The first few times we read an article related to watchmaking, we were amazed at first glance at the endless nomenclature of all the elements that make up a watch, especially when we examine its fundamental part, namely its movement.

But what is it that makes the difference between the various movements? Most often, the manufacturer is only sometimes the one that physically puts a mark on the watch movement, but the actual job has been done by someone else.

So let's almost physically get inside our timepieces and examine one of the most well-known movement manufacturers in the watch universe, namely Sellita. This company is the source of the endless debate Sellita vs. ETA about which is best - so let's go find it out!

The Sellita company seat - image from

What is a Sellita movement?

It is not a particular type of mechanism (which in watchmaking is called, precisely, a movement) but simply the name of the factory that produces it. Sellita, along with ETA, is one of Switzerland's most famous and widespread contemporary caliber manufacturers.

Its annual production is not stated, but analysts estimate it in the range of 1.5 million pieces per year, which the company sells to many famous and not-so-famous brands. Interestingly, Sellita began in 1950 as a service company working for the Swiss movement giant, namely ETA. Still, over time it separated, going on to sell its own movements in competition with its former "customer."

Not only has Sellita's quality grown over the years to that of ETA: this company produces the same models that ETA makes since the original designs of several movements still going strong are so dated that they are now free of rights. For example, the well-known ETA 2824 movement debuted in 1982, so anyone today can replicate and repurpose it without having to pay a fee to ETA. And this is exactly what Sellita is doing with its workhorse movement, the SW200.

As a note, it is pretty common to use "older" caliber designs in watches: even if the horology industry continues to experiment, the typical manual-winding or automatic watch lifespan is about forever, if the mechanism is properly maintained. So, do not feel cheated if you discover that your new watch is powered by a caliber that was designed 40 years ago: this is the evidence that this caliber was extremely well-designed!

A Sellita-made Davosa movement - image from Davosa USA

Is the Sellita movement any good?

The quality of Swiss movements is well known to all, and Sellita is no exception. After a tough start, this manufacturer has refined its products to make them of excellent quality, comparable with those of its previous customer, namely ETA.

The work was mainly in improving the materials and elements that make up the movement, namely all those wheels, pinions, and springs that make up the mechanical part of the movements. To date, Sellita movements represent the watchmaking standard of Swiss movements, on which all world manufacturers compare themselves: and this should tell us something about the quality described by this manufacturer.

And today, even more than before, Sellita's position as a movement manufacturer has been affirmed, thanks to a long ongoing dispute that has seen ETA confronted by the Swiss antitrust agency. In practice, ETA today can no longer sell its movements outside the Swatch Group, of which it has long been a member, which leaves Sellita as the undisputed market leader in Swiss watch movements outside the Swatch Group.

Is Sellita Swiss made?

The use of a designation such as "Swiss Made "in watchmaking is regulated by a specific law of the Swiss Federation. To use such a designation, an object - be it a watch or a watch movement - must meet specific characteristics, such as being made from components at least 60 percent of whose value comes from Switzerland and being assembled in Switzerland. Those who do not meet these parameters cannot use Swiss-Made.

And Sellita, which historically worked in its Swiss factories to produce movements for ETA, meets these characteristics. Incidentally, a Swiss Made watch must have a Swiss Made movement. Given the list of its current customers, we can safely assert that Sellita's movements absolutely comply with what the law dictates.

Which watch brands use Sellita movements?

The first company to use Sellita movements was ETA itself, which subcontracted the assembly of its movements to Sellita, enabling it to acquire the dominant position, in terms of volume, that it retains to this day.

But after the closure of supplies outside the Swatch Group, of which ETA is a member, the companies that previously sourced their ebauche (i.e., basic movements) from ETA had to find other suppliers. Since Sellita produces calibers identical in performance, shape, and size to the ETA originals, relying on Sellita is practically natural.

Among the most famous brands that have relied on Sellita for their needs, we can find names including Hublot, IWC, Oris, and TAG Heuer, as well as a great many other independent brands that have smaller production runs, since Sellita, contrary to what ETA used to do, directly supplies even quantities of a few dozen pieces.

How much is a Sellita movement?

Initially, movements produced by Sellita cost a little less than those produced by ETA. Still, with ETA closing to the market outside the Swatch world, prices may develop according to market laws.

It is not possible to say how much a single Sellita movement costs since there are different types of movements with varying degrees of finishing, and the price changes according to the quantity of the order: a piece taken individually will have a unit cost much higher than 1,000 pieces bought all together at the same time.

However, we can say that a new Sellita workhorse automatic watch movement, namely the SW200-1, in the basic version, costs around $190.

Sellita also made complete watches in its early days - image from Ebay

Main Takeaways

The supply of ebauches, i.e., blank movements produced by specialized houses, is one of the mainstays of Swiss watchmaking. Over the years, the majority of the ebauche manufacturing firms have gradually condensed under a single holding company, which then became ETA and was bought by the Swatch group.

Sellita, within the galaxy of alternative movement manufacturers, became the most significant player in Switzerland. But at the end of the day, in a watch movement, what matters is the quality of the finished product - and Sellita has proven over the years to be a reliable, high-quality manufacturer making excellent movements.


The website is NOT affiliated in any way with Audemars Piguet, Franck Muller USA, Inc. Richard Mille or Richemont Companies, Seiko, or any other brand which is not Davosa Swiss. Rolex is a registered trademark of Rolex USA. Davosa-USA website is not an authorized dealer, reseller, or distributor for Rolex and is in NO WAY affiliated with Rolex SA or Rolex USA or any other brand besides Davosa Swiss.
November 04, 2022 — Davosa Editor

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