Any info on "FE" Quartz movements? How do they compare with Seiko Epson and other Japanese movements?
I know FE is a French firm but how is their reputation? The one I have is 7225 and has what appears to be 4 jewels.
Thanks for any info.
FE stands for France Ébauche. FE was born in 1965 out of the merger of the four largest French movement manufacturers Fabrique d'ébauches Cupillard S.A., FEMGA (Fabrique d'ebauche et de montres genevois d'Annemasse), Fabrique d'ébauches Jeambrun (Maîche), Femand Girardet et fils SA in Morteau and Technic Ebauche S.A. (TE). Later the four companies were joined by the companies Fabrique d'ébauches H. Parrenin and Lorsa. FE accounted in the good old times for some 50% of French production. In the late 1960s this meant about 4.0 million mechanical movements per year.
In the early 1970s FE re-tooled and started to manufacture quartz movements in large numbers. In 1994 the Chinese company China Resources from Shanghai acquired 50% of the shares of FE. The other 50% were held by eight executives of FE. FE back then employed some 490 people. It went down to 200 people as the Chinese brought over part of the factory to China and started to manufacture quartz movements there.
In 2001 they became part of the Swiss-French company Technotime Holding S.A. from Les Brenets. The company Technotime Holding was formed by some Chinese investors living in the UK with partners from the Swiss watch industry. Technotime is these days known for their complex mechanical movements.
If I remember correctly the quartz part of the operation was spun off in 2007 to another Chinese financed venture. Back then they had employed some 150 people in Valdahon and in nearby Maîche in their state of the art factories.
Many of their designs were based on Citizen and on Ronda designs. You found them in many, many watches of fashion brands around the globe. The company France Ébauches SA went into receivership on November 19, 2009. It had employed some 31 people at that moment only.
There are still thousands of new old stock quartz movements from FE floating around the globe. So I would not be surprised to find the on sale still today two years after the company’s demise. The quality of FE movements was reckoned to be fine yet not on par with ETA’s or above all Ronda’s. Like ETA’s movements most of the FE movements were not repairable. You had to change them if they started malfunctioning. Ronda which specialises in repariable quartz movements say a market opening and has developed repairable drop-ins for some of the most popular FE movements after FE went out of business.