Thomas Earnshaw, (born Feb. 4, 1749, Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, Eng.—died March 1, 1829, London), English watchmaker, the first to simplify and economize in producing chronometers so as to make them available to the general public.
Earnshaw became an apprentice at the age of 14 and later set up a shop in London. He made significant improvements in the transit clock at the Royal Observatory of Greenwich, London, and, independently of John Arnold, also of Great Britain, he developed the bimetallic compensation balance.
In developing watch mechanisms, Earnshaw also invented the cylindrical balance spring and the detached (or free) detent escapement.
For watch lovers on a budget in search of a good looking skeletonized watch, Earnshaw offers up the Beagle. Yes, loyal and floppy-eared, the Beagle offers a Swiss Made movement and classic looks for about $500. Earnshaw as a brand is themed on the work of the great 18th century English horologist Thomas Earnshaw, who was said to have worked with John Arnold (of which the high-end brand Arnold & Son is based). Earnshaw as a brand today is Hong Kong-owned, producing a range of affordable mechanical timepieces, and Beagle actually refers to the ship, the HMS Beagle.
Let me right away discuss the normal speculation watch lovers have when it comes to inexpensive watches that claim to contain Swiss Made movements. In fact there are two such “Swiss” designations you may see on watch (for the most part). One is “Swiss Movt” (meaning Swiss movement) and the other is “Swiss Made.” The latter is a more thoroughly “Swiss” designation but of course not does not mean 100% made in Switzerland. I am not going to get into the complex rules of Swiss Made, but suffice it to say that it means a certain percentage of the movement’s value must come from Swiss made parts, elements of the case must be made in Switzerland, and I believe that a final inspection and perhaps casing must take place in Switzerland.
Thomas Earnshaw are a brand that get their name and style from legendary British watchmaker “Thomas Earnshaw“. Unless you are a historian, it’s likely that you haven’t heard this name before. You will however be familiar with the men who Earnshaw built chronometers for. Most notably, Charles Darwin had two of earnshaws chronometers on a voyage which took him to the Galapagos islands. In 1794, Earnshaw created what was proposed to be the most accurate clock in the world at the time. This was installed in Armagh observatory.
As a brand, Thomas Earnshaw are not associated with the legendary watchmaker directly, as he never owned a company under his own name. Instead, the brand tend to focus on traditional styles of watches rather than anything new or garish. You are very unlikely to find a Thomas Earnshaw watch that is digital or brightly colored.
Instead, the brand have mostly made a name for themselves by producing relatively low cost automatic skeleton watches. Thomas Earnshaw is certainly not a luxury watch brand. However, they do make decent quality automatic fashion watches at a reasonable price.
Criticisms Of Thomas Earnshaw
One thing that annoys watch collectors is that the brand has used high MSRP tactics in order to sell watches. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this (and other brands do this too). Some people will be annoyed that a watch is advertised as $600 MSRP when in reality the brand is happy to take $220 for it.
Invicta are also well known for this ploy which involves excessively marking down watches in order to create an illusion of discount.
Where Are Thomas Earnshaw Watches Made?
Thomas Earnshaw watches are mostly made in China. The company which owns the rights to the brand name Thomas Earnshaw are based in Hong Kong.
In the past, the brand has dabbled in using Swiss movements, but now mostly uses Chinese. If you want to know which movement your watch has, you can simply look for the words “swiss made” or “swiss movement” on the dial.
Thomas Earnshaw watches mostly use either Seagull or Hangzhou movements. The company also makes quartz watches, these models use Miyota (Japanese) movements.
Are Thomas Earnshaw Watches Good Value For Money?
Thomas Earnshaw watches are not bad value for money. If we are to take a look at rival brands such as Invicta or Sturhling. Thomas Earnshaw are definitely more expensive, not massively so, but around 25% more. However, Invicta specifically are known as being very good value for money when looking at entry level automatic watches.
Overall, there are not too many other brands which make reliable automatic watches with skeleton designs at this pricepoint. Granted, there are a lot of no-name Chinese brands which flood the market with various skeleton movements. But none of these companies have any brand history or sales record that matches Thomas Earnshaw.
The movements in Thomas Earnshaw are very standard for entry level automatic watches. The accuracy and reliability of these movements is pretty good and is typically accurate to +/- 20 seconds per month. These movements can be found in cheaper watches than Thomas Earnshaw, but often these are poorer quality brands as mentioned above.