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ETA caliber: The hero behind reputable Swiss watches

ETA – Position of the great pioneer

With ETA serving as a vital role in the global watchmaking community nowadays, have you ever wondered: What is the true identity of ETA? In fact, ETA is one of the most prevalent and powerful companies in the modern watch industry. It is Switzerland’s largest movement maker with countless small and major brands relying on the products they make. Its story has, as we will learn, defined the watch industry of today. Despite all its previous and present contributions in horology; however, for many, ETA remains a relatively unknown manufacture. Suffering from Quartz crisis in 1929, ETA dated back to 1930s and becoming a part of the mighty Swatch Group today [1]. It has become a saviour of the Swiss watch industry after the Quartz crisis. Accordingly, it has witnessed incredible ups and downs of the Swiss watch industry so far. Most watchmakers admit that ETA movement is well-built, accurate, and easy to maintain.

ETA’s most well-known calibers

Movements (otherwise known as caliber or caliber) are undeniable the heart and the soul of the watch, whatever they might be, mechanical, quartz or a magical mixture of the two. Metaphorically, they are regarded as heroes behind Swiss reputable watches. Regardless of its market position, there is no denying that ETA movements are absolutely critical to the health of the Swiss watch industry as a whole. Here we will explore 3 of the ETA’s most popular and renowned calibers used in the production of mechanical today’s wristwatch.

2824-2: The well-rounded workhorse

The ETA calibre 2824-2 is perhaps one of the most well-known and most recognized movements in the watch industry. Introduced in 1961, 2824 traces its roots to the Eterna. From the beginning, it operates at 18,000 beats per hour but today typically operates at the Swiss standard 28,800 beats per hour, with 36,000 beat versions produced as well. It has been in production since 1982.

Eterna Kontiki Bronze Manufacture Baselworld 2017. Photo: A Blog Watch

Having said that, 2824 is considered to be a “workhorse” movement by many watch enthusiasts [2]. It is considered to be accurate, robust, and reliable. 2824 also sports larger wheels and balance and fits the automatic unit entirely above the top plate. It is a mechanical movement with automatic winding, ball-bearing rotor, bi-directional winding, 40 hours power reserve and hacking seconds.

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2824-2 movement.Photo: WatchBase.com

What makes the whole thing rather more complex is ETA’s habit of offering movements in three or four grades—standard, elaborated, top and chronometer. To be fair, the principal differences are in the level of regulation and the quality of mainspring, hairspring and shock system.

Four grade of ETA 2824-2:

  • Standard – adjusted in two positions; accuracy of +/-12 sec/day up to +/- 30 sec/day
  • Elaborated – adjusted in three positions; accuracy of +/-7 sec/day up to +/- 20 sec/day
  • Top – adjusted in five positions; accuracy of +/-4 sec/day up to +/- 15 sec/day
  • Chronometer: The Chronometer grade must meet strict standards prescribed by the Chronometer grade movements are serial numbered, as that is a requirement of the certification authority. Moreover, it should be noted that the degree of decoration on the movement’s parts, generally only an aesthetic improvement, increases as well with the grade [3][4].

ETA calibre 2824-2. Photo: Watchbase.com

Since the patent giving exclusive rights to ETA for the design of the 2824-2 expired, there have been similar movements popping up that are based on this movement: For example the Selita calibre SW200, STP1-11, Valanvron VAL-24, Hangzhou calibre 6300, Seagull calibre ST2130.

Why do watch company love Cal 2824-2? Simply because it is accurate, durable, and comparatively inexpensive while maintaining core functionality that needed. However, why are people sometimes underrated ETA’s movements? To be fair, the irritation around 2824-powered timepieces is not usually about the quality of the engine itself; it’s about the price. A single 2824-2 movement will set the watchmaker back around $290, assuming they buy just one.
2824-2 is also used for numerous models of many different brands in the market such as Hamilton Khaki Field; Tudor Heritage Ranger;…

Hamilton Khaki Field. Photo: Watch base

Hamilton Khaki Field uses ETA 6497-1. Photo: Hamilton

2892-A2: The upper-class Automatic

Cal. 2892-A2 is one of world’s most prolific chronograph movement which is the subject of several evolutions.
Cal. 28292-A2 ( often called 2892.A2) is an ultra-thin automatic watch movement produced by ETA since 1999. The ETA 2892-A2 is the upper-range automatic movement from ETA. It is commonly found in “upscale” Swiss watches, while the older and cheaper 2824-2 is found in lower-end watches. Together with the 2824 and 7750, the 2892-A2 is one of three common movements from ETA.

ETA Cal.2892-A2. Photo: Watch base.com

Actually, the 2892-A2 was designed as a premium alternative to 2824. The 2892-A2 is an evolution of the 2890 and 2892-2. It is a mechanical movement with 21 jewels, automatic winding, ball-bearing rotor, hacking seconds, with a power reserve of about 42 hours [5].

Furthermore, the current calibers lineup is often 25.6 mm in diameter, self-winding, 28 800 beats per hour. Also, 2892 is the basis for Omega 1120 and co-axial Omega 2500 caliber which is manufactured specially for Omega.
In addition, this movement is widely used by other brands such as Breitling and IWC as the engine for high-end watches [6].

By far, some ETA 2892-A2 favorites include Longines Heritage 1938; Omega Seamaster 2254; Bell and Ross Vintage; Longines Heritage 1938; …

 

Omega Seamaster. Photo: Watchbase.com

Valjoux 7750: The classic chronograph

The Valjoux 7750 is a well-known and widely-used chronograph movement produced by Valjoux. The 7750 is derived from the manually-wound Valjoux 7733 chronograph movement. This caliber is still produced and is probably the most successful automatic chronograph movement of all times. It serves as a basis for several superstructures or modules, including many from other manufacturers. Due to its accuracy and robustness, it can also be certified as a chronometer. So the manufacturer Breitling, for example, sends all of its watches, including numerous models with the Valjoux 7750 to the COSC certification.

Valjoux 7750. Photo: Star Time Supply.

The 7750 is a self-winding chronograph movement with 25 jewels, ball-bearing rotor, unidirectional winding, 1/8-seconds counter, 30-minutes counter, 12-hours counter, 28.800 A/h, power reserve 44 hours [7].

The key distinguishing features of the 7750 family includes as follow:

  • Conventional integrated center-mounted automatic-winding in one direction (unlike the barrel wound Chronomatic )
  • Cam-controlled chronograph functions using a “heart piece” (unlike the more complex column or pillar wheel style)
  • Simple three-plate brass base (rather than complex bridges)
    – Calendar plate with modular components
    – Main plate with off-center, center wheel, hacking lever, and simple bent-spring ratchet
    – Top plate with an additional winding bridge.

It is clear that the 7750 is extremely popular because it serves as a perfect substructure for more complex chronograph design. There are several variants of the 7750, combining the base chronograph functionality from GMT to moon-phase complications.

Currently, some ETA 7750 favorites could be mentioned such as TAG Heuer Carrera; Breitling Navitimer; Damasko DC66; …

TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 01 Chronograph. Photo: TAG Heuer.

Epilogue:

To wrap up, ETA is an indispensable element and something without which Swiss watchmaking would never be what it is today. In this article, we have discussed the history of ETA through reliving the incredible ups and downs of not just a manufacture, but an entire industry as well.  ETA has partly contributed greatly to Switzerland’s renaissance in the watch industry. With a long history of research, development and production capabilities, hundreds of years of experience and diverse portfolio, ETA is deserved to be recognized as a giant in the watch industry. No company can produce a variety of watches in large number, with uniform quality, stability and affordable price as ETA.

 

Nova @ Novatime Lab.

This article was written in Novatime Lab’s Technical Report (Watch Research). It can be updated in the future for better quality.

References:

[1] A Brief History Of ETA: THE Swiss Watch Movement Maker, David Brendan, URL: http://www.ablogtowatch.com/a-brief-history-of-eta

[2] What is a “workhorse movement”?, Caliber Corner, URL: http://calibercorner.com/what-is-a-workhorse-movement

[3] ETA caliber 2824-2, WatchBase, URL: http://watchbase.com/eta/caliber/2824-2

[4] ETA caliber 2824-2, Caliber Corner, URL: http://calibercorner.com/eta-caliber-2824-2

[5] ETA caliber 2891-A2, URL: https://www.watch-wiki.net/index.php?title=ETA_2892A2

[6] ETA caliber 2891-A2, Caliber Corner, URL: http://calibercorner.com/eta-caliber-2892-a2/

[7] ETA caliber Valjoux 7750, Caliber Corner, URL:http://calibercorner.com/eta-valjoux-caliber-7750/

 

Author: Hoan Nguyen

” Winners never quit & quitters never win ”

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