Bremont recently released the Supernova – their first offering with an integrated bracelet. It’s a perfect piece for the modern enthusiast climate: a rugged sport watch with luxury finishing (and an integrated bracelet). It features Bremont’s new ENG375 movement, part of their ENG300 series. These movements feature beautiful finishing and great specifications. Perhaps most importantly, they’re very accurate. The ENG375 is an adapted version of the K1 movement, developed by Swiss independent THE+. Bremont purchased non-exclusive rights to the K1, shaping it into their ENG300 series. Despite the achievement of Bremont’s new UK-manufactured movements, they’ve received some backlash from the enthusiast community.
First, I’d like to say Bremont’s ENG300 series is fantastic; the K1 is great, as is Bremont’s rendition of it. This has nothing to do with the product, it’s just a battle of semantics. Although they’ve since changed their phrasing, Bremont initially called the ENG300 a series of “in-house” movements. They purchased the movement, upgraded its specs, and manufactured it themselves. Because the movement wasn’tdeveloped in-house, people didn’t like Bremont’s use of the term. In response, the brand changed their phrasing to “Bremont manufactured”. Believe it or not, this new adjective didn’t change anything about the movement itself.
In Meghan Clarke’s 2020 article Does Having an In-House Watch Movement Really Matter?, she covers the rise of “in-house” movements. During the early days of watchmaking, most every brand offered in-house technology. There were no manufacturers like ETA or Sellita to buy “off-the-shelf” movements from. As time went on, watchmakers bought and sold technologies, manufacturers popped up, and in-house movements became notable. Enthusiasts admired technology that was developed and manufactured by one entity. Brands caught on to this trend, labeling their modified ETA movements “in-house”. After all, there’s no governing body that gives an “in-house” stamp of approval. Think of it like “all-natural”, or “premium”: companies love to use vague buzzwords, especially when they sell products.
“In-House” isn’t bad – it’s just misused
The adjective “in-house” doesn’t make a movement inherently better, but it is meaningful. You can buy a $500 Hamilton Khaki with an H10: a modified ETA movement with rock solid specifications. Nowhere in Hamilton’s marketing do they call the H10 “in-house”. Not only would that be a lie, it wouldn’t add anything to the watch. You’re buying a Khaki because of its timeless design, reliable (and easy to service) ETA movement, and versatility on a leather, nylon, or rubber strap. Hamilton customers don’t care where their movement was made, as long as it works well.
On the other hand, you can buy a $22,000 Vacheron Constantin Overseas with a Caliber 5100: an in-house movement with, again, rock solid specifications. However, the Overseas is worth far more than its specs – you’re buying horological history. Vacheron Constantin is a “Holy Trinity” brand alongside AP and Patek; they’re one of the oldest watchmakers in existence. “In-house” matters when the “house” helped define an industry. If you’re spending $22,000 on a watch, you should expect a thoughtfully-designed movement, ostensibly developed in-house. And yes – the Caliber 5100 is a true in-house movement. However, Vacheron doesn’t even use “in-house” on their product page. They don’t need to explain why their movement is incredible; it speaks for itself.
In a recent video from Adrian Barker, he touched on the Supernova and “in-house” politics. He came to a conclusion that I agree with – the nomenclature is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what a brand calls their modified off-the-shelf movement, as long as they’re transparent about what it is. This will always be a good thing. Knowing the base movement helps the consumer, the person who has to repair it, and the company itself by building trust with their customer. A perfect example is Monta’s Caliber M-22: Monta’s flagship movement.
Michael DiMartini, a founding partner of Monta (and CEO here at Everest) wrote an extensive blog post about his company’s movement. He not only explainedwhatthe Caliber M-22 is (a modified Sellita SW300), butwhyandhow it’s modified. Pure transparency. If every brand did this, the “in-house” debacle wouldn’t exist. Collectors would make informed purchases. Mechanics would get an extra hour of sleep every night. At the end of the day, products speak for themselves. Brands should prioritize the quality of their movements, not the words used to describe them.