Chinese Watch Movements

Bataillon Automatic
Bataillon Automatic

I bought this Swiss Military Hanowa Bataillon Automatic earlier this week as a gift for about $370.

It came with a Techno Sablier movement. I had never heard of this type of movement before and did some searching on the internet. Their website TechnoSablier.ch.does not provide much information on their background or history and I suspect that this is because they use Chinese ébauche’s that are shipped to Switzerland and completed there.

This last stage of the build process allows the watch to be called a Swiss Watch.

An ébauche (also known as ‘movement blank’) is a collection of unassembled parts used as the basis for assembling a watch movement. This can consist of anything from the plates and wheels through to a completely built up movement, so long as that movement is disassembled and upgraded by another manufacturer.

Traditionally, Chinese watch manufacturers tended to build entire watches in-house, with rare exceptions among the smaller enterprises in Shanghai, and few factories using the SN-2 ébauche sourced from the Nanjing Watch Factory. More recently, largely due to the influence of the Hong Kong watch industry, Chinese factories have increasingly turned to supplying complete movements and ébauches to other manufacturers.

An example of a Swiss company who does this is Claro Semag which sources ébauches from Chinese watch manufacturer Sea Gull. After finishing, these are sold on to Montres Edouard Lauzieres as Swiss ébauches. Foreign-finished Chinese ébauches may also be found in some very exclusive watches, for example the tourbillon watches of Cecil Purnell whose watches start at around $22K are also said to use Chinese components.

Does anyone want to share with us what they think of this practice and / or if they have any more information to share?

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