Industry News, September 2016

September 1st, 2016

Jewelers’ Security Alliance

SIX-MONTH CRIME STATISTICS AND TRENDS

In May 2016 HT, Ken Nichols reported on security in the horological industry in his article, “Robberies, Burglaries, and Thefts: How to Be Safe rather Than Sorry.” In the report below, the Jewelers’ Security Alliance offers updated statistics and information on crime in the industry. 

Jewelers’ Security Alliance has released its crime statistics for the first six months of 2016, which indicate a continued decline in crime against the diamond, jewelry and watch industry in the US. Dollar losses decreased from $33.2 million to $30.8 million, and the number of crimes decreased from 562 to 528.
    John Kennedy, President of JSA, said of the results, “While violence and large losses still pose a major threat to the industry, the long-time trend of overall losses is still heading down. Improved security measures by jewelers, greater sharing of information on crimes and suspects, and excellent work by the FBI, ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) and local law enforcement agencies around the country have all contributed to improved results.”
    Notable features of the six-month results included 30 smash-and-grab robberies, and over 40 gunpoint robberies, which provided a majority of the large losses. Violence in these robberies included shootings, pistol-whippings, the use of pepper spray, and other violence. There were also 10 cases, an unusually large number, in which burglars used vehicles to break into retail jewelry stores, and 20 cases in which burglars broke in from the roof, side walls, or an adjoining business rather than through a window or a door.
    JSA received reports of 187 grab-and-runs in retail jewelry stores, 49 distraction thefts, and 36 sneak thefts. Despite the new credit cards with chips, thieves have used stolen cards and counterfeit drivers’ licenses to continue to carry out numerous fraudulent transactions, particularly seeking high-end watches.
    Finally, off-premises losses, primarily of traveling salespersons, were concentrated in Texas and Southern California, including the homicide of a traveling salesperson in Dallas, Texas, who was attacked at a gas station close to the airport.
    On a positive note, there were many successful investigations that resulted in indictments and convictions of gang members and criminals in the first half of the year. In many of these cases, JSA had assisted law enforcement. Successful investigations included the arrest of seven gang members who carried out smash-and-grab robberies in Southern California totaling $6 million over the last two years; the female robber, backed up by three gang members who stayed outside, who carried out six armed robberies
totaling $4 million in the South; and the arrest and unsealing of an indictment of three suspects who defrauded over 40
retail jewelry stores through counterfeit documents and false credit applications to obtain high-end watches.
    Kennedy said that in addition to weekly Email Crime Alerts sent to JSA members and law enforcement personnel, jewelers can get daily crime alerts on JSA’s website at www.jewelerssecurity.org/message_read.php?action=read

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
John J. Kennedy, President
Jewelers’ Security Alliance
6 East 45th Street (#1305)
New York, NY 10017 USA
212-687-0328 or 1-800-537-0067
E-mail: gro.ytirucessrelewejnull@2asj
Website: www.jewelerssecurity.org

The Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) is a non-profit trade association providing crime prevention information and services to the jewelry industry. JSA, founded in 1883, has 20,000 member locations and works closely with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

A Message from Our AWCI President, Fred T. White, CMW21, September 2016

September 1st, 2016

 

These volunteers are working to improve AWCI and make it stronger for us all.

 

Fred T. White, CMW21, AWCI President

At the end of this month, AWCI will experience an exciting time, when we go back to the Chicago area where it all began over 50 years ago. Convention time is a wonderful time to meet with old friends and to make new ones. It is a great time to improve your skills by attending the classes offered at the convention. In the classes this year, you will have the opportunity to look at the way parts will be made in the future as well as in the present. You’ll also get instruction on nanofabrication for horology, the history of horology in Illinois, how to write an article and take good photos for that article, and much, much more. There will also be time to sit down and visit with friends and make new ones. For students or beginners in watchmaking or clockmaking, it is a time to rub shoulders with those people whose books you have read or whose articles you’ve read in Horological Times. You will find they are willing to answer questions and share their experiences with you, which can only make you better at your trade. Come to the Chicago area and have a great experience, and then return to your shops with new ideas and, above all, new friends—some may last a lifetime. Over the years I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know some really great people, but I count my friends in the horological community among the very best. It is not too late to come to Chicago. Will I see you there?
     For months we have been talking about volunteers. This organization, AWCI, is not my organization, and it is not your organization, but it is our organization. Since it is our organization, why haven’t you given some of your time to it? I’m not talking about the people who give much of their time, but those who sit on their hands and let someone else do it. We strive to put every person who is willing to work into a job they will find rewarding. Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do little; together we can do so much.” So why not be a part of the “together” group?
     In the past couple of months, seven people have volunteered, and they have been placed on committees that fit their skills and desires. Three have been added to the Education Committee and four have been added to the Horological Times Committee. These volunteers are working to improve AWCI and make it stronger for us all. We can always use people to write articles for HT. Maybe you have found an easier way to do a repair, or maybe you have developed a new tool or altered a tool so it works better.
As we develop the classes that will go on the road, we are looking for people to teach these classes, both in watchmaking and clockmaking, with the attitude “Have Suitcase, Will Travel.” These people will travel to Affiliate Chapters or wherever we can put together 10 to 12 students. It is an exciting time at AWCI. Our clock program is coming together with the revision of the CC21 Certification, which we will roll out soon. Clockmakers—start honing your skills. If you are a watchmaker or clockmaker who wants to see how good you really are, then work toward becoming certified. There is a great amount of pride—and credibility—in being able to say, “I am certified through AWCI.” If you don’t believe it, just look at the advertisements for employment in the back of HT.

 

 

A Message from Our AWCI President, Fred T. White, CMW21, August 2016

August 2nd, 2016

 

Let’s look at how you and I can make AWCI stronger, more vibrant, and work to the benefit of all.

 

Fred T. White, CMW21, AWCI President

I   was recently asked how I would see the future of AWCI in the next year, the next 5 years, and the next 10 years. I wish I had a magic crystal ball that I could look into, but I don’t. If I did, however, here is what I would see. Our membership would be improving by leaps and bounds—and the reason it would be is that there is great benefit for our membership. Everything we are doing is for the members, and they are returning by the hundreds. As leaders, we are asking ourselves, “Is what we are doing going to be of benefit to our members?” (We should not be doing what feeds our egos.) If the project can pass this litmus test—is it good for members and prospective members?—then let’s move forward with it. But if we cannot say that it will help the members, then let’s not do it. We, as leaders, all know it isn’t easy to pass that test.
     In this vision of the future, our classes would be full for both watchmakers and clockmakers. There would be an abundance of teachers, teaching both at headquarters and on the road. There would be a waiting list to get into these classes. Everyone would be excited and enthusiastic about going to class. Classes would be taught for the beginner to the most-advanced student.
     Watchmakers and clockmakers would have plenty of work and would be teaching apprentices in their shops with that hands-on training that can only be passed on from the master to the student. They would learn that it’s not the tool that makes the craftsman but the craftsman makes the tool work for him. For in the hands of a skilled person, the most simple tools can do magic.
     There would be cooperation among the brands so that a shop would not have to buy several sets of water testers or any of the other tools that they require. You could buy one set that would satisfy all of their needs.
     AWCI would be independent but would have the full cooperation of and collaboration with all brands, working together for the betterment of the horological community, both from the brand’s viewpoint as well as from the repairperson’s. AWCI, as a certifying body, should not be beholden to anyone.
     Unfortunately, I do not have a crystal ball and cannot make all of this come true, but it is a good dream.
     My hope and desire for AWCI is that we can overcome our failures and turn them into positives. I have experienced many times in my life that it is not how many times you get knocked down but how many times you get up. Dale Carnegie said, “Develop success from failure. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest steppingstones to success. No other elements can do so much for a man [or organization] if he is willing to study them and make capital out of them. Look backward. Can’t you see where your failures have helped you?”
     So I would say to all of us: Let’s look at how you and I can make AWCI stronger, more vibrant, and work to the benefit of all.

 

 

Industry News, August 2016

August 2nd, 2016

Caliber 1003 mainplates shown in their machining fixtures during the mass production process.Weiss Watch Company Announces a New,

Entirely US-Made Caliber

During the last year Donna Hardy, managing editor of the Horological Times, has reported on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) investigations into many of the American-based watch brands that have made claims about being “Made in the USA” or “US Made.” As a result of the FTC’s investigations, many brands have been forced to remove these slogans from their marketing materials, brand logos, and even the watches themselves. The FTC has been very vocal about the requirements for claiming a watch is truly “Made in the USA.” To summarize some of the language they used in their reports: all or “virtually all” parts that are essential to the watches’ function must be manufactured in the US.
    TheCaliber1003 Cameron Weiss of Weiss Watch Company in Los Angeles chose the Fourth of July, America’s Independence Day, to reveal a project that had been rumored to be in the works for quite some time—a new mechanical watch caliber with nearly all the movement components manufactured in the United States. Using in-house equipment as well as subcontracting to several local machine shops to help with the work, Weiss Watch Company claims to have successfully produced all the parts for a functioning watch caliber, except the hairspring and jewels. Weiss was already producing the cases, dials, hands, and straps for his watches in the United States, along with final finishing and assembly of completely Swiss-made movements. When the announcement was first made, there was some obvious skepticism as to the viability of this accomplishment, taking into account the difficulty of manufacturing components such as the balance wheel, pallet fork, escape wheel, and mainspring. Weiss decided to host an online question-and-answer via Reddit AMA (ask me anything) on July 6 to personally confirm the details of the announcement and answer any questions that people may have had.
The American Issue Field Watch will be the first of Weiss Watch Company’s watches to contain the Caliber 1003.     The Caliber 1003 is the product of reverse engineering the ETA 6497 and producing the movement components to a tolerance, minus the layout of the bridges and mainplate, so that they are virtually interchangeable with their Swiss counterparts. That is actually part of the plan Weiss has laid out—to help supply the industry with needed spare parts once the Swatch Group has discontinued the distribution of individual movement components. He claims to already have a contract with a company in Switzerland that is ready to place an order once the production is up and running. To accomplish this, Weiss has launched Pinion Precision Technology, a separate company with business partner, Grant Hughson, to act as the supply arm of the movement and spare parts distribution of their manufacturing efforts. They also plan to sell complete movements to other American brands as well as unfinished, blank ebauches. More calibers are in the works with plans for original movement designs.
    The first run of movements will only be available in the American Issue Field Watch. A limited edition run of 50 watches is currently available for pre-order on the Weiss Watch Company website. The $2,500 price tag is considered to be extremely reasonable for the level of US-based manufacturing that went into this watch. This is partly due to what some are calling the “lack of finishing” done to the movement plates and components. Weiss’s response to this criticism is, “Our version is a more American way that doesn’t require additional machinery or add steps to the manufacturing process.” Weiss also says, “We’re trying to recreate a simple utilitarian finish that is more affordable while still providing all the functional benefits of something similar to a Geneva stripe.”
     To avoid the problems some brands have encountered in not complying with what is actually considered American-made by the FTC’s standards, Weiss has been working closely with the FTC every step of the way to ensure that the watch is properly represented as a “Made in the USA” product. Weiss stated, “We’ve had an open line of communication with the FTC during the planning stages of the new CAL 1003 movement to make sure we satisfied the claim for USA made” and “The Swiss content in our CAL 1003 movement is considered negligible by FTC standards, and it is virtually all USA made.”

Sources
www.reddit.com/r/Watches/comments/4riy1y/ama_i_am_cameron_weiss_of_weiss_watch_company_ask
www.latimes.com
www.gq.com
www.weisswatchcompany.com

________________________________________________________________________

Aaron Recksiek is an independent watchmaker in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a graduate of the 2008 WOSTEP class at the Lititz Watch Technicum.

Industry News, July 2016

July 5th, 2016

Rare Antique Chinese Clock

Sells for $1.27 Million

                                    By Donna Hardy

Chinese-clock

A rare antique Chinese animated triple fusee bracket clock surpassed its pre-sale estimate of $500,000-$750,000 to sell for $1.27 million at Fontaines Auction Gallerys cataloged antique and clock auction, May 21 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
     The clock, which was running and striking, with all animated mechanisms working, was both beautiful and functional. Standing 36 1/2″ tall, the large gilt bronze case had extravagant filigree mounts throughout, with mythical heads above the corners, seashell handles, and jeweled floral mounts. A 6 1/2″ porcelain dial featured black Roman hour numbers, fancy pierced brass hands, and sweep seconds.
     The animation made the clock irresistible. On the hour, the clock activated an animated mechanism of swimming ducks. Spinning glass rods simulated a waterfall in the open frieze panel, and a cylindrical cluster of spinning glass rods formed a fountain in the top of the case. A large spinning pinwheel was surrounded by 10 smaller pinwheels, and a jeweled teardrop finial rotated clockwise at the top.
     The winning bidder was a buyer in the room who had traveled some distance to the sale, but asked not to be identified.  
     A French animated locomotive industrial clock with an excellent bronze case in the form of a steam locomotive on a black marble base with wheels that were animated by an independent spring-driven movement, plus a thermometer and barometer, sold for $30,250. Also, a French industrial animated clock known as “The Bollard,” with a fancy brass case in the form of a nautical bollard post wrapped with rope, also with a thermometer and barometer and a spring-driven mechanism, sold for $15,730.
     The prices quoted include a 21% buyers premium.

____________________________________________________

Donna Hardy is managing editor of Horological Times.
 

A Message from Our AWCI President, Fred T. White, CMW21, July 2016

July 5th, 2016

Fred T. White, CMW21, AWCI President

In November 2015 Drew Zimmerman and I made a trip to Columbia, Pennsylvania, to sit in on the board meeting of NAWCC with the goal of exploring how our two bodies (NAWCC and AWCI) could cooperate because of our shared interests. We were well received, and the idea for cooperation was most welcomed. This thought process started with my visit to Austin, Texas, where I was guest speaker at Capital Area Watchmaker and Clockmaker Guild. After my talk, Jay Holloway approached me with the concept of the two organizations working together in areas where they can complement each other’s strengths. This sounded good to me because of the potential for each group to gain membership and education from each other. Out of this concept, a task force was organized to see where we could cooperate. One area that was discovered was education—AWCI from the technical aspect of horology, and NAWCC from the collector’s and historical point of view. We also realized we could work together on some convention programs and training seminars. We are continuing to explore where we may be able to work together.
     This year’s NAWCC convention will be held in Louisville, Kentucky, July 20-23. Michael Gainey, CC21, will be teaching a class on Advanced Clock Repair—Standards-Based Repair Practices. This class will be the first of our joint ventures. Michael is a very accomplished clockmaker in Columbus, Ohio. He has taught classes on clockmaking at AWCI headquarters and many other locations. His class will consist of setting up a clock in a proper order so the strike and all the lifts will work properly when the clock is assembled. He will discuss re-pivoting techniques and show how to put a hook in mainspring barrels. It takes some very special skills and lots of practice to do this correctly. He will also show how to do things on the Sherline lathe, which many clockmakers own and use every day. Michael will demonstrate some useful adapters and tools that he has made for the lathe. This class sold out six weeks before the class will be presented. I think that is terrific!
     I have found Michael to be very organized in working on the clock section of the Education Committee. To quote from his website, “Mike’s unbeatable combination of an honest and friendly personality, extensive full-time professional training, 36 years of experience, and his certified clockmaker status to name just a few” are what make him a successful businessman and clockmaker. He will be teaching at both NAWCC and AWCI conventions this year.
     We are working very hard to get the Education Committee back to its former glory. Several people are putting a lot of effort into making it work for both clockmakers and watchmakers. We want AWCI to include the entire horological community, so there will be something in it for all.
     Years ago my watchmaking teacher and mentor said to me, “You get out of a thing in proportion to the amount you are willing to give.” My challenge to you is to not sit on the sidelines and do nothing. Get into the game. Do your best, even if it is a small thing you are willing to do. Get in there and give some of your time. I would love to have 100 volunteers saying, “I can do this small job. I may not be able to give hours of my time, but I can give one hour every month.”

 

We want AWCI to include the entire horological community, so there will be something in it for all.

 

 

 

 

A Message from Our AWCI President, Fred T. White, CMW21, June 2016

June 1st, 2016

Fred T. White, CMW21, AWCI President

As I am traveling down Route 29 through Virginia admiring the scenery of rolling hills and farm land, my mind goes back to how many times I made this drive with Marvin Whitney, Skee Jensen, and many other watchmakers and clockmakers. We were on our way to a board meeting, convention, or seminar. I have such good memories of the Horological Association of Virginia. This time I am on my way to the HAV convention, which is always a good get-together of watchmakers and clockmakers. There is always a large turnout for fellowship, and this year was no different. Sixty-five members attended, which is very good for a state convention. Wayne Simpson and Rodney Graves were co-chairs, and they ran a very smooth convention. Two classes were held on Saturday. August Cornell, of Syracuse, New York, taught a class on how to use gold solder to repair clock parts and to leave them with very little evidence of a repair. Twenty-four people attended this class. Frank Poye, an instructor from Paris Community College, taught a class of 15 watchmakers on dynamic poising. He showed his technique on timing a watch, including hairspring manipulation. Arthur Candenquist gave a very informative lecture on Sunday morning about how disjointed time was during the Civil War. David and Cathy Hodson were the guests of honor. They flew in from Atlanta, Georgia, to attend the banquet and to hear the lecture on Civil War timekeeping.   
     Jerry Faier and Wes Grau went to the Wisconsin Horological Society’s annual convention, where approximately 15 people gathered. Jerry taught a class on escapements, which was very well attended. Wes and Jerry participated in a round-table discussion on horological issues. From what I understand, their visit was welcomed. If you are an AWCI affiliate chapter and would like a speaker or teacher to come to your meeting or convention, contact us. We want to know what you need. Any time people with like interests get together, good always comes of it.  
     You have heard me say and write, “It’s What You Learn After You Know It All That Counts.” I would like to explain a little about what I mean by that statement. If you sit at the bench day in and day out, and you do the job the same way all the time, you may be doing it right. But what if there is a better way that you don’t know about because you don’t attend classes or conventions where other instruction is available? And so you continue in the same rut. Sometimes at conventions you pick up a valuable idea from another horologist over a meal or having drink. At conventions and classes, you have the opportunity to network and to get to know a person much better. We all need help from time to time, and it’s through networking that we develop those friendships that can help us down the road. We are not islands alone in this world; we all need each other to survive these times when parts are getting harder to come by. By improving your skill level and getting certified, you can get that higher price for your labors. When you graduate from a school, you only have the basic skills—you do not have that thing called experience. The only way you gain that is by doing the time and working with a mentor. The best advice I can give to a beginner is to align yourself with an experienced horologist.

 

Any time people with like interests get together, good always comes of it.

 

 

 

 

Industry News, June 2016

June 1st, 2016

A Year Later…

Smartwatches Now Outsell Swiss Watches

By Aaron Recksiek, CW21

Last June, we covered all the relevant and emerging smartwatches for 2015. It was a big year for smartwatches and was seen as the tipping point for market integration of the wearable technology. In February, the research firm Strategy Analytics reported that smartwatch sales in the fourth quarter of 2015 topped 8.1 million units. Swiss watch sales in that same period only reached 7.9 million units. This marked the first time in history that smartwatches outsold Swiss watches. Apple is given the most credit for this milestone, since they sold 12 million Apple Watches alone in 2015 and currently occupy 63% of the smartwatch market.
     Many observers might see this as consumers replacing their luxury watches with a smartwatch. However, when you look at the numbers, Swiss watch sales only declined by an annual rate of 5% over the fourth quarter, while smartwatch sales rose 316% over the same period. So while there are some consumers opting for a smartwatch purchase instead of a luxury Swiss watch, the disparity of the numbers translates to a whole new market being opened up to watch companies. Look at it this way, a year ago someone who may have never worn a watch before, like most millennials, is now starting to wear a timekeeping device on valuable real estate—their wrist. Sure, it may do more than just tell the time, but it is introducing a whole new customer base to strapping something onto their wrists every morning, and being comfortable with that.
     The future is bright for smartwatches as projections for sales are predicted to more than double over the next two years. So far, the previous forecasts have been fairly accurate, so get used to watching more and more people poke at their small watch displays with their fingertips as their smartphones remain comfortably in their pocket.  

Sources
www.wareable.com
www.forbes.com

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Aaron Recksiek is an independent watchmaker in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a graduate of the 2008 WOSTEP class at the Lititz Watch Technicum.

 

A Message from Our AWCI President – Fred T. White, CMW21, May 2016

May 4th, 2016

Fred T. White, CMW21, AWCI President

Jordan and I visited four REC schools in April, and I want you to know that watchmaking and the allied crafts that are being taught are alive and well in the US, at least at the schools we visited. What a tiring—but exciting, uplifting, and inspiring—time these four days were! We started at Gem City College in Quincy, Illinois, where we met with Russell H. Hagenah, president; Ryan R. Hagenah, director of finance; and instructor, Jim Hush. We were told that we were the first to visit their school in many years. We assured them that we were there to assist and to help build up their program in any way we could.  After a good discussion, we offered them some things that we could do right away, such as help promote their school at the Maker Faire Austin in Texas, if they would provide us with brochures. We could also help them by lending them movements if they send their instructor to a REC training (date to be determined). We were made to feel most welcome and came away with a good feeling after our visit, and we look forward to working with them.
    After our Gem City visit, we got back in the car for a two-hour-plus drive to St. Louis for a plane ride of another two hours or so to Dallas, Texas. Then, we had another two-hour ride to Paris, Texas. After a night of rest, we met with Frank Pope of Paris Junior College. We toured the classrooms and shops, which were well equipped with plenty of space to work and grow. We gave PowerPoint presentations to roughly 50 students. Jordan gave a good presentation on what AWCI has to offer to the watchmaker and clockmaker, and what we can do for the student and the school. My PowerPoint presentation was from the perspective of the independent watchmaker, and I talked about what exciting jobs you may encounter as you go about doing your daily business. I also gave them some tips on selling the job, for this is important as an independent watchmaker, clockmaker, or jeweler. There was a lively question-and-answer period. Then we met with Frank Poye and discussed the school’s needs and how we may help meet them. One thing we could do if he would attend the REC training was to loan them movements for training purposes. We also let him know that students could receive one-year free membership to AWCI. We were told that Jordan was the first executive director to visit their school, and I was the second president. The other one was Fred S. Burckhardt. Everyone was very friendly, and we were made to feel most welcome.
    Then we were back in the car for another two-hour drive to Dallas, Texas, to visit with North American Institute of Swiss Watchmaking (NAIOSW) where John Sokol welcomed us and invited us into his office. After a short visit, he called in Stan McMahan, Russ Peddy, Michal Blaszczyk, and Houston Clarke. Also visiting was Terry Irby of Tourneau. After exchanging ideas about the watch industry and getting a report on their operation, we were invited to tour their facility, which has the most modern equipment. We met with the students and gave them information about AWCI and watchmaking in the real world. NAIOSW committed to supplying us with two instructors for our convention, Stan McMahan and Russ Peddy, and are going to send their students to the convention. We were treated royally by them, topped off with a great meal at a Texas steak house. There was good socialization and, for me, time to reminisce with Stan about people we have known in this business. Then we went back to the hotel; we had to get up at 4:15 a.m. to catch a plane to Pensacola, Florida.
    After landing in Pensacola, we were in the car for a one-hour-plus ride to Mobile, Alabama, to visit Bishop State Community College. Along the way we found we had the time to go on the Battleship USS Alabama, which was a much-decorated battleship before it was retired. After a nice lunch, it was on to our appointment with Stephen Lange at Bishop State Community College where we met with the president, the vice president, dean, and the director of recruiting. We were made to feel most welcome. After some discussion, they were seeking ideas on how to improve their enrollment. Jordan and I shared our thoughts, which, I hope, will be helpful. We met with both the watchmaking and jewelry students and discussed what AWCI could do for them, and shared some of our work experiences. We also offered them the same program, free membership for first-year students, and invited them to attend our convention.
    I strongly feel we need to visit the schools, and the affiliate chapters, putting the name of AWCI and what we have to offer in front of students and members. There is so much that they don’t understand, because we, for whatever reason, have not reached out to the horological community. Let’s correct that in the future. My hope is that what we did will better the community. We look forward to seeing those students and instructors at the convention this year.

 

My hope is that
what we did
will better
the community.

 

 

 

 

Industry News, May 2016

May 4th, 2016

The New Ronda Automatic R150Ronda-150-Movement-3D-Front

By Aaron Recksiek, CW21

 

Hidden within all the hype and fanfare of Baselworld 2016 was a little nugget of news that has the potential to change the industry in more ways than any other release or announcement.

RONDA AG, of Lausen, Switzerland, released details of their first in-house, Swiss-made mechanical movement in nearly 30 years. Ronda produced their first mechanical caliber in 1961, but didn’t stick to it very long. In the 1970s Ronda started dedicating resources to the new quartz technology that was sweeping the industry. They eventually discontinued all mechanical movement manufacturing in the late 1980s. This new movement has been in development for the last four years.
    The Ronda caliber R150 was designed to be a replacement to the size and dimensions of the ETA 2824-2, 11.5 ligne (25.6mm diameter) and 4.4mm thick. It is a high-beat, 28,800-vph, three-hand with date, ball-bearing automatic. The movement contains 25 jewels, Incabloc anti-shock settings, Swiss lever escapement, and a micro-regulator adjustment system. It is capable of a 40-hour power reserve, bi-directional automatic and hand winding, and hacking seconds. However, the performance leaves a little to be desired. The average rate can vary by ±12 seconds/day, and the maximum variance in all positions (delta) is 30 seconds/day. With an estimated final price of about 66 CHF or $68.30, the movement performs and prices out to be very comparable to the Japanese-made Miyota 9015 automatic. The Miyota 9015 has been a well-performing mechanical movement for many years. However, it still poses a problem for any brand chasing that elusive “Swiss made” label—a label that requires over 50% of the watch parts (by value) to be manufactured in Switzerland with final assembly and inspection also done in Switzerland. This “Swissness” requirement is set to increase to 60% on January 1, 2017.
    The new Ronda R150 is part of a new line of movements named Mecano. This new line of movements is planned to expand beyond basic automatics and become an entire family of mechanical calibers that are so desperately needed by the Swiss watch industry. There has been no word on which types of calibers are the next closest to being announced, but we can be assured that at each Baselworld from now until then, microbrands will be expecting something more out of Ronda.
    Some of the best news about this announcement is Ronda’s projected production goal: 100,000 units per year. Early delivery is set to begin in 2017. It is speculated that most, if not all, of the initial production is already spoken for. Ronda hopes to be at their production goal before December 31, 2019, when ETA has announced they will not be supplying movements or movement parts outside of the Swatch Group umbrella.
    Ronda 150 movement: bridge sieThere has been a slew of new “Swiss made” movements being developed in recent years to help replace the void that will soon be left by the ETA SA movement manufacture. This was the original vision of Nicolas G. Hayek, to eventually wean the highly dependent watch industry off the movements and components produced by the Swatch Group. Some see it as trying to force other brands out of business, but let’s remember it was Nicolas G. Hayek who was brought in to help save the spiraling Swiss watch industry in the 1980s. When you first look at the surface of the problems that might come from a stoppage in distribution, things may seem a little scary, but there is always fear of the unknown. There has not been this amount of independent research and development dedicated to providing the industry with different options since the 1970s. This continued competition for market share will only increase the quality and keep prices reasonable, which helps the small, independent watch brands.

Sources:
www.ronda.ch
www.wornandwound.com

Aaron Recksiek is an independent watchmaker in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was a graduate of the 2008 WOSTEP class at the Lititz Watch Technicum.