April 3, 2016
by Ariel Adams
The STP1-11 is produced in a few versions including the STP3-13 and STP5-15 which have “open heart” views of the balance wheel. STP also produces the STP6-15 which is a fully skeletonized version of the STP1-11. They further produce an increasing array of modules meant to fit on top of the base STP1-11 movement which add additional functionality. These include the STP2-12-1, STP2-12-3, and the STP2-12-6 which each have a power reserve indicator and various calendar information.
As of writing, the newest movement from STP is one sized for women’s watches. Coming out about now are the manufacture’s STP8-14-11 (with date) and STP8-14-21 (no date) which are a 7.75-ligne-wide (17.48mm) automatic movements that will be in women’s watches. Such small-sized automatic movements ideal for women’s watches are available, but difficult to buy and far less common than larger-sized movements. In places like China, there is a huge demand for Swiss-Made automatic women’s Fossil watches at this size, which is what the STP8-14-11 is ideal for.
Clean and airy, the STP facility feels comfortable and friendly thanks to its particular corporate culture. Metropolitan, the manufacture location is still “Swiss enough” that animals graze on the rolling green hills just outside the windows of the main production room. STP utilizes a host of automated assembly line and robotic technology to assist their human work force in making movements. Humans are used for tasks that machines are not ideal at completing, and likewise, machines are used for repetitive or high-precision tasks (like placing a very specific amount of oil in a very specific spot) that inherently involves a degree of unavoidable human error.
If automation makes you feel uncomfortable about the notion of buying a traditional mechanical watch movement, then you really need to consider a few things. First, fully “human-made” watch movements are extremely rare. Even Roger Smith has machines to help him produce certain parts. Most high-end luxury watches have humans decorate and assemble movements, but not produce the actual parts. They also cost a lot more money than the timepieces that contain STP movements. STP isn’t a specialist in hand-decoration or artistic craftsmanship, but they are good at offering a quality mechanical movement at a fair price. I would go so far as to say that Zodiac watches (that include STP movements) are easily among the best values around given their quality and performance for prices of around $1,000. It is true that The Swatch Group offers similarly priced mechanical watches from brands such as Tissot and Hamilton, but I think that Zodiac beats many of their offerings when it comes to overall detail and case/dial componentry.
With STP as part of their portfolio, Fossil watches can offer attractively priced high-quality “Swiss-Made” automatic watches, but also be among the elite group of suppliers who can sell movements to third-party companies. STP doesn’t disclose who their customers are, but they have indicated that they are currently producing about 200,000 watch movements per year (and aim to increase that). So the next time you see a Fossil Group brand or other timepiece made with an STP movement, you’ll know the story behind it and understand what makes this company distinct among Swiss watch movement makers. swisstp.com