WatchUSeek Watch Forums banner

1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well I know I had promised to give an in-depth review of the Beihai 3.0 that landed on my door step a few weeks ago...

Just a quick update - I haven't been able to wear the watch because...my wife loves the watch and it has been on her wrist while her Omega is being serviced :-d - in fact she's now suggesting that I wear the Seamaster for a while and she can hang onto the Beihai!

In any case - I suggest that's a big endorsement from a non-watch fan - my wife is usually quite picky about which watches she likes (Vostok Amphibias are a no in her books). She's gotten plenty of compliments from colleagues also so I think Beijing managed to produce quite a hit on the Beihai.

Once I manage to wrestle the watch back from my wife I'll produce some photos and own thoughts on the piece. On wrist accuracy has been very good so far.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
So I've finally got to spend 3-4 days wearing the watch on the wrist and here is my (hopefully) comprehensive review on the Beihai 3.0. I've divided the review into different sections so if you can skip to any section of particular interest.

1. History of the Beihai 3.0

This watch is made by the Beijing Watch Factory (prior to its joint venture/merger/being bought by Fiyta in 2015). It started in 2008 as the Beihai 1.0 limited edition celebrating 50 years of the Beijing Watch Factory (1958-2008). I had bought a Beihai 1.0 but returned it due to some issues with the watch (the stuttering seconds) and I, personally, thought the design might stray a little too close to Patek's Gondolo 5111 (with a difference in rectangular vs circular of course):

Here's the Beihai 1.0:
Beihai 1 by Secondfox, on Flickr

And the Patek Gondolo 5110:
Patek Gondolo 5111 by Secondfox, on Flickr

And of course there was the issue of some problems identified with the SB-18 movement used in the Beihai LE. I've written a translated post on the SB-18 and what modifications they introduced in the Beihai 3.0 and SB 18-6 - https://www.watchuseek.com/f72/beij...b18-6-important-changes-movement-4571775.html

As noted in that post I was so impressed by the changes to the movement and design that I put my money where my mouth was and ordered a Beihai 3.0 using the new SB 18-6 movement.


2. Technical specifications of the Beihai 3.0:



  • Hand-winding 21600 bph movement
  • Sapphire crystal on both sides (doesn't appear to be coated with AR coating)
  • 3/4 plate with geneva stripes
  • Swan neck regulator
  • Gold(plated) chatons
  • Date window at 3 o'clock
  • Power reserve appears to be around 58 hours (from online discussions)
  • Lizard skin strap
  • 38 x 9.5mm in size

3. Impressions:

Overview:
A. Positives:
  • New design combines the Patek elements with (to my knowledge) Beijing's own original design
  • For me - a date window - it's my most used feature in a watch other than to tell the time across all watch complications (moonphase, chronograph, countdown, power reserve etc.)
  • New SB 18-6 movement is as good as advertised - no more stuttering second hand
  • Caseback is an interesting look - different from your average rotor or manual wind watch caseback
  • Strap buckle is stamped with Beijing logo on underside
  • Overall design aesthetics
  • Indices applied and nicely beveled (along with beveled hands)
  • Hacks
  • Dial logo's change from English to Chinese
  • Light without feeling insubstantial

B. Neutral:
  • Ticking can be heard in quiet situations - it would be one of my louder mechanicals - it might even be the loudest mechanical I have currently. It is certainly noticeable but not enough to be annoying (to me at least).
  • Lack of AR coating - I didn't put it into the negative category as I haven't found it to be obtrusive and the dial is very legible (thanks Patek ;) !)
  • Could probably be thinner for what it is (3 hander with date)

C. Negative:
  • Date complication implementation is awkward - I'll expand on this below (it's important enough that it's my first negative on the list!) - this covers both the font, window, date disc
  • Guilloche bisects 12 indice at wrong spot.
  • 3 languages used on the watch - Chinese (understandable!), English (acceptable) and French (why?) - "lezard veritable(sic)" on the strap

To expand on the above:

This is a lovely watch. I've had it on my wrist for the last 3 days and I haven't been tempted to switch it off for my Tudor diver or Omega. Of course it is a very different style when compared to the tool watch that divers represent (though many people nowadays use these divers for desk diving). The watch is highly legible and I think Patek must have obviously put a lot of thought into them for use in the Gondolo and hence their appearance in the Beihai is equally eye-catching. The beveled edges on the indices and hands catch the light in beautiful ways - again, thanks to Patek for their design choice but also Beijing for translating this design faithfully into the Beihai. The mirror polish on the inner surfaces are eye perfect and I don't really intend to look at them through a loupe.

The watch sits light on the wrist - I'm used to wearing a "heavy" Tag Aquaracer/Omega Speedmaster/Tudor Pelagos - I don't have a Calatrava to compare it to however ;-). It seems to me that they could probably make the watch/movement thinner - I see Seagull have watches in the 8mm category so 9.5mm for a dress watch seems a little high. But there's no problem with the watch fitting underneath the cuffs of a shirt, even my 14mm Pelagos fits fine.

The strap has a buckle with the Tiananmen logo for BJWF underneath - not necessary and not noticeable in daily wear but it's a nice touch and I like that they went for the extra effort of making design choices that aren't seen by others or even the owner normally but it's there and done right for pride and design purposes (photos will follow).

The back is very nice and looks different to the usual rotor winding mechanism or manual wind barrels. It's highlighted with gold-plated chatons and the swan neck regulator - all nice design touches.

The watch has been keeping ok time considering it probably hasn't been serviced in the last 5 years or so - it's currently running at -20 seconds a day but I've seen a steady rate on the watch timer so I imagine a small regulation could push it up to a very good rate.

The date window is a sore point for me - I know some people don't like date windows at all in a dress watch but for me it's the most used feature of a watch besides actually telling the time. I always know what month it is, generally what day it is but quite often I need a reminder for what date it is. So I'm quite happy that the 3.0 has a date feature which wasn't present in the Beihai LE. However, I would say that it can be easily seen that the date feature is an "added on" feature rather than part of the original design. The reason for saying this is that the font is different to the 12 indice, the date disc colour (white) is different from the silver dial (this might not be an issue for the red or blue dial versions) and the date window is a bit abrupt with its square face (it's the only square on the circular dial with triangular hour indices and hands). The newest Beihai (now produced by Fiyta I think) 5.0 has addressed these issues - the date window is now round (which matches the circular dial) and the date disc's colour matches the dial - see here:
Beihai BG010006 - ???
Though if you buy the Beihai 5.0 you'll be paying a bit more (5000 Rmb = roughly 600-700 euro) and the indices have moved away from Patek's design - for better or worse. The date at 21 and 31 also chooses a different format to the 20-29 and 30 which I'm not a fan of.
So in essence - I do like the feature but its implementation in this version was a bit rough, not in keeping with the watch in general and one can see the improvements made in subsequent versions.

One of the things I think the designers overlooked with they switched from "blatant copy" of Patek's Gondolo design to their own dial design is that the guilloche lines run through the number 12 indice not between the 1 and 2 but roughly 20% into the 2...it's not hugely noticeable but for some if you notice it you'll never be able to un-see it :-d . Maybe there was a big debate down at BJWF between spacing out the 1 and 2 or running the line through the 2 in which case I'll just have to say that I think it might have looked better if the 1 and 2 was spaced out a little more and the line runs in-between the two numbers rather through one number.

Finally the three languages - I love they switched the "Beijing Watch" from the Beihai LE to "北京" in the 3.0. To maintain dial consistency I would have switched the "Made in China" to Chinese also but English is fine. What I don't get though is why their lizard skin strap (which wears nicely even in my second hand version) has "Lezard veritable" stamped in French. And bad French at that as it should be Lézard veritable - sadly I suspect they wanted to seem more "high-end" and only managed to embarass themselves with their poor implementation. Everything in Chinese would be perfect in my eyes - be Chinese and unashamedly so. No need for Häagen-Dazs English (Häagen-Dazs isn't a real word in any language and only chosen to sound European/exotic).

However - the three points above are minor quibbles - I don't read the strap, look that closely at the 12 indice and well the date feature is at least present :) - it is a lot of watch for the money and represents very good value for money. I bought my 2nd hand Beihai 3.0 for 180 euro off Ebay and I see trusthonestguy (Jun Liao) currently has a new one for $300. In this price range you're looking at a Tissot Visodate and I think the Beihai represents much better value when looking at its Swiss or Japanese peers.

I guess there is a "enticing" factor to the watch also - 2 or 3 of my wife's colleagues commented on her watch and asked her about it whereas when she normally wears her Cartier or Omega it's not remarked upon (perhaps because the Cartier and Omega are instantly recognisable) - but the fact is, in the 2 days my wife wore the watch people separately asked her about the watch and its details demonstrates to me that the watch is aesthetically pleasing and an eye-catcher for sure.

And now on to the photos!

IMG_20180204_142220 by Secondfox, on Flickr
Love that they went through the effort of deep stamping a logo on the inside of the buckle - similar to how Tudor put their logo on the inside of the Pelagos' clasp also.

IMG_20180204_141947 by Secondfox, on Flickr
Why Beijing why? Lezard o| without the accent

IMG_20180204_141412 by Secondfox, on Flickr
Dialside see the line going through the 2 in 12.

IMG_20180204_141813 by Secondfox, on Flickr
Movement side - lovely details throughout

IMG_20180204_141902 by Secondfox, on Flickr
Another angle

IMG_20180204_142118 by Secondfox, on Flickr
Here's a shot trying to replicate the look of light catching off the beveled hands/indices

IMG_20180204_142149 by Secondfox, on Flickr
And another.



Hopefully this review was useful to anyone interested in the Beihai. I think I can safely say that despite some of its shortcomings this watch will be remaining in my collection forever (unless another burglar breaks in :rodekaart touch wood!) The Beihai 3.0 improves a lot on the LE version mechanically and is produced by BJWF when it was still an independent watch factory (prior to the 49/51 joint venture with FIYTA) so I think it is similar to buying a little bit of history. If you like dress watches then I would highly recommend seeking out a copy for yourself.

If you have any questions not covered in my review above please let me know and I'll try my best to answer them.

Cheers!
Seagull/Beijingfan :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
In case anyone's wondering - my version of the Beihai 3.0 is a special version produced for a custom order - hence the caseback isn't engraved with the standard B 18-6 and BJWF text. Instead it has 国表 engraved in classical Chinese script. Guo biao means national watch.

Oh and another thing about the date feature in the Beihai that occurred to me - the Miyota 8200 which the SB-18 was based on actually carried a date complication so it's surprising that when Beijing reinserted it they (to me) missed on a few points. Additionally the date does not feature a quick change function - the date starts changing at around 10:30 and finishes at around 12:30. So I guess you can see that I clearly regard the date as the weakest point of the watch. I'm sure people who don't like dates on their dress watches would love if the thing was taken out completely but for me - I just gotta have a date feature :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,694 Posts
Excellent write up, well done.

It could just be me, but the 12 on all Beihais I've seen looks like the 2 is set slightly lower than the 1. I'd like to think of it as a stylistic design choice, although it is so subtle it comes off more like a manufacturing error. I don't know if other people see it.

The date window on your watch is not so bad. I don't like the one on my red Beihai, for reasons similar to your criticisms. Red dial & white date wheel is really stark, and needs to be implemented better. And if it has to be there at all, it would be good if it was a size that I could read.

I once bought a blue Beihai that had the same Chinese script engraved on the back. I believe the engraving indicates a limited run made for an enthusiasts' club/association, headed by (ex?) WUS member Marockong (sorry I don't recall the exact spelling). He had a shop on Tao Bao and was selling them. He delivered my purchase personally to my friend in Beijing. She said he was a really nice guy. (Unfortunately someone in China Post apparently liked the watch so much they kept it instead of sending it to me).

Your quibbles with your Beihai are far overshadowed by its good points and beauty. Congratulations.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Excellent write up, well done.

It could just be me, but the 12 on all Beihais I've seen looks like the 2 is set slightly lower than the 1. I'd like to think of it as a stylistic design choice, although it is so subtle it comes off more like a manufacturing error. I don't know if other people see it.

The date window on your watch is not so bad. I don't like the one on my red Beihai, for reasons similar to your criticisms. Red dial & white date wheel is really stark, and needs to be implemented better. And if it has to be there at all, it would be good if it was a size that I could read.

I once bought a blue Beihai that had the same Chinese script engraved on the back. I believe the engraving indicates a limited run made for an enthusiasts' club/association, headed by (ex?) WUS member Marockong (sorry I don't recall the exact spelling). He had a shop on Tao Bao and was selling them. He delivered my purchase personally to my friend in Beijing. She said he was a really nice guy. (Unfortunately someone in China Post apparently liked the watch so much they kept it instead of sending it to me).

Your quibbles with your Beihai are far overshadowed by its good points and beauty. Congratulations.
I've had another very close look and it seems to me that the 2 and 1 line up at 12. However there is a guilloche curve very close to the top of the 1 that can appear to elongate the top of the 1 so that it can look like the 1 is longer than the 2. I think if you look at the last photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/40045991762/ - you can see that the two indices do line up correctly. I agree from some angles there does seem to be a trick to the eye though.

And yes - I wholeheartedly recommend this watch as is - the 3 things I pointed out: date, 1-2 position and French writing - were all things that I think BJWF could easily and without much (or any) cost change to improve the watch further. Of course now with the Beihai 5.0 they have probably done all 3 as 1 - the date window, font(?) and disc colour is changed, 2 - they no longer use numeral indices or the circular guilloche and 3 - presumably they've removed the pseudo-French as well!

Still it's a pretty big price hike from 200-300 to go to 600-700 (though even at 700 euro I would think that the watch is "worth" that amount). It's just not as an insanely good "bargain" as a Beihai 3.0 for 200 is (as much as any veblen good can be a "bargain").

Put it this way - while I love my Vostok Amphibias - it's crazy to think for 3 Amphibias you could get one Beihai 3.0 when comparing the two on a finishing level etc.
 

·
Moderator: F72 and F71
Joined
·
8,169 Posts
I believe the engraving indicates a limited run made for an enthusiasts' club/association, headed by (ex?) WUS member Marockong (sorry I don't recall the exact spelling). He had a shop on Tao Bao and was selling them. He delivered my purchase personally to my friend in Beijing. She said he was a really nice guy.
Don't know about the engraving, but I can ask--Marockong (aka Koo Ning) is a friend, and a very nice guy :)

With Marco (nickname) in Tianjin...(and he does still have a site, as marockong626n at https://seagullwatch.taobao.com/)

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hey Ron - I'm almost sure the Beihai I have is one of Marco's custom pieces - I recall seeing a Chinese thread on iwatch365 or similar forum discussing details of his batch. 孔胖子 (or in English "Fatty Kong" (fatty in this case not being pejorative but rather jovial in nature)) is a pretty unique storefront name :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,694 Posts
Don't know about the engraving, but I can ask--Marockong (aka Koo Ning) is a friend, and a very nice guy :)...
It will be good to get to the bottom of it. My recollection is from detritus in my brain from several years ago, possibly swept up from this forum or elsewhere or my spy in China when she met Marockong.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
215 Posts
Your Beihai is exactly the same as mine which I got from official Beijing Watches Tmall, I doubt there is any customization on this one...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It's not a customisation per se - it's more that there was an original batch ordered by Marco initially and they were stamped with 国表 instead of the regular "Made by BJWAF B-18" text.

Don't think they have any actual differences to a regular Beihai 3.0.

See the Chinese discussions of Marco's version here:
https://tieba.baidu.com/p/3672717206
https://tieba.baidu.com/p/4807989196

I can't seem to find the original thread (might have been started by Marco himself) where he announces he will be putting in for an order of "limited" editions of the "国表“ text in white, blue and red dials.
Here's another thread on the "guo biao" inscribed versions:
??(S)B-18??????????????????3.0??_????|????xbiao.com -

Oh wait - found it!:

ctime ?????--??? ?? ????????

130 limited edition white dials and 70 limited edition blue dials - part of a LE set from the 国表馆 (National Watch Museum) - Marco may have some connection to the museum/organisation.
 

·
Moderator: F72 and F71
Joined
·
8,169 Posts
Don't know about the engraving, but I can ask--Marockong (aka Koo Ning) is a friend, and a very nice guy :)
marockong (Marco) told me today that the engraving is his own registered trademark/company logo. Seagullfan's post provides more info.

marco said: "the circular like a watch dial or watch case" and two Chinese characters: a traditional guo/國 for "China" or "State" or "Country", and a simplified biao/表 for "watch", making "China Watch" of "State/Country Watch"

He did not mention an organization, but he is prominent with the Tianjin Watch and Clock Collectors Association, so that's likely the connection. Also, the background of the photo of Marco and me is the China Watch and Clock Collector's Association private museum of domestic/national/state watches that's being mentioned. Photos of the museum here:

https://www.watchuseek.com/f72/albe...h-clock-collectors-private-museum-861261.html
 

·
Moderator: F72 and F71
Joined
·
8,169 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
215 Posts
from Beijing Watch official Tmall store (well, I presume!). Bought it during the 11.11 sales 2 years ago. I've bought another one at the same time from their official store on JD.com but it didn't come with the same logo, just with normal writings.
 

·
Moderator: F72 and F71
Joined
·
8,169 Posts
from Beijing Watch official Tmall store (well, I presume!).
Do you still have the link to the TMall store you bought it from?
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
Top