Confessions Of A Watchmaker: Producing An In-House Movement

Confessions Of A Watchmaker: Producing An In-House Movement

We travel (virtually) to Hölstein, Switzerland, for the whole story.

By Josh Shanks

The term “in-house” is often dismissed as marketing jargon, but since 2014, Swiss brand Oris has been putting their money where their mouth is.

And this year saw the release of their latest manufacture movement, the Calibre 400. While much digital and physical ink has been spilled over this newest creation, few have managed to capture the full story of the Calibre 400's creation.

Welcome to Confessions Of A Watchmaker!

Meet Our Watchmakers, er Confessors

For this first-of-its-kind column, our confessors are none other than Oris’s Co-CEO Rolf Studer and Beat Fischli, Oris’s Chief Operating Officer. Fischli was the person chiefly responsible for this revolutionary new movement.

This fall, we convened a virtual AMA session with Studer, Fischli, and a few hundred collectors to discuss the merits of the new Calibre 400. After a few Flaschen Biers (bottles of beer), we got the full scoop!

Video – Confessions Of A Watchmaker

Enjoy this replay of our Oris x Watchonista Virtual AMA with an Oris watchmaker.

Key Insights

While Oris created 279 in-house movements before 1981, the brand had primarily stayed out of the movement business until 2014. In the video, Studer and Fischli discuss the inspiration for the Calibre 400 and give insights into the brand's manufacture movements, which started with the Calibre 110 movement – which was 10 years in the making. The Calibre 110 is a remarkable manually-wound in-house movement with a 10-day power reserve.

With the Calibre 400, Oris wanted to produce an automatic movement to the same high standards as their previous in-house movements. A project five years in the making, the Calibre 400 is worthy of discovery.

When the Calibre 400 launched in the Summer of 2020, many were left puzzled why Oris would release a movement independently from a watch. Studer told the session attendees this was intentional, "We wanted to have the time to talk about the movement and the mechanics first. If you had launched the movement in a watch, it would've been only talking about the watch and not the technical achievements."

Of course, when you make a mechanical movement, one of the bragging rights that brands can claim is accuracy. So, we asked Fischli, how accurate is the Calibre 400 compared to other Oris movements? He replied, “The accuracy is within 8 seconds, adjusted in five positions, which is better than chronometer standards where you have a definition of 10 seconds."

Naturally, your next question might be, will Oris send the Calibre 400 to COSC certifications? Studer explained the very practical reasoning as to why the brand won’t be doing so: “We certainly wanted to do it and offer that level of accuracy, but we don’t want to add the cost of that certification to the watch, so we decided to create a movement within the parameters, but not have it tested so the consumer could get the best price.”

Lastly, of course, the question on everyone’s mind, is the Calibre 400 truly developed in-house? To which Fischli responded, "It's truly developed in house with our crew," and Studer added, "It's really our brainchild. This was a very interesting and satisfying project. We got everything we wanted with the development and 100% believe [the Calibre 400] is the best possible movement we can offer to our customers.”

Discover more by viewing our Confessions of a Watchmaker video on YouTube.

Learn more about Oris, the Calibre 400, and the Calibre 400 Aquis Date by visiting Oris’s website.

(Photography by Watchonista)

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