Swiss Made in China and Thailand – But Where do the Styles Come From?
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Swiss Made in China and Thailand – But Where do the Styles Come From?

The watch that inspired Swiss watch designs made in Asia.

Watch designs and their origin can present us with answers about our consumer environment. Why is that important? It appears that consumer deception goes unchecked in our world and luxury items, like Swiss watches, abound with false tales. It's also the topic of which I know the most.In present times,  consumers have slightly more than "no help" from trade organizations. Luxury goods present only a sliver of the whole. In everyday life, who keeps us safe from product fraud and deception? When you notice the price of food creeping up and your regulators tell you about a zero inflation rate, it's confusing. You can see inflation spread from just about everything from chocolate candy to heavy machinery.In such circumstances, we can use investigative reports to keep us informed. You may not have an interest in men's jewelry - that is, watches. In Asia, especially China, the industry provides important jobs. In the US small businesses income depends on knowing the truth. So, there you have it.In this post, I want to look at Hamilton's Naval Deck Chronometer watch from the 1941-42 era and the designs of Parnis , IWC and Panerai with power reserve indicators.

  • Back to Hamilton's Naval Deck Chronometer.

Aside from its importance in winning the war, it impacted an era of time management and activity coordination. Here's an article for reference, entitled How Hamilton Watch Co. Won World War II by William George Shuster.

Evidence suggests  Hamilton's World War II Deck Chronometer has inspired many contemporary watch designs. From appearances and by tracing history, so far, the Model 22 seems the earliest watch with a large second hand at the six o'clock position and a power reserve at the 12 o'clock position. Take a look at the gallery and see what you think.

Some watchmakers have even created their own myths to explain their use of the Model 22 design. Let's clear this up a bit.

You might find that a new matchmaking firm needed lift in their marketing. So, they sifted through registration records, discovered a defunct company and registered the name. Now, they have a claim to tradition, heritage and bloodline - and the year established. A long list of prestigious companies today did such work.

It can create instant credibility if it opens its marketing effort in say, China. The average paying customer in China, Brazil, Canada or the US would have no idea if  such a company is anything but Swiss.

Pitch a 25 year-old department store buyer a convincing story about an exclusive European watch started in 1822 in the Jura mountains. See what happens. Then keep an eye on the advertising department.

It happened to American Express in 1983. They sold out the first day customers opened their catalogs.

What if a continuously operating firm makes up a story about its past and uses it for market position? I've seen some questionable histories that I believe came out of the brand manager's office. Aside from suspicion, research and deductive reasoning, I can name three such companies and have the records to back up my assertions.

Please visit Adelsten & Sohne

Let's look at a gallery of watches that might look suspicious. I'll comment on each below.

One of my favorite watch stories belongs to the IWC watch. I love this story. I'll just write some fair use information below.

In 1868, Boston watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones founded the “International Watch Co.” in Schaffhausen, far from the watchmaking centres of French-speaking Switzerland. His plan was to bring together progressive American production techniques with the skilled craftsmanship for which Swiss watchmakers were renowned

Maybe I missed something, but I have only seen two pictures of Mr. Jones and one was flipped horizontally and looks Photoshoped. (A verb form of Photoshop in common use). The name, Florentine Ariosto Jones, sounds so incongruent, especially since he settled on the German speaking side of Switzerland.

I've not done much research on IWC, except to read a few articles and study their website. Still, the name makes me chuckle. You'd have to be an American to understand the humor of it. The year he began his firm, also seems a little funny. The American Manufacturing System (AMS) didn't have the moniker. In 1868, only a couple of business used the system and they belong to the firearms industry. Few knew of the system  until later in the century. While referred to as the AMS, it originated in Britain.

I believe they make an excellent watch. I read  articles about their use of ETA's Valjoux and Venus Venus movements. If so, what do they sell?

About the Designs: Hamilton appears to have initiated the design with its Model 22 Naval deck watch. That's the image in the top left corner of the gallery.

Hamilton released a revival model they called Khaki Navy Pilot Pioneer Automatik Chronograph.  It's on the top row of the gallery to the left.  Hamilton explained their model with this product copy. Note the reference to the 1940's.

This finely crafted classical watch was inspired by the marine chronometers produced by Hamilton in the 1940s. An up-to-the-minute H-10 movement provides today’s timepiece with 80 hours of power reserve. Flamed blue hands are indicative of the brand’s long watchmaking heritage.

I consider Hamilton a legitimate design from a product they own. As Bill Shuster wrote:

Chronometers were must-have naval equipment because precise timekeeping is essential to ship’s navigators in calculating longitude and plotting location and direction...

Hamilton’s most important achievements in World War II were its marine chronometer and chronometer watches. Indeed, its marine chronometer is considered by many horological experts to be the finest ever produced. What makes that accolade even more impressive is the fact that, until World War II, Hamilton had never made such a timepiece.

Regardless of prejudice some horologist have shown about Hamilton becoming a Swiss company, the Swatch Group, Ltd. own's its trademarks, portfolio of watches, patents and after the SSIH purchase, management. What's the difference between one holding company buying a a wholly owned subsidiary and continuing the brand. The Hamilton brand has never stopped making watches since 1892.

Parnis The Parnis Chronometer (top row middle) gets a pass. They make no claims, don't have a fabricated story of tradition, heritage and bloodline. They didn't buy a defunct Swiss company.Their prices are extremely low compared to their quality. The owner filed his trademarks properly.

I sell Parnis watches therefore

I obviously have a bias, which led me to find the design of the Hamilton Model 22 and dig into the business dealings of other watch companies.

Some other considerations: Parnis exists because western watchmakers' taught their Asian executives how to use of low-cost Chinese labor and facilities. Simply put, Parnis draws on the same economies of scale as the Swiss, Japanese and Germans. They're giving people high value products.

Does Parnis copy Richemont's companies watches, especially older IWC and Panerai designs?  They do to a certain extent. You can argue that the Parnis watch in the Gallery looks more like Hamilton's Model 22 than any of the other models. The designs may look identical, but too many differences exist to refer to Parnis watches as copies. Those differences include the size, dial and style of case. Panerai offers a 47mm model with a black dial with numerals at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions. Parnis offers a similar look in a 44mm case with numerals in all 12 positions.

I won't disagree about Parnis using Panerai and IWC designs. I just don't care. I don't pay a premium for tradition, heritage and bloodline (invented or not). Enough differences exist to satisfy me. Parnis gets a pass.

IWC, Oris, Hermes et al

I have no explanation for these watchmaker's use of the Hamilton designs. Perhaps, they simply copied watches other people copied and so forth. Consumers will continue to blindly buy these watches and pay premiums for advertising, celebrity endorsements, sponsorships, public relations and whatever. Consumers just don't believe they're paying for that hype.

Typically, Richemont's and Swatch's companies sell their watches in boutiques they own in upper middle-class malls; they also sell through department and jewelry stores.

Summary

I wrote this article (post) to alert you to what I believe companies use as gimmicks to enhance perceived value. I believe the vast majority of consumers will continue to select watches in department and jewelry stores because of the look and a sales person's charm. I can only inform, the rest is up to you.

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Parnis 40mm Automatic Submariner Watch (Sterile Dial)
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Parnis 40mm Automatic Submariner Watch (Sterile Dial)

Hello, and thank you for checking out my latest watch review! In this post, I will be looking at a Parnis 40mm Automatic, Sterile-Black, Submariner-style watch.   FYI…the 40mm Parnis Sub is available in many other combinations, colors, movements, etc. The version for review has a Chinese mechanical movement (possibly the MingZhu DG2813?).  It is safe to say you will be impressed with the value of these timepieces. NOTE-Before I get to the review, a word about Parnis: There are definitely fans/followers of Parnis watches, both their original designs…as well as their ‘homage’ watches. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are definitely those that despise Parnis, and many of the other Chinese manufacturers of Rolex/Panerai/Omega…fill in the blank…‘homage’ watches. I know this latter group does not consider them to be ‘homages’, but more like ‘knock-offs’. I understand this…and it has been argued ad infinitum on many other threads, and many other forums. I do not wish to dive into another endless debate about this issue….but I digress. Alternatively, I will focus on my impressions of the watch, and conclude with a 1-5 rating in five different categories…Cost, Looks, Durability, Function & Comfort. 40mm Parnis Sapphire Crystal Black Dial White NO Automatic Watch Description Size: 40mm x 14mm (Note: 12.5 actual) Movement: Automatic Functions: Hour, Minutes, Seconds, Date Case: Brushed 316L Stainless Steel Case Crystal: Sapphire Crystal Dial: Black Dial with White Numbers Bezel: Rotating Bezel Strap:Stainless Steel Bracelet Clasp Deployment Buckle   Review: The pictures certainly feature an attractive looking product. The ‘sterile’ (no manufacturer markings anywhere) Parnis is a Submariner-style, homage watch. This version, with a Chinese automatic movement, Ready to dive? Parnis Sub This Sub homage is just as nice looking in person. CASE/CROWN/CASEBACK/LUGS: The 316L Stainless Steel case is 40mm, and the overall height is 12.5mm high (13.75mm including cyclops)…which is a tad smaller size that I am usually comfortable with. I prefer about a 43mm, but this 40mm wears a tad larger. Lug-to-lug is 48mm. The top of the case is brushed, and the sides are polished. The crown protector extends a bit at the 3 O’clock side of the watch, covering about 3/4s of the crown. The screw-down crown is properly knurled and easily gripped. There are no manufacturer markings on any of these parts. The screw-down case-back requires a Rolex-style tool to remove, or as in my case, I used the rubber-ball method to remove the back. This method took some time as the case-back must have been cranked-down pretty tightly at the factory. There is a single black o-ring seal. There is no depth rating on this watch, and no paperwork indicating appropriate diving depths…so I cannot recommend this watch for diving. BRACELET/CLASP: The solid link, 20mm Stainless Steel oyster-style bracelet has screw-pins on five links for easy adjustability. The end links are also solid. The center section of the bracelet is polished, and outside sections are brushed. The locking deployment clasp is of a decent quality, and has an unusual micro-adjustment that snaps or un-snaps to add or shorten the length a few millimeters. Again…there are absolutely no markings on the bracelet or clasp. DIAL/HANDS/INDICES/FUNCTIONS: The black dial has traditional submariner indices. Inverted triangle at 12 O’clock, rectangles at 6 and 9, and circles on the remaining hours. Each indice is raised with a silver edge, and a white, lumed center. A date window at 3 O’clock takes the place of the missing indice, and is easily readable with the date-magnifier window. The date wheel is white, with black Arabic numerals. The hour-hand is a typical Mercedes-style, with the minute hand a much longer sword-style, and second hand more of a lollipop/pointer with a small lollipop counter-balance located on the opposite end. All hands are lumed, but could use a longer-lasting, better quality compound. Added Lume Shot Hanging out in nature ^ MOVEMENT: Chinese automatic of unconfirmed origin (MingZhu?). It is not noisy in the least bit…and has so far kept exceptional time, averaging a 3 second loss per 24 hour period!   No markings on this movement ^ CRYSTAL: The sapphire crystal is flat, and has a cyclops (date-magnifier) at the 3 O’clock position. The crystal does extend above the bezel ever-so-slightly, perhaps .5mm. I cannot determine for certain if the crystal has an AR coating, but I believe it does not. BEZEL: The black ceramic bezel matches the watch well and has an almost mirror-like finish to it. There is a GITD pip at 12, in a traditional, inverted triangle. Minute/second hash-marks from 12 to 3 only. After that, large, Arabic numerals at 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50…and larger hash-marks on the 5 minute marks. The bezel has a gear-tooth style surround, which is sufficiently grippy. For some odd reason, the bezel has 108 clicks. Clicks are solid, and there is absolutely no sloppiness whatsoever. I think it looks quite snazzy on the wrist. PROS: Very accurate automatic movement, -3 sec/day. Handsome Submariner looks. Watch has a nice, solid, weighty feel to it. Movement also hand-winds, and hacks. Attractive fit and finish. Protected and grippy screw-down crown. Tight bezel with zero slop. Date function. Decent, screw-pin bracelet with solid end-links/bracelet links, snap micro-adjustment and safety clasp. Flat Sapphire crystal with easy to read, magnified Date Window. Lume on hour, minute, second hands and indices. Rotor is smooth and barely audible. Many color combos to choose from. CONS: Better quality lume needed. No box or papers. 108 count click bezel. DIMENSIONS: Width: 44.5mm (including crown) Case Diameter: 40mm Lug to lug: 48mm Bracelet width: 20mm Crystal: 30.5mm Overall Height (top of crystal to caseback): 12.5mm (13.75mm including cyclops) Weight: 150gms RATING: Cost: 5 Looks: 5 Durability: 4 Function: 4 Comfort: 4 Average: 4.4/5 CONCLUSION: The Parnis Sub is a very nice looking and nice feeling watch. While I can’t recommend it for diving, the watch wears well, and looks much more expensive that it costs. This is the fourth Parnis I have owned, and none of them have cratered, nor lost any functionality. Some other reviews have questioned the long-term build quality (as do I), but this is a story that only time will tell. Nevertheless…so far, so good on this fantastic, value-minded Submariner homage. Overall, considering the initial accuracy, looks and minimal cost, this is an exceptional deal. Thanks, Coolwatchbrands
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Beijing Watch Factory Wu Ji “Infinite Universe” Bi-Axial Tourbillon Watch Hands-On
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Beijing Watch Factory Wu Ji “Infinite Universe” Bi-Axial Tourbillon Watch Hands-On

Beijing Watch Factory Wu Ji “Infinite Universe” Bi-Axial Tourbillon Watch Hands-On JAN 28, 2018 — Review by  Ariel Adams  Published By Coolwatchbrands Chinese watchmaking is nothing new, nor is it unsophisticated. All of this is evidenced by the 2013 Wu Ji watch by the Beijing Watch Factory. “Wu Ji” apparently translates from Mandarin to “Infinite Universe” in English, a lofty title typical of Chinese naming practices. That said, the Beijing Watch Factory should be proud. Once again they’ve broken ground for their country by producing what they claim is the most complicated watch produced on mainland China. What impresses me more is the brand itself, and their rather atypically refined sense of composure. China isn’t known for creative watch design. China is known for production, copying, and diligence – which applies to their own watch industry as well. From a production and consumption standpoint, China is the most important place in the world for watches. All but the most exclusive of Swiss watch brands rely heavily on China for the production of watch parts – such as cases and straps – even when they contain “Swiss Made” movements. Native Chinese brands are nevertheless marred by national qualities which oppose many of the qualities that allow for beautiful watchmaking. Ask the Swiss how they make watches and they use the term “slow” and “careful” a lot. China’s industrial power comes from the fact that they aren’t slow and often not careful. So why do we expect them to make good watches the Swiss way? The simple answer is that they don’t. [playlist type="video" ids="25977"] Although, these generalities aren’t rules. Not all Chinese watches exhibit confusing and awkward designs that that woefully seek to emulate European aesthetics. There are, however, excellent examples of Chinese watchmakers who emulate the Swiss rather well. This is both the strength and weakness of the Chinese watch industry. To be considered “good” by traditional standards, they need to still copy the West. To be bad, they need only to copy poorly. No matter what China is still copying, my hope at least – and there are positive signs of this – is that with China’s serious and sincere love of watches we will eventually see unique design in both the outside and inside of their domestically made watches. While there are many elements of Swiss watch design seen in the Wu Ji, it is a pleasantly original and interesting timepiece. While elements such as overall aesthetic in many of Beijing Watch Factory’s designs are inherently European, they do however take many artistic liberties in producing unique products. The Wu Ji is a glowing and ambitious example of what they can produce. Even though Chinese watch manufacturing is huge, those that can produce credible mechanical watches are still limited and few watch lovers would claim that Chinese-made mechanical movements are excellent. I am not an expert on all Chinese movements, but I do know that most of them are copies of Swiss movements. The mechanism in the Infinite Universe clearly isn’t. While an inspection of the movement makes it clear that this is a Chinese creation, I found many of the unique elements quite interesting. What I love about this watch is how the complications are much more than skin deep. What you see is only half of what you get. First and foremost, I’ll explain how you even tell the time. It would be wrong to look at this watch dial and assume you can read the time as you would on most other round-dialed watches. In fact only the upper half of the dial is used to read the time. A shortened scale for all 12 hours is placed on the top half of the dial, and both the hour and minute hand have retrograde mechanisms that have them jump back to the starting point when necessary. This makes the dial extremely confusing at first if you don’t know what you are looking at. I was playing with it to set the time and noticed the hands were jumping around wildly. “Is the watch broken?” I wondered until I realized what I was seeing. The large bi-axial tourbillon at the bottom of the dial is so tall that the watch maker decided he never wanted the hands to go over it. The double retrograde system for the hour and minute hand is designed to prevent the hands from ever accidentally touching it. The benefit is a watch with such a tourbillon system that does not require a “bubble” in the crystal. At 17.2mm thick, the watch could certainly have been thicker. The tourbillon element of the Wu Ji is quite amusing. What you have is a bi-axial tourbillon that is basically a smaller tourbillon inside of a larger tourbillon. Then you have a traditional flying tourbillon as a separate element on the dial. I’ve never before seen a watch with two different types of tourbillons on the dial. It is interesting, to say the least. The traditional tourbillon has a pleasant bird-shaped bridge which I enjoy. In addition to the tourbillons and the unique time telling system, the Wu Ji watch also contains a retrograde date indicator as well as a power reserve indicator. The manually wound movement holds just over 50 hours of power reserve. On the rear of the watch is an additional complication; a moon phase indicator, with a blue enameled disc. Claimed accuracy for the caliber TB09 movement isn’t bad. Beijing Watch Factory says the Wu Ji is accurate to about plus or minus 10 seconds a day. That isn’t quite chronometric standards, but probably in line with many Swiss tourbillons. Other Chinese movements can often be off by as much as a minute a day. So all things being considered, 10 seconds a day for this type of complex movement is pretty good. What the watch cannot escape from is China’s ubiquitous use of machine-decorated parts. Timepieces of this quality in Switzerland exhibit a high level of hands-on attention. Of course the Wu Ji was hand-assembled, but like its lower-priced brethren, it uses parts that have machine polishes. Skilled watch lovers, for example, can always spot “Chinese Geneva stripes” as oppose to the more refined Cotes de Geneve lines on Swiss watches. The Chinese watch industry has all the money and motivation to up their ante a bit when it comes to decoration, but it is possible it just isn’t in their DNA. Traditional Swiss watch making goes to great and careful lengths to ensure that movement aesthetics are perfect. They use special woods to polish metals and age-old techniques that perhaps never quite made their way over to China. The real culprit however is probably sheer time. Watch movement decoration is the most time consuming part of high-end watch making. To keep prices and production schedules reasonable, I simply don’t think that China can handle the intense slowness of the Swiss. On the wrist, the Beijing Watch Factory Wu Ji is 44mm wide and sits large thanks to its wide lugs. The case comes in either 18k rose gold or platinum. The inspiration for the design is clearly Greubel Forsey-ish, but it looks decent and I am happy that it isn’t just something simple and round. Nothing like a boring perfectly round case to destroy an otherwise unique wearing experience. The Infinite Universe is conservative, but has learned that boring isn’t the same thing. The level of uniqueness mixed with traditional looks is an art that Europeans have learned well, and the Wu Ji is the latest to replicate that. Does it succeed? It really depends on who you ask. Beijing Watch Factory has succeeded in impressing me – a lot. It has also succeeding in producing something that is both unique and interesting, but is also the type of thing that even the most snobbish watch lovers will take notice of. Complex Chinese watches are here and here to stay, and they are getting better each year. Are they alternatives to the more expensive Swiss stock? Yes, but they aren’t outright replacements. Swiss watches will probably always beat Chinese watches when it comes to sheer refinement and attention to detail. More and more I am convinced that this is caused by a fundamental difference in culture and values. It isn’t a matter of better or worse, but what goes into the production of tiny mechanical art. Having said that, the Chinese will always beat the Swiss when it comes to price. What makes the high-end Chinese watch industry unique is that they are trying to provide something that the current culture is not set up to do as well as the Europeans, and to me that is an admirable feat. In a huge way it is ironic as the Chinese are the post ardent appreciators of Swiss watch making craftsmanship. Perhaps because it is so counter to their own culture’s production values. Pride however is strong in both cultures, and brands like the Beijing Watch Factory thrive on being able to be Chinese and be the best at what they do. As it stands we will continue to watch as the Chinese develop new and interesting movements, and no longer consider them as a a mere novelty not worth the investment of real watch lover money. And an investment the Wu Ji is. Given the complexity the watch it is arguably well priced, going for between 460,000 – 520,000 Chinese Yuan. That is about $75,000 – $85,000.          
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Megir (M2015) Affordable Chrono Watch
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Megir (M2015) Affordable Chrono Watch

Megir (M2015) Affordable Chrono Watch Publisched by Coolwatchbrands I'll keep my review of this rather pretty Chinese watch brief. First, a few photos to do some of the talking:        I actually think it's gorgeous! The case size is 42mm exclusive of crown, its guard, or pushers. It's 12.5mm deep. Under the nicely-detailed dial will be, I'm quite sure, a Sunon movement the same as or very similar to those found in the 2011 and other Megir chronographs. These movements appear to be based on the architecture of Miyota chrono movements and my experiences with them so far have been only positive. They keep time to Miyota standards (<5 sec/month) and this watch even has a second hand which hits all the markers. The chrono works nicely, though with all these Megirs that I've seen, it only uses the three subdials: the main seconds hand isn't used by the chrono. The top subdial is for 1/10 seconds, the bottom one for seconds and the white one on the left for minutes. You can also get this watch with a black dial, and at the time of writing Round-up: Plusses: Excellent dial design and printing/manufacturing quality. Bright white dial is pretty. Fully functional 1/10 chrono with pretty blue hands on the three subdials. Distinctive case shape. Crystal is clear and gives good viewing at all angles. Good case finish. Dark brown "genuine leather" strap with white stitching looks nice. Like other Megirs I've handled, offers superior detailing to High Street fashion watches at a fraction of the price. (However, be careful not to accidentally pick up one of the only slightly cheaper Megirs with fake subdials ; there's nothing much superior about those). Less good: Black hands and indices would make for even higher legibility...but might not look quite so pretty! "Genuine leather" strap appears to be real leather only on the inner side, though it's not uncomfortable. Push-fit case back (stainless steel and very similar to those of other Megirs) and chrome-plated alloy case. Carbon or carbon-style bezel inserts may not appeal to everyone (though I quite like them). (The second and third of these negatives apply equally to most competitors). Summary: Probably trying to punch a bit above its weight at 48 USD compared with other watches available direct from China, but for around 20 USD it seems indisputably excellent value if the slightly chunky style appeals. I really think the dial is outstanding for a budget watch. The hitting all the seconds movement of mine is a bonus; I wouldn't like to guess the chances of others doing so! For other Megir watches, check out here: https://www.coolwatchbrands.com   Regards,
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Review: Bliger ‘Pepsi’ GMT Master II Homage Watch
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Review: Bliger ‘Pepsi’ GMT Master II Homage Watch

Review: Bliger 'Pepsi' GMT Master II Homage Watch
Review by Krono Publisched by Coolwatchbrands
Hello, and thanks again for checking out my watch reviews! In this post, I will be looking at the Bliger 43mm Automatic Pepsi GMT Master II watch. The version I bought for review has a Chinese movement (possibly the DG3804B?). I purchased it via auction from ebay seller 'yangjianhai20167'. This is the first of two Bliger watches that I bought from this seller. Both watches came in individual plastic sleeves, then heavily wrapped in bubble-wrap pouches, and finally sealed inside a thick styrofoam shipping box. They were VERY well protected! No retail-box or papers were included. 43 Sapphire Glass Black Bezel Red GMT Hands Auto Wristwatch J103 Movement: Automatic (self-winding) movement Case: Brushed Solid 316L stainless steel case with uni-directional bezel Diameter: case diameter 43 mm without crown Thickness: 14.5 mm Dial: Black Dial with GMT hand Strap: Brushed stainless steel strap Water resistance: 3 ATM Glass: sapphire glass Clasp type: Deployment Buckle Luminous: Yes KronoReview: Bliger is new on the scene, like MANY Chinese 'mushroom' brands. You will often see them advertised on various internet stores. They are typically sold alongside brands like Debert, Corgeut, and occasionally Parnis. The product pictures looked very interesting to me, so I decided to investigate. As many of you probably know, internet pictures of Chinese watches be awfully deceiving, so I was a bit apprehensive. I searched high and low for a specific Chinese company that makes Bliger...but did not get anywhere. Against my better judgment (which seems to happen a lot with watches, flashlights, knives etc...lol), I decided to pull the trigger on this GMT watch (As mentioned earlier...I also purchased a second Bliger, a Sub homage, which I will review at a later date). The Bliger GMT Master II homage I received has a Chinese automatic movement, and is typically priced between $90-$150. CASE/CROWN/LUGS: The 316L (the 'L' designates low-carbon content) Stainless Steel case is listed at 43mm. The overall height is 14mm high (15mm including cyclops). The watch is definitely in the sweet spot of my size-range (I prefer a 43m). Yes...it is a big watch, folks...but seems to work just fine for my 7-3/4” wrist. Lug-to-lug is 52mm. The top of the case is brushed, and the sides are polished. The crown protector extends a bit at the 3 O'clock side of the watch, covering just over 1/2 of the crown. The large, screw-down crown is well-knurled and very easy to grasp. It is polished on the end and has no logo. ^ Side views ^ CASEBACK: The screw-down SS case-back requires a Rolex-style tool to remove. I used the rubber-ball method to remove the back with ease. A single, black o-ring seal protects the movement from outside elements. Bliger gives this watch a depth rating of only 3ATM. Therefore, I cannot recommend this watch for diving. BRACELET/CLASP: The solid link, 21mm Stainless Steel oyster-style bracelet has screw-pins on five links for easy adjustability. It is fitted with a double-locking deployment clasp which appears to be well made. There is also a nice micro-adjuster underneath the clasp. The end links are also solid, which is a pretty nice feature at this price. All center sections and outside sections are brushed, and the sides of the links are polished. BLIGER logos are printed twice on the closure, as well as "Actomatic 1368". I'm not sure if that is supposed to be some brand name for their watches/bracelets...or if they misspelled Automatic. ^ Bliger clasp logos, along with “Actomatic 1368" ^ Micro-adjustment on back of clasp ^ DIAL/HANDS/INDICES/FUNCTIONS: BLIGER logo up top, and GMT AUTOMATIC/58 text down low. I am not sure what the 58 is supposed to stand for. The black dial has traditional GMT II, Rolex-style indices. They consist of an inverted triangle at 12 O'clock, rectangles at 6 and 9, and circles on the remaining hours. Each indice is raised with a silver edge, and a white, lumed center. A date window at 3 O'clock takes the place of the missing indice, and is easily distinguishable with the date-magnifier window. The date wheel is white, and has black Arabic numerals. The hour-hand is a typical Mercedes-style, with the minute hand a much longer sword-style, and the second hand, more of a lollipop/pointer with a small lollipop counter-balance on the opposite end. The fourth hand is the GMT, and a few mm shorter that Rolex's version, but looks almost identical...with a red shaft, and silver lined triangle pointer. There are nicely lumed indices and hands, but the lume itself needs more staying power...but definitely a step above the lume on a typical Chinese timepiece. ^ Blue lumed indices...hour, minute and second hand...green on GMT triangle pointer ^ ^ “BLIGER” logo at 12 O'clock, and “GMT AUTOMATIC/58” at 6 O'clock ^ MOVEMENT: Chinese automatic with no markings, but appears to be a DG3804B (appreciate it is someone could confirm this for me). The rotor is audible off the wrist, and slightly audible while on. It has kept very decent time, gaining an average of 15 seconds/day. This movement spins like a friggin' top...up to about 12+ seconds at a time, which keeps it well-wound. ^ No markings on this movement ^ ^ DG3804B? ^ CRYSTAL: The sapphire crystal is flat, and has a cyclops (date-magnifier) at the 3 O'clock position. The crystal does extend above the bezel very slightly, approximately .3mm. There does not appear to be any AR coating. ^ Here's lookin' atcha! ^ BEZEL: The aluminum Pespi bezel is half red (06:00-18:00)...and half blue (18:00-06:00). The colors look well done and are a pleasing hue. There is no GITD pip at the traditional, inverted triangle at the top spot, which is consistent with the Rolex version. Large, Arabic numerals are placed at even-numbered hours...and simple dots on the odd hours. The bezel has a gear-tooth style surround, which is sufficiently grippy. The bezel has approximately 72 clicks. The clicks are solid, and there is no rattling or slop. However, the bezel insert spins very slightly, under increased thumb-pressure, when rotating the uni-directional bezel. I don't think this makes a difference on a 24 hr. watch (vs. diver), but it should have been fastened better. ^ I like it on the wrist. What do you think? ^ PROS: Pretty accurate automatic movement at +15 sec/day. Looks almost exactly like it's Rolex counterpart. GMT hand independently adjusts, so watch could be used to keep track of up to 3 time-zones. Movement also hand-winds, and hacks. Above-average fit and finish. Protected and grippy screw-down crown. Bezel clicker has no slop and is uni-directional. Date function with easy-to-read cyclops. Substantial size and weight. Decent, screw-pin bracelet with solid end-links/bracelet links and hidden micro-adjustment. Flat Sapphire crystal. Blue lume on hour, minute, second hands and indices. Green lume on GMT hand pointer. Rotor spins and spins and spins. Other color combos to choose from. CONS: Better quality lume needed. No box or papers. Bezel insert rotates slightly under heavy pressure. 3 ATM water resistance. DIMENSIONS (Actual): Width including crown: 48.5mm Case Diameter: 43mm Lug-to-lug: 52mm Lug (Bracelet) width: 21mm Crystal: 32mm Overall Height (top of crystal to caseback): 14mm (15mm including cyclops) Weight: 174gms RATING: Cost: 5 Looks: 4 Durability: 4 Function: 4 Comfort: 4 Average: 4.2/5 In conclusion, the Bliger GMT Master II homage is a substantial watch with huge bang-for the buck. While there could be some improvements made, it has many nice features that cannot be found on other timepieces at this pricepoint. It offers a great deal of watch for the money. It just looks good, operates adequately. Regards,
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Pilgrimage to the Seagull factory in Tianjin
A Blog To Watch

Pilgrimage to the Seagull factory in Tianjin

Pilgrimage to the Seagull factory in Tianjin written by seagull fan  Published By Coolwatchbrands A bright blue day greeted us as we entered the building - a good sign of things to come! As this was shortly after the Chinese New Year holidays the factory was operating on a reduced staff. For the day that was in it I chose to wear my Sea Dragon King (the exclusive diver's watch made by US Seagull) on an aftermarket Borealis strap - you can see the watch in the background as I examined a minute repeater with a moving action back (slightly nsfw!) - I wonder who would buy such a watch...apparently two have been sold: The watch factory's store has probably the best selection of Seagull watches to be found anywhere - here are their double tourbillons for example: Left - perpetual calendar, minute repeater with moving action (the one with the sfw front dial and nsfw back dial), right is a tourbillon with a micro-rotor automatic winding mechanism: In the middle you'll find the gyrotourbillon: As these 18 karat solid gold watches were a little bit of my price range it was time to put on the bunny suits and move onto the factory floor visit - a behind the scenes look at the assembly of movements by Seagull workers: You'll see that on this day co-axial tourbillons were being assembled (and heavens forbid anyone suggest in "sweatshop" conditions). The watch master assembler took a look at my Dragon King and remarked that he remembers assembling these watches for Kevin back in the day - and that Kevin was very strict on quality control. The last photo shows is interesting in that it shows that ST21 movements are kept in a timing box for 40 minutes whereas ST25 (and ST6) movements are kept on the rotor for 80 minutes - does that mean that ST21 movements are probably more or less accurate than ST25 ones? The watch master presented me with a signed Seagull factory watch assembly clothe to keep as a memento - to think that maybe 7-8 years ago he may have assembled my Dragon King is very humbling and it was delightful to meet him and converse about watches. And there was another surprise in store for me - my mother in law's friend saw how genuinely enthusiastic I was about Chinese and Seagull watches in particular...and gave me her very special D57 tourbillon watch... I love the design of the D57 - on the back it states that this watch was sold only to Seagull employees to commemorate Seagull's 55th anniversary in 2015. This watch also represents a price paid in hard work and labour as only employees with over 20 years service with Seagull are eligible to purchase this watch. Simply put, this person's gift to me was one that is priceless as it represents her years of service to Seagull. The problem now of course is thinking about how to thank her properly for such a gift! And finally - hopefully I've saved the best for last - here is a youtube video of the minute repeater, micro-rotor tourbillion, gyrotourbillon and double tourbillon in action. It is one of the only places that I know of where you can hear a Seagull minute repeater chiming away. To have held that watch in my hands and to have heard its chime with my own ears may have capped off my WIS grail desires :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcP8...ature=youtu.be  
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Sea-Gull Tianjin Watch Factory
A Blog To Watch

Sea-Gull Tianjin Watch Factory

Sea-Gull

Tianjin Sea-Gull Watch Factory Chinese watch manufacturer A goverment decision On a Chinese government decision in January 1955 four Chinese watchmakers began with the production of watches. From this has now arisen the world's largest manufacturer of mechanical watch movements, whose production cover a quarter of the total world production of movements. Company history In 1990 the Tianjin Watch Factory obtained the status of a national company, and in 1992 the Tianjin Sea-Gull Corporation was founded. In the same year the decision was made ​​to stop the production of mechanical watches in favor of quartz watches. Five years later it came to a complete reversal of this decision: since then only mechanical watches are produced. In the year 2000 the Sea-Gull Group went public. In 2003 a sales office was opened in Hong Kong. ​​Sea-Gull makes the most profit on the mass market, but through the skills at the production of tourbillons and chronographs one has gained a growing appreciation. Thus the image of the label 'Made in China' was also indirectly improved. Meanwhile, with watch friends Sea-Gull watches are enjoying a growing reputation as a representative of high-quality Chinese watchmaking. Current movement families by Sea-Gull Sea-Gull ST6 –
  • Woman-size automatic, hand-wind or hand-wind skeleton
  • Man-size automatic, with various calendar and 24-hour/day-night display options
  • Hand-wind, rectangular form-movement with open heart
Sea-Gull ST16 – Miyota-style simplified construction with Seiko-style auto-winding. Many calendar and 24-hour display options available. Sea-Gull ST17 – Upgraded ST16 with even more options including jump-hour, big date and power-reserve. Skeleton versions, both automatic and hand-winding. Sea-Gull ST18 (Sea-Gull ST1812) – Premium ETA 2892-style movement; fast-beat, automatic, day/date. Sea-Gull ST19 – Hand-winding chronograph developed from Venus 175. Available as skeleton or with power-reserve. Sea-Gull ST21 (Sea-Gull ST2130) – Clone of ETA 2824-2 (Often incorrectly referred to as ST24) Sea-Gull ST22 – A pair of small ST6 automatics on a common dial plate. Open-heart and big-date options. Sea-Gull ST25 – Premium movement with double-bridged balance for open-heart. Various calendar options. Sea-Gull ST28 – AS1475-style hand-winding alarm. Sea-Gull ST31 – Unusual bowtie-shaped movement with linear train, open-heart, subsidiary seconds and day/night indicator. Also available as skeleton. Sea-Gull ST36 (Sea-Gull ST3600) – Unitas 6497-style 36mm pocket watch movement, hand-winding with subsidiary seconds. Skeletonized version with unusual bar-type bridges. Sea-Gull ST41 – Thin, small hand-winding movement, hour and minute display only. Sea-Gull ST80 – Blancpain-style flying caroussel-Tourbillon. Various calendar and power-reserve options. Hand-winding or automatic. Skeleton version is hand-wind only, no options. Sea-Gull ST82 – Tourbillon with large-diameter balance on common axis with carriage. Hand-winding or automatic. 'Flying' or bridged Tourbillon. Sea-Gull ST8080 – Hand-winding dual tourbillon; caroussel and common axis. Sea-Gull ST84 – Hand-winding common axis tourbillon. Narrow movement suitable for women's watches. Sea-Gull ST90 – Hand-winding quarter-repeater. Sea-Gull ST91 – Hand-winding minute repeater. ST9150 includes perpetual calendar (as per ST2590). Note: A thorough comparison of the Sea-Gull ST21 (ETA 2824 clone) and a ST18 (ETA 2892 clone) movements can be found on the TZ-UK forum: (In this article, the movements are incorrectly referred to as ST24 and ST26)
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Review of the Winner Men’s Luxury Semi-Mechanical Skeleton Watch
A Blog To Watch

Review of the Winner Men’s Luxury Semi-Mechanical Skeleton Watch

Inexpensive but often intriguing Chinese timepieces.

Winner Skeleton Watch

Description

I purchased this timepiece through a vendor called ‘Light in the box’. It cost less than a package of cigarettes and, provided I was willing to wait, shipped for free. I was willing to wait.

The watch arrived the next month, adequately wrapped in bubble-wrap and shoved inside a plastic envelope.

Light in the Box’s description is poor. They portray this watch as semi-mechanical, quartz and automatic. There is no place to insert a battery so, obviously, this timepiece is not quartz. I examined the movement to determine what sort of mechanism was used to power the watch.

The mainspring of an automatic watch is wound by taking advantage of the user’s arm movements. This motion swings a weight—the technical term is rotor—back and forth. The rotor is firmly attached to a staff which is connected to a ratcheted winding mechanism. The purpose of this mechanism is to tighten the mainspring. If you own a good automatic watch and wear it every day, the timepiece will never need to be hand wound.

Normally you can hear the rotor swing when you shake an automatic watch. In this case I couldn’t. Neither could I observe the weight when I glanced through the transparent cover. This a not an automatic watch.

Decent inexpensive automatic watches are available. Check out my review of the Aatos G-ThosBrBrBr or the Jaragar JJS008 for further information.

The Manufacturer

Winner is a division of the Guangzhou Ruixue Watch Company Limited. (Forsining watch company limited). Their manufacturing plant is located in GuangZhou China and their watches are marketed under the brand names, Forsining, Winner and Jaragar.

Specifications

Brand: Winner

Condition: New without tags

Part number: 387588

Gender: Men’s

Display: Analog

Movement: Mechanical hand wind

Style: Skeleton

Features: Hollow engraving

Band material: Polyurethane

Case material: Steel

Case diameter: 4.4 cm

Case thickness: 1.1 cm

Weight: 55 gm (including band)

Water resistance: Not specified but probably minimal

Left Side of Watch

Right Side of Watch

Back of Watch

Visual Appeal

The case is well designed; two toned and covered on each side with a transparent acrylic face. The movement can be examined from either the front or the back, ensuring an excellent view of the inner workings of the watch. The hands are coated with luminous paint which provides illumination throughout short periods of darkness. The dial is nicely engraved and the numbers used to indicate the time are composed of Roman numerals.

Accuracy

I wore this watch for a day to check for comfort and to assure myself that the time could be quickly and easily ascertained despite the busy background. Then I stored in on a shelf for two weeks, winding it twice daily. At the end of this period I set it to my computer clock and tested the unit for three days. At the end of its test cycle I found that the watch had lost one minute. This is a reasonable result considering the cost of this timepiece. You keep this thing wound and it will look after you.

Durability

I did not disassemble this watch but the movement does appear to be jeweled. Although I could easily adjust the time I noticed an inordinate amount of play in the crown whilst doing so. The strap is composed of Polyurethane which looks like leather but lacks durability. This watch is intended as a gift so I did not subject it to shock and water resistance tests.

Back Lit View of Watch

Overall Impression

This Winner mechanical watch has a lot going for it. The price is right; the timepiece keeps good time and is visually appealing. It is comfortable on the wrist. The large crown ensures the watch can be easily wound and, because of the ‘see through’ design, this timepiece will attract attention.

The hands and dial of this watch are both colored gold. While visually appealing, it is difficulty to determine the time at a glance.

This watch has worked well throughout the short period I have owned it. Having said this, I do not expect it to anywhere near as durable as my much more expensive Seiko. This Winner should not be your serious everyday timepiece. It’s a cool watch though; one that will be fun to show off during the weekends. Recommended for casual use.

Update

I've owned this watch for at year. The band shows wear and, if I'd been wearing this timepiece consistently, would have required replacement by now. Accuracy is unchanged, the watch looks good and it is still a pleasure to wear.

Winner Classic Skeleton Watch

 

 

Winner Classic Skeleton Dial Hand Winding Mechanical Sport Army Watch for Men Hollow Transparent Dial with Leather Band Strap Black & Rose Gold

 Buy Now

 

 

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Chinese watch brands of good quality
A Blog To Watch

Chinese watch brands of good quality

Chinese watch brands of good quality

Published By Coolwatchbrands

Let’s start with Sea-gull that was mentioned by many others. They are like the ETA for Swiss watches. They manufacture and sell about a quarter of all the watch movements sold world-wide. They have some pretty good and reliable movements, many that are copies of Swiss ones. They also sell watches under their own brand. One watch that caught my attention is a beautiful homage to NOMOS watches, sold under the brand name of RODINA. It features a sea-gull movement and I think it is also manufactured by them. The Rodina brand is also featured at the Sea-gull gamma.

Then I would mention Beijing Watches Factory. They are one of, if not the oldest and most reputable watchmakers in China. They produce only mechanical movements as far as I know and focus only on the domestic market. They can be bought from outside China only via buying services. I’ve read a lot of good things about them on dedicated forums. I personally like their watches and will buy one in the future, for sure.

Shanghai watches factory, setup in 1955, also has some interesting offers. Among these offers is the Space Walk Historic Chronograph (not sure if this is the correct name) based on the in-house caliber 2992-5-F19 or 3LZF19.

FIYTA can also boast themselves to be an official provider of time pieces for the Chinese Space Agency. And they also have interesting designs of their own, based on Japanese movements.

CADISEN and Guanquin also offer both quartz and mechanical watches based on Japanese movements, at affordable prices. You can get a Miyota or Seiko based automatic, for under 100$ with good quality finishes and, on some models, sapphire too!

PARNIS is another name well regarded by watch lovers, especially for their homage automatics (they have beautiful IWC homage watches). They offer both quartz and mechanical movements. I’m not sure if the mechanical movements are supplied by Sea-gull or not.

Naviforce is a relatively young company that produces homages as well as their own designs or quartz watches. They use only Japanese movements (Miyota or Epson/Seiko). Their watches are good value for the money and cover the spectrum south of 70USD, if I’m not mistaking. Their watches are on the large side, starting from about 42mm case diameter. I recently bought for 12USD their 9044 model, an homage to a military inspired Citizen. lovely little watch to be had for 12USD. It features a Miyota 2115 movement and can also be found in a variant with a Seiko movement, albeit for ~10USD more.

(That’s not the actual crown, in the picture above).

I would also mention Pagani Design. They made a rather nice Tage Heurer aquaracer homage and also have quartz and automatic watches with a wide range of designs to chose from.

Oh, and, I should not forget Sangdo. Their homage of the Omega Aqua Terra seems to be very well regarded. They have other models to choose from too.

I’m quite sure there are others brands I did not mention, Some produce homage watches, other have their own designs. These are the ones I came across so far and managed to impress me with one or more of the watches they offer, and are also in good regard with the watch lovers.

Now, one big turn off for some people is the inscription CHINA MADE on some watches. Even though the watch is on par with European or USA offerings at the price point, it seems that CHINA MADE has some sort of stigmata associated with it, like a “seal” of bad quality.

I for one actually welcome the China Made inscription on a Chinese watch as a sign of honesty. I actually appreciate having that on a Chinese watch.

Closing words: I actually plan to have quite a few Chinese watches in my collection, and will most likely buy, in time, a watch from almost each of the brands I mentioned.

 

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