ODM vs OEM Watch: Understanding the Difference in Watch Manufacturing Services
What's the difference between ODM and OEM when it comes to watch manufacturing? This article explains the key distinctions between original design manufacturing (ODM) and original equipment manufacturing (OEM) for custom and private label watches.

Table of Contents


Scwarno is a Chinese custom watch manufacturer providing original design and manufacturing (ODM) and original equipment manufacturing (OEM) services for luxury custom and private label watches.

As a company that caters to clients looking for high-quality customized timepieces, we often get asked – what is the difference between ODM and OEM when it comes to watch manufacturing?

In this article, we will explain the key distinctions between ODM and OEM and discuss the advantages and considerations of each approach when it comes to producing custom-designed watches. Whether you are looking to create a watch from scratch or manufacture an existing design, understanding these two types of manufacturing services is important.

Defining ODM and OEM

First, let’s clearly define what ODM and OEM stand for in the watch industry.

ODM stands for “original design manufacturing.” This means the watch ODM partner will handle both the design and production of watches based on a client’s custom specifications and requirements. The client owns the design and it is exclusive to them.

OEM stands for “original equipment manufacturing.” With OEM watch production, the client provides their own design to the factory, and the OEM partner only handles the manufacturing and production process. The client owns the design and all intellectual property associated with it.

ODM Watch Manufacturing

When you engage an ODM watch partner, you provide your basic design needs and preferences, and rely on the ODM company to handle the detailed design work and manufacturing process.

As an ODM watch factory, we will work with clients to bring a custom timepiece vision to life. This includes activities like:

  • Developing the watch design, including the face, materials, packaging etc. based on the client brief.
  • Producing technical drawings and renderings of the design
  • Prototyping and iterating on the design to meet specifications.
  • Securing suppliers and materials needed for production.
  • Manufacturing the watches end-to-end, including components like movements and straps
  • Conducting quality control checks to ensure flawless execution.
  • Organizing logistics like shipping and customs clearance

With ODM, the watch company owns the entire design process. This is ideal for brands who want a fully custom and exclusive watch developed specifically for them without handling the design details.

ODM Watch
ODM Watch

OEM Watch Manufacturing

On the other hand, OEM watch manufacturing is when a client provides their complete watch design to a factory, and the OEM partner faithfully manufactures the watches according to those preset specifications.

As an OEM partner, we strictly follow the client’s watch designs and do not make any modifications or customizations. Our role is to handle the manufacturing and production process, including:

  • Receiving the watch design assets like technical drawings, renderings, and specifications from client
  • Procuring the necessary materials and components for production
  • Manufacturing the watches by assembling components like cases, faces, hands, movements according to design
  • Executing quality assurance protocols during production
  • Packaging and shipping the finished watches back to client.

The key advantage of OEM is the client has full control over the design, often because they have in-house design capabilities or want to protect proprietary designs. The OEM partner only produces the watches but does not influence the design process.

This is ideal for established watch brands who want to maintain creative control but outsource manufacturing logistics and operations.

OEM Watch
OEM Watch

Key Differences Between ODM and OEM

Now that we have covered ODM and OEM in more detail, what are the core differences between these two manufacturing approaches?

The primary difference comes down to design capabilities vs production capabilities:

  • ODM creates the design – With ODM, the design is fully handled by the manufacturing partner based on client needs. The client does not need to provide detailed design files.
  • OEM produces an existing design – With OEM, the client retains full control over the design and provides complete files to the manufacturer. The OEM only handles production.


  • ODM requires less design work from client – The ODM partner handles the entire design process. The client simply provides high-level needs.
  • OEM needs full design input from client – The client must have clear design specifications and assets to provide the OEM manufacturer.
  • ODM provides more manufacturing support – ODM oversees the entire development and production process.
  • OEM focuses solely on production – OEM only manufactures according to exact specifications from client.

The right choice depends on the client’s specific goals, capabilities, and customization needs.

Choosing Between ODM and OEM Watch Manufacturing

When deciding between hiring an ODM or OEM watch manufacturing partner, there are several important factors to consider:

  • Design needs – If you have minimal design capabilities and need significant design support, ODM is likely the better choice. If you have in-house designers and want tight control over your watch design, OEM makes sense.
  • Level of customization – ODM provides more customization throughout the development process. OEM follows a predetermined design.
  • Budget – ODM may have higher upfront costs but handles more of the work. OEM has lower upfront costs but the client handles design costs.
  • Production quantities – OEM favors larger production runs. ODM is equipped for smaller batches of customized watches.
  • Intellectual property – With ODM, the client owns but shares IP with partner. With OEM, the client fully retains IP.

For a brand new watch where design support is needed, ODM is often the best option. For an established watch collection requiring production at scale, OEM may be ideal.

The ideal partner understands your product goals and capabilities and provides transparent guidance on recommending ODM vs OEM manufacturing.


Whether you are looking for a fully custom designed watch or want to manufacture an existing watch design, it’s important to understand the difference between ODM and OEM manufacturing services.

ODM handles both the design and production of a watch tailored to the client’s needs. OEM focuses solely on manufacturing watches according to designs provided by the client.

When weighing ODM vs. OEM, consider factors like design needs, level of customization, production quantities, budget, and intellectual property ownership.

ODM is a great solution for creating a high quality, customized timepiece with design support from start to finish. OEM is ideal for established brands who want to maintain creative control but outsource production.

By finding the right manufacturing partner, watch companies can focus on their strengths while leveraging external expertise for a successful project execution. With transparent guidance on ODM vs. OEM, brands can make the best decision when bringing their unique watch to life.


Scroll to Top

Contact us

Your Watch Project