ETA Powermatic 80

Recently I’ve been seeing some very reasonably priced Swiss watches with the “Powermatic 80” movement. There are plenty of reviews on this movement out there on the internet, but I find this movement intriguing for a few reasons.

1. It’s a 3hz, or 21,600 beats per hour movement. This is more common with entry level Japanese and Chinese movements like the Seiko 7S and 4R series, and Miyota 8000 series, or the famous/infamous “Chinese Standard Movement.” For many decades now the unofficial Swiss standard was 4hz, or 28,000 beats per hour.

2. It’s use of automation to regulate the movement is a departure from normal Swiss movements which are regulated by hand, and instead regulated by a machine. One of the complaints levied against entry level Seiko movements is that they are machine regulated at the factory, and not by hand like a “true Swiss movement.”

3. The extended time reserve is the only feature that makes the Powermatic 80 functionally different from a cheap 30 dollar NH35A or Miyota 8015 for most watch users. It’s a nice feature to have, but not one that makes or breaks watch.

So, to sum up, it’s everything good about a Japanese movement, with added power reserve. It’s the first real signal that the Swiss are willing to seriously compete in the midrange watch segment using manufacturing processes that aren’t traditional Swiss.

Now, what I don’t like. Unlike previous Swiss movements, this one seems “disposable” as it doesn’t seem to be designed to be serviced and regulated by a watch shop (although that is only my opinion). I also don’t really like the step down to 3hz, as I would have loved a 60 hour reserve 28,000 bph movement way more than an 80 hour 21,600 bph movement. I own one watch with an ETA 2824 movement, and the smoothness of the second hand is a nice thing to see compared to the multitude of NH35 and 4R36 powered movements with the slightly choppier second hand.

Secondly, the Powermatic 80 line is still new enough that there is no real indicators yet whether the watches which use them will increase, hold, or decrease in value over time. The “Swiss Made” branding on watches still has less to do with retaining value than the actual brand equity of a given brand. ETA and Swatch do have premium brands like Omega, but the Powermatic 80 is generally found in Tissot or Certina rather than Omega. Tissot and Certina have definitely been put into a price point category by the Swatch group, and definitely don’t have the brand equity of Omega.

So, my final verdict? My best guess is that if you get a Tissot or Certina with a Powermatic 80 movement you will get a great watch. I’m also guessing that unless your particular watch is a model that becomes associated with some sort of famous event or film, it won’t really appreciate in value. But, it will be a genuine Swiss watch, and it will be something slightly different than a Seiko, Citizen, or Orient that you find in the same price category.

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3 Responses to ETA Powermatic 80

  1. DW says:

    Let me first establish relative expertise or subject knowledge. I am not a watch guy, as I work in tech to pay my bills, a time source has always been available on some device, either local or via the network or internet. So I have never been a watch guy.

    That said I value/get the importance of time. Not wanting to be like the chuckleheads in animal house, time synchronization is obviously critical. But I have always found the timex Ironman series of watches reliable, reasonably priced and with all the options/features I need. Stop watch, timer, basic time/date, etc. all for less than $100 usually depending on model.

    That said I recently saw a post on a watch company I had never heard of and although as I indicated I am not a watch guy, nor am I a fashion g-q type guy, this watch company did have 1 line that looked really sharp:

    https://sbwatch.com/collections/the-watches/products/sans-13

    That black on black watch I must admit looks very sharp! What concerned me is they published limited specs, at least nothing that address the issues you discussed in your post. The watch had good reviews, but I have never paid that kind of money for a watch. If you have time to take a look just curious about your thoughts on this watch. Is it really a good tactical watch, or more of a non-field watch? What’s your opinion?

    Finally, on this Memorial Day holiday, best wishes to you & your family, hope all is well in your AO.

    Like

    • rthtgnbs says:

      Quartz movements are a whole ‘nother ball game. The link you provided goes to a 400 dollar quartz watch, and while it does look sharp, isn’t really a great buy for the price in my opinion. To illustrate: the “premiere” Swiss quartz movement is the Harley Ronda 715Li which has a 10 year battery life, and it costs less than 20 bucks for the base movement on ebay right now. So is a 400 dollar watch really worth 400 dollars, or is it a 40 dollar watch with a 100% markup?

      In terms of country of origin, I don’t think there is an appreciable quality or reliability difference between the Swiss or Japanese movements.

      So for a quartz field watch, you want 5 or 10 year battery life, or beyond that with either solar or motion powered. You also want the watch to be rugged, reliable, and replaceable. Obviously the price point for “replaceable” has more to do with your individual income than anything else, but at my income level I have yet to pay more than 400 dollars for any of the watches that I own (although at least one of my Seiko dive watches has appreciated to over that level).

      Here are some lower cost options that I recommend as good buys for the money for a field watch: Casio Ediface (solar), Citizen ProMaster Eco-Drive dive watch (solar), Citizen Eco-Drive Titanium Chronograph Mens Watch CA0265-59E (solar), Casio G-Shock Tough Solar (multiple styles/models), Citizen Eco-Drive Field Watch (three styles, solar). Seiko Kinetic field watch (movement powered).

      Make sure you get a good band, I’ve had NATO straps fail me during obstacle courses (rather embarrassing to have cadre hand you back a Citizen ProMaster that you specifically had the crystal updated to sapphire back to you after it slipped off your wrist during a physical event).

      Like

      • DW says:

        Thanks! Exactly what I was looking for. Will definitely do some research on your field watch recommendations and get a couple in hand.

        DW

        Like

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