(The complete catalogue in PDF format can be found at http://www.ptsresources.com/watch_automatic_01.htm)
We enthusiasts are a strange lot. For us it is not enough to know that we have a well-made and reliable watch; we also want to know other details such as where the movement was made. There is a reason for this of course; the movement is the ‘heart’ of the watch and it connects us to the long tradition of mechanical watchmaking stretching back over the centuries. This is particularly true for Chinese mechanical watches, where the movement is guaranteed to be made by one of the great former state-owned enterprises that pioneered watchmaking in China. This is true even for proprietary movements exclusive to PTS Resources, Hong Kong.
Although PTS do offer movements of their own design; most notably their famous tourbillons; the actual manufacturing is done for them by the Hangzhou and Liaocheng watch factories. In addition to such exclusive movements, PTS also offer off-the-shelf models from these two factories. They also deal in off-the-shelf calibres from Nanning Watch Factory, Shanghai Watch Industry Corp, Guangzhou-Dixmont Watch Co. and Tsinlien Horologia, Hong Kong. (Tsinlien source all their movements from Sea-Gull, Tianjin)
PTS also offer quartz movements from many international manufacturers, but for the purpose of this discussion we’re not really interested in those.
So let us cast our eyes over the catalogue and see what we can recognize…
The 9000-series calibres
These look like the mysterious ‘Chinese Unitas’ (notoriously used in fake Panerais). Both skeleton and solid versions, seconds-at-9 and seconds-at-6 are offered with upgrades in the form of dial-side modules for dual-time and day/night indicator. As there is a value-added aspect to these models, they must be built either by Hangzhou or Liaocheng. What I can find about Hangzhou does not suggest that they’re making this calibre, but I can find no direct evidence about Liaocheng (I can’t search efficiently in Chinese ), so I’m presuming Liaocheng for either the entire movements, or at least the dial-side modules.
The FD- calibres
The famous PTS tourbillon! I’m pretty sure that Hangzhou doesn’t make these so I’m voting Liaocheng for these. One small clue is the keyless works, which a couple of local watchmakers have identified as identical to that of the Chinese Standard movement. Hangzhou stopped making the Standard ZHZ some years ago and now base all their calibres on their Seiko 7009-inspired automatics and the small Xihu calibre that they sell to some cheap Hong Kong companies (but not used by PTS). The Standard connection therefore ties the tourbillons to Liaocheng.
The 2000-series calibres
These are all from Hangzhou(http://hangzhouwatch.com/pro.htm), although some have complications unique to PTS.
The PTS ‘Reverso’. This appears to be one of Hangzhou’s Seiko-like calibres with the auto-winding mechanism removed and replaced by a duplicate hand-train to enable a watch with a dial on each side of the case! The base-plate has been trimmed slightly at 3 and 9 o’clock to better fit a ‘tank’-style case.
Calibres 2521 and 2540
This dual-time complication on a Hangzhou calibre is probably exclusive to PTS.
Calibres 2221, 2240/2241 and 2312
Hangzhou, but with advanced complications that are most likely exclusive to PTS.
The DG- calibres
The DG- nomenclature indicates that these movements have been sourced from Dixmont-Guangzhou (http://www.dixmont.com.cn/en/company/main.aspx), however the designs match those of other manufacturers such as Sea-Gull and Nanning. I had previously thought it unusual for Chinese manufacturers to sell raw ebauches rather than completely finished movements, but given Guangzhou’s use of the Shanghai B calibre in a reduced-jewel version (e.g. Alpha GMT), I can only guess that they are able to get ebauches directly from several other manufacturers.
Calibres DG-8000 to DG-8021
The escapements are unmistakably Sea-Gull calibre ST80 flying carrousel-tourbillons (http://www.tjseagull.com/jx.asp), although the squared edges of the dial-plate is unusual. It looks like Guangzhou may have done some significant modifications to the base movement, or else are using sea-Gull tourbillon escapements in a calibre design of their own.
These are all automatics so I’m wondering if the auto version of the ST80 actually has its origins in a special order from PTS or Dixmont.
Given the similarity to the other DG- tourbillons, this must be the Sea-Gull ST82 common-axis tourbillon.
This is a flat three-quarter-plate hand-winding variant of the Nanning NN28.
The DG-2800 and DG-3800 series
Some of these I can definitely identify as belonging to the Nanning’s Miyota-like NN28/NN28 series (http://www.nnsme.com/qyzc/dqyb/watch07/28.htm), so I’m guessing that is true for all of them. The DG-4813 seems to be a very flat version from the same series.
No idea why the different designation, but it looks identical to the DG-3803A.
Calibres 2L27 and 2L30
This is the Shanghai open-heart with the distinctive large-diameter balance-wheel. (http://www.chinawatch-clock.com/cpgg...ch/index23.htm)
The M- calibres
This movement is styled to mimic the Girard-Perregaux ‘3 Bridges’ and shows the same design fair as the F- and ML- calibres so it is likely it shares a common origin. It is hard to say more without looking at the other side of the movement.
The F- calibres
Functionally this appears to be a successor to the ML-7101, but certain details such as the position of the escape wheel and shape of the keyless-works indicates that this is something completely new. Nevertheless I suspect that it comes from the same source.
The original Chinese open-heart, made infamous by the Franck Muller-style watches made by Million Smart for Montres Allison a few years ago. I can’t definitely identify any generic parts although the keyless-works might be from a Standard movement. I’ll say Liaocheng made this simply because I can’t think of an alternative. Whatever its origins, it is probably exclusive to PTS.
Is this the infamous ‘Chinese 7750 copied from the ETA/Valjoux original? Liaoning Watch Factory (not to be confused with Liaocheng) offer these on their catalogue so perhaps they are the manufacturer (http://www.lnwatch.com/). Alternatively, PTS could be buying the Swiss original either complete or as ebauche.
Who can guess where a Chinese Standard skeleton might come from? Movements identical to this are manufactured in many Chinese factories.
This is like a woman-size version of the ML-7101. I don’t know of any other open-heart this small so I guess this is exclusive to PTS and made by Liaocheng.
Calibres 2671, 2824, 2824-S, 2834 and 2836
These appear to be ETA movements. Are PTS buying them complete, or having them finished by one of their Chinese partners? Who knows?
The Sellita copy of the ETA 2824-2. Probably PTS are getting ready for when ETA stop supplying to China.
This very unusual ‘linear’ movement has the same small balance with regulator on the dial side as the ML-, PL- and F- calibres so once again I’ll peg this as a Liaocheng production exclusive to PTS until I can find out more.
So there you have it; everything that I was able to deduce. But like I said, I can’t search the net with any kind of efficiency in Chinese (in which I am completely illiterate), so there is probably a lot of clues that I’ve missed. If anybody else can find out more, please share