Saturday, July 8, 2017

Time: A bit more insight into an old 'in-house' movement scandal.

I've started looking at bit more in-depth at a couple newish in-house movements by new companies that don't have any significant horological history.

First issue is with Bvlgari which is claiming that a catalog-picked Vaucher caliber is in-house. But what's telling about the watch 'journalists' is that they are writing about this and their articles are using photos of the movement that CLEARLY show the Vaucher hallmark on the movement. So Bvlgari, or the journalists, or both, are frauds. Sigh...

This led my memory back to the Great Bremont In-house Wright Brothers Movement Scandal. They got caught trying to pass off a catalog Lajoux Perret movement as designed and developed in the UK. Uh-oh. In the shitstorm that followed they first attacked the claim as industrial espionage by competitors for the 'leak' of an image that was used to compare the LJP to the Bremont. They claimed they helped engineer it, had their own movement designers work on it, and that you'd only see it in a Bremont since it was brand new. Then photos of a predeceding Arnold and Son with the same movement, plus a module, surfaced and their whole narrative died horribly. They went on damage control and in a video discussing their 'naïvety' one of the founders sure looked stressed out. And that pretty much ended things. They claimed the partnership was their first step to true Manufactory status, and that they would continue to develop more and more themselves, and be careful that there weren't any more misunderstandings in the future.

Fast forward to today and where are Bremont now with their in-house status? Nothing has changed beyond their terminology. The movement is now used in a car-themed watch (rather than the original aviation-themed watch) and this exclusive movement costs £3600 more than an identical watch with an ÉTA 7753 chronograph, Chronometer grade. And I should mention that their exclusive movement is just an automatic 3 hander with date. That is a fuckton more money for less functionality. The rest of their line is still catalog movements. And the exclusive one hasn't trickled down to normal prices in other lineups they have.

"So what?" You ask. "Lots of other companies charge a fuckton of money for functionally identical in-house movements." Yes, Jimmy, they do. But for a true Manufactory they've spent money on r&d, development of supply chains, capital equipment to make the parts, and human capital to run every thing. Bremont at best makes some of the easiest components (they mentioned bridge and rotor, a 20 foot long piece of brass and a little Haas VMC office CNC running the G-code provided by LJP covers about a year's worth of production) for a pre-existing, developed, tested movement, with no risk (assuming you don't overstep your claims of what you do yourself).

But then I got to examining the Lajoux Perret movements themselves.  Well, well, what do we have here?

Yeah, Lajoux Perret is just making modifications to ÉTA catalog movements.
The movement they put into the Arnold and Son 90 hours power reserve, ultra thin handwind? Peseux/ÉTA 7001, with an extra mainspring barrel.  This Bremont movement? A Valjoux/ÉTA 7750 stripped of it's automatic winding and chronograph components. They do use space left behind to put in their own bi-directional system, but everything else is Valjoux development.

Have a look at the attached pics, including the infamous overlay gif. The first batch of three are: the Bremont, a stripped Valjoux, the gif. The next are: a Peseux 7001, the Arnold and Son made from a 7001 train with an extra barrel, and some fancy Arnold and Son movement made with a couple 7001 trains jammed into a single movement with lots of proprietary stuff too, an LJP tonneau design made from reorganizing a 7001 train.