Does price determine quality?

Here at RGM we try to build with a classic, durable construction. We repair many vintage and antique watches where parts are not available. We can do this because they were made to be repaired, and the parts were not made in some exotic way that would prevent a good watchmaker from repairing or making a new part. Not all brands build with this in mind, but we do at RGM because I started in the repair-restoration world, so I know the importance of making a watch that can be serviced and repaired.

Many brands today will not sell parts to anyone, and many of the parts are made in a way that would make it difficult or impossible for a watchmaker to duplicate.  Add to that, the problem of some brands not stocking parts for previous models past 10 years and you can see the problem that’s coming up the road.

Because we repair and restore watches made by many brands including new, vintage and antique, we can see the differences and the changes in construction.  Many very expensive watches made today are designed on the limit.  Here is what I mean: the Brooklyn Bridge was designed and built when the heaviest load it would need to hold was a team of horses and a wagon.  Today the Brooklyn Bridge holds large trucks with fully loaded trailers and it is over 100 years old. If it were designed only for the needs of its day, it would be long gone.  The same is true in watches; take a 1940’s typical average watch movement. It is designed to last; even with years of use, dry oil, and dirt present, you can still wind it and it will try to run. Winding and setting works fine and with a service and a few adjustments most will work fine.   Compare that to some very expensive high end watches made today (names withheld to protect the guilty).  I have seen watches only a few years old with destroyed winding and setting systems, and ones with poorly designed automatic winding systems that no longer work.  The problem, designing on the limit, the computer tells them the part is strong enough to do the job, but add a little dirt and dry lubricant and it can’t take the load anymore and breaks.  Some very complicated watches made today have the same problems and 10 or 20 years up the road will just be expensive paper weights.

Personally, I do not see the point in making a mechanical watch using very high tech materials, or processes to make the parts, especially when it makes the watches less durable and shortens their lifespan.

My two cents

Roland Murphy