(those my age or older will recognize the reference to the 1960s cold war comedy: The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!)
I know many folks here on WUS have an aversion to all things Chinese and I used to be one of them. I viewed Chinese watches as mass-produced junk with no QA whatsoever and mostly cheap knock-offs. After reading a couple of reviews of PerpetuaL watches I became intrigued: those watches seemed to be original and of very decent quality. So I started lurking around the Chinese Mechanical Watches forum and discovered that while the cheap knock-offs still make up the bulk of the Chinese production, there are a few small watchmakers who have started to design and make fantastic watches that offer unparalleled value. The big factories (BWAF, Shanghai, Sea-Gull) also got in on the action and started producing "premium" watches and even grand complications.
These watches tend to have very original designs with a sense of esthetics informed by the rich and ancient Chinese cultural heritage. These watches also show very-good quality control and they have started to use the expression "Made in China with Pride" to set themselves apart from the "Made in China" which is synonymous with cheap junk for much of the world. But the fact is that the Chinese are more than capable of producing good stuff, as evidenced by the fact that some of the world's most respected companies like Apple and Bosch (and err, Swiss watch companies) now manufacture much of their stuff in China.
What was missing to the equation was the PRIDE aspect. Chinese manufacturing tends to be all about high volumes, low cost and cheap copies and more often then not lacks any desire to design and manufacture good stuff. But now the likes of Celadon and PerpetuaL are small shops run by real watchmakers who take great pride in their craft. At the same time, the best factories are also stepping up their craft.
So after discovering this treasure throve of affordable watches and fresh excuses to spend money I decided to try one on for myself. I read a glowing review of the PerpetuaL R-01 at WhatchitAllAbout (link) so I took the plunge and ordered one. Had to go on a waiting list and it took a few weeks, but it was more than worth the wait. I think it is a fantastic looking watch and an astonishing value for the money ($150). It will definitely not be my last Chinese watch.
Here's my watch:
I think we will hear a lot more from Chinese watchmakers in the coming years. I certainly plan to enjoy a few more of their watches, but quickly, as the prices are already rising rapidly along with their reputation.