lthough high craftsmanship and exclusive mechanisms tend to hog the limelight, these more modest movements are, as Pierre Maillard explains in his report, the beating heart of the watch industry. The universally accessible base movement, workhorse or “tracteur”, as it is known in a watchmaking vernacular often peppered with rustic idioms, is the true guardian of horological diversity, not the products of elite manufactures that pride themselves on their vertical integration.
Ever since powerhouse ETA declared it would no longer be the industry’s movement supermarket, alternatives began to emerge. This required a strong dose of entrepreneurial fortitude, given that the Comco has blown hot and cold over the past decade, resulting in numerous stops and starts. Pierre Maillard took himself off to explore the Jura Arc – on both sides of the Franco-Swiss border – and visit the companies that unapologetically target high sales volumes, supplying base calibres to a diverse clientele. The biggest in terms of production is undoubtedly Sellita, whose CEO Miguel Garcia was recently awarded the Prix Gaia for his industrial vision. Kenissi, a product of Tudor’s accomplished manufacturing base, is also emerging as a key player.
Some movement manufacturers have nevertheless chosen to focus on the most exclusive calibres (while, in many cases, producing more standard solutions in parallel). Among those mentioned in this dossier, Le Cercle des Horlogers has enjoyed a surge in popularity recently, with numerous brands including Louis Vuitton, Jacob & Co. and Biver proudly showcasing their partnership with this innovative firm. It’s not often that a supplier becomes a prestigious calling card!
And let’s not forget that the watch industry is global. Some Swiss-based brands have gone so far as to challenge the status quo by using foreign-made movements. In this dossier we also meet a major international actor: Miyota of Japan. And we take a brief detour to France, where many initiatives are starting to bear fruit. In the coming months and years we will continue to explore this fascinating and fundamental topic, and the key players shaping its future.