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Old 05-04-2020, 06:12 PM
crisslyn crisslyn is offline
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Default Motorist: Overview of a Rapidly Changing Profession

The manufacturers of white label movements are in full swing. Stimulated by demand, they have never been so important, so varied, so competent.

For a brand wishing to launch a watch without having to produce its caliber, an obvious solution presents itself: buy movements from a third party. Whether they are called subcontractors, manufacturers, or engine manufacturers, these mechanical manufacturing specialists are as essential to Swiss watchmaking as the air to our lungs. The watch industry owes a lot to their turnkey or tailor-made products: its reputation, its commercial success, perhaps its survival. Indeed, there are far fewer movement manufacturers than brands and this has always been the case. Watch sellers are traditionally not the manufacturers.

This division of tasks has always structured the watchmaking production chain. Even since brands seek to produce their movements in a more important and systematic way, recent phenomenon, subcontracting, displayed or not, serves as a safety valve. And in fact, barely fifteen of the fifty most important watch brands are 100% autonomous in terms of caliber (which in no way implies any other form of subcontracting, if any).

Several major phases of industrial concentration, in the 1920s and 1980s, helped create the most powerful and established of them. Then in the 2000s, a movement of economic prosperity backed by the frenzy of buying luxury goods initiated a new fascinating phase. At the same time as certain powerful engine manufacturers reserved their production to their owners (watchmaking groups), others smaller emerged in order to take their place. They are called Sellita, BNB, La Fabrique du Temps, Soprod, Concepto or Chronode. What is striking about the contemporary panorama of engine manufacturers is its diversity. Indeed, between in-house manufacturers, generalists, volumists and high-end laboratories, the supply of white label movements has never been so varied.(In this MB&F, a Chronode movement)

First, let's talk about those who can do nothing for you: in-house manufacturing. They sell their movements exclusively within the group that owns them. Thus, the Breguet manufacture (formerly called Lemania) only produces for Breguet, Blancpain, Omega and Jaquet Droz. The Blancpain manufacture continues to supply its movements known as the Piguet to a few lucky people outside the Swatch Group, but less and less. Zenith sells its tourbillon, Elite and El Primero calibers to Hublot, TAG Heuer, Dior, Chaumet and Bulgari, all owned by LVMH. Girard-Perregaux does the same for Gucci or Boucheron in the fold of PPR. There remains an intriguing, little-known internal manufacture that does not communicate.

Based in Buttes, in the Val de Travers, Valfleurier was initially a department of Piaget which produced for other brands of the Richemont group. Then its growth combined with its need for independence led to the pooling of development and manufacturing resources which gave birth to a discreet giant. Cartier, IWC, Panerai, Baume and Mercier, use the calibers, most of which are exclusive but in some cases shared between brands. Valfleurier is also a machine for producing components. mostly exclusive but in some cases shared between brands. Valfleurier is also a machine for producing components. mostly exclusive but in some cases shared between brands. Valfleurier is also a machine for producing components.

The most intriguing category is as anecdotal as it is fundamental. Super high-end laboratories only offer prestigious complications. Chronographs with split-second option, perpetual calendar, tourbillon with long running time and even minute repeater are their kingdom. The two best known are APRP and Christophe Claret. The first, Renaud & Papi, is a subsidiary of Audemars Piguet which performs all the major complications of Richard Mille, but also of HYT or 4N. The second has supplied whirlwinds and minute repeaters of all stripes for the majority of brands with high-end products.
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