For years we’ve been hearing rumblings about the difficulty of obtaining ETA movements for non-Swatch Group brands. This has been a trainwreck-in-the-making for some years.
In October 2013, the Swiss Competition Commission (Comco) and Swatch Group reached an agreement to address Swatch’s desire to stop supplying movements to companies.
According to the terms of the deal, “the obligation to supply mechanical movements will remain in effect up to 31 December 2019.” In 2014/2015 ETA is to deliver 75% of the average number of units sold between 2009-2011; this drops to 65% in 2016/2017 and 55% in 2018/2019. The company is also obliged to treat each of its clients “in an equal fashion.”’
What’s it mean?
It means, we hit December 31 2019 on the calendar, and true to the deal, ETA movements are now looking to be in short supply. As of February 28 2020, all mechanical movements on ETA’s website have been labeled as unavailable.
What’s a brand to do?
Maybe you had already stockpiled ETA movements for this day. Maybe, you appealed to the head of Swatch Group saying, “my brand has historically always used ETA movements, it would be bad for us both if we were forced to change to another manufacture’s calibre.”
Or, you’ve taken advantage of the few movements made off of the same designs, by manufacturer’s like Soprod, Sellita, STP, or considered similar sized movements like the R150 by Ronda.
Or, you’ve given up on the idea of Swiss Made as something valuable, and punted to using a Seiko or Miyota automatic movement. Both companies make excellent, reliable movements, although they don’t have the same finish or prestige that a finely decorated ETA might have.
Swatch Group has a monopoly. That’s why this agreement was put in place in the first place. The agreement scaled off availability to wean brands off of ETA movements, and allow competitors to grow to fill the gap. We are about to find out if reality lives up to that goal.