Rise of Unitas/ETA 6497 – The Famous Panerai Manual Winding Movement
To say Unitas 6497 movement got its popularity due to Panerai is an understatement. Used in many of Panerai’s manual hand winding watches, it is a very reliable workhorse movement which is used in numerous watches which includes pocket watches. Many watch collectors loved the heritage of having an Unitas 6497 in their watches coupled with their 22mm leather watch straps.
Before acquired by the Swatch group, the Unitas 6497 was first produced in the 1950s by Auguste Reymond, a movement manufacturer and it gained popularity immediately as a precise and robust movement for pocket watches. With a diameter of 36.60mm and a height of 4.5mm, the Unitas 6497 is an amazing simple movement that is well designed and sturdily made. Despite having a history of almost 70 years, the fact that the main design remains almost unchanged tells you a lot on its capabilities in the reliability and accuracy department.
As it is used in many watches for men today such as Hamilton and Swiss Army, Panerai differentiates themselves by dressing up their Unitas 6497 with beautiful finishing, traditional Unitas bridges and swan neck regulators for fine adjustments.
NO LONGER AVAILABLE IN THE AFTERMARKET
As mentioned earlier, the Unitas movements had been acquired by ETA SA Manufacture Horlogère Suisse, subsidiary of the Swatch group years ago. Hence, the Unitas 6497 is also known as ETA 6497.
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As many Swiss rival companies have been using ETA/Unitas movements in their watches, the Swatch group announced that they would reduce selling their supply of watch parts to external watch companies starting in 2012 and completely stop supplying by the end of 2019. As a result, ETA/Unitas movements become scarce and prices had increased considerably in the aftermarket.
Since then, many of the top watch brands began developing their own in-house movements while many other watch brands such as our vintage artisan watches began to use Unitas 6497 alternatives such as Seagull ST-3600 movements.