some of the Swiss offerings on this list), the NH35A is another Japanese alternative to the Swiss-made 2824-2 and SW200. It features both hand-winding and hacking and is only available in one grade.

Features: Hours, minutes, sweep seconds, date window
Diameter: 27.4 mm
Height: 5.32 mm
Jewels: 24
Vibrations Per Hour: 21,600 (3 Hz)
Hand-Winding Possible: Yes
Hacking: Yes
Power Reserve: 41 hrs
Country of Manufacture: Japan

Valjoux/ETA 7750

Junghans Max Bill Chronoscope Automatic
$2,200.00

Originally produced by Valjoux (since absorbed by the Swatch Group) beginning in the 1970s, the Valjoux/ETA 7750 is perhaps the most widely-used automatic third-party chronograph movement in the world. Relying on a comparatively inexpensive and easily manufactured three-plane cam system in place of the classic column wheel, the 7750 automatic chronograph movement can be modified to display a date window, the day of the week, one less sub-dial, and a moon phase complication, rendering it incredibly versatile. It is also available in three grades, including Elaboré, Top and Chronomètre.

Features: hours, minutes, small seconds, 2 push-button chronograph (30-minute counter, 12-hour counter), possible date, day, moon phase
Diameter: 30 mm
Height: 7.9 mm
Jewels: 25
Vibrations Per Hour: 28,800 (4 Hz)
Hand-Winding Possible: Yes (but not recommended)
Hacking: Yes
Power Reserve: 40 hrs
Country of Manufacture: Switzerland

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