---==Time Wars, Episode 2: Swiss vs. Japanese vs. Chinese vs. Russian==---
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  1. #1
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    ---==Time Wars, Episode 2: Swiss vs. Japanese vs. Chinese vs. Russian==---

    Fellow WIS,

    The results are in, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Click here for a refresher on my motivation & methodology (and last year’s results) if interested, but this time I'll jump straight into the sample updates & rankings/scores.

    SAMPLE UPDATES

    Following your suggestions after my first attempt at this little project, I’ve spent the past year expanding my collection to include many of the popular Swiss, Japanese, Chinese, and Russian watches/movements. New combatants include:
    -Vastly expanded Swiss line-up with several 8-beat ETAs of different grades, a Tissot Powermatic, several watches with the new STP1-11, and an Omega co-axial
    -Several 8-beat Seikos from the 6R family, a pair of 6- and 8-beat Miyotas, and a high beat Grand Seiko 9S85
    -Two new Seagull three-handers, a 6-beat ST1612 and an 8-beat ST2130
    -Chronos! The legendary Valjoux 7750 and the shockingly good Sea-gull ST1901

    Of course an entry level trinity (or Lange) or mid-level JLC/GO would have been welcome additions, but you’ll either have to wait for version 3.0, send me your lottery winnings, or make a donation to m̶y̶ ̶c̶o̶l̶l̶e̶c̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ ahem…“science.”

    I’m also waiting on the Rolex 32XX to trickle down to a watch I’d actually want to own, though a Tudor MT5600 (hello, Black Bay Bronze) will likely join the stable in a couple weeks.

    RESULTS

    As before, I include multiple measures of how well these movements perform, most of which are derived from existing standards (e.g. COSC, GSIS), others I constructed on my own. The goal of any capable timepiece, of course, is precision (measured here as a low variance)--keeping accurate time in any position and any state of wind. Watchmakers have spent centuries trying to meet these challenges, and should be celebrated for how much they've managed to squeeze out of this "ancient" technology. Not all who play the game play it equally well, however, so let's sort out the pretenders from the contenders.

    For those of you who may have slept through statistics, the general rule is the smaller numbers (variance), the more precise the movement. The sole exception is column 1 (basically a weighted average of precision and isochronism), wherein bigger scores are better. For a quick overview interpretation of how well any watch (or region) performed, the columns are color-coded, with green=good performance, red = poor, and yellow = average.

    The “Top 3” watches of this year's contest are emphasized in bold/italicized font, along with the "former champ" from last year's showdown, the Tissot Visodate (ETA 2836-2). Remember, my goal was to sample and analyze the movements in the watches, rather than each specific make/model (which would require hundreds, if not thousands of cases). While there's certain to be some variation across makes and models using the same movement (e.g. two watches with a Seiko 7S or 6R), the biggest differences are between movements, not within. I'd venture that 90+% of mechanical watches sold worldwide use one of the movements sampled below. So without further ado, let’s take a look at scoreboard:

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    Previous write-ups on the new Top 3 available here (Omega Co-axial), here (STP1-11), and here (Grand Seiko Hi-beat).

    Questions and comments always welcome. Have at it!
    Last edited by Purple Hayz; October 13th, 2017 at 21:50.
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  2. #2
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    Re: ---==Time Wars, Episode 2: Swiss vs. Japanese vs. Chinese vs. Russian==---

    Very impressive, particularly the 9S85, one of my favorite movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by Purple Hayz View Post
    Fellow WIS,

    The results are in, and what a contest it's become. Click here for a refresher on my motivation & methodology (and last year’s results) if interested, but this time I'll jump straight into the sample updates & rankings/scores.

    SAMPLE UPDATES

    Following your suggestions, I’ve spent a good portion of the past year expanding the stable to include many of the popular Swiss, Japanese, Chinese, and Russian watches/movements. New combatants include:
    -Vastly expanded Swiss line-up with several 8-beat ETAs of different grades, an ultra-efficient ETA Powermatic, several examples of the terrific new STP1-11, and an Omega co-axial 8500.
    -Several 8-beat Seikos from the 6R family, a pair of 6- and 8-beat Miyotas, and a high beat Grand Seiko 9S85
    -Two new Seagull three-handers, a 6-beat ST1612 and an 8-beat ST2130
    -Chronos! The legendary Valjoux 7750 and the shockingly good Sea-gull ST1901

    Of course an entry level trinity (or Lange) or mid-level JLC/GO would have been welcome additions, but you’ll either have to wait for version 3.0, or make a donation to m̶y̶ ̶c̶o̶l̶l̶e̶c̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ ahem…“science.”

    I’m also waiting on the Rolex 32XX to trickle down to a watch I’d actually want to own, though a Tudor MT5600 (hello, Black Bay Bronze) will likely join the stable in a couple weeks.

    RESULTS

    As before, I includes multiple performance metrics, most of which are derived from existing standards (e.g. COSC, GSIS), others I constructed on my own. For those of you who are less statistically inclined, the columns are color-coded based on how well each watch performed (green = good, red = poor, yellow = average). The “Top 3” watches of this year's contest are emphasized in bold/italicized font, along with the "former champ" from last year's showdown, the Tissot Visodate (ETA 2836-2). Now without further ado, let’s take a look at scoreboard:

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    Previous write-ups on the new Top 3 available here (Omega Co-axial), here (STP1-11), and here (Grand Seiko Hi-beat).

    Questions and comments always welcome. Have at it!

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    Re: ---==Time Wars, Episode 2: Swiss vs. Japanese vs. Chinese vs. Russian==---

    Impressive statistics. As expected, Swiss (ETA) has better accuracy than Japanese (Seiko) within the same price range (given or taken).

    Also interesting to see Chinese on par with Japanese - they managed to catch up.
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    Re: ---==Time Wars, Episode 2: Swiss vs. Japanese vs. Chinese vs. Russian==---

    Quote Originally Posted by Orex View Post
    Impressive statistics. As expected, Swiss (ETA) has better accuracy than Japanese (Seiko) within the same price range (given or taken).

    Also interesting to see Chinese on par with Japanese - they managed to catch up.
    Oddly enough, it took some time for me to come around to the idea, given popular conceptions of Swiss artistry vs. Japanese engineering. But the more the sample grows, the more divorced that stereotype seems from reality. Three of my four most attractive, and impeccably finished, watches are Japanese, while all of the my best timekeepers (sans Grand Seiko of course) are Swiss. Up is down, it would seem.

    The only affordable Japanese watch that it is even remotely competitive with similarly priced, entry-level Swiss wares (Tissot, Hamilton, etc.) is the Aragon Divemaster 9100. It's a lot of watch for the money, and the 9100 is a fine movement. Unlike the much more common Miyota 8000 series, the 9100 is 4Hz and nearly as precise as the ETAs when fully wound, which is doubly impressive given that it packs a triple calendar, power reserve, and a 24-hour complication, all for a street price of ~$300. Like far too many modern watches, it's about 5mm too large (IMO), but it's really not a bad looking piece if you're into large divers, and as long as you're wearing it 24/7, it can deliver near Swiss level precision. Here's a stock photo, along with a comparison shot (next to my Eterna and SNK) to illustrate the size of the beast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Orex View Post
    Also interesting to see Chinese on par with Japanese - they managed to catch up.
    The Chinese watches are an interesting bunch, to be sure. The good news is that after trading the throwaway Tonjis (from last year's study) in for some "real" Chinese watches, the scores improved across the board. The bad news is that even after dropping ~800 (street value) on some proper Chinese calibers, the strongest performer is still the same $60 fashion watch from last year!

    While the few folks who chimed in with recommendations all pointed toward Sea-gull, there didn't seem to me much agreement about which movements were actually good performers. It's not hard to see why. The 8-beat D51 "anniversary re-issue" (with the well-regarded caliber ST2130 ) fails to impress on any level. Not only was it outclassed by the Miyota 9100, it was handily beaten by a 6-beat, $60 fashion watch (the KC). The fit and finish was also uneven, and not at Swiss or Japanese levels. It's not bad watch or a bad movement, but I can't see any reason to spend $200~300 on a Sea-Gull instead of a Hammie, Tissot, or Vicky, unless you really just wanted a "real" Chinese watch.

    The other Chinese three-hander I purchased was an attractive little number from Sea-Gull Singapore, but it wound up being a complete bust. The movement was crap, and the fit and finish was laughable--the dial was literally falling apart! Take a look (note the chunk of faux teak that broke off and got wedged by the 9:00 position on the rehaut):
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    I wound up returning it to Sea-gull Singapore for a full refund (David was great), but fortunately I was able to find a remarkably similar looking piece at my local Omega warehouse
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    All's well that ends well, though, and the final Chinese piece I purchased has become one of my favorite watches in the collection. The singapore shop had an absolutely sublime "1963 chrono" that I believe was designed by one of our fellow WIS, hked (I don't actually know the full story). It's classically styled, perfectly sized, and an absolute joy to look at. The ST1901 is also a thoroughly capable timekeeper, besting the mighty Valjoux 7750 on almost every measure. It may not be a fair comparison, strictly speaking (hand-wind vs. auto), but it's still a fantastic watch, and the view of that column wheel chrono through the caseback is something every WIS needs to experience at least once, IMO:
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    Not my pics but you get the point...
    Last edited by Purple Hayz; October 13th, 2017 at 21:43.
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    Re: ---==Time Wars, Episode 2: Swiss vs. Japanese vs. Chinese vs. Russian==---

    I can hardly wait to see how the MT movement in the Tudor stacks up. Should make for some interesting discussion.


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    Re: ---==Time Wars, Episode 2: Swiss vs. Japanese vs. Chinese vs. Russian==---

    Quote Originally Posted by Will_f View Post
    I can hardly wait to see how the MT movement in the Tudor stacks up. Should make for some interesting discussion.
    That makes two of us, though I'm starting to wonder if it's even's realistic to expect anything to beat a <1 second variance. At some point there has to a be practical limit to what a mechanical movement can do.

    Then again, I though the same thing about the Visodate and it's "unbeatable" 1.5 second precision last year...

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    Re: ---==Time Wars, Episode 2: Swiss vs. Japanese vs. Chinese vs. Russian==---

    Quote Originally Posted by Purple Hayz View Post
    That makes two of us, though I'm starting to wonder if it's even's realistic to expect anything to beat a <1 second variance. At some point there has to a be practical limit to what a mechanical movement can do.

    Then again, I though the same thing about the Visodate and it's "unbeatable" 1.5 second precision last year...
    < 1 s is pretty impressive and I agree that it’s unlikely any random MT movement will beat it. That said, I expect it to do well. It may or may not beat the Coax and the GS high beat, but I would expect it to be in the same game. If not, that’s worth knowing too. Right now there doesn’t seem to be much daylight between the Rolex 31xx movements and the MT movements, but your analysis may show otherwise. When I bought my Sub-C a few years ago I asked the AD to put it on the timing machine and give me the positional variance. It was around 2s, which is obviously very good. I did the same with my NF using an iPhone app, and it was in the same ballpark (I’ll see if I can find the data).

    Will

    edit: apparently it was approximately 3 sec variance across 6 positions with less than 1s / error on the wrist when new. That was a couple years ago so it’s probably a little looser.


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    Last edited by Will_f; October 13th, 2017 at 22:31.
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    Re: ---==Time Wars, Episode 2: Swiss vs. Japanese vs. Chinese vs. Russian==---

    It might be potentially more useful for you to group watches with the same movements, and try to obtain a mean and variance for each movement type. In any case, given Seiko's propensity to use 21.6kbph movements in their entry to midrange watches, that are not manually adjusted or regulated, it should come as no surprise that they perform worse than Swiss movements that are typically adjusted to at least three positions, and beat at 28.8kbph.
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    Re: ---==Time Wars, Episode 2: Swiss vs. Japanese vs. Chinese vs. Russian==---

    Quote Originally Posted by mleok View Post
    It might be potentially more useful for you to group watches with the same movements, and try to obtain a mean and variance for each movement type.
    We're on the same page, hermano--I was very close to doing just that. The problem is that I'm not entirely convinced that the intra-movement variations are truly stochastic--the STP1-11, for instance, seems to vary way more than normal production tolerances, binning differences, or random "noise" should allow. The gaps between the Armani-cased 111 and those cased in the three Fossils/SL are more than twice as large as the (already sizable) gap between the Swiss and Japanese averages. They might as well be running different engines, it seems. I think this bloke may have been on to something, as I seriously doubt the 111s would ship with that much variability from the factory. Most of the other movements seem closer across repeated measures, however, so it still may be worth summarizing at the movement-level, as you suggest. I'm just hesitant to treat them as random draws from a single distribution, in light of some the larger-than-expected fluctuations. Thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by mleok View Post
    given Seiko's propensity to use 21.6kbph movements in their entry to midrange watches, that are not manually adjusted or regulated, it should come as no surprise that they perform worse than Swiss movements that are typically adjusted to at least three positions, and beat at 28.8kbph.
    Another fair point, but I was still a bit surprised. You and I had the same expected value going into this, but the revised sample provides several points of contradictory information. The first is the Tissot Powermatic, which despite running at the same 6bps as the Seiko 7S/4R/6R15s, gives up nothing to its faster (8-beat) siblings. If the Seikos incur a penalty by running at only 6bps, shouldn't the Swiss as well? Likewise, I've now got three 8bps Japanese movements (the two 6R27s and the Miyota 9100) in the sample, and they still lag the Swiss by a sizable margin, and barely outperform their own 6 beat siblings, prompting the same question. If not speed, then perhaps adjustment is the key explanation, but even here, the numbers don't seem to add up. Isn't the spread across ETA grades comparatively modest (e.g. 15spd max for top vs. 20 spd max for elabore) relative to the gap between the Swiss and Japanese?

    The GS proves that Seiko can meet or beat the Swiss at their own game. Why they seem to have so little interest in doing so at price points less than five grand just seems bonkers. I've read countless reviews on the net and even here at WUS describing the 6Rs and base ETAs as equals (or near equals), when the truth is that they're not even in the same league. Hell, the unbranded, 6-beat, (possibly cloned) Sea-gull in my $60 fashion watch annihilates every Seiko movement on almost every benchmark across the board (except the GS of course). If a copy of a Chinese copy of a Swiss movement can deliver a 1-2 second positional variance, how does the inventor of Spring Drive fail to do even half that well?(!) I just can't make heads or tails of it.
    Last edited by Purple Hayz; October 14th, 2017 at 08:57.

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    Re: ---==Time Wars, Episode 2: Swiss vs. Japanese vs. Chinese vs. Russian==---

    Quote Originally Posted by Purple Hayz View Post
    I've read countless reviews on the net and even here at WUS describing the 6Rs and base ETAs as equals (or near equals), when the truth is that they're not even in same league.
    Uh oh. Now you've stepped in it.

    Even though soon you will a charred and blackened victim of a ritual roasting, your memory and data will live on.

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