Swissonic

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Swissonic was the marketing name used by ESA for their early electric, tuning fork, and quartz watch movements between 1968 and 1977.

Overview

Ebauches SA embarked on a number of different programs in the 1960s to develop alternative watch movements. These were advertised as "Swissonic" starting in 1968 and given various "levels" based on their technology:

Later, ESA simply used the term "Swissonic" to refer to any of their quartz movements, dropping the numbers. Many Swissonic movements were manufactured by ETA subsidiary Derby, which also marketed complete watches and clocks using the Derby Swissonic name.

This naming proved confusing, since it combined various technologies under one umbrella term. The "sonic" name also caused confusion, since it was often assumed to refer to tuning fork technology specifically. The company abandoned the term in 1977 as quartz movements became mainstream and well after production of electric and tuning fork movements ceased. ESA and ETA later turned to terms describing the dimensions of the movement, such as Flatline and Gabarit. In the 1980s, ETA coined a similar term to differentiate its mechanical movements, Mecaline.

History

The most basic was the electric range, which used a battery and motor instead of a mainspring to power a conventional balance wheel movement. The production models were the compact ESA 9190 and ESA 9200 and larger ESA 9154 and 9158. These would become known as "Dynotron" or Swissonic 10.

ESA licensed the Bulova Accutron technology in 1968, producing their own "Mosaba" tuning fork movement that same year. It operated at 300 Hz, slightly slower than the Accutron, but was otherwise similar. These movements were branded Swissonic 100 and included the ESA 9160, 9162, and 9164 as well as the chronograph ESA 9210.

The most advanced range of Swissonic movements were the quartz models, available in analog, LED, and LCD versions. Analog movements include the compact ESA 9220 and 9240, rectangular ESA 9170 (Beta 21), and round ESA 9180, all of which were marketed as Swissonic 1000. ESA later developed the 11.5 ligne ESA 9362 and ETA created the 12.5 ligne ETA 940.111. ESA's LCD movements began with the ESA 9260 developed with Texas Instruments (marketed as Swissonic 2000) and later included the compact LED ESA 9376 and 11.5 ligne LED ESA 9380. ESA also produced the LCD ESA 9315.

A new generation of quartz movements appeared in 1976. These were simply called "Swissonic", even though they did not share much with the previous movements. All used a 32 KHz quartz oscillator imported from Japan, a Swiss-made Lavet stepping motor originally patented by Léon Hatot of Paris, and an integrated circuit from Faselec in Zurich. Cal. 9362 was based on the mechanical Cal. 2870, while Cal. 940.111 was based on the then-new Cal. 2892. The latter was commercialized by ETA and would be the basis for their ETA Flatline quartz family. The next year, ETA stopped using the Swissonic name.

Swissonic Movements

Line Technology Hz Size and Shape Movement Complications
Swissonic 10 Electric Dynotron 3 13 ligne round ESA 9150 3 hands, date
? ESA 9154 3 hands, date
4 ESA 9157 3 hands, date
ESA 9158 3 hands, day/date
? small round ESA 9190 2 hands
4 6.75x8 ligne tonneau ESA 9200 Fontronic 3 hands
Swissonic 100 Tuning fork Mosaba 300 13 ligne round ESA 9160 3 hands
ESA 9162 3 hands, date
ESA 9164 3 hands, day/date
ESA 9210 3 hands, day/date, chronograph
Swissonic 1000 Quartz 8192 rectangular ESA 9170 Beta 21 3 hands, date
32768 13 ligne round ESA 9180 3 hands, date
ESA 9181 3 hands, day/date
ESA 9182 3 hands, date
ESA 9183 3 hands, day/date
32768 6.75x8 ligne shaped ESA 9220 3 hands
ESA 9240 3 hands, day/date
Swissonic 2000 Quartz LCD 32768 large round ESA 9260 TI time, date
Faselec time, date
Quartz Electrochromic CEH time only
Swissonic Quartz Analog 32768 11.5 ligne ESA 9361 3 hands, date
ESA 9362 3 hands, day/date
12.5 ligne ETA 940.111 3 hands, date
Quartz LED 6.75x8 ligne shaped ESA 9370 2 digits, time-only
ESA 9376 3.5 digits, 5 functions
11.5 ligne round ESA 9380 3.5 digits, 5 functions
Quartz LCD 13 ligne round ESA 9315 3.5 digits, 7 functions

See Also