In a world of fledgling watch brands in which independence is a badge of honour, an original mechanical movement is a prized asset. What brand doesn’t dream of having a calibre all of its own? Now Swiss firm The+ is making that dream a reality.
By Joël A. Grandjean
Thanks to an ambitious team based in Biel/Bienne, the holy grail of an exclusive movement is now within reach of any watch brand with aspirations of total independence. Welcome to the innovative concept of hosted movement manufacturing.
Much more than customisation
The press releases of new watch brands are full of buzzwords like manufacture movement and in-house calibre. It is a way for these independent players to pit themselves against the large and prestigious manufactures that produce their own calibres in-house. However, few brands are able to offer anything more than a specific customisation or an original combination negotiated with one of the big mechanical movement manufacturers.
A desire to free themselves from reliance on the likes of ETA and Sellita is what motivates the customers of The+, which offers them the prospect of being able to mass-produce their own reliable movements in ever larger quantities. Building on the successful demonstration of its first tried-and-tested basic calibre, the K1, the company has developed a new business model based on a close collaboration of up to five years in which the client benefits from fully bespoke movement design and construction.
Hosted movements: close but flexible partnerships
At the end of the collaboration period, the brand becomes the sole owner of the movement that it helped to invent, including intellectual property rights over whatever it was involved in developing. What’s more, its movement will be suitable for mass production, which means that over time, as it grows, the brand will be able to set up the machines required to manufacture it on its own premises, with the help of The+ employees. And if it has the skills to handle the assembly process from the start, the team from Biel/Bienne will assist it with the supply of parts, quality control, pre-assembly, assembly, adjustments, intellectual property rights and equipment.
Upgrade kits to optimise power reserve
The+ has already made a name for itself on the movement manufacturing market for its original expertise in power reserve optimisation. “We offer upgrade kits that boost the power reserve of ETA and Sellita standard movements to 65 hours,” explains Business Development Manager Silvan Deutschmann. “Customers can order the quantity of kits they need to modify their movements. We also plan to adapt the technology to individual movements fitted with the standard 20.3 escapement in order to increase their power reserve.”
The+ can also draw on its experience to offer its customers and long-term partners a whole range of complications for their movements, while remaining compatible with the demands of mass production. They include central seconds, small seconds, power reserve indicator, large date, small date, GMT and even a tourbillon.