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  1. #11
    Member Monkey_like_watch's Avatar
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    Re: First ever Chinese mechanical pocket watch ... with wrist watch movement

    Quote Originally Posted by Chascomm View Post
    While we're talking wristwatch-movement pocket watches, did you know that Zuanshi also used the SM1AK in a pocket watch...
    Wow!
    I had no idea. I haven't ventured too deep into vintage Chinese pocket watches, but now I have a reason to look.
    Thanks, Chascomm

  2. #12
    Member saskwatch's Avatar
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    Re: First ever Chinese mechanical pocket watch ... with wrist watch movement

    Quote Originally Posted by Monkey_like_watch View Post
    That is a very good question, and something that Saskwatch or AlbertaTime might have more information about; from what I have read, the golden age of the tongji was in the 1970's; production has gotten subsequently worse since then.(per Wikipedia)
    China was also hit with the quartz crisis.

    Realize that each factory made a version of the tongji. Some were definitely better than others.
    The best vintage examples of Standard(tongji) watches include Shanghai, Chunlei (Shanghai), Shuangling (Beijing), Polaris (Yantai) and Xihu (Hangzhou). -source: China Watch Wiki

    Also, some factories didn't have to make the tongji. Sea-Gull had the ST5, ZuanShi had the SM1AK ( an incredible movement), and ZhongShan had a 9 jewel SN2 movement, which happens to be my least favorite movement to work on. I have bungled two of those movements trying to get the train wheel bridge and the train of wheels to meet up. Luckily. they are only 25rmb for a new movement, and now I have lots of extra SN2 parts.
    I believe the highest quality tongjis are the early versions, but standards remained high well into the 1980s. The quartz crisis hit China later than other countries in a large part because of the success of the tongji. It was less expensive to manufacture than a quartz movement, and overproduction in the early 1980s meant there was a plentiful supply. Repairs cost less than replacing batteries. It took a few years for market conditions to change.

    There were differences in quality between tongjis. In an old thread, soviet shared a price list from 1983 which also indicated the grade levels of a large number of watches. Different watch brands were assigned a grade based on quality and performance. There were four different grades -- grade 1 was the highest and grade 4 the lowest. Only 10 watch factories made grade 1 watches that year. That included Sea-Gull and ZuanShi, so only eight factories made grade 1 tongjis in 1983. They were Shanghai, Shanghai No. 2, Beijing, Liaoning, Guangzhou, Xian Hongqi, Shijiazhuang, and Chongqing. But not all of the movements produced by the "grade 1" factories could meet the standard. They found their way into watches with other brand names, made either by the same factory or outsourced to another.

    All of these watch factories were still state-owned at this time. Chongqing Clock & Watch Company is an interesting case. From another old thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by saskwatch View Post
    The fact that there is no factory name on the Shanhua and, unlike the Kunlun, it has an unmarked crown caused me to wonder whether the watches were made by the same factory. I noticed that the name on the back of the Kunlun is not Chongqing Watch Factory, but Chongqing Clock and Watch Company. I decided to try to find more information about it. I knew I wouldn’t find anything in English, so I searched in Chinese. The only thing I could find was that the factory closed at some point.

    Not expecting to find anything useful, I searched in English as a last resort, and to my surprise I struck gold. Google Books has lengthy excerpts from Chinese Industrial Firms under Reform, a 1992 World Bank Publication. One of its case studies was Chongqing Clock and Watch Company, chosen in part because it was an early experiment in financial reform of a consumer durables producer. There are pages and pages of information. Much of it is about the effects of reorganisation on the company in the first few years of the 1980s, but there is a significant amount about the Chinese watch industry in general too. I found a copy and bought it for less than $5 plus shipping.

    From the book: Chongqing Clock and Watch Factory was founded at the site of the failed Chongqing Musical Instrument Factory in the early 1960s. Experimental watches were produced beginning in 1970, but full-scale production wasn't approved until 1977. It became an enterprise-type industrial corporation in 1980, adopting the name Chongqing Clock and Watch Company. This unique status at the time involved merging with seven enterprises and a significant amount of investment in some others. Some of its watch parts were produced by these associated factories. It sold parts to factories in other cities in Sichuan, Yunnan, and Guizhou, and was by far the largest producer of watches in southwest China.

    Shanhua watches were introduced in 1981 and sold very well. Due to some machinery problems beginning in the same year, the company had difficulty meeting the national standards for its grade 1 Shancheng brand watches, and in 1982 it used these substandard movements to create a new grade 3 brand, Kunlun. With the cooperation of Chongqing’s municipal government, the company sold Kunlun brand watches for RMB 45 each, below the minimum price (RMB 50) set by national authorities for a grade 3 tongji watch, thus undercutting its competition. There are a number of examples of the company similarly bending other rules. Kunlun watches were a huge success.

    Once Chongqing worked out its mechanical problems, it found another way to get around fixed prices: it changed its product mix by increasing the proportion of Shanhua and Kunlun watches it produced. In order to achieve this, the company upgraded the quality of all of its brands. For example, Shanhua dials and casebacks were put on watches that would otherwise qualify as grade 1, while the very best movements were reserved for the Shancheng brand. The resulting increase in quality of all grades of Chongqing’s watches improved their reputation, and as a result their sales. This practice was not unique to Chongqing, and in the 1980s some other factories did the same thing. After price reductions on all grades in 1984, demand for grade 2 and 3 watches dropped. By 1985 Chongqing was producing grade 1 watches almost exclusively.
    I suspect the ZCQ tongji in the pocket watch would be a grade 2 or 3 movement outsourced to a different factory. Which factory? I don't know, but Chascomm's Hong Kong suggestion is plausible.
    See my collection of Vintage Chinese Mechanical watches at myvcms.com

  3. #13
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    Re: First ever Chinese mechanical pocket watch ... with wrist watch movement

    Thanks for the wealth of information, Saskwatch.

    Also, I found a free PDF of "Chinese Industrial Firms Under Reform" By Banco Mundia from the World Bank, for anyone interested in reading it:
    http://documents.worldbank.org/curat...multi-page.pdf
    Last edited by Monkey_like_watch; 1 Week Ago at 12:31.
    saskwatch likes this.

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  5. #14
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    Re: First ever Chinese mechanical pocket watch ... with wrist watch movement

    Quote Originally Posted by saskwatch View Post
    I believe the highest quality tongjis are the early versions, but standards remained high well into the 1980s. The quartz crisis hit China later than other countries in a large part because of the success of the tongji. It was less expensive to manufacture than a quartz movement, and overproduction in the early 1980s meant there was a plentiful supply. Repairs cost less than replacing batteries. It took a few years for market conditions to change.

    There were differences in quality between tongjis. In an old thread, soviet shared a price list from 1983 which also indicated the grade levels of a large number of watches. Different watch brands were assigned a grade based on quality and performance. There were four different grades -- grade 1 was the highest and grade 4 the lowest. Only 10 watch factories made grade 1 watches that year. That included Sea-Gull and ZuanShi, so only eight factories made grade 1 tongjis in 1983. They were Shanghai, Shanghai No. 2, Beijing, Liaoning, Guangzhou, Xian Hongqi, Shijiazhuang, and Chongqing. But not all of the movements produced by the "grade 1" factories could meet the standard. They found their way into watches with other brand names, made either by the same factory or outsourced to another.

    All of these watch factories were still state-owned at this time. Chongqing Clock & Watch Company is an interesting case. From another old thread:



    I suspect the ZCQ tongji in the pocket watch would be a grade 2 or 3 movement outsourced to a different factory. Which factory? I don't know, but Chascomm's Hong Kong suggestion is plausible.
    This is such a trove of historical facts about an interesting time!

    Which brings another question. Since there were so much surplus of tongji during the transition of BOTH the watch industry and the Chinese economy, the 1980s. Could it be possible that today's cheaply made tongji watches are STILL using very old movements from then, buying for almost nothing truckloads of extra movements that are now 30+ years old and putting them into today's cases?
    Climbing and falling, with tip of tongue
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    three men remembers their bitter ex-dates
    passing by, their names flipped into a bottom

  6. #15
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    Re: First ever Chinese mechanical pocket watch ... with wrist watch movement

    Quote Originally Posted by saskwatch View Post
    I believe the highest quality tongjis are the early versions, but standards remained high well into the 1980s. The quartz crisis hit China later than other countries in a large part because of the success of the tongji. It was less expensive to manufacture than a quartz movement, and overproduction in the early 1980s meant there was a plentiful supply. Repairs cost less than replacing batteries. It took a few years for market conditions to change.

    There were differences in quality between tongjis. In an old thread, soviet shared a price list from 1983 which also indicated the grade levels of a large number of watches. Different watch brands were assigned a grade based on quality and performance. There were four different grades -- grade 1 was the highest and grade 4 the lowest. Only 10 watch factories made grade 1 watches that year. That included Sea-Gull and ZuanShi, so only eight factories made grade 1 tongjis in 1983. They were Shanghai, Shanghai No. 2, Beijing, Liaoning, Guangzhou, Xian Hongqi, Shijiazhuang, and Chongqing. But not all of the movements produced by the "grade 1" factories could meet the standard. They found their way into watches with other brand names, made either by the same factory or outsourced to another.

    All of these watch factories were still state-owned at this time. Chongqing Clock & Watch Company is an interesting case. From another old thread:



    I suspect the ZCQ tongji in the pocket watch would be a grade 2 or 3 movement outsourced to a different factory. Which factory? I don't know, but Chascomm's Hong Kong suggestion is plausible.
    Thanks Mate - I just didn't expect the innocent question regarding the origins of my "2 bob Chinese watch" movement would stir up such bubble bursting a debate. But you know what - I'm glad I've asked.
    Last edited by Old Navman; 1 Week Ago at 03:20.
    watchcrank and saskwatch like this.
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  7. #16
    Member saskwatch's Avatar
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    Re: First ever Chinese mechanical pocket watch ... with wrist watch movement

    Quote Originally Posted by Wandering Ben View Post
    Which brings another question. Since there were so much surplus of tongji during the transition of BOTH the watch industry and the Chinese economy, the 1980s. Could it be possible that today's cheaply made tongji watches are STILL using very old movements from then, buying for almost nothing truckloads of extra movements that are now 30+ years old and putting them into today's cases?
    What a great question! I wish I knew the answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Navman View Post
    Thanks Mate - I just didn't the innocent question regarding the origins of my "2 bob Chinese watch" movement would stir up such bubble bursting a debate. But you know what - I'm glad I've asked.
    I'm glad you asked too.

    A correction to my previous post:

    Quote Originally Posted by saskwatch View Post
    Only 10 watch factories made grade 1 watches that year.
    I forgot that Shanghai brand women's watches were made by both Shanghai and Shanghai Third Watch Factories. So it's likely there were 11 of them. These women's watches didn't use the tongji.
    Monkey_like_watch likes this.
    See my collection of Vintage Chinese Mechanical watches at myvcms.com

  8. #17
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    Re: First ever Chinese mechanical pocket watch ... with wrist watch movement

    I keep finding more "troublesome" Chinese pieces in the recently received lot of steampunk stuff. I'm pretty sure it's the last Chinese watch though. Another Valro (wouldn't you know it) this time quartz. Would it possibly be from a similar period as the ZCQ - mid to late 1980-1990's?

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  9. #18
    Member Monkey_like_watch's Avatar
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    Re: First ever Chinese mechanical pocket watch ... with wrist watch movement

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Navman View Post
    I keep finding more "troublesome" Chinese pieces in the recently received lot of steampunk stuff. I'm pretty sure it's the last Chinese watch though. Another Valro (wouldn't you know it) this time quartz. Would it possibly be from a similar period as the ZCQ - mid to late 1980-1990's?
    Old Navman,

    I seriously doubt any connection to mainland China with this watch, and I now doubt any mainland connection to the previous Valro except for the tongji movement; which I suspect is a NOS movement put in a watch that was created at a later date than the movement's production date ,and at a location outside mainland China.

    The fact that I can't find any reference to a "Valro" on Baidu, Taobao or Salty Fish confirms my suspicions that this is a non-mainland watch. Heck, I can't even find reference to another Valro on Google or using the waybackmachine either, which I am sure you have tried to do as well.

    BTW, I find it very hard to believe that a Chinese watch company(especially in the 1980's or 1990's) would state "Japan Mov't" on their watch dial or even use a Japanese movement during the 1980s.

    I will go with Chascomm on this and state that this is likely a watch made in HK or maybe even Japan or...
    At the end of the day, these are no-name, inexpensive pocket watches. If you like them, use them and be happy with them.

    Lastly, if you want a real piece of vintage Chinese horology then search the f72 forum or PM Saskwatch or AlbertaTime or myself. There are many VCMs worth collecting that will bring you great joy and have actual Chinese horology. As has been stated, the other Valro has a 2nd or 3rd grade tongji movement; a 2nd or 3rd grade tongji does't have any horological value except for something like a rare double phoenix dial Zhongshan SN2 or other rare dial VCM.
    My two cents.

  10. #19
    Member Old Navman's Avatar
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    Re: First ever Chinese mechanical pocket watch ... with wrist watch movement

    Quote Originally Posted by Monkey_like_watch View Post
    Old Navman,

    I seriously doubt any connection to mainland China with this watch, and I now doubt any mainland connection to the previous Valro except for the tongji movement; which I suspect is a NOS movement put in a watch that was created at a later date than the movement's production date ,and at a location outside mainland China.

    The fact that I can't find any reference to a "Valro" on Baidu, Taobao or Salty Fish confirms my suspicions that this is a non-mainland watch. Heck, I can't even find reference to another Valro on Google or using the waybackmachine either, which I am sure you have tried to do as well.

    BTW, I find it very hard to believe that a Chinese watch company(especially in the 1980's or 1990's) would state "Japan Mov't" on their watch dial or even use a Japanese movement during the 1980s.

    I will go with Chascomm on this and state that this is likely a watch made in HK or maybe even Japan or...
    At the end of the day, these are no-name, inexpensive pocket watches. If you like them, use them and be happy with them.

    Lastly, if you want a real piece of vintage Chinese horology then search the f72 forum or PM Saskwatch or AlbertaTime or myself. There are many VCMs worth collecting that will bring you great joy and have actual Chinese horology. As has been stated, the other Valro has a 2nd or 3rd grade tongji movement; a 2nd or 3rd grade tongji does't have any horological value except for something like a rare double phoenix dial Zhongshan SN2 or other rare dial VCM.
    My two cents.
    For a bubble bursting person I admit you did write a lot about these inexpensive watches. That fact they were inexpensive, which is something that was never in doubt, even my kids could tell.
    And if you read my posts more carefully I've never asked or had the desire to know about the values. It was always about the dating movement an/or the watch. In any case, it's admirable
    that for such obscure pieces you did bother checking out those facts as stated above. And thanks for offering your advise and volunteering the others regarding purchasing Chinese
    watches - I think I'll stick with the US and the Swiss ones for now.
    Nobody knows Everything, but Everybody knows Something!


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