A Look Inside the World’s Most Impressive Watch Movements

Traditionally, watchmakers tended to produce their own movements, but recently many companies have begun sourcing movements from major suppliers, like ETA in Switzerland.

Now, if you buy a BMW with an Audi engine in it, what type of car do you really have? That is the kind of question that comes up when you are asked to purchase a timepiece with a movement and external case produced by two different companies.

Even novices can appreciate how a harmony between case and movement maker can lead to a more refined and unique timepiece. While likely only serious collectors will recognize the difference, there’s a purity of purpose with in-house-made movements.


A. Lange & Söhne

Calibre L951.6

The German A. Lange & Söhne caliber L951.6 is the result of careful testing, decoration and tweaking. Anyone can appreciate the incredible level of detail and attention applied to every facet of the movement. The L951.6 is a chronograph entirely classic in its execution, operating at a steady 18,000 bhp, with a big date and power reserve indicator.



When a company isn’t able to produce in-house movements, exclusive calibres – when one company buys movements produced for that brand – are a fair alternative. Hamilton receives movements like this skeletonized calibre H-10-S.


Caliber 380A

In the high mountain Swiss town of Le Sentier, Jaeger-LeCoultre produces watches with a large carpet of house-made movements. Toward the mid-high segment is their Duometre collection whose concepts and construction are a bit special in the Jaeger-LeCoultre family. The movements separate the power delivery systems hat control the time-telling elements and those that control other complications.



With the calibre 3255, Rolex has released what is possibly their most reliable and high-performance movement. The 3255 family of movements has gone through an intensive battery of tests designed to ensure long-term accuracy. Purists will love that Rolex retains the use of traditional materials and production techniques in a movement that has been tuned liked a Ferrari engine.


1847 MC

The introduction of the caliber 1847 MC signaled Cartier’s true intention to become a serious three-tier watch maker: the company would offer entry-level watches with sourced movements, mid-tier watches with mass-produced in-house movements and ultra-luxury watches with individually hand-assembled movements. This 4Hz “elegantly decorated” workhorse automatic movement represents the classic dependability of the brand.