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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi VCM fans,

Long time ago I heard that Nanjing made Zijinshan, and Zhongshan were called big Roamers, and was puzzled why? Today I found the answer. The earliest Zijinshan was equipped with a Roamer 372 copy movement! And according to collector 国表:

212兄说的对,这表确实是个宝贝的,早期国表有些品牌使用过这种仿罗马机芯的价值都是不菲的,除了这早期紫金山,还有南京早期七一试制,北京一型,早期老羊城,辽宁老沈阳,辽宁前进,湖北老武汉,重庆卫星,等等,这种仿制罗马机芯的早期国表一般都存在手工制作的影子,产量都不是太大,甚至很少几块样机,所以是国表收藏领域最具有收藏价值和升值空间的国表品种,..( brother 212 is right, early China made watches with this Roamer copy movement are valuable. Besides this early Zijinshan, there were also early Nanjing made July 1st prototypes, Beijing model 1, early yangcheng, old Liaoning made Shenyang, Liaoning Qianjin, Hubei made old Wuhan, Zhongqing made WEIXING, etc. Production volume was very small, perhaps only a few prototypes, so these are collectable....)
I did a rough translation FYI.

So there are always something new to learn.:) If I saw mentioned watches with that Roamer copy movement, I will borrow the images and post them here for reference. The chance to find a real watch is slim now.
o|

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
And according to another collector 富贵园:

大致情况是这样的:
南京在1958年7月成立了手表试制组,同年9月初试制出一只仿瑞士“罗马”牌手表,
并于1958年10月,投入小批量试生产。
随后二年间,南京紫金山钟表厂生产了约千余只仿瑞士“罗马”牌的手表

The story was roughly like this:

Nanjing established a watch prototype group in July 1958, and made the 1st Roamer copy in September, and in October of 1958 made a small batch of test run. In the following two years, Nanjing Watch Factory made about 1,000+ Roamer copy watches.( soviet translation)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Now collector 秋之枫's extremely rare early 15j Shenyang. :p|> Only 3 people have ever seen its 372 copy movement. I am not included.:-( I am a newbie compared to these experienced collectors. Some started collecting watches some 30 years ago.o|
 

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o|o|o|o|o|

I'm very sure I had a chance to buy that top Zijinshan, and at a good price, but passed because when I looked at the smudged printing and the movement i thought it was "franken" o|o|o|o|o|

...but maybe I'll know better next time :-d
 

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At last the Roamer-Zijinshan connection is revealed! :-! That had always puzzled me.

So it was the same Roamer movement as the BS-1. And at least 5 factories used this movement in prototypes or small trial batches.

Those Shengyang watches are a delight to see. The movement has the chatonned jewels just like the Beijing watches so I guess the quality must be high. And the case of the 15 jewel watch looks like it might be all steel (at least it is cut in a shape more like those seen on all steel Chinese watches).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
o|o|o|o|o|

I'm very sure I had a chance to buy that top Zijinshan, and at a good price, but passed because when I looked at the smudged printing and the movement i thought it was "franken" o|o|o|o|o|

...but maybe I'll know better next time :-d
What a pity!! Those collectors have a good reason to keep their secrets. I didn't know these watches until yesterday. Collector FU said that more than 1000 such Zijinshan were made, so I guess there could still be chance.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
At last the Roamer-Zijinshan connection is revealed! :-! That had always puzzled me.

So it was the same Roamer movement as the BS-1. And at least 5 factories used this movement in prototypes or small trial batches.

Those Shengyang watches are a delight to see. The movement has the chatonned jewels just like the Beijing watches so I guess the quality must be high. And the case of the 15 jewel watch looks like it might be all steel (at least it is cut in a shape more like those seen on all steel Chinese watches).
But now this raised another question-why they all fancied a Roamer 372 movement? I know Roamer was quite popular as a 3rd category Swiss watch, but there were also 1st category IWC, Rolex, Omegar,etc.:-s

I have the good luck to find 2 Beijing BS-1s. One of the early version has a S/S case, and the movement has a screw balance. I heard that BS-1s could still be found, but at prohibitive prices at Panjiayuan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Collector 国表国色published an image of an early Liaoning made Andong brand watch's movement. Qianjin and Andong brand waches are the earliest Liaoning made watches in 1958-1959 before it got a state investment and then made watches with SL1 movements.

It is not a Roamer 372 copy, but similar to another Swiss movement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Collector 国表国色published an image of an early Liaoning made Andong brand watch's movement. Qianjin and Andong brand waches are the earliest Liaoning made watches in 1958-1959 before it got a state investment and then made watches with SL1 movements.

It is not a Roamer 372 copy, but similar to another Swiss movement.
The Andong movement looks more like the one on the left. I don't know who made the Swiss movement. He also posted an image of an early Liaoning signed SL1 movement. It is one of the trial production movements.
 

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The Andong movement looks more like the one on the left. I don't know who made the Swiss movement. He also posted an image of an early Liaoning signed SL1 movement. It is one of the trial production movements.
The one at the bottom reminds me of the 1MWF Kirovskie 2409 movement somewhat.
 

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The one at the bottom reminds me of the 1MWF Kirovskie 2409 movement somewhat.
2408 (it's not shockproof). There's been some discussion of this a while ago on this form. It is possible that 1st Moscow Watch Factory transferred a tool set prior to the USSR ceasing all technology transfers to China in 1960. The release of Class-1 24mm movements from Moscow shortly after this opens the possibility that they retooled and sent the lower-tolerance equipment to China. No hard evidence has surfaced to confirm this (to the best of my knowledge).
 

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Collector 国表国色published an image of an early Liaoning made Andong brand watch's movement. Qianjin and Andong brand waches are the earliest Liaoning made watches in 1958-1959 before it got a state investment and then made watches with SL1 movements.

It is not a Roamer 372 copy, but similar to another Swiss movement.
Felsa 465


bidfun-db Archive: Watch Movements: Felsa 465N

(thank you Dr Ranfft, yet again!)

Given that it is known that certain early Chinese wristwatch movements were built using tooling imported from Switzerland, and given the general lack of expertise and technology in China in the late 1950s, then it is likely that all such early movements which exactly match known Swiss designs have been made using imported tooling. Or perhaps made using duplicate tooling copied from an imported set in instances where more than one site uses the same design.

So it would appear that several major Swiss movement makers (AS, FEF, Felsa, Roamer, Marvin?) were offloading obsolete tooling on China. Specifically they were dumping those 'fat' centre-second movements with coaxial train in which the 4th wheel sits above the mainspring ratchet wheel. Such movements were rapidly losing their value in Western markets because they were as thick as the cheap pin-lever movements, but as expensive to manufacture as the newer thin jewelled-lever movements.

One question remains: what did the cash-poor People's Republic use to pay for all this equipment?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks Chascomm for this explanation. I thought that in early 1950's, Soviet Union should be a major used equipment supplier if not the sole equipment supplier to China. Perhaps Russian watches could not compete with Swiss ones then.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks Chascomm for this explanation. I thought that in early 1950's, Soviet Union should be a major used equipment supplier if not the sole equipment supplier to China. Perhaps Russian watches could not compete with Swiss ones then.
Now I recall that I know a family member of 亨得利, one of the most famous Swiss watch dealer in China since long time ago. It could be easy for China to get some used equipment through people like this.

Here is an image of a Swiss machine used by Beijing Watch Factory.

Collector FUGUIYUAN posted this image on a Chinese site.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Collector 581手表published images of another 372 copy movement. This is a real rare one!:p
Only 30 Weixing watches were hand-made in 1970 to commemorate China's 1st satellite, but 22 were rejected. So only 8 good Weixing watches were left.So I believe that there was a real love for Roamer watches then.:roll:

1970年4月24日 我国第一颗人造地球卫星上天

  1970年4月24日,我国自行设计、制造的第一颗人造地球卫星“东方红一号”,由“长征一号”运载火箭一次发射成功。卫星运行轨道距地球最近点439公里,最远点2384公里,轨道平面和地球赤道平面的夹角68.5度,绕地球一周114分钟。卫星重173公斤,用20009兆周的频率,播送《东方红》乐曲。实现了毛泽东主席提出的“我们也要搞人造卫星”的号召。它是中国的科学之星,是中国工人阶级、解放军、知识分子共同为祖国做出的杰出贡献。

  人造卫星手表是当年重庆军工企业江陵厂为我国第一颗人造地球卫星上天特别制作,主机是仿罗马372,壳型是安菲结构,和罗马一样有防水功能,蚀刻背字,当年一共只做了30只,有22只不能走动报废,目前我见到另一只品相比我这只好很多,之后再也没见过。作为一个军工厂全部零件能自主制造,有些零件甚至是手工挫出来的,实在是难得。
 

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What an unusual watch! And it was made in 1970? That was very late for such a design.

Is this a pocketwatch missing the bow for the chain, or is it the inner part of a double-cased wristwatch? Or something else entirely?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
What an unusual watch! And it was made in 1970? That was very late for such a design.

Is this a pocketwatch missing the bow for the chain, or is it the inner part of a double-cased wristwatch? Or something else entirely?
That is why I said that there was a true love for Roamer.:-d A Roamer copy movement almost hand made in 1970! It looks to me that it is just like those Roamer watches with a double-case. So this factory even copied Roamer's case.
 

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The Chinese connection gets a brief mention on the site of a Roamer collector:

"Remarks: A very long lived and very successful calibre design. This calibre family replaced the indirect second MST 352 s.c. and MST 364 s.c. in or around 1944, and was used largely unchanged until replaced by the MST 413/4 calibre family in or around 1962. The movement went through a number of variations in the shock-resist design, from plain, shock-resist (SR), and super-shock-resist (SSR I) and incaloc(SSR II). Shock-resist was probably available from earliest production and super-shock-resist and incaloc were both available before 1949, possibly soon after WWII (speculation). Interestingly this movement was copied by the Beijing Watch Factory as their first calibre - these BS-1 movements were made between 1958 and 62 in a very small quantity, less than 4000.

Production period: 1944 to 1962"

Vintage Roamer Watch Site

There is also a hint as to why this type of watch was called the 'big' Roamer:

"This watch is just under 38mm which is by far the largest old Roamer I have. "
Vintage Roamer Watch Site

The question still remains as to the origin of the tooling used to create the first Chinese examples (presuming that production was distributed to other sites by duplicating the original dies). If Roamer continued to make watches with this movement until 1962, which of the following did the Swiss supply to the Chinese?

1. a duplicate set of dies for cal MST 372
2. an earlier, superseded set of dies (e.g. cal MST 371)
3. the original set for MST 372 (and then continued casing up surplus movements for the next 4 years)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
The Chinese connection gets a brief mention on the site of a Roamer collector:

"Remarks: A very long lived and very successful calibre design. This calibre family replaced the indirect second MST 352 s.c. and MST 364 s.c. in or around 1944, and was used largely unchanged until replaced by the MST 413/4 calibre family in or around 1962. The movement went through a number of variations in the shock-resist design, from plain, shock-resist (SR), and super-shock-resist (SSR I) and incaloc(SSR II). Shock-resist was probably available from earliest production and super-shock-resist and incaloc were both available before 1949, possibly soon after WWII (speculation). Interestingly this movement was copied by the Beijing Watch Factory as their first calibre - these BS-1 movements were made between 1958 and 62 in a very small quantity, less than 4000.

Production period: 1944 to 1962"

Vintage Roamer Watch Site

There is also a hint as to why this type of watch was called the 'big' Roamer:

"This watch is just under 38mm which is by far the largest old Roamer I have. "
Vintage Roamer Watch Site

The question still remains as to the origin of the tooling used to create the first Chinese examples (presuming that production was distributed to other sites by duplicating the original dies). If Roamer continued to make watches with this movement until 1962, which of the following did the Swiss supply to the Chinese?

1. a duplicate set of dies for cal MST 372
2. an earlier, superseded set of dies (e.g. cal MST 371)
3. the original set for MST 372 (and then continued casing up surplus movements for the next 4 years)
IIRC, the Enicar equipment was devided between Beijing and Guangzhou, but I never heard about the Roamer equipment. I am not sure if Beijing imported them for BS-1 watches. The production volume of only 3,000+ watches could not justify the investment IMO.

I have also heard of a 7 jewels SN1 movement long time ago, that was an improved version of the 5 jewels pin-lever one for early Zijinshan. A collector published an image of the 7 jewels version recently. Two more jewels were added to the escapement.
Another news is that a Zijinshan with that Roamer copy movement was sold on Taobao a couple of days ago to a very serious, and well-known collector for RMB 5,270 only.:p

I believe that the sold watch is the one in my OP.;) Both seller and buyer are members of this forum.
 
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