Every few years, an article gets posted about the apocalypse coming, when SWATCH group will stop selling ETA movements to small independent watch makers. It’s struck fear in the hearts of manufactures large and small before, which gave rise to watch houses using the Miyota 9015, the Seiko NH35, or Soprod A10 instead of the ETA movement. It caused Hublot to build their own in-house movement to break reliance on ETA.
It seems that apocalypse is coming in slow motion, with Swatch having permission to stop sales to third parties completely by 2020, decreasing each year starting back in 2011.
What then, is a watchmaker to do if they want to supply a quality movement that will have the cachet they desire, be able to label the watch Swiss Made, and know that the movement will be supported for years to come? Especially, what to do if the case was designed around an ETA?
Enter Ronda. For years, Ronda has produced Swiss made quartz movements in a wide variety of confugurations. That’s their reputation, and what we all know them for. But they were founded in 1946 and used to make mechanical movements. They stopped completely in the 1980s, and now they’re back, a little later to the mechanical party than manufactures like Zenith or Heuer, who returned to mechanical watches after making quartz exclusively for a time, but they’re back.
The R150 Mecano movement is their first re-entrant in the automatic self-winding mechanical, and it’s staged to be a winner. It’s dimensions make it the perfect substitute for ETA 2824-2, in diameter, stem height, and canon-pinion height. It’s similar in function, with 3 hands and a date complication. It carries the same incabloc shock protection system, and has ball bearings for the automatic rotor. With a 40 hour reserve and 28,800vph, it’s well-positioned for the small watch producer.
It’s 60 percent made in Switzerland, with some parts supplied from Thailand, and the balance spring comes grom Germany, but this shouldn’t deter anyone – the quality we’ve come to expect from Ronda is such that it should be a reliable Swiss movement.
What really makes it attractive, besides all the well-executed ETA equivalence? It’s priced at 60 CHF. It’s more affordable than an ETA movement, and ends the worry about lack of supply to boot.
I, for one, look forward to reviewing a watch equipped with the Ronda R150 Mecano. ronda.ch
- Brand & Model: Ronda R150 Mecano
- Who we think it might be for: Swiss Made is a requirement for you, but you expect high value for dollar.
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen? Yes. What can I say, I like the idea of more options for watchmakers, leading to more choices for watch-wearers.
- What spoke to me the most about this movement: I like the initial requirements for the movement designer – value, compatibility, quality.
Tech Specs from Ronda
5 thoughts on “The Ronda R150 Mecano – a new movement this way comes”
On the subject of mechanical watch movements, which one you suggest would be better. Miyota 9015 vs Seiko NH35 vs Soprod A10 vs Sellita SW300?
All of these movements are competent. If you must have Swiss, both the Soprod and Sellita are solid, workhorse movements. Quite a few brands use the Sellita.
When it comes to Sellita and ETA, the Sellita is for most purposes, the same as an ETA. The only big difference is in the number of jewels. Sellita added a 26th jewel on the upper side of the barrel axis which sits just below the ratchet wheel. This jewel slightly reduces the friction associated with automatic winding. I’m not at all sure that the jewel is needed – tons of ETA movements are out in the world without suffering friction from the rotor winding, I think. The Soprod is as good as the Sellita.
The 9015 is a good movement. It’s a high beat rate, accurate, solid performer. It winds at about half the rate, because it’s not a bi-directional winding from the rotor, but in practice, who cares? The 9015 is in the same class as the Soprod, Sellita, and ETA. The NH35 is a slower beat, which isn’t a huge issue to me, but might be to you. It’s a reliable, workhorse movement. The NH35 has only been around for a few years, but seems to be reliable – if it had required lots of service, it would have earned a reputation for it by now. I feel comfortable owning a watch equipped with either of these.
The question is, what’s important to you – beat rate? Extreme accuracy? Reliability? Longer reserve times? Where it was made? You can feel safe with any of them, but if you must have Swiss, the Sellita isn’t a bad choice.
To me, beat-rate is a secondary consideration. The Omega cal. 8800 in my Seamaster PO has a beat rate of 25,000VPH, and those who talk about not liking a ‘jerky’ seconds hand are entirely missing the point. I have old quartz watches where the seconds hand stops dead on each seconds marker, one second at a time, and surely you can’t get better than that.
It’s starting to look like Swatch have made a major mistake; with many Swiss watch brands and makers switching to Sellita and also Soprod. The Ronda R150 looks a well-made, quality movement at a competitive price and will certainly ease any fears makers have about the ready availability of quality mechanical movements.