This week’s edition of Historical Horology is going to continue the trend we have had with the series as of late, where we get into some history, but also share some information that is useful to the collector of modern (or semi-modern) watches. When it comes to Swiss movements, ETA is probably the most well-known and widely-distributed name. Given that, it makes sense to dive into the history of the brand a little bit, as well as get an overview of some of their movements.
The full name of ETA is “ETA SA Manufacture Horlogère Suisse”, and most are familiar with the fact that ETA is part of the larger Swatch Group holdings. Were you aware, though, that the company actually has its lineage traced back to 1792? Between then and now, of course, there have been a lot of changes, as well as a good bit of consolidation (even aside from what the quartz crisis ended up forcing). It seems that, due to all of those companies merging together, ETA has ascended to the place of prominence that they occupy today.
If there is one movement that you are the most likely to come across, it would be the ETA 2824-2. This is (rightly so) identified as the workhorse Swiss movement, and shows up all over the place. For all of its usage, it would be up to the model that you purchased, as to what level of finishing your particular example has (there are four – standard, elaborated, top, and chronometer. Other movements (say, the 2892) have fewer grades, but are a bit further up the food chain. For more on the more well-known movements (and their grades), as well as a deeper dive into the history, you will want to check out this article from the Gentleman’s Gazette.
Images courtesy of The Gentleman’s Gazette