One of the biggest problems with “in-house” is that vertical integration is not an either/or proposition. Pretty much every brand gets something from someone else – it might be just straps and casing up supplies; it might be just the balance, hairspring and escapement; it might be anything and everything in between, depending on the company. We don’t actually want to know (well, maybe some of you do but you might need psychiatric help) exactly the source of every single component, because ultimately, knowing where every bushing, screw, or jewel came from is not terribly interesting, and it tells you zero about the level of care that actually went into the watch.
That’s not really news to any seasoned watch nut. A bigger problem with “in-house,” however, is that the term has been so badly abused by so many brands that it has come to actually do the opposite of what most brands think it does; I don’t know about you, but at this point in the history of horology, when I hear the phrase “in-house” I reach for my gun. Far from being a proud claim of ownership of craft and tradition, it’s actually become a red flag – you automatically think to yourself, “in-house, right. Pull the other one.” Humpty Dumpty says in Alice in Wonderland that, “When I use a word, it means exactly what I tell it to mean,” and a lot of brands seem to feel that way about “in-house’ – catch them egregiously fibbing, and the evasive ducking and weaving that results would make Mayweather look like a stand-up fighter.