Jewelers and watchmakers forum site comments blog
Search Esslinger Watchmaker Supplies Blog


Posted by Esslinger Staff

Identification of Watch Movements

Open a watch and look inside, you are looking at either a Japanese watch movement or a Swiss watch movement. Sometimes it is hard to tell them apart, especially in the low grade, and in the very high end. Swiss watch movements are better quality and normally have a higher labor rate for repair. Japanese watch movements are sometimes are more costly than Swiss watch movements, but it is lesser quality and it’s difficult to work on a movement made of plastic.


Swiss Movements

A Swiss movement will have stamp of 3 letters – E.T.A. and a followed by a number ex. 955-114, 2001-001 also will tell you how many jewels if there are any. You can always spot the jewel. It is the glassy red dot where the pivot of the wheel sometimes goes through. That number would be your reference number. If you need parts or a new movement, sometimes the identification is located by the battery, sometimes in one corner by the coil, sometimes it is in the circuit board. Some watchmakers would use their own nomination and should be crossed reference with standard ETA.


When you are ready to work in a watch, you should consider if the watch has a seconds hand, if the watch has a calendar window. If it has a calendar window, is it located a 3 o’clock 4 o’clock 6 o’clock. Also be aware of how thick the dial is, because sometimes the same movement has a long and short center shaft (canon pinion). The calendar wheel can be replaced, so if you do not find the same movement with the calendar at 6 o’clock, you’ll have to remove the old calendar wheel and replace it in the new movement. Sometimes the movements are discontinued due to the age, but you still can get parts, so you can clean the old ETA movement and order a coil, a circuit or both to make that special watch work again.


I mentioned ETA because is the largest of the Swiss companies there are also Rhonda FE, ISA. But the principle goes for all the movements, all of them are marked on the back either by movement company or the watch company. There is another way to identify a movement if for some reason no lettering can be read or found, under the dial is the bridge, the funny looking parts that hold the setting parts, looks like an alien hand if you had some imagination. Well the bridge is the watch fingertip, unique to each individual, so there are books with watch illustrations about this bridge, you can match it there.




Japanese Movements

Japanese movements, Seiko and citizen are the largest watch companies in the world. They make all kinds of watches, some of them mostly for the Japanese market very costly. We normally don’t see them. Seiko use Hattori movements that are interchangeable and Citizen uses Miyota movements. Most Asian watches use them both. With Seiko and Citizen the identification is on the back of the watch, sometimes in the bottom of the dial, and most definitely in the movement, like VX42, V810 and so on. Same goes for citizen 5R12, 6L12 and others. My advice: do not try to fix these movements, it would take considerable skill and time. It is much easier to replace either for original brand or the generic. I can provide you with the numbers above mentioned, a perfect match can be found.

Share Button

  • stroudart

    We have a Bernard Datyner watch. It’s 15 Jewel, manual wind, sub seconds at 6 wind cut corner case that is very beautiful. Mechanically it is very clean- practically unused BUT IT DOESN’T WORK.We are starving for information. The movement looks like an FHF, but searching ihe “pink pages” has not revealed its secrets. We want to fix this watch ! Please advise. Thanks,

  • Rubén Iglesias

    Good evening, friends.

    We have (my partner and me) a watchmaking workshop in Madrid and we have a serious problem with a “LONGINES” man watch. We need a “L970.2” quartz movement for this watch and we cannot get one in Spain.

    Could someone help us with this problem?

    Thank you in advance for your time and your dedication to solve this query.


    • Mike Victor

      Hello Ruben Iglesias, I may have this movement available, but I will need to double check. If you are still interested in this movement, please email me at Once you email me, I will let you know if I have this in stock.