Ronda, the big Swiss quartz-movement maker, is back in the mechanical business after an absence of nearly 30 years. The company, which is family owned and based in Lausen, near Basel, announced the news at a press conference at Baselworld in March, when it unveiled the R150, also called the “Mecano.”
The R150 is a self-winding movement with three hands and date, designed in-house and interchangeable with the ETA 2824. It was born of the Swatch Group’s decision to curtail sales of movements to non-Swatch-Group companies gradually, year by year, starting in 2012. “There hasn’t been freedom in the supply of mechanical movements and we want to change this in the future,” said Ronda CEO Erich Mosset.
Ronda makes about 20 million quartz movements a year. It began quartz-movement production in 1974, at the start of the quartz revolution. In the 1990s, it set up a factory in Thailand. The company also assembles watches for various watch brands; it has three manufacturing sites in Switzerland.
Ronda began developing the R150 at the end of 2011, the year the Swatch Group obtained permission from Comco, Switzerland’s Competition Commission, to start decreasing shipments of its movements to third parties. The Comco decision says that Swatch can stop such sales completely in 2020.
The R150 will meet the new requirements for “Swiss made” passed by the Swiss Parliament last year. They specify that 60 percent of the value of the movement must come from Switzerland. Some of the movement’s parts will be made in Thailand; the balance springs are being supplied by the German company Carl Haas GmbH. The movement will be priced similarly to ETA’s price for the 2824, at about 60 Swiss francs. “We need to be competitive, so it won’t be priced at the current gray market price,” Mosset said. At first, Ronda will make a few tens of thousands of movements per year; its ultimate target is to reach annual production of hundreds of thousands.
The movement has a frequency of 28,800 vph. It is 11 1⁄2 lignes in diameter (26 mm) and 4.4 mm high, 0.2 mm thinner than the 2824. The power reserve is 40 hours. The company plans to start delivering the movements at the start of next year.
Ronda, or rather, its precursor, was founded as a movement-component manufacturer in 1946 by Mosset’s father, William Mosset. In 1961, it began making complete movements, and then, as quartz technology took over in the 1970s, began phasing them out. Ronda stopped making mechanical movements entirely in the late 1980s.