In the world of affordable watches, there’s a lot of variation in terms of design and concept, giving us lots of watches to be interested in, talk about and occasionally pursue for purchase. But within those watches, there is little variation in the mechanical movements driving them. Under $1,000 is dominated by Seiko and Miyota these days with the occasional Swiss or Chinese offering. Over $1,000 and you see the Swiss regulars, ETA and Sellita, with the occasional Soprod, and the rare in-house movement. Nothing wrong with any of them, but seeing the same movements over and over can get a bit stale, if only from my perspective as a reviewer.
So, when I heard that a new brand called Ophion was using a TechnoTime movement I had never seen before, I was immediately very excited. Based out of Spain, Ophion decided to really do something interesting, manufacturing their watch in Germany, using a Swiss TechnoTime manual wound movement with a 5-day power reserve, and charging a remarkable 1,305 Euros or about $1,430. In fact, when I truly first heard about these, I put together an article called Introducing the Ophion 960: Accessible Luxury Done Right which goes over the watch, brand and movement a bit, but I knew I had to get one in for a review.
That’s all well and good, but you might be asking, who is TechnoTime and why should I care? Based in Switzerland, TechnoTime is a very small manufacture of movements with some impressive capabilities. They aren’t a “clone” company, but rather one that makes their own calibers for brands looking for a real ETA alternative. They also manufacturer their own balance springs, something few brands can do as well as tourbillions. And when I say small, I really mean it. According to an article in Europastar from August of 2014, they had 25 employees and make only 12,000 movements annually (they also manufacture 300,000 balance springs for other brands annually). Compare that to Sellita’s 500 employees and 1.2 million movements (built and/or assembled) and you get the picture.
TechnoTime is a real bespoke manufacturer and as such, isn’t one whose movements you typically will find in our price range. In fact, according to the same article, their movements start at 575 francs, making them considerably more expensive than ETA, Sellita or Soprod 2824 equivalents, and many times more than Seiko or Miyota. So, you should care because the Ophion 960 gives you an opportunity to have something more exotic, a bit more “high-end” and a bit more luxurious than usual, should you be interested in such things. Regardless, with a 5-day power reserve, it’s worth making note of.
Of course, the movement isn’t the only star of the show in the Ophion 960. The design has an immediate appeal, with a reserved aesthetic and a hint of vintage flair. It’s a simple looking watch at a glance, but it’s full of little details that make it stand out, even further belying its price tag.