If you are into mechanical watches, you have most certainly spent time researching which movements are best. We are currently living an amazing period as there are plenty of companies making mechanical movements at various price ranges and quality. From renowned Swiss and Japanese manufacturers to independent ones designing and manufacturing their own movements in-house. (This article is not a discussion of what an in-house movement is!) Just like I might have a pet peeve against those who claim that a “proper” watch should have X or Y specifications, I feel that we tend to put too much importance as to where movements are made and which spec they should have.
Switzerland versus Japan versus Malaysia versus China, some claiming that Chinese movements are by default of lesser quality than Swiss ones, or that only Swiss movements from ETA or Landeron are worth the money. In this article, therefore, I’m going to share my thoughts on three movement manufacturers I’ve had extensive experience with: Miyota, Sellita, and Soprod. I won’t discuss the engineering and mechanical benefits of their movements, because I wouldn’t be able to explain them properly, since I’m neither an engineer nor a watchmaker. But I will look at these three companies more from the general perspective of the end-user. Someone who has reviewed many watches that came with either a Miyota, Sellita, or Soprod caliber.
Thoughts on Miyota Movements
Over the past three years, I’ve reviewed dozens upon dozens of watches that came with Miyota calibers, mostly from the 9000 series of premium movements such as the 9015, 90S5, and 9039. All beat at 28,800 BPH (4Hz) and come with 38 to 42 hours of power reserve. Quite common specs if you ask me. In most cases, Miyota movements ran better out of the box than any other movement I’ve experienced. With daily deviations running well within stated daily tolerances, generally in the single digits, without being regulated. While many complain about the rotor noise and wobble of Miyota movements—which are a real thing by the way—it never bothered me, quite the contrary.
Oftentimes, I realized that I could feel or hear the rotor because the case is poorly constructed or too thin. Meaning that this would be more of a phenomenon commonly found for watches that had little water resistance compared to, for example, tool watches. Or watches that felt flimsy tended to be more noisy. What I like about Miyota movements is that they seem rather inexpensive to buy and are more reliable than other movements made by prestigious Swiss manufacturers. There seems to be something about Japanese manufacturing that makes it possible for Miyota to make good movements for relatively little money.
Thoughts on Sellita Movements
Many professional and amateur reviewers can be heard saying “I wish this watch came with a Sellita instead of X.” I believe they say this because of the perceived higher quality of Swiss made movements. I’m not saying that Swiss movements are bad, quite the contrary, but having the “Swiss Made” label doesn’t automatically guarantee a superior movement. And it should be noted that Sellita offers four grades of movements, from regular to Élaboré to Top. The best movements are those that are the most reliable and accurate. However, a Top Grade Sellita will quickly increase the price of a watch by 20% whilst not, generally, providing a higher—read: better—horological experience. I’ve handled watches with Top Grade Sellita movements that ran poorly or others that ran superbly.
Sellita movements also tend to beat at 28,800 BPH (4Hz) and come with 38 to 42 hours of power reserve. Of course, I’m speaking in general terms here and from my personal experience. Each manufacturer offers expansive catalogs for time only, chronograph, GMT and more complex movements. So here I’m talking about the basic and typical Sellita SW200, SW300, and SW330 GMT calibers. More often than not, in my personal experience, Sellita movements run worse than Miyota calibers in the sense that they tend to run slower or faster and have more hiccups. More than once a Sellita movement stopped working altogether and had to be serviced or replaced.
Thoughts on Soprod Movements
I’ve had less experience with Soprod movements than I did with Miyota and Sellita, but the Swiss manufacturer is becoming more and more common. I first encountered Soprod by way of their C125 GMT caliber which is a solid piece of mechanical prowess. Generally, the C125 runs well within spec in the single digits of daily variations, but I haven’t seen too many of them to be able to say with great confidence that they are superior to Miyota or Sellita. More recently, I’ve experienced the P024 which seems to have replaced the iconic ETA 2824 caliber for time only or time + date movements. Yet, the P024 is not as common and generally found in more expensive watches.
A Few Words of Caution
As mentioned in the introduction, I’m no engineer or watchmaker. Therefore, I could only speak of Miyota, Sellita, and Soprod movements from a watch enthusiast perspective. I made certain comments, for example about Sellita, which should be nuanced a little bit. For example, although I had more problems with Sellita movements than I did with Miyota ones, that doesn't mean the former doesn’t make good movements. It seems to have to do with how the movements are assembled, encased, and connected to the crown via the stem. It seems to be due to poor engineering or watchmaking that a movement didn’t engage or wind properly. But again, I’m not an expert.
As you might have guessed, I really like Miyota movements. There is a reason why they are so popular with micro and independent brands: they are readily available, easy to service (most of them being clones of once widespread ETA calibers,) cheap, and reliable. The 9075 “true GMT” movement released in 2022 was, for example, a game-changer for many brands. Whether it be for small brands wanting to make a true travel watch or larger brands who didn’t have access to quality Swiss made GMT calibers with a jumping local hour. Although I do enjoy a good Sellita or Soprod caliber once in a while, I typically prefer watches that come with Miyota movements.
That’s just my experience. What about you? Please leave your comments below.Featured image: www.geckota.com