Collecting Shanghai A581 watches
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  1. #1
    Moderator soviet's Avatar
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    Collecting Shanghai A581 watches

    Hello members,

    I heard of Shanghai A581 watches as a collectable vintage Chinese watch 2-3 years ago that was long before I was ever interested in watches. I bought my first vintage watch in last April, a vintage Soviet Almaz. I also have a vintage Soviet Almaz 135mm SLR. I have been a vintage camera collector since about 10 years ago. And there is also a Shanghai 58-1 Chinese Leica copy that now could cost US$2,000-3,000 for a clean example. Less than 2,000 Shanghai 58-1 cameras were made. That is not the case for A581 watches. I would guess 2-3 million A581 watches were made between 1958-1965?

    Since local and foreign watch collectors already collected Shanghai A581 watches for a few years, clean Shanghai A581 watches are not that easy to find and their price has been on the rise in recent years. Today, some good examples could cost $20-40, still a good price for a significant vintage Chinese watch IMHO.

    I heard that Shanghai A581 watches has more than 30 dial variations, and collectors will try to find as many dial variations as possible to make their A581 watch collection complete.

    Here are some examples from my humble collection that is no where comparable to some others impressive collections. I heard that the one with 2,4,6,8,10,12 hour markers is a rare version. But mine is in less than ideal condition. Shanghai A 581 watch without a date code under the balance is also an earlier and less common version. probably only a few thousands were made in the early half of 1959. I am no expert on A581 watch collecting. There might be other rare versions.

    On the 50th anniversary of Shanghai Watch fatory, some limited re-issue A581 watches were made with recovered and refinished old original movements from second hand markets, and sold for RMB1,800. They were grabbed up by those collectors and it is said that they already demand a much higher price.

    Thanks for reading and viewing.

    Zhang
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  2. #2
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    Re: Collecting Shanghai A581 watches

    Hi Zhang, Very nice collection! I didn't realize that you have only been collecting for such a short period of time. To build up a collection in such a short time is impressive. I will post pictures of my 581s when I get home. I am so disappointed at the loss of all the earlier posts, which was a wealth of information.


    On another matter which may be of interest... I recently acquired my 4th Shanghai "Air Force" watch! :) The watch is in generally good condtion, but the plastic bezel has all be deteriorated to dust, and is now unattached to the watch... will scan picture later as well...:)

  3. #3
    Moderator soviet's Avatar
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    Re: Collecting Shanghai A581 watches

    Quote Originally Posted by infinitime
    Hi Zhang, Very nice collection! I didn't realize that you have only been collecting for such a short period of time. To build up a collection in such a short time is impressive. I will post pictures of my 581s when I get home. I am so disappointed at the loss of all the earlier posts, which was a wealth of information.


    On another matter which may be of interest... I recently acquired my 4th Shanghai "Air Force" watch! :) The watch is in generally good condtion, but the plastic bezel has all be deteriorated to dust, and is now unattached to the watch... will scan picture later as well...:)
    Hi Derek, I am very pleased that you are finally back! Since my son has graduated and got his master degree, I have some extra money to burn, so that I found another good hobby. Earlier Shanghai watches are my favorite Chinese watches,especially those with 1950's classical style with long hands and pie pan dials. I would love to see your nice and impressive Chinese watch collection again. You really have some very rare and nice watches that I am not sure if I could have the good luck to find.

    Another"Air Force" watch? Do you mean the Tianjin 1962 chronograph or the 24,and 29 jewels Shanghai Military officers watch? Either one is a great catch. Please share the images of these rare watches with us.

    Cheers,

    Zhang

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  5. #4
    Mod. Russian, China Mech. Chascomm's Avatar
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    Re: Collecting Shanghai A581 watches

    Quote Originally Posted by soviet
    I heard that the one with 2,4,6,8,10,12 hour markers is a rare version. But mine is in less than ideal condition
    Less than ideal condition it may be but it is still my favourite of that group But they're all beautiful watches. As you commented once before, this is a timeless style.

  6. #5
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    Re: Collecting Shanghai A581 watches

    Quote Originally Posted by soviet
    Hi Derek, I am very pleased that you are finally back! Since my son has graduated and got his master degree, I have some extra money to burn, so that I found another good hobby. Earlier Shanghai watches are my favorite Chinese watches,especially those with 1950's classical style with long hands and pie pan dials. I would love to see your nice and impressive Chinese watch collection again. You really have some very rare and nice watches that I am not sure if I could have the good luck to find.
    Zhang
    Hi Zhang, congratulation on your son's graduation from the Master's program! Adding to your pictures of the 581, here's a group shot of some of my favorites, with some unique dial variants. Sadly, the text on the one at the far right is completely gone. Interesting, that is also the one with no date stamp under the balance wheel, which leads me to believe it was one of the earlier ones, possibly manufactured in 1959. :)

    I will post a picture of my Shanghai 24-jewel military watches under a separate thread.... :)

    Cheers,
    Derek
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  7. #6
    Moderator soviet's Avatar
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    Re: Collecting Shanghai A581 watches

    Quote Originally Posted by infinitime
    Hi Zhang, congratulation on your son's graduation from the Master's program! Adding to your pictures of the 581, here's a group shot of some of my favorites, with some unique dial variants. Sadly, the text on the one at the far right is completely gone. Interesting, that is also the one with no date stamp under the balance wheel, which leads me to believe it was one of the earlier ones, possibly manufactured in 1959. :)

    I will post a picture of my Shanghai 24-jewel military watches under a separate thread.... :)

    Cheers,
    Derek
    Derek, Thanks. That is a very impressive A581 collection you have got there. Those black dial Shanghai A581s are very rare in any conditions. Until now I have seen only one worn example, and still it demands a very high price. O| In fact, any earlier Shangai watches, A581,A611, are very hard to find in clean condition now. Even clean Shanghai 1120 model watches are being sought after these days. A clean 1120 model watch demands a higher price now than a clean A581 would cost just about half a year ago.
    I feel that many people now realized the value of these earlier vintage Chinese watches. A clean Shanghai A581 already sells at many times of the price of a common Swiss and Japanese watches of about the same age. If the price rises so fast, I am not sure if I can still afford them this year.

    Even a clean 1120 watch sells at 2-3 times of a similar Enicar or Seiko.

    Here is an image of a Shanghai 1120 that was sold dirt cheap just half a year ago.
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    Last edited by soviet; February 18th, 2006 at 16:14.

  8. #7
    Moderator soviet's Avatar
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    Re: Collecting Shanghai A581 watches

    Quote Originally Posted by Chascomm
    Less than ideal condition it may be but it is still my favourite of that group But they're all beautiful watches. As you commented once before, this is a timeless style.
    I heard that there is a general rule for the value of vintage watches that Arabic numberd dials are more valuable than Roman numbered dials, and in turn Roman numbered dials are more valuable than stripe hour marks dials.

    A second rule is that textured dials and colour dials are more valuable than plain color and smooth dials, and the 3rd rule is that pie pan dials are more vauable than flat dials.

    In the case of Shanghai A581 watches, it seems that the more arabic numbers the better. There is a rare all arabic hour numbered A581. I will try to find an image of it FYI.

  9. #8
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    Re: Collecting Shanghai A581 watches

    These shanghai

    i don't have new chinese since 2 month, all my money this month is gone hunting (for me and a friend) some vintage pocket computer casio-sharp-tandy :-D

  10. #9
    Moderator soviet's Avatar
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    Re: Collecting Shanghai A581 watches

    Quote Originally Posted by Chascomm
    Less than ideal condition it may be but it is still my favourite of that group But they're all beautiful watches. As you commented once before, this is a timeless style.
    Here is an image of the rare all arabic number dial Shanghai A581 and some other dials. I borrowed the images from a Chinese site. These watches are owned by a young Chinese collector who said that he already has a few hundreds of A581s of various dials.
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  11. #10
    Moderator soviet's Avatar
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    Re: Collecting Shanghai A581 watches

    Quote Originally Posted by bestak
    These shanghai

    i don't have new chinese since 2 month, all my money this month is gone hunting (for me and a friend) some vintage pocket computer casio-sharp-tandy :-D
    Are you a vintage watch collector, bestak? If so, please allocate some money for vintage Chinese watches, especially those clean Shanghai A581s. I feel these are a good investment.

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