sorry...rotten LG cellphone pic of a great looking watch.
ok...i can hear the groanz. is someone reaLLy reviewing a $100 Chinese Rolex homage watch? ok...'homage' is a kinder term than some of you snobophiles out there might use.
anyway, yes. of course i need to state my seriousness as a person, that i've had new rollies i've purchased from Rolex, including a submariner a few years back. plus many other high end Swiss. that said, i do love interesting pieces, and lower spectrum pieces. heck, i always liked the original VW bug when it came out.
ok...so. i got my Loreo direct from China from ebay at $102 complete, shipping included. a bit lower than an almost equally good amazon price. why buy this? i already spent more than enough money on my Oris 1965, my Damasko über hard case DA46 and many other vintage pieces including Wagner 1939 Luftwaffe signed RLM pilot's watch, Steinhart vintage military one, blah, blah.
i love Rolex sub styling but do not need to have one these days, but wanted something fun. i'd also spent too much on Rolex homage pieces like Armida, Davosa, and in fact was sorry to find some QC issues involving scratches on the pieces...the Davosa being a pricey watch to receive bracelet installation scratches brand new, so i wasn't about to blow bucks on any more mid-price scratched up watches new from the manufacturer.
the Loreo seemed perfect. i also didn't want Rolex knockoffs with weird ebay names like 'corgeut', 'parnis', or any number of weird names that Chinese manufacturers think sound European, but sound more like indelicate body parts. at least the Loreo sounded like it cOULd be a real Euro watch (claims to be made in Germany...heheh). it also had excellent design in the pictures, better than Invictas with their mutilated case sides with an unwanted brand name on them. and if this was going to be a Rolex 'homage' (ok, ripoff), then at least make the case reaLLLy look Rolexy. which this did in the promo pics.
so i bit.
(ACTUAL REViEW STARTS HERE...) and what i got super surprised me. i won't belabor the box and packaging, which was better than most Seikos i get from overseas. but the watch itself, looked really as good as the promo pics. one variance was the magnified date, which isn't quite as magnified as those pics will suggest, but at least as magnified as some $500+ pieces i've purchased. so will give them a pass on that.
the one i purchased came with no bracelet (i remove them from the bracelets and put them on 3-piece leather bund straps, which i love) so i cannot evaluate the steel bracelet. the multicolored nato strap looked like something you'd need to pop $25 for on ebay and was very nice. the watch itself truly looked, yes, like a Rolex physically. but as you and i know, we could tell the diff...but it did look like many even Swiss made Rolex homage pieces from real swiss brands such as Grovana, which you'd be lucky to purchase for $500.
so cosmetically, to look at it even closely on someone's wrist, would suggest a high grade Swiss contemporary of Rolex with an homage style.
but we know better. some handling of the Loreo does not make it crash and burn. it is a nice operating piece. i love the smooth movement of the unidirectional bezel, which by the way aligns up perfectly...which is better than some $1000 Swiss pieces i've bought. the screw down crown is no worse than a $400 Seiko in smoothness clicking from setting position to setting position, or screwing down. the bezel is perhaps too delightfully easy to move for some tastes, tho i like it. there is a tiny bit of play if you try to test it, maybe 1/4 click, but then it snaps back after you push it.
the back is a see thru glass that looks as well constructed as any nominally costing Swiss diver that has such. the movement looks very nice thru the sapphire or mineral crystal (whichever it is), more pleasant than your Seiko 5's and their 7s36's and such. it's totally nice, no horror stories.
as for whether this is 200meter dive watch...even on amazon the ads disclaim that and state 5ATM...so like some promo material claiming 'German technology', i'd eat that with a rock sized grain of salt. but on my leather bund strap, i ain't going diving with it nowhere, no time anyway.
the look of the dial is surprisingly sharp. in person there were no marker alignment problems as i have had with $400 Seiko divers of late. the logo and script (no, this is no chronometre as the type says) looks as nice as midrange Swiss divers i've purchased. the glow markers do in fact glow nicely. when i had my new Rolex sub back around 2000 and datejust a few years later, they would have lost out to this watch. tho nowadays, a Seiko will burn brighter. the bezel is old fashioned aluminum, which is classic old school and ok. the one drawback is no lume pip. in fact i just noticed this while writing this review. if it really bothers one, replacement bezel inserts with pip would be available for this size bezel on ebay for about $20.
the hands however, are superb.
nOw...for the final judgement...the movement...
i know it's some sort of Seagull Chinese movement, and i'm sure someone reading this is more expert than i as to what's in here.
wHAT i expected was some Miyota 8015 clone that would have a stutter seconds hand when shaken briskly because of the well-known non-direct drive attachment of the that hand. i also expected no hacking from the movement (except for the old Seiko trick of turning the crown backwards slightly to stall the movement whilst setting).
to my surprise was a fully hacking movement with NO stuttering seconds hand when i shook it. i have an 8215 in my new Citizen cool looking diver, and can stutter that seconds hand at will with enough of a shake. not so this Loreo movement. upon some research on the internets (as people facetiously call it, made infamous by W. Bush) there was info that what's in this Loreo is a Seagull version of a 2824.
whether that's true or not, i do not know. the beats are more like an NH35, meaning some 21,000 bpm or thereabouts. many renown Swiss movements beat that LOw...so no horror. no stuttering, no variation in ticks beyond what might be in an NH35 (that i could notice).
wHAT i did notice after 24 hours versus my mac AND android phone, was that it lost 2.5 seconds in that time period, out of the box. that was with a very minimal 5-10 winds, and about 16 hours of low activity computer wear, and 10 hours face up. i've posted many times that Seikos routinely beat my 2000 brand NEW Rolex sub, which was about 10 secs a day off, which is outside of its chronometre status. so, i can say i'm pretty pleased with the last bit of this watch to be reviewed...the engine.
ALL iN ALL...this is clearly an acquired taste. like a wine aficionado being able to enjoy 2 buck chuck from Trader Joe's.
but for me it filled a few needs...getting a really ace looking Rolex sub homage with decent qualifications, even if Chinese, at a decent price. WiTHOUT some dopey name like 'corgeut' or 'parnis' on it, sounding like a foreign swearword. i also was curious to have an actual Chinese movement watch and see how it performed...kind of like a novelty. i'm very impressed with this novelty.
as an acquired taste, or niche one-off purchase, or if you like fun low end watches, this is certainly for you. it not only does not crash and burn, it pleasantly surprises. if you're going down to battle sharks...no. otherwise...you might like it. maybe love it.