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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I was browsing through Chinese watch forums again and repeatedly seeing Chinese posters mentioning that the B18-6 movement found in later Beihai's (and other Beijing watches) is a big improvement on the original SB-18 found in the LE Beihai 1.0s.

Tonight I finally found a Chinese forum post that explains exactly why the SB-18 had such a problematic life (if people have long memories they may remember I bought a Beihai off Jun Liao/Trusthonestguy and the ensuring car crash that came after I returned it) - namely the jumping seconds (caused by an indirectly driven 6 o'clock subdial) and apparently slipping mainspring barrels.

The following thread gives an indepth look at the history of the SB-18 and the changes introduced by the B18-6 iteration:
北表(S)B-18机芯的新老交替,国表馆定制限量版北海3.0入手_北京社区|腕表之家xbiao.com -

A quick translation for those who don't read Chinese (or who can't be bothered with using google translate :-d;-) )

1. History - Chinese movements used to be named S - for watch (shou) and then the location - B = Beijing, T = Tianjin (Sea-gull), S = Shanghai, Z = China. Sea-gull is now the only company that continues to use this naming convention - ST2130, ST25, ST6 etc. Shanghai group moved away from SS movements a long time ago and Beijing moved away from SB (in Chinese SB is slang for stupid v*gina - understandably they didn't want to keep that naming notation!)

2. The problems with the SB-18 - as the movement is pretty much a clone of the Miyota 8200 movement with the auto-winding mechanism removed it came with the Miyota's idiosyncrasies - A. The 4/5 o'clock 4th (second) wheel and B. the mainspring anti-reversing mechanism - whereas many movements use the well known click to prevent the mainspring barrel from slipping during winding the Miyota built the 8200's system into the auto-winding mechanism.

The SB-18 dealt with these two issues thusly:
A. It used 2 more gears/wheels to bring the 4/5 o'clock seconds hand to the 6 o'clock position - and since this is an indirectly driven sub-dial it is common to see the jumping seconds issue - the same thing occurs for Miyotas also.
B. This was an interesting one - because the SB-18 is a handwind movement and the 8200 is an auto-winding movement obviously the SB-18 no longer has an auto-winding mechanism...but since the mainspring barrel retention system was built into the auto-winding system and placed far away from the mainspring barrel a workaround had to be found. The workaround was to create a super long pawl (the thread shows a picture of the pawl and it's about the size a balance wheel) with a notch that reaches from the old Miyota system place to latch onto the mainspring barrel. Apparently this pawl was easy to damage and cause issues in regards to mainspring barrel slippage.

So what does the B18-6 bring to the table?
1. The movement has been quite clearly redesigned - the 4th wheel has been moved to the 6 o'clock position - this means that the sub-dial seconds' hand is now directly driven and not indirect as with the SB-18. This should mean that jumping seconds should no longer occur.

2. The photos in the Chinese thread show that the long pawl has been removed and the movement now has a different/standard(?) barrel retention mechanism. The author of the thread seemed to be happy that they've fixed the issue properly vs the ad-hock nature of the SB-18 solution.


The author states at the end that whatever similarities the movement used to share with the 8200, the new 18-6 has been completely redesigned and Beijing can happily call it their own movement.

In fact, after doing all my research into the movement over the past few days I've put my money where my mouth is and purchased a Beihai 3.0 with the B18-6 movement - I guess for me it'll be a nostalgia factor of when Beijing was still independent and not part of Fiyta and they had classical rather than contemporary designs (though the bevelled date holes in the Beihai 6.0s are quite nice too). After being disappointed with my SB-18 Beihai hopefully the new (to me) Beihai 3.0 will be a keeper for many years to come :)

Thought it would be useful for someone else to have a read (and at least preserve an English version of the watch movement evolution history).
 

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Thanks for the trouble to explain the improvements.

Do you have a picture of your new watch?
 

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I am so glad you took the trouble of translating and posting that here. I was thinking about doing it but couldn't gather enough energy!
 

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Thank you for sharing these valuable technical insights into a couple of watch movements that have been seen so often on this forum.

On the subject of taking the classic Miyota layout and realigning it so that the 4th wheel is at 6 0'clock, Sea-Gull did this back in the early 2000s with the ST16 to create the ST17, and it appears that Dixmont Guangzhou have more recently followed a similar path with the DG28.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the trouble to explain the improvements.

Do you have a picture of your new watch?
Just bought the watch on 11.11 as a treat for myself (or rather using up my 2018 watch buying quota...) but will be sure to post photos once I get it and polish up the case with some cape cod.
 

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I asked BWAF what improvements were made and this is their response in Chinese below. I'll parse it and translate it as soon as I can, but thought I'd post the original text to prevent confusion.

1、将秒轮从5点位移到6点位,秒针可以直接装在秒轮轴上,不再有秒跳的现象。

2、上夹板的外形因为移动秒轮位置而有变化,但仍保持了3/4夹板的神韵。主夹板的一些孔座标相应修改。

3、增加了日历功能。

4、恢复了离合轮、立轮这一经典的手上链机构(原板是为配合自动上弦而设计的手上链机构)。彻底改善了手上链的工作可靠性和上链手感。
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I do think that their confirmation puts their protestations back in circa 2008 that the SB-18 is designed in-house and not just a redesigned Miyota 8200 with auto-winding mechanism removed into the "unbelievable" category.

If the design was purely in-house, why would they choose a mainspring barrel retention mechanism that suits an auto-winding mechanism when the SB-18 is meant to be handwinding only (and a 3/4 plate means that it can't possibly be an automatic anyway)? Open to correction on 3/4 plate automatic movements though!

Anyway - I think it's useful that they've moved on from the SB-18 to the 18-6 and applaud them on that :)

I find Chinese posters can often be the harshest critics of their own watches - I guess 1) they have greater access to reference materials/sources of info in their native language and 2) they really do want the Chinese companies to succeed and thus have high expectations. So a lot of the analysis found on the Chinese forums are really valuable for us outsiders.

From a number of Chinese threads I have read that people feeling "burnt" by the SB-18 movement and BJWAF lost a bit of reputation from that episode. But with the 18-6 I see in the Chinese threads people saying that the earlier kinks have been worked out so that the Beihai's can be recommended again.

Currently my Beihai 3.0 is en route from Beijing as I speak - it only cost me €183 in the end so I am expecting to be very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the piece ;)

Will be sure to post up photos and a review once I get it.
 

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Yeah the SB18 has a bad reputation. On the other hand, it is ridiculous to fault BJWAF especially for modifying existing movements. Manufactures all over the world do that, including the Swiss and Germans. Nomos, for instance, famously generated their in-house Alpha movement based on modifications of the Peseux 7001. Blancpain's beautiful 7002 is also based on the Peseux 7001. If there is something to fault, its not that they used a Miyota as a base, but that they could've perhaps chosen a better base movement to modify.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I don't think the Chinese threads (or mine) was faulting BJWAF for modifying an existing movement, rather that they tried to pass it off as completely new. I guess that's why the Chinese posters were disappointed - when it turned out that the movement isn't "new" but just a variation of the 8200.

I thought the 8200 was very well regarded as a workhorse movement, not unlike the ETA 2824.
Miyota 8200 - The Ultimate Workhorse? (Part 1) - review
https://rwg.cc/topic/187360-disassembly-and-service-of-miyota-8200a-citizen-21j-very-pic-heavy/ - teardown.

Even if BJWAF's main contribution to the 8200->SB-18 was putting in the 3/4 plate and removing the auto-winding I think putting in the effort to "pretty up" a dependable, good movement is a worthwhile cause.

Very much looking forward to the Beihai 3.0 ;)
 

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I'm not sure what BJWAF claimed about it regarding newness - they do claim it is in-house as does Nomos with the Alpha movement. Its debatable and its fair enough if some watch lovers deem the modifications not significant enough to qualify as 'in-house'. I personally think the distinction isn't that important.

The real problem in my view is that the added modifications were not well executed. Debates over new-ness and in-house-ness are less important to me. And fully agreed the aesthetic effort is commendable - prettiest movement by far in the price range in my opinion!
 

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It is important to distinguish the difference between finishing/modifying an ebauche (movement in parts) from another manufacturer and manufacturing a complete movement based on the design of another. It is the latter that has resulted in the various Miyota-like movements from Beijing, Nanning, Guangzhou and probably others. The appeal of such a design back in the '90s would have been an automatic movement that was very simple to manufacture and assemble. All the calendar complications, sub-dials and hand-winding-only variants came later, after those factories had already committed to production of this design.
 

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It is important to distinguish the difference between finishing/modifying an ebauche (movement in parts) from another manufacturer and manufacturing a complete movement based on the design of another. It is the latter that has resulted in the various Miyota-like movements from Beijing, Nanning, Guangzhou and probably others. The appeal of such a design back in the '90s would have been an automatic movement that was very simple to manufacture and assemble. All the calendar complications, sub-dials and hand-winding-only variants came later, after those factories had already committed to production of this design.
That is true - the question raised above was about the 'in-houseness' of the design not the construction, which is again more than can be said for some of the in-house movements of other manufactures that are modifications of ebauche movements (that is, some would say not quite in-house in both design and construction).
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Oh and from reading a French(!) review of the Beihai 1.0 (which interestingly had a B-18 movement not SB-18) - I guess it must have been a later model 50th anniversary Beihai 1.0 and had the SB-18 swapped out for the B-18 - I finally discovered what dial "inspired" the Beihai 1.0... the Patek Gondolo 5111G
Revue de la BWAF Beihai SB-18

Patek's dial:
Watch Analog watch Watch accessory Strap Fashion accessory

Beihai 1.0/2.0 dial:
Watch Analog watch Watch accessory Fashion accessory Jewellery

In which case (and absolutely nothing against the 1.0 or 2.0's dial) I'm glad that with the 3.0 they went with a different dial design that looks nothing like the gondolo.
 

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so will we be seeing a new line of the Beihai/Zhufeng watches with this new movement sometime soon? or will they just keep making the same watches but upgrade the movement used in them with no fanfare?
 

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Oh and from reading a French(!) review of the Beihai 1.0 (which interestingly had a B-18 movement not SB-18) - I guess it must have been a later model 50th anniversary Beihai 1.0 and had the SB-18 swapped out for the B-18 - I finally discovered what dial "inspired" the Beihai 1.0... the Patek Gondolo 5111G...In which case (and absolutely nothing against the 1.0 or 2.0's dial) I'm glad that with the 3.0 they went with a different dial design that looks nothing like the gondolo.
That's the problem with Chinese brands, when you think that they have finally made a nice original dial, you discover that it was heavily inspired by another brand! but this Beihai 1.0 still looks good to me.

so will we be seeing a new line of the Beihai/Zhufeng watches with this new movement sometime soon? or will they just keep making the same watches but upgrade the movement used in them with no fanfare?
They are using the B18 in their latest Beihai models: https://detail.tmall.com/item.htm?s...fca1818d40f675f&abbucket=11&scene=taobao_shop

And for me I think I will need to find a new movement. I think the one in my Zhufeng is definitely dead...
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Oh I agree - it looks great, it's just a tad too close to the inspiration for my personal tastes. You'd expect Patek to be able to get a dial's design looking good. With the 3.0 at least the dial background was changed giving it a different feel. Though one could argue it now resembles a Maison Celadon ;)

@TPFT - like Qi said above - all of the newer Beihai's from 2.0/3.0 onwards use the B18-6. The latest Beihai is something like 6.0 now (they've stopped giving generation names), as far as I know it's the first one that's produced by Fiyta designers rather than BJWAF (post merger/joint venture with Fiyta and BJWAF).
 

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Oh and from reading a French(!) review of the Beihai 1.0 (which interestingly had a B-18 movement not SB-18) - I guess it must have been a later model 50th anniversary Beihai 1.0 and had the SB-18 swapped out for the B-18 - I finally discovered what dial "inspired" the Beihai 1.0... the Patek Gondolo 5111G
Revue de la BWAF Beihai SB-18
Indeed. I purchased by Beihai around 2013 or 14, and it came equipped with the B-18.

That was an interesting (but disappointing) discovery about the Patek. Thanks for sharing.

I'm interested in your thoughts on your new Beihai 3. I have a Beihai 3 as well. My biggest disappointment with them both is that setting the time can be a bit imprecise. The action in the keyless works feels loose, and it often "self-adjusts the time" by a few minutes when pressing the crown back into place. (FWIW Monsieur Xu once stated this problem has been QA'd out of his Maison Celadon watches).
 

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That's the problem with Chinese brands, when you think that they have finally made a nice original dial, you discover that it was heavily inspired by another brand! but this Beihai 1.0 still looks good to me.



They are using the B18 in their latest Beihai models: https://detail.tmall.com/item.htm?s...fca1818d40f675f&abbucket=11&scene=taobao_shop

And for me I think I will need to find a new movement. I think the one in my Zhufeng is definitely dead...

ahhh they keep getting more and more expensive
 
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