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ETA 6497 / 6498

by J.Peter

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Unitas 6497It has been a while since I worked on an ETA 6497, but I did so today and it reminded me how much I like this movement.

The 6497 and 6498 began as UNITAS calibers, but when UNITAS became a part of swatch group (through a series of acquisitions) it became an ETA caliber, like the Valjoux 7750 and many others. The 6497 is a 16 1/2 ligne pocket watch movement. It is manual wind and a lepine configuration. The 6498 is a hunter configuration. Unitas was founded by Auguste Reymond as a movement manufacturer. They developed the 6497/8 in the 1950s and it gained popularity rapidly as a robust and accurate pocket watch movement. For more on the history of Unitas visit The Unitas Reference Site.

The watch I was working on today was a Caravelle which had been mangled. The hairspring was totally destroyed and the watch movement was covered in a green slime. The watch required a complete restoration, but it wasn’t too costly because all the parts are readily available.

I first became acquainted with the 6497 in watchmaking school at the Lititz Watch Technicum. The 6497 is the movment we base our school watch project on.SchoolWatchBack As a result of that project I feel like I know the 6497 inside and out.

So, Why do I like it? I like robust movments and this is certainly that. Everything in it is sturdily made. It is well designed, everything goes together well. It is very easy to make this movement chronometer grade, even with the most basic model. If you can find a higher grade balance and/or the higher beat train, it would be even easier. I guess, that as a watchmaker I appreciate watches that just do their job well. This one certainly does that.

Straight from ETA the 6497 and 6498 come pretty plain. I have seen them with a “fish-scale” finish, and flat, both nickel plated. I have seen some gold plated and it looks like you can get the 6497 with geneva stripes. Many manufacturers do a lot to dress up this movment. Panerai does a nice job with the traditional Unitas bridge shape (which differs from the geometric style later adopted). It has beautiful finish work, blued screws and even some minor complications added such as center sweep hand on some models. Hamilton uses this movement, as does Swiss Army. Basically when you need a large manual wind movment, this is the obvious choice.

6497 - PlainFor my school watch I made the bridges, click, and stem. I also formed the hairspring and modifed the balance. My school watch features a free-sprung balance with over-coil hairspring. I refinished the ratchet and crown wheels; and I refinished and blued the screws. I also made the dial and hands. It was a complicated project, and I learned an incredible amount about watch component manufacture throughout the process. It took me about 175 hours to complete.School Watch Construction

10 Comments

  1. Charles Taymour
    Posted August 15, 2008 at 4:25 am | Permalink

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for your comments on the ETA 6498. I am on the verge of buying myself a reliable and durable manual watch that I can honestly wear almost everyday. The watch I am interested in is the Eberhard Traversetolo which houses the ETA 6498. It’s a great watch and from what I have read, including your comments, it’s the watch for me. However, what I’m a little hesitant about is the size, a bit too big for my current liking. What are your thoughts on the ETA 7001? If I am looking for reliability and durability through the years which would you honestly recommend – the 6498 or 7001 ? I look forward to your comments. Best Regards, Charles Taymour

  2. Joby Thomas
    Posted September 28, 2008 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Hello, I wanted some information about the 6498. I wanted to know if you can replace the seconds subdial with a rotating disc instead of the standard small hand. I wanted to know how they fasten this individual hand to the gear stem itself? I heard you remove a pin? Can you clarify this with me?Thanks so much.

  3. J.Peter
    Posted September 29, 2008 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Joby,

    The 6498 is like 99.9% of watches on the market today. The hands are friction fit onto the post. You could remove the seconds hand and attach a disc without any problem at all. There is no pin you need to remove or anything.

  4. Posted June 29, 2009 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Hi Peter,

    I am looking to design and make my own case and dial for a ETA 6498 movement. Can you advise where i can learn about the different grades of movement offered and what the benefits are of each ‘upgrade’. Can you also purchase different parts that bolt onto the basic movement but add to its functionality (ie date, power reserve that kind of thing?).

    Also where is the best place to get these movements from, do ETA supply them direct? can you recommend a text book that details case design? Thanks for your help.

    Ben

  5. J.Peter
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    ETA only supplies movements in large quantities. A good place to get a base movement for a project is from http://www.ofrei.com. They even have kits with dials and cases. The technical drawings for case and dial requirements are available in the technical guides available from ETA o their web page or from Otto Frei as well. In fact for information on the different grades they would be a good source as well.

    As for add-ons, there isn’t much available for the 6497, you’ll have to make any complications yourself. There was a version of this watch with a date many, many years ago, but I have yet to find any parts for it.

    Case design is generally jewelry work and I have no experience in it at all, nor can I recommend a good book, but if you know how to work metals it would be pretty straight forward.

    Best of luck!

  6. Deb Koepcke
    Posted January 5, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    How can the value of a family watch be determined? It is an Alliance Horlogere cira 1930′s-1940′s. Mechanism still works.

  7. Posted March 4, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Hey, found your article while searching on how to remove a unitas (clone) from a uboat case I have. I’m huge watch enthusiast but can’t really say I know much about the guts themselves.

    can you tell me how to remove the crown shaft so I can remove the movement from the case? I can provide a picture that doesn’t make sense. the only thing holding the movement in is the crown shaft and I’m not sure how it disconnects.

    I want to buy a real unitas movement and redesign the face for a custom piece in the case, but I’m mildly in over my head :)

    any help would be appreciated.

    thanks!

    d.

  8. J.Peter
    Posted March 5, 2010 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    There should be a little screw near where the stem enters the movement. That screw should release the stem, but don’t turn it too far because it will release other things too, probably 1 full turn or so should do it.

  9. OmegaMan
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know if this movement is compatible with the Omega 30T2? Looking for a new movement for a vintage Omega and they look very close in specs.

  10. J.Peter
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think there is anything compatible between the two. I believe the Omega 30T2 is a 13 ligne movment where the 6497 is a 16.5 ligne movement. They may have similar bridge configurations but that is about it.

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] next set of tasks would prepare us for the WOSTEP gear train exam. We were given an ETA 6497 movement and our mission was to disassemble it completely, clean it thoroughly and reassemble it [...]

  2. [...] TickTalk on why he likes this movement [...]

  3. [...] Well, the wrist watches are based on a ETA (Unitas) 6497. I remake the mainplate and all the bridges to meet my standards of fit and finish. I refinish the [...]

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