Japanese Automatic Movement vs Swiss Automatic Movement

Japanese Automatic Movement vs Swiss Automatic Movement


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The movement of a watch is the heart and brain that does all of the hard work. Without it, all you have is just a fancy man-bracelet with some numbers and dials. Some people might not pay much attention to the movement when shopping for a watch, but it is undoubtedly the most important part of the watch even if it’s not the part you look at on a regular basis.

When it comes to telling time, there's a lot more that happens underneath the surface, and a quality movement is a must to ensure the watch is accurate and reliable. While most watchmakers stopped making their own movements a while ago, they typically choose either Swiss or Japanese movements for their high-end models.

Let’s look at some of the distinctions of the two movements along with their similarities, and why some people prefer one over the other.

Swiss Movements: The Original Automatic Movement

Swiss movements are the original automatic movements and set the bar for precision and quality, although Japanese movements have caught up over the years. You can identify a Swiss movement by looking for the letters “C.T.A.” sometimes followed for a series of numbers. Swiss movements are designed with aesthetics in mind and use beautiful jewels (typically rubies) and intricately cut metals. They are also hand assembled in many cases which adds to the quality and price of the movement.

Japanese Movements: Built for Precision

On the other side of the debate, Japanese movements are built for precision with less emphasis on how the movement looks. Japanese movements are very practical and much more cost-effective since they're typically made on automated assembly lines. Through automation, companies keep the costs to manufacture low while also creating a consistently precise movement. They don't feature fancy rubies (opting for synthetic jewels), and the inner-workings of the movement aren't as intricate.

What They Have in Common

For one, both are automatic, which means you don't need to worry about changing batteries or winding them. Whenever you wear the watch, the movement of your arm throughout the day is enough to wind the spring and keep the clock ticking (or sweeping in this case).

Also, both movements use synthetic rubies that help keep all of the moving parts moving by reducing the wear and tear from daily use. The movements are also durable and can handle shock and bumps without skipping a beat.

Finally, both movements are high-quality and stand above quartz and mechanical movements in many regards making them much more valuable. Buying a watch with a Swiss or Japanese movement can feel like an investment, but they are incredibly reliable and will hold up after years of wear.

Key Differences

As we mentioned, Swiss movements cost more typically at around $200 while you can find a Japanese movement for half that price. Besides the price, Swiss movements are available in a 25-jewel configuration which is more reliable than lower ratings.

Another key difference is in the power reserve. While Swiss movements have 40 hours of energy reserve, Japanese movements have 45 which means they’ll tick longer when sitting still.

The Decision is Yours

If you’re looking for a men’s watch that uses a premium Japanese movement with a rugged exterior built to handle some bumps and bruises, make sure to check out our line of Gear’d Hardware watches!

Matthew Lane 

Be on the lookout for my next blog:  Making the Right Lifestyle Choices to Have a Badass Life.