You may have heard of the term "in-house movement before." The term is generally used by watchmakers to signify a higher standard of development and quality. However, does that really translate to a better value for a watch or a justification for a higher price?
Today we'll look at two watches that are identical in almost every way except for their movements. The watches in question are the Tudor Black Bay ETA (79220N) and its successor the Tudor Black Bay (79230N). The ETA based Black Bay was released in October 2015, but discontinued shortly after in July of 2016 when it was succeeded by the in-house based Tudor Black Bay 79230N which is still in current production.
The 79220N Tudor Black Bay had an MSRP of $3,495 vs. an MSRP of $3,800 for the 79230N, a $305 difference between the two. As you can see in graph 1, as of August 2017, both Black Bays were selling for significantly below their MSRP, on the secondary market. However, the recently discontinued ETA based BB began taking off in price eventually selling for MSRP in May of 2018. Since then, the ETA based Black Bay has sold at a significant premium to the in-house Tudor Black Bay.
As we can see in graph 2, during the first 5 months the market acted as we expected with the new and improved Black Bay trading above the older, ETA based movement. However, that soon changed with the ETA based Black Bay shooting up in price reaching a peak of 43% more than the in-house Black Bay and eventually settling around a 26% premium. This would lead us to believe that consumers don't believe in-house movements justify higher prices over ETA or 3rd-party based movements.
This isn't necessarily true, and we need to consider some external factors that may be impacting the price performance of these two watches. The first is that the 79230N is still in production as a result there's no reason to pay a premium above MSRP since it's readily available at Tudor dealers. Generally watches that are still in production never sell above MSRP as there is no reason to pay more than what you would pay for one at an authorized dealer. The exception being highly sought after watches that are difficult to get at an authorized dealer may sell above MSRP on the secondary market. For example, we are seeing this now with the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 41, especially the turquoise variation.
@cousintudor Instagram -Tudor on rubber Everest Band strap
Additionally, the 79220N had an extremely short production run in the watch world with production lasting approximately 6 months. One major driver of prices for watches is rarity. Just the fact that a watch is hard to get or was produced in low numbers almost always drives up the price due to simple supply and demand. It’s possible that the price of the 79220N is increasing due to its rarity and completely independently from the type of movement used.
The final reason that may explain the high prices surrounding the ETA based Black Bay is that future serviceability is an important consideration for watch collectors. If a watch uses parts that become hard to find or expensive to purchase down the road that increases the cost of owning that watch and being able to maintain it; this is a main drawback of in-house movements.
A watchmaker may go out of business or choose to stop manufacturing parts for a certain movement making serviceability difficult down the road. However, the major benefit of ETA based movements is the wide availability of parts due to how many watches use them. ETA based movements are used in watches that cost thousands of dollars like the Black Bay to watches that are only hundreds of dollars ensuring the parts to service these movements will be relatively cheap and accessible for the foreseeable future.
Tudor Black Bay in Everest Cork Watch Roll.
So now that you’ve seen the data, which one do you think you should buy? Either way, Everest offers a range of straps for the Black Bay that you can check out if you are a fortunate owner of one!
Written By: Joshua Jiang