Howdy f72 gurus,
In response to feedback I've been receiving on my recently launched timing study (posted here in F2), I'm in the process of broadening my collection to help increase the representativeness of my study sample. Quick recap for those of you who aren't overly fond of posts with graphs word counts in the 1000s--I systematically and repeatedly tested a dozen watches for precision, accuracy, and movement health. The Swiss (ETA) watches dominated, the Japanese (Seikos and Orient) were adequate/ok, and the Chinese were, with one exception (described below), terrible. Of the groups tested, however, the Chinese were most disadvantaged by "sample composition," i.e. the overall quality of the watches I included in the study. The Swiss watches were all brand new, ETA-powered timepieces with (heavily discounted) purchase prices in the $300-400 range. The Japanese sample had some lower priced wares, but still included watches in the $400 range. The Chinese watches, by contrast, consisted of two fashion watches and a pair of throwaway tongjis that cost <~15 apiece. An "apples to apples" comparison this was not. It is this imbalance I hope to correct by sampling some higher quality Chinese movements.
The problem is that I know next to nothing about Chinese watchmaking history, quality (perceived or actual), or reputation beyond what little I've gleaned on WUS (this is my first visit to the Chinese forum). From what I have seen, Chinese watches generate some rather "enthusiastic" debate around here, including a fair bit of vitriol by those who put a premium on concepts like intellectual property and originality. For the purposes of this project (and hence this post), I will respectfully ignore these concerns.
[Aside alert! please skip to next paragraph to resume discussion about watches) Not that I don't appreciate people's positions (even passions) on the matter. My views are just a bit more nuanced, and for purposes of this post, irrelevant. Yes, a disproportionate share of the world's copies, knock-offs, homages, etc. come from China. I suppose their watches are no different than their cars, purses, or cellphones in this regard. But the Chinese watchmakers are not the only industry guilty of this particular sin, no? I suspect it is the sheer prevalence of the practice in China (vs. other places) that folks seem to find so distasteful, though I cannot help but notice a tinge of other sentiments (e.g. ethnocentrism) that might give rise to the vilification of our Sino neighbors and their "copy & paste" economy (from a recent post here). More importantly, I find much of the reasoning behind the China-bashing to be somewhat contradictory, even naive. On one hand, we Westerners have been instrumental in shaping/pushing/cheering every shift in the Chinese political economy toward Capitalism (and away from that other "C" word), and yet when the Chinese (modernizing but still poor by Western standards) dutifully carry out that most Capitalist of behaviors--supplying what the market demands--we cry foul!? Reminds me in a way of the hypocrisy of those who bemoan Chinese labor practices (which are often terrible, but that's besides the point) while decrying anything north of Walmart/Target prices as too expensive. So we want it all on the cheap AND we want it to not be made in a sweatshop? How, exactly, does that work? [aside over]
My introduction to Chinese movements happened by accident. My first autowinding watch was a fashion watch--a $60 Kenneth Cole skeleton with what I now believe to be a Sea-Gull 2807 movement. I bought it because it looked interesting and because I wanted to see what this "automatic" watch business was about (at the time, I assumed most "real" watches had batteries, !.Q!). Two years and over a dozen new mechanical watches later, this lowly fashion watch remains my personal favorite. Not just because it set me on this wonderful, terrible, time-consuming mechanical watch "hobby," but because it's actually a fine performing watch in its own right. Here is a short blurb from my write -up:
this Seiko SARX really any less "inspired" by the Omega???), and I also find this aged-look military chrono with moonphase to be quite distinctive looking (if not downright attractive), which suggests that not all Chinese watches are just remakes of other designs.
Is this a good timepiece? Good movement? Is $370 a good price for this piece?
What are the differences between the Sea-Gulls on Amazon (like this one) and the ones ordered straight from China? Are there other Sea-Gulls (or brands) I should be looking at? Any feedback from folks who know these watches would be much appreciated.