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Finding The Best Movement Was Not An Easy Task: The Story Of MONTA's Caliber M-22.

MONTA Caliber M-22 made by Sellita SW300

I am sure that if you are reading this blog you are into watches. You love their detail, their unique features and of course you love what is inside of them..the movement. As an enthusiast, I remember starting MONTA and thinking to myself about which movement I should use. I remember thinking that it had to be Swiss and it had to set MONTA apart from other brands, but to be honest I may have originally gone down the wrong path.

To explain why the M-22 (the Sellita SW300 made to our specific specifications by Sellita) is simply the best movement for you (our most important judge) is best told by going back in time to when MONTA was still just a hopeful idea. Back in 2016, I left with my now retired business partner David Barnes on a journey to Switzerland to meet and begin understanding who the best makers of watch parts, including movements, were. After landing in Geneva we headed to Neuchatel, a small lake town that is buried in the Jura mountains.

We had been making buckles with one of the best case and bracelet makers in the world for MONTA’s sister company; Everest Horology Products: a Swiss made leather and rubber strap company that focused on Rolex and Tudor owner’s needs. Our sales contact met us in Neuchatel on a gorgeous sunny spring day for a drink at the famed Beau Rivage Hotel bar. If the walls could talk in this hotel bar it would be able to tell you every secret in the Swiss watch industry since this particular bar is where countless secret meetings have been held by the heads of every Swiss watch brand. It was quite fortuitous that MONTA’s first meeting with the Swiss watch world would meet here.

Beau Rivage Hotel Neuchatel

We asked him countless questions about hand makers, dial makers, and who makes the best movements and why. Frankly, the conversation that we had on that day would mold the future decisions of who we would use most likely forever as suppliers. We cannot tell you who that well-connected salesperson would later introduce us to by name except for the movement makers. The movement manufacturers mentioned by name are ETA, Sellita and the third was Eterna. We had heard of ETA and Sellita but we had not really heard that Eterna was making movements. Our first thought was that a new movement from the famed watch maker could make our watch seem pretty interesting and in turn catch the attention of the watch world. We decided to take a meeting with Eterna a few days later.

Eterna 3909A MONTA original caliber

At that meeting we were blown away by the technological advancements that Eterna was developing with the Caliber 39. David and I were told incredible stories of how well the movement would perform and how the base for our entire collection could easily be developed with their entire line of other movement designs. We decided at that meeting we should skip our other meetings and go with Eterna as our original movement in the original Oceanking. We left Switzerland confident that we had made a great decision but to be honest, we were dead wrong.

The truth is that the Eterna Caliber 39 was a stroke of genius, but the movement itself was not perfected and frankly not ready for mass production. It required us at MONTA on our first watch, to hire the best watch makers that could be found to prepare the Caliber 39 for daily use. This excessive amount of testing and at times repairing watch movements almost put us out of business. However, this lesson taught us so many insightful things and really was a trial by fire of what not to do when making a watch. In this very tough start of the life of MONTA, it especially taught me to ask the question: “What really is the best watch movement?” Continuously it was replied by the best watchmakers in the world: The ETA 2892 and the Sellita SW300. 

MONTA Caliber m-22

For those who do not know this, these two movements the ETA 2892 and the SW300 are practically identical. The parts are generally interchangeable and the two companies who make them have a long history of helping each other make these two calibers. Also to note, ETA and Sellita make quite a few other movements that tell the time and date but these two versions are the flagship of each maker. One thing to note here is that if you have bought a MONTA in the last few years you should know that it could have either a 2892 or a SW300 because we have used them both. We love both of these movements and find them both to be equally excellent. However, due to the politics of making watches we have built an incredible relationship with Sellita and could not be happier.

From a technical point of view the Sellita SW300 is a tank that happens to look like a ballerina. It is quite thin at 3.6mm compared to the more common SW200 or ETA 2824 that is 4.6mm thick. Frankly the finishing done by Sellita is gorgeous. The movement is also incredibly precise from a time keeping perspective. Commonly, other movements range “out of the box” at about plus 10 seconds to minus 15 seconds a day. We guarantee that our accuracy is plus to minus 5 seconds a day. However, we aim for it to be even lower but this really does depend on the wearer’s personal activities in the end and how hard they may treat the watch in daily life.

MONTA Sellita SW300

We have always had the movement finished in a fantastic Rhodium (platinum). Our rotor or weight is finished in the classic Geneve wave finish and plated in Rhodium with only the MONTA crest on the center. What is not easily seen is the advanced work done by Sellita on each gear and screw. The painstaking work that is done to their flagship product that is hidden by the layers of plates that cover the inner workings. 

This flagship movement is in every single one of our watches. We use this because it allows us to insure the highest level of quality and time keeping. Although it was a rough start at first, we finally found a movement that ticks all the boxes (pun intended). We know you will love this movement for its accuracy and beauty, and because of the 100+ year history of Sellita, we are confident the next generation of MONTA wearers will enjoy it as well.

MONTA Movement disasembled

5 comments

  • Thank you for sharing the journey!

    Jonah
  • Definitely happy from an accuracy standpoint. I can keep it dialed in to 0 sec/day just based on how much I wear it, and what position it rests in at night. It is +- 2 sec in any position it seems. Rolex accuracy without the price.

    Anderson Renaud
  • First of all, it’s one of the most easily read and enlightening articles of watch making in respects to the movement. Secondly it really reflects on the very beginnings of Monta. It personally took me back to the Beau Rivage Hotel bar lake side in Nuechatel. What an amazing journey. Dave b

    Your humble, grateful business partner
  • Hi, I had an ETA2893 that run even after 10 years within 2 seconds per day. I hope that my Triumph will be just as accurate. Only time will tell.
    I would like to see for Monta to convince Sellita to come up with a movement design that will meet COSC standards with a 3 to 5 day power reserve. This seems to be the new standard and a must for a watchmaker to remain relevant.

    Duivenvoorde
  • Interesting article. You can appreciate the work and effort to produce a first class product. Proud of our St. Louis entrepreneurs.

    Paul Funkhouser

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