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What’s in your watch?

by Jordan Ficklin

On multiple occasions recently I had problems with mid-range watches that failed when they shouldn’t. Both of these examples were Tag Heuer wristwatches. At some point in the last couple of years Tag Heuer began using much lower quality movements in their watches. They can’t be saving more than $10 per watch but the end result is lower quality.

The movement above is the ETA F03.111. It has 3 Jewels and lots of plastic, including complete wheels and pivots in the gear train (it’s what I would expect from a low end Seiko or a Timex). Don’t get me wrong. Plastic isn’t bad but it evokes poor quality and the rest of the movement follows. I would never service one of these movements, it would simply get replaced. So how much do you have to pay for one of these gems? This particular watch is a steel & plated gold model with a diamond bezel and diamond dial which is listed for $4100 retail but can be obtained at Amazon for just $2,660.00. The value of the movement is less than half of a percent of the market price and less than a quarter percent of the full retail price. In contrast the value of a Rolex movement represents around 1/3 of the cost of a comparably priced model.

This watch came to me for a power cell and a water resistance test, which I performed, but then the setting lever broke and I had to replace that as well. The quality of the ETA F series just isn’t good enough to be used in any watch that costs more than a few hundred dollars and Tag Heuer should be ashamed of using them in this watches. Spend a few more dollars and use a good quality quartz movement that will stand up to customer use. The F03.111 is a part of ETA’s Trendline which they describe as “economical movements for mass produced watches.” In contrast ETA’s Flatline watches which include the movement is described as “flat, reliable, numerous functions, high performances.” Which would you rather have in your watch? Some Tag Heuer chronograph’s now have movements from ETA’s Fashionline, also described as “economical movements for mass produced watches.” I guess that settles it, Tag Heuer is a fashion watch.

In this case . . . you don’t get what you pay for, you get much less.

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