Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Terrascope from JEANRICHARD - What Moves You?


We seem to really be obsessed by movements.  And sometimes our obsession transports us to truly ridiculous places in our minds.  "If it's not an in-house movement it's crap!"  How many times have I read that on a forum?  Don't get me wrong - I love a manufacture movement as much as the next guy.  But the next time you consider how much you REALLY want to pay for a NEW watch, be prepared to ask yourself some pretty serious questions about provenance - i.e. where the rest of your watch really comes from.  Made in Switzerland does not always mean "down home" 100%, sticky from fondue made in Switzerland.  In other words, when you talk about a watch at a $3,500 price point it is more often than not you get a watch that has been put together by an "assembler/private label" specialist.  In most situations the assembler is a general contractor of sorts.  They source cases, dials, hands, crystals and movements and then put them all together anonymously, much like a ghost writer writing for someone else.
But I feel that I am in a fairly reasonable position to say that when it comes to Girard-Perregaux and JEANRICHARD, I have "been to the circus and I've seen the elephant".  In other words, it is as advertised.  I have toured the factory facilities and I can say with a fair amount of certainty that they MAKE STUFF.  And not just stuff, but beautiful things!
Yes, it is an automated manufacture, and as Willy Schweizer (the Poet Laureate of La Chaux de Fonds) has said:  "our grandfathers don't work here".  And this is where I think romance needs to intersect with reality.  For the asking price that JEANRICHARD has for this model you are getting something that is so far and away BETTER than anything else at a comparable price.  When I was first told the retail price, I thought that they were telling me the "dealer" price (i.e. wholesale).  A truly beautiful case and bracelet, a clear, legible dial, this is a truly well balanced watch.

So it is really important to understand that when JEANRICHARD set out to make this watch, they did not have the insanely wealthy in mind.  They were thinking about someone who wanted ONE nice watch.  $3,500 for a lot of us is not exactly an impulse buy.  For many of us, a watch at this price point is something that we really use to mark an event - a promotion, an anniversary, a significant achievement.  But while we want to have a beautiful watch like that, we do not wish to go on "credit card life-support".  We want to reward ourselves with something nice while still living within our means.  And so it makes sense that the movement that JEANRICHARD uses for this watch is NOT one of their in-house creations, upping the price to an unrealistic level.  They use what they refer to as an "industrial" movement.  What does that mean?  Simple, they use the same movements from well known suppliers that Brietling, Tag Heuer, Tudor and others use.  And while we're on the topic of industrial movements, if they are so God-awful bad then why do some of the most celebrated and sought-after "small batch" watch brands use them?  ochs und junior, Sarpaneva?  I could go on, but let's be honest about something, these movements are really, really good - that is why Ludwig Oechslin and Stepan Sarpaneva use them!

So let's talk about how the Terrascope that I am testing has been running?  In a word, flawlessly!
Over the past 9 days, I have an average of +3 seconds.  So apparently, a non-manufacture movement works pretty well!  If I seem a bit impassioned about this, then please understand.  I spent a time selling watches for Tourneau back at the "turn of the century", and three years selling DOXA SUBs, and what I realize is that I was frequently hearing the same thing - a customer who didn't want several watches - they wanted "the one".  Yes I collect, I suspect many of you out there collect - but for many people out there, they just want the ONE nice watch - and believe me, this is that ONE nice watch.

An FYI - owing to BaselWorld, I will have to wrap up this review a little early so there will be another two posts, then the summary over the weekend.

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