Watch Out Now: Movement Defined with Zenith

The Third in an Eleventh-part Series.

Whether you opt for an inexpensive everyday watch or a limited-edition collector’s chronograph, the watch on your wrist plays a big part in defining your style. Undoubtedly, the best watch is going to be one that you wear, one that fits your budget and matches your lifestyle.

No matter what you’re looking for, now is the time to get it. In the ports of call, take advantage of tax-free, duty-free prices and pick up a designer watch for hundreds—even thousands—of dollars less than what you’d pay back at home.

So even if you’ve never thought about buying a watch before—or if you’ve thought about it and didn’t know where to start—rest assured it’s not as…complicated as it looks. We asked Keith W. Strandberg, the international editor of the industry-standard Watch Journal, to put together an insider’s guide to the world of fine timepieces.

And so, welcome to Watch Wednesday–it’s watches 101 combined with a trend and news roundup.

Maker Movement

The movement is the part of the watch that acts like its engine, powering the timekeeping function. There are two types.

Quartz: Powered by a battery.

Mechanical: Marvels of micro-engineering, with hundreds of internal parts often assembled by hand, entirely dependent on gears and springs to show the time. Automatic movements are self winding. Manual movements are not.

One of the big debates in watchmaking today is the importance of an in-house mechanical movement. At the start of the watchmaking industry, companies would work with specialized suppliers and artisans scattered throughout Switzerland to create the movements that powered the watches being designed.

Zenith was one of the first companies to bring all the various movement-manufacturing operations under one roof—in 1865, in fact, in Le Locle, Switzerland, where the company combined all the watchmaking professions, producing the movements, dials, and cases from the same facility. The goal was to create the most accurate and reliable watches ever made.

Today, Zenith continues to produce its famous El Primero caliber—the first automatic integrated chronograph in history, created in 1969—and Elite movements in-house. The Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969, shown above, showcases the famous in-house movement in its iconic, open form.

Is in-house better than the traditional Swiss production method? Not necessarily, but it certainly makes sense to bring at least critical operations in-house so quality can be guaranteed and it’s possible to respond to market developments quickly—which Zenith can attest to.

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