Making the Mechanical Movement: Not Just Using One.

Assembling the Swiss Caliber in Baltimore, MD.

A watch brand can choose to make their own movement from scratch. They can purchase an assembled proven caliber or they can rebuild that proven caliber. The Towson Watch Company will make its own movement from time to time, but there are only a couple brands in the world that are capable of performing this in scale. For most independents and brands like us located outside of Switzerland, we are restricted to either buying or rebuilding a proven caliber for an official collection timepiece. Most pseudo-luxury brands will use a pre-assembled movement, and unfortunately, many of the consumer-luxury brands that we all know well will do the same. 

It’s important to recognize the difference between the two practices. Is the watch brand purchasing an assembled caliber or remaking that caliber? The decision carries a lasting impact on the value, durability and reliability of the total timepiece. 

Here at Towson Watch Company, we choose to rebuild a proven Swiss caliber. There are three main benefits to applying this approach to the making of a Towson Watch. They involve decoration, regulation and customization.  A watch brand that commits to these three fields of quality and analysis make the owner of a fine timepiece value their purchasing decision for a lifetime. 

Let’s begin with what we find problematic about “using a completed caliber.” A brand that simply claims to use a Sellita SW200 movement can’t guarantee that timepiece or provide a long term warranty for it. They likely don’t understand the makeup of that movement because they didn’t build it or assemble it themselves. If there is lacking accuracy after a year of wear or it was demagnetized, the brand that you bought it from likely can’t be there to fix it for you. 

Aside from the lacking ability of many watch brands to serve as an actual watchmaker that is capable of service and repair, there are important qualities of a watch composed of a movement that has been assembled in-house that is aesthetically admirable. It starts with decoration. 

It won’t be easy finding a timepiece as well-decorated as a Towson Watch. We flaunt this decoration through the exhibition casebacks. While many brands attempt to hide their lack of attention to detail with a closed caseback, Towson Watches expose the additional work applied. 

An owner of a Towson Watch has appreciation for the intrinsic value of it, or in other words, the mere functioning as an instrument. And they admire what it represents, a rejuvenation of American manufacturing in the form of highest-grade watchmaking. But if they want to show it off, there’s nothing like flipping it over to reveal the movement.

Valjoux 7751 movement for Mission Moon MM250-2 with skeleton rotor.

When someone sees a mechanical movement so elegantly decorated, the appreciation for the fine timepiece as a whole becomes an objective feeling. No matter what kind of person the viewer of the timepiece is, they will appreciate that mechanical movement when it is presented with artisanal qualities. Compare it to an oil painting, where the texturing is noticeable. One can trace the making of the art. This is what movement decoration does. The blued screws, the perlage on the main plate, the engravings on the bridges, the geneva stripes on the rotor and rhodium coated throughout bring the masterpiece all together into one mechanical painting. Once admired, the utilitarian identity of the timepiece only makes that treatment so much more special. 

We believe that a mechanical movement speaks to one of the main reasons for why we would want to purchase a fine timepiece. It’s the mechanical ingenuity and primal functioning of it that makes the luxury appeal that much stronger. So why hide this appeal? 

To decorate a movement on a Towson Watch, it must be rebuilt. Each and every component must be decorated accordingly to make the picture complete. This brings us to another reason for why we decide to rebuild a Swiss Caliber and why the approach should be seen as necessary to justify such an investment. It involves the regulation and calibration of the movement, which for a Towson Watch, doesn’t occur in some mass-produced factory in Switzerland. It happens right in the TWC workshop in Baltimore, MD., by a team of trained master watchmakers

Towson Watch Company isn’t burdened by the limitations of mass production. Most mechanical movements are produced by industrial-grade machines and assembly lines, enduring limited quality control beyond basic construction. By assembling our own movement, we don’t have to rely on other people checking our movements. We clean and oil each and every component in-house prior to assembly, a necessary practice to achieve lasting accuracy, durability and reliability. A watchmaker can’t just pour oil into the movement and expect positive accuracy results. Each component must be cured accordingly to its size, shape, and positioning in the movement. In a mass-production line, this doesn’t tend to happen. 

Caliber 7750 assembly for Martin M-130 Chronograph
Custom 18k Gold Valjoux 7751 Movement for Mission Moon MM250-1

A movement must be assembled in-house to achieve chronometer-grade regulation. At the end of the day, we aren’t just trying to make good-looking watches. Towson Watch Company is a curated watchmaker commissioned to make timepieces for specific uses and professions. We are here to make the best possible instrument that is reliable and tasteful. 

Lastly, there are modifications of a stock Swiss caliber that are necessary to make a Towson Watch. Take the CR250 Field Series as an example. The SW200 movement is assembled in accordance with Sellita standards. But certain parts of that movement must be altered to fit a Towson Watch. The hour wheel on a standard SW200 is too thick for the CR250’s steel case, so we ordered ETA 2893 hour wheels, a slightly thinner component, to replace the SW200 hour wheel with. Take the North.er, which uses the caliber 2983. If we used the pre-assembled stock movement, we would be limited to a white-painted date window, throwing off the contrasting balance of the dial. So, we made a new date calendar wheel in red, aligning with the dial’s aesthetic. In these two cases, Towson Watch Company is remaking a Swiss caliber to work for a Towson Watch. The making of the watch requires the making of the movement. 

Skipjack GMT SKJ100-S Caliber 2893 Movement

We hope this article helps you understand the TWC approach and why this approach in itself makes the TWC Brand that much more unique. There is no other American watchmaker like us. Our approach is complete and thorough. There are no cutting corners. 

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