The largest movement manufacturer in Switzerland that supplies majority of watchmakers with its high quality mechanisms is a part of the Swatch Group. At its beginnings, ETA was producing ebauches (incomplete movements or a collection of parts ready for assembly) for Eterna watches. Thanks to the Swiss law from 1930’s, which had banned companies to produce both, complete watches and movements, ETA became independent company and grew into the giant of the movement making industry.
It became a part of the giant Swiss watch components group AUSAG that later merged with SSIH and finally entered the Swatch Group. As the owner of many leading movement brands such was ETA, Lemania, Valjoux, ESA and Unitas, Swatch decided to integrate them all into one ETA brand. Since it has been owned by the Swatch Group, ETA has changed its strategy a little bit, giving a priority to the brands under the same ruff, but it has still remained the key supplier for the vast majority of Swiss watchmakers.
Whether they are used unchanged, modified or as the tractor (power base and time source) for many complications, basic self-winding ETA movements – ETA 2824 and ETA 2892 beat inside various timepieces of high-end brands, such as IWC, Girard Perregaux, Frank Muller, Breitling, Tag Heuer…
The 2892 (2892-A2) is widely considered as a more efficient movement, with a better engineered oscillating weight that contributes to higher shock resistance. Fitted with top quality components and usually finished nicely with Cote-de-Geneve decoration, its design dates from the 1970s. It is 25.6 mm in diameter (the same as the ETA 2824), but it is 3.6mm thick, comparing to 4.6mm of the 2824. Depending on components that guarantee different levels of accuracy, this automatic mechanism is available in three grades – elaborated, top and chronometer.
While the elaborated grade has the average daily rate of +/-5 seconds, with the maximum variation of +/-20 seconds per day, the top grade has the average rate of +/-4 seconds/day, with the maximum daily variation of +/-15 seconds. Meeting the strict standards of the COSC: the average rate of -4/+6 with the maximum daily variation of +/-5 seconds/day, the chronometer rate demonstrates the highest quality and precision.
Some watchmakers use ETA 2892 without additional complication and others use it as a tractor for a moon-phase, chronograph, big date, power reserve and other complications. ETA uses it as the tractor for other mechanisms: the 2893 with a second time-zone hand and the 2894 chronograph.
The 2824 (2824/2) is not much behind the 2892. With a strong mainspring, it is a perfect tractor for modules to be added to the top of the movement. It is available in four executions or grades: standard, elaborated, top and chronometer. Let us just say that the standard grade guarantees solid precision with the average daily rate of +/-12 seconds and the maximum variation of +/-30 seconds per day, while the top grade has the average rate of +/-4 seconds/day, with the maximum daily variation of +/-10 seconds.
Since 2000, there have been some significant changes in the movement market, with several brands that have developed high quality in-house mechanisms, but in many cases, they still cannot beet ETA movements.