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Making Sense of Movements: Info Thread

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Making Sense of Movements: Info Thread

#1

Post by username » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:33 pm

These thoughts came from a discussion of whether a particular micro's move from the SW200 to a Miyota 9015 was an upgrade or a downgrade, and a post I made saying in essence that since that micro seemed to have been using base grade movements, I saw the 9015 as an upgrade, but that I find top grade movements pretty nifty by comparison. Well, a followup post developed into the thoughts below, which I'll mostly just paste directly without changing much. Thanks to @cortman for prompting the discussion, thanks to @AndroidIsAwesome for his thoughts on STP, and thanks for @TheJohnP and @ManOnTime for suggesting this might make a good start to a separate thread.

Take what you see here with a grain of salt. Probably many corrections to come.
:)

I was a little afraid in my initial post that I was going a bit much into lecture mode. :D And it's important not to lecture, because I am certainly not an expert, just a guy with a timegrapher who likes accurate movements and maybe spends too much time reading about them. :lol:

Basically I see a ladder in commodity movements, with the steps mostly arranged by the degree of adjustment and the allowable variance of the given movements (and the higher rungs being so placed largely because of engineering decisions). ETA 28xx are kind of funny since they occupy several non-consecutive rungs of that ladder. It's also true that some examples from any particular "rung" might outperform watches from a higher rung, but I think of them as rungs as a general rule. (For instance, I have one NH36A that the timegrapher tells me is more accurate than several Miyota 9-series and 2824-2 family movements I've tested. Yet every other 7s/4R/NH3xx I've tested has been a medioce performer at best, and some downright awful. So I think I got lucky with that lone example.)

Maybe it's more a floor, ceiling, and most likely result thing. For instance, I'm pretty convinced that the base grade 2824-2 has a higher floor in terms of its worst performance than the Miyota 9-series, and this is born out in in published detailed specs and also in timegrapher testing by many people. It may also be true that the base grade 2824-2 has a higher ceiling in terms of the best performing movements, but I'm far less certain of that. What I am pretty sure of is that the average 9-series is going to outperform the average base grade 2824-2 most of the time. Plus it's cheaper. Plus it's thinner. Plus its handwinding mechanism is more robust. Plus it seems - anecdotally so far - to hold up longer without service. Plus I find the gyroscopic whir of a unidirectional winder rather charming. So I'm a big fan of the 9-series. :)

Elabore grade is maybe hazier. I've only tested one so far, and it ran right in line with a pack of base grades. Looking at the specs from both ETA and Sellita, there really doesn't seem to be much between base and elabore; they are adjusted in 3 positions instead of 2, and the allowable variance is slightly smaller, but not enough to be easily noticeable without a large population of watches. The parts are basically the same, the difference is mostly in finishing and in slightly tighter specs. So again, I'd pick the 9-series nearly every time; though I think the best elabores are probably better than the best 9-series, I think they're probably still loosely speced enough not to be worth the cost and comparative fragility vs. the Miyota.

Where we really get cooking are in top and chronometer grades. There are no difference in parts between the two as I understand it, it's simply that the latter undergo a bit more testing, then are sent off to COSC for very thorough testing and certification. No one wants to pay for COSC testing of a movement likely to fail, so it's reasonable to assume these two grades are very close together in practice, likely identical. And when we get to the difference from base and elabore grades, we see marked differences: they are adjusted in five positions vs. 2 for base and 3 for elabore, the allowable deviations are tighter still, the maximum variance is tighter, and so is the allowable isochronism. The balance wheels and hairsprings are of different material than the base and elabore grades, the anti-shock mechanism on the balance is different. They truly are superior movements, and I would leap for one as an upgrade any time.

Higher up from the rather basic 282x/283x series, we deal with the 289x movements, and those are a whole 'nuther kettle of fish. The top and chronometer grade 282x/283x are probably better than the base model 289x, but the top and chronometer grade 289x are very special movements. I get giddy when I see them placed in affordable watches. :D

Re. Sellita vs. ETA, I'd suspect from others' anecdotal evidence that the ETAs might run slightly better, but at least in the 2824-clones, the Sellita has a longer power reserve, so it's kind of a toss-up, and I don't really care which one is in my watch.

The funny one of the 282x clones is STP. The 1-11 is specced in adjustment, positional variance, and max deviations in line with a top-grade ETA or Sellita, with isochronism only at the level of the elabore grades. That's still a heck of a movement if it meets those specs. But do they? I don't know. I know there were a lot of teething problems with these movements a few years ago, but I've not heard much lately. They might be the dark horse here, the true best bargain movements. The STP 3-13 is pretty much the same thing but with a swan-neck regulator for better fine adjustment. I have no idea of the cost difference of the 3-13 over the 1-11, nor as above if it meets it's specs, but it sure is an intriguing one. Additional info from the other thread: AndroidIsAwesome confirms that STP reliability issues are real and on-going, so these might not be such a deal after all.

So to wrap up my thoughts in this somewhat offtopic post that ended up way longer than I'd planned (and as warned above is not written by an expert :) ), here are the rungs of commodity movements - with all the above caveats, plus admission that I don't have data on a lot of these and may be completely offbase (especially, I'll add in this repost, when it comes to the myriad Chinese movements usually offered in a biwildering variety of different grades) - as I see them, in reverse order:
  • Ultra-cheap Chinese of domestic design (the sort like badly adapted automatic Tongjis in $15 watches)
  • Vostok (not sure how available they are, but I know a few other brands in the past used them - they are said to be robust and long-lived, but they're usually awful runners)
  • Low-end Chinese domestic designs of mass production but with okay QC
  • Chinese Miyota 8xxx clones (though they do usually hack)
  • base grades of Chinese ETA clones and the better of their mass produced domestics (ST25, etc.)
  • Seiko 7s
  • Miyota 8xxx - the handwinding is a nice upgrade from the 7s that to me more than offsets the stuttering seconds, and some of the newer ones hack too.
  • Seiko 4R/NH3x
  • base grade 2824/SW200 families - high grades of Chinese clones and some of their domestic designs are probably about here too
  • elabore grade 2824/SW200 families - maybe the best grades of Chinese commodity movements belong here, including the best clones
  • Miyota 9xxx (may or may not be better than elabore grade above, but generally a better compromise and clearly better than base)
  • I originally had the STP 1-11 about here with the caveat that was only if it met its specs, but in light of AndroidIsAwesome's experience, it probably belongs a few rungs down
  • base grade 289x/SW300 families (These probably don't exist. See posts below.)
  • elabore grade 289x/SW300 families
  • I originally had the STP 3-13 about here with the caveat that was only if it met its specs, but in light of AndroidIsAwesome's experience, it probably belongs a few rungs down
  • top grade 2824/SW200 families - often the best accuracy/price combination in affordable watches, but sadly underused
  • chronometer 2824/SW200 families - the best movements often seen under $1k - Chris Ward uses these a lot, as do a few others.
  • top grade 289x/SW300 families - best movements I sometimes see in sub $1k watches
  • chronometer 289x/SW300 families - sometimes seen under $1.5k. Not sure if or how many of these I've seen under $1k, but they would be a heck of a buy.
So yeah, to me, going from a base grade to Miyota 9-series I tend to see as an upgrade. Stepping up to top grade though, that's what gets me excited. :lol: Yeah, I'm a geek, and probably a poorly learned one at that, but I had fun writing this too-long post. :D
Last edited by username on Sat Nov 16, 2019 10:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Making sense of commodity movements

#2

Post by username » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:51 pm

Possible future topics for this thread:

Commodity mechanical chronographs: ST19, 7750, clones of the 7750, NE88, others?

Quartz movements: probably too many to go into, but perhaps there is some ground to be covered in Sunon vs. Ronda vs. ETA vs. Miyota vs. Seiko? Solar vs. battery, etc.? Mecaquartz vs. other quartz chronos? Sadly I don't know of any thermocompensated movements widely available, though ETA have allowed Chris Ward to use a few.

Drawing in the official specs of the various mechanical movements - I'll want to tackle this one at some point, but it will take a long time to pull together. Also, specs on paper don't always equal results.
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Re: Making sense of commodity movements

#3

Post by AndroidIsAwesome » Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:55 pm

Great post, and I think we should all understand sometimes movements are a lottery and you get more for less and less for more, in terms of accuracy and reliability. I have only ever experienced issues with stp and I know other members here have as well. I also know quite a few microbrands who have had to stop using stp movements due to their quality control. That being said, stp 3-13's look incredible for the price so if you get lucky and get a reliable one then I'm sure you will like it.

I have a ton of 2824 and sw200's and the regular grades are nearly the same in my experience. However, I have always found my sw200 and sw280 hand wind smoother than base 2824's.

I do think that top grade eta2824's are slightly nicer build and slightly more accurate than the sw200 top grade equivalent in my experience of the Sinn 556. But they are very close.

I haven't had the chance to try any 289x movements yet. I have used one with a miyota 9015 and felt unimpressed with the rotor wobble, reminded me of my swatch sistem51 with plastic gears. But that might have just been a dud.

To add on to those movements, let's mention Seiko. The 7sXX is still the most bulletproof I think I've ever used. I have owned dozens and have never had anything break ever. The 4rXX are great value as well, and I really haven't had issues other than accuracy. Some of mine are -3s/day, others are +40s/day. The 6rXX are also awesome but to me the price difference over the 4rXX isn't quite worth it. Sure they're more accurate and slightly longer reserve, but I've never noticed much of a difference to care. The 6r15A and 6r15D are quite different though as well. I don't recall exactly what improvements were made but someone posted a large thread on it years ago on WUS.

Now Grand Seiko and King Seiko.... Well that's a whole other story. I'm not quite experienced on those to talk about them other than the quartz models now that I own a 9F62 in my Grand Seiko.
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Re: Making Sense of Movements: Info Thread

#4

Post by MAAHHH THE FRENCH! » Sat Nov 16, 2019 9:26 pm

The following is all only what I've read, not personal evaluation, and since I was taking notes for my own reference at the time I didn't bother keeping exhaustive citations. YMMV, batteries not included.

•ETA2892, introduced in the '70s, essentially a more advanced/accurate 2824; only available in Elaborated, Top, and Chronometer (no Standard grade).
•ETA2892.A2, introduced in 1999, even more advanced; some consider it higher quality than Rolex's base movements.
•ETA2893-2, introduced in 2002, presumably even better still in some way, though I didn't take notes on that.
•SW330-1 is, if memory serves, equivalent to ETA2892.A2; I neglected to take explicit notes on that, but I believe it was essentially one step behind the latest ETA offering in that bunch (ie, 2983-2). This is what Glycine used in my Airman; I'm not sure what grade they use.
•Sellita apparently had some quality issues in the beginning, leading people to prefer ETA. Things seem to have improved since then.
•F. Constant FC3xx series appear to mostly or entirely be SW200-based; disappointingly, this means their GMT watches just have a module tacked onto a SW200 rather than a SW330. This makes me curious just how original their Manufacture movements really are. I also have no idea what grade movements they use.
•Speaking of modules on SW200s, that's Dubois Dépraz's bread-n-butter (and possibly FC's source). The main advantage of using modules instead of dedicated movements is that it permits smaller brands to produce neat stuff like chronos and moonphases at lower costs; the main disadvantage is that they're a PITA to service.
•Somewhere I saved an article on how to differentiate a real Elaborated movement from one which has merely been decorated by the watchmaker, so I guess there's more difference from base than aesthetics?

I seem to have relied in part on ranfft.de, calibercorner.com, watchbase.com, watch-wiki.net, and manufacturers' pages for info.
username wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:33 pm
  • top grade 289x/SW300 families - best movements I sometimes see in sub $1k watches
  • chronometer 289x/SW300 families - sometimes seen under $1.5k. Not sure if or how many of these I've seen under $1k, but they would be a heck of a buy.
I'm curious what bargain watches you found with top/chronometer 289x/SW3xx movements. Not doubting you, just wanna see if I might like any of 'em enough to stalk!
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Re: Making Sense of Movements: Info Thread

#5

Post by username » Sat Nov 16, 2019 9:42 pm

MAAHHH THE FRENCH! wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 9:26 pm
•ETA2892, introduced in the '70s, essentially a more advanced/accurate 2824; only available in Elaborated, Top, and Chronometer (no Standard grade).
You know, I think you're right about there not being a base model. Good catch!
MAAHHH THE FRENCH! wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 9:26 pm
username wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:33 pm
  • top grade 289x/SW300 families - best movements I sometimes see in sub $1k watches
  • chronometer 289x/SW300 families - sometimes seen under $1.5k. Not sure if or how many of these I've seen under $1k, but they would be a heck of a buy.
I'm curious what bargain watches you found with top/chronometer 289x/SW3xx movements. Not doubting you, just wanna see if I might like any of 'em enough to stalk!
Quite recently the Maen Skymaster was kickstarted with a top grade 2894-2 for well under $1k. Can't place them yet, but since yesterday my recollection has been itching that there have been others using three-hand 289x top grades under a grand in the past couple of years.

Re the chronometer grade, I can't put my finger on that one either, but I could swear there were a couple of recent offerings between $1k and $1,500. I'll certainly post them up if I find them again.

Edit to add: it could also be I'm remembering gray market deals, which I tend to lump in with normal brand offerings when I'm thinking of deals, then promptly forget later. If so, they're likely deals I saw here on this forum. :lol:
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Re: Making Sense of Movements: Info Thread

#6

Post by username » Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:04 pm

I realized from comments on the deals thread that I had forgotten about the Eterna 39. That reminded me of the Ronda R150 and Soprod. The absence in the OP is fitting, since I wouldn't have had enough info to try to rank them anyway. (Not that that stopped me for some of the others! :lol:)

Anyone have experience with any of those, or know much about them at all? Looks like the A-10 is gone from Soprod's website, but they list other mechanical movements, so I guess they are still in the game.
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Re: Making Sense of Movements: Info Thread

#7

Post by TheJohnP » Sun Nov 17, 2019 9:36 pm

Not sure how often he checks in on this forum, but would be good to get the perspective of @docvail, as he has production knowledge on a variety of movements.
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Re: Making Sense of Movements: Info Thread

#8

Post by Conchita Turtle » Fri Dec 27, 2019 1:23 pm

In my experience...

Seiko 7S calibers are not very accurate. One of the ones I have, 7S36, Made in Japan, was almost a minute off. However, the 4Rs are doing very well.

The Chinese Unitas are reliable (well, one didn't survive me to forget it in a washing machine), but not very accurate either. And the Swiss, neither... Same for Vostoks.

The ETA 2824s in basic grade are not a marvel of accuracy either. And one of my 2836, bought new, Elaboré grade and with a nice decoration, was more than half a minute off.

Many calibers go well if I have a sedentary day, but not so well if I have an active day.
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Re: Making Sense of Movements: Info Thread

#9

Post by Nsjong » Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:05 pm

I've iterated it a few times in the deal threads, but probably good to mention that miyotas are the only common movements with a unidirectional winding, apart from the valjoux 775x.

Functionally, I've heard that these tend to put less strain on the winding mechanism (in lieu of more wear on the ball bearing). For people that haven't experienced unidirectional movements, it can definitely be annoying. Flicking the wrist often leads to the transfer of motion into centripetal force and result in a (subjectively) horrendous freely-spinning rotor. In cases with more empty space (larger movement holders), the noise becomes noticeably annoying. I personally just hate the feel of the rotor constantly spinning and causing the watch to vibrate.

I genuinely think the 90xx could have made the Swiss entry market severely crippled if not for this one caveat as they indeed seem to be more accurate than many of the iterations of ETA and Sellita movements based on my own experience.

For myself, I don't like having a large collection and I prefer to wear a single watch for several days in a row. If you're like me and unsure how a unidirectional movement feels on the wrist, I'd highly recommend trying one on before committing to a purchase. Specs and designs are important but people often disregard the actual comfort/feel of a watch before hard reality sets in... You gotta wear it!
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Re: Making Sense of Movements: Info Thread

#10

Post by deckeda » Mon Jan 06, 2020 6:04 pm

A good read, I thought. From Wes at Nodus:

“ It is evident that when it comes to the STP 1-11 and the standard ETA 2824-2, STP has a better quality standard than ETA out of the factory, but in general, the brands that choose to use ETA have a better quality standard than those that choose to use STP. Regardless of which company makes the movement in your watch, neither movement is good enough for consumers out of the box.”

Read his post for why he says that: https://www.noduswatches.com/blog/stp-1-11-vs-eta-2824

In the end, you’re buying the watch company first and whatever they put in it, second.

[Edit]
I'm slowly making my way through the Nodus blog --- it's a good read IMO --- and a year ago they put the brakes on using STP due to having to fix/rejigger so many before sending to customers.
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Re: Making Sense of Movements: Info Thread

#11

Post by deckeda » Mon Jan 06, 2020 6:31 pm

FWIW, Spencer Klein likes the 7s26A for build quality and accuracy better than the B or C variants or the 4R.

And he’s worked on far more Seikos than most of ever will see.
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Re: Making Sense of Movements: Info Thread

#12

Post by Nsjong » Wed Jan 08, 2020 6:02 pm

deckeda wrote:
Mon Jan 06, 2020 6:31 pm
FWIW, Spencer Klein likes the 7s26A for build quality and accuracy better than the B or C variants or the 4R.

And he’s worked on far more Seikos than most of ever will see.
I'm curious what the differences are that he finds them to be noticeably better (if such is the case).
But at the same time, I've found this in a large thread discussing the 6r15C/D, which I have to admit is way too common in this industry:
Indeed, you should not believe what people say on here, or anywhere else. People hear rumours and rumours taken out of context turn into facts etc.

For instance; Spencer Klein (a watchmaker and youtuber specializing in Seiko) has founded a rumour about the Seiko "C-type"-balance, saying it's inferior to the "A-type". He has done no statistical hypothesis testing of any sort. When he says he has had varied success with performing the alleged fix to this problem, this undermines the claim even more (inconclusive results on a miniscule sample = no basis to claim anything).
He addressed the 6r15C-D-update and speculated whether the change was in the balance assembly, with no other evidence than his own anecdotes. Just goes to show where this sort of uncritical thinking can lead.
Btw, I'm not claiming that he's incorrect, he might not be. He is obviously very knowledgeable and I have a great deal of respect for him and admire his work. He is however wrong to make such an assertion.
Seiko/Epson's movement information is extremely confusing due to so much overlap of information, in case of the 4r36A vs 4r36B and the jewel count... I didn't even know the 4rXX had a third rendition of the movement or whether it's someone's typo.

In extension of rumours and facts, I'm still curious whether the GMT hand on the ETA 2893 movements "slip" over a period of time or are just resultant outcome of mis-assembly or excessive force.
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Re: Making Sense of Movements: Info Thread

#13

Post by watchpalooza » Sun May 17, 2020 2:39 pm

Here is a pretty good list of lift angles for different movements:

http://www.mcbroom.biz/forum/read.php?3,77931
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