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Well I just ordered against better judgement. I have to admit this might be a too good to be true deal as the watch goes for around double of what I paid. Hope I dont regret this but I have a 30 day return period in case things dont work out.
 

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For those who don't know, the Venus 175 is made in China. In fact the entire factory was moved from Switzerland to China in the 1960s and the Swiss Venus has been made in China ever since.
Rubbish! I suppose next you'll be telling us the Chinese invented gunpowder, paper, and alcohol. ;-) (hint hint...wink emoji....get it? Oye!)

Pretty sure you don't have any made in China product
20171104_171825.jpg


Right as usual, mate. :roll:


Well I just ordered against better judgement. I have to admit this might be a too good to be true deal as the watch goes for around double of what I paid. Hope I dont regret this but I have a 30 day return period in case things dont work out.
OP you should be fine. The ST19xx is a fine movement--As some of my humor-challenged colleagues note, it is the modern day Venus 175. And the one beating in my HKED 1963 Chrono (the middle watch in the photo above) handily outperformed the mighty Valjoux 7750 in my timing trials. To be sure, QC can be an issue with Chinese watches in general, but don't let the carelessness of some watchmakers turn you off of the movement itself. It's a proven design, and capable of keeping excellent time. Good luck.
 

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If it's 5 years old, you can probably assume it's "one of the good ones," as it's still alive.

However, 5 years is about time for a service, depending on your opinion, preferences, and tolerance.
If you care about it enough to have it serviced, you might find that having it serviced costs more than the watch is "worth," although what it's worth to you is another story.
 
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And you're the guy who said "I have two ST19 watches, one is a cheap Alpha Paul Newman" and "I would avoid cheap knock-off manufacturers" in the same post.
I bought the Alpha just to try the "iconic" design and yes, I recommend a Seagull 1963 instead of the Alpha, I confirm what I said. Building quality is miles away on the D304.
 

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As stated is previous posts, a Sea-Gull movement is not an absolute guarantee of reliability. Some Sea-Gull movements get sold in an unoiled state, and are never oiled during final manufacture. This limits their lives to around two years. Nothing gets thrown out in China if it can be sold, any some manufacturers are willing to buy low grade or rejected movements.

A Sea-Gull 1963 has the advantage of being manufactured by the same company that designed that model for the Chinese Air Force. They oil all their movements, and don't use QC rejected movements or seconds. Sea-Gull watches are also assembled in a modern, clean factory, and not in some Shenzhen sweatshop. Comparing a 1963 to another mushroom brand ST19 model can be problematic.

With some mushroom brands, you don't know the circumstances of how they buy their ST19s, or if they take all the proper steps during final assembly. Really, it's impossible to tell without more information. There might be some WUS reviews or member experiences, but I get the impression you don't want someone sniping your find.

I always love the forum members who don't own any Chinese watches, but will chirp in that ALL Chinese watches are junk. They lump the $5 Yazoles and SKMEIs, in with the $250+ Sea-Gull and Beijing watches.
 

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I bought the Alpha just to try the "iconic" design and yes, I recommend a Seagull 1963 instead of the Alpha, I confirm what I said. Building quality is miles away on the D304.
Yes, the D304 is really good. I had a HKED 1963 and while it was good, the D304 is better. It winds more smoothly, the buttons work really smooth and the fit and finish are really top-notch. It's also quite accurate. But I still don't think it's as good as its initial price - not for me, at least.
 

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My username checks out - I'm a big fan of Seagull watches from China (Irish-Chinese heritage).

Please have a look at my post on the Chinese watch forum detailing my visit to the Seagull factory:
https://www.watchuseek.com/f72/pilgrimage-my-grail-site-seagull-factory-tianjin-4057937.html

There I held some gyrotourbillon, minute repeaters and wonderful artesian pieces by Seagull. Of course they also make cheaper pieces too but I have always been satisfied with their build quality - my ST25, ST2130, ST19 pieces are all functioning correctly (or were functioning well when I sold them on).

And I'm by no means some ignorant watch person who doesn't know better - I also own(ed) nice Citizen, Seiko, Tudor, Omega, Tag, Molnija or Vostok pieces. I can appreciate why my Pelagos cost more than my Sea-Dragon King (and a lot more than my Amphibia) but I can assure you that a well made Chinese piece can easily be passed on to future generations if well cared for.

It is surprising the amount of posters on the Affordables forum who have such open disdain of Chinese watches - I might have expected such responses in the High-end Luxury forum but here in affordables I would have thought that people would love what the legitimate Chinese watch brands bring to the table - affordable entry into high-end/complicated mechanical movements. My tourbillon cost me triple digits to buy not quadruple or quintuple. The column wheel mechanical chronograph movement in the ST19 allows for a cheap entry into column wheel chronographs... am I going to compare it to my Speedmaster? Of course not, but then again it functions well and cost roughly 1/20th that of my Speedmaster.

I welcome the OP or anyone else interested in Chinese watches to come and post on the Chinese forum - I'm sure there will be posters who can help you understand more about Chinese horology :)
 

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Yes this is the quasi-chronometer vintage Chinese watch, right?

Yes, the D304 is really good. I had a HKED 1963 and while it was good, the D304 is better. It winds more smoothly, the buttons work really smooth and the fit and finish are really top-notch. It's also quite accurate. But I still don't think it's as good as its initial price - not for me, at least.
Indeed 6600 RMB or $900 are a lot of money, but fortunately it can be found for about $350-375 that is a fair price for a watch of this quality.

To the OP, if the ST19 you are looking for is made from a microbrand, it depends how reputable they are, for instance Lamberti from Italy definitely is a guy you can trust.

It is surprising the amount of posters on the Affordables forum who have such open disdain of Chinese watches - I might have expected such responses in the High-end Luxury forum but here in affordables I would have thought that people would love what the legitimate Chinese watch brands bring to the table - affordable entry into high-end/complicated mechanical movements.
Yes I was also surprised, especially at the light that most affordable are indeed made in China. The high end luxury watches fans on the other side know better and few of them have a ST19 chrono, not as main timepiece but as sidekick....most of them are satisfied, or so it appears.
 

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I enjoy my HKED 1963 with ST19. Those were closely sourced movements, of course.

On the other hand, Docvail of Lew and Huey nearly cursed out the ST19 after using it in his initial microbrand offering. Lots of happy customers, but many bad movements, apparently.

I agree that if it worked for years, it should work well until it needs a service.

The more significant risk factor is the honesty of the seller, I think.
 

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I have no direct experience with the ST19, but I traded for THIS watch more 20 years ago. A Chinese graduate student was wearing it, and it fascinated me. It STILL runs well.

View attachment 12632659
Not a surprise a Diamond runs well. That factory won China's annual award for best mechanical movement 10 years running.
 

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The ST-19 is a mechanical column-wheel chronograph, and I view *all* mechanical chronographs as problematic. For an occasional display-use chronograph, I like the ST-19, but if I have any idea I'll be using the chrono regularly, I'll go quartz, every single time.
 

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And just to expand on my last post - generally with watches as in life, you get what you pay for. If you're spending $10 on a crapshoot mechanical watch from .........s or ebay I don't think you can expect much from watch or "brand".

If you're spending $100 on a Seagull/Shanghai/Beijing watch I would expect the watch to be able to function perfectly and, if kept well serviced, function for the rest of one's life.

If you're spending $1000 on a Chinese watch - I would expect that it comes with the trappings of spending quadruple figures on a watch - personalised service and "high-end" customer care.

If you're spending $100,000 on a Chinese watch (and believe me, they exist - check out the Seagull gyrotoubillon with minute repeater and moving caseback or I guess some of the high-end Beijing pieces with personalised cloisonné dials) then you won't be on the affordables forum asking about Chinese mechanicals ;)

There are some good stickied threads on the Chinese forums which give tear-downs of common Chinese movements and a comparison of Chinese mechanicals against the Swiss ones - again, these are watchmakers teardowns and they reveal the truth, warts and all, of Chinese movements:
https://www.watchuseek.com/f72/how-do-seagull-hangzhou-compare-eta-depth-look-216945.html
Comparison: Sea-Gull ST2130, ETA 2824-2, Peacock SL3000 | Watch Guy

The general consensus of watchmakers/repairers is that Chinese movements are done well, some are less well finished (especially on the parts that aren't visible to the eye) and can be serviced up to high standards. When taking cost into account they can be very good buys when you don't need the "extras" provided by a ETA 2824 etc.
 

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I enjoy my HKED 1963 with ST19. Those were closely sourced movements, of course.

On the other hand, Docvail of Lew and Huey nearly cursed out the ST19 after using it in his initial microbrand offering. Lots of happy customers, but many bad movements, apparently.

I agree that if it worked for years, it should work well until it needs a service.

The more significant risk factor is the honesty of the seller, I think.
Pretty much all of this.

Here's a pic of the rotor in my brother's watch, with the automatic ST1940, which I'm currently working to have fixed:

Riccardo Rotor - ST1940.jpg

That, as they say, is no bueno.

To be fair to the topic, and to everyone discussing it, I'll say the following.

1. Don't put too much stock in what you read about it on the internet, particularly from people who haven't been involved in producing watches using the movement, no matter how much knowledge or expertise they claim to have, or any suggested "unique" knowledge of the subject. The internet abounds in faux wisdom.

2. I'd put more stock in what people who actually work in the industry say about it, particularly if they've got firsthand experience with it.

3. I have worked with the automatic version of the ST19, the ST1940, and I did have bad experience, which has led me to steer clear of Chinese-made mechanical movements since, particularly when my personal experience is combined with what I've heard directly from others in the business, and none of it has been particularly confidence-inspiring.

4. That's not meant to be a condemnation of all Chinese mechanical movements, nor should it be necessarily taken as a condemnation of the ST19. As it is with many things, your mileage may vary.

5. I would definitely consider the seller, using multiple criteria - experience, expertise, character, reputation, proximity to the source (i.e. Hong Kong/China), and track record for delivering, particularly delivering with that movement.


The ST19 isn't really a 'good' or a 'bad' movement. It's a movement which, based on my personal, firsthand direct experience, backed up by what I've heard from others in the business, can work surprisingly well if you've been lucky enough to get a good working example of one.

The problem is that there's a depressingly low probability of getting a good one. I don't mean that it's under 50% "low", just not the usual above 90% that would make me feel more comfortable using it.

Factories in China and Hong Kong will try to talk micros out of using it (and for that matter, out of using just about all Chinese mechanical movements). That ought to tell you something.

My experience was such that I can't even effectively quantify how high the defect rate was, given the fact that we had some pieces in for repairs multiple times, and I found my factory wasn't keeping the numbered casebacks with the right cases, so keeping perfect records became impossible for me.

My best estimate is that we had somewhere between a 30% and 50% defect rate within the 2-year warranty period, but, as you can see by the pic above, I'm still hearing about problems occuring, years later. In point of fact, my brother's watch was already in for repair once before.

When I first met my current factory's representative, I knew they'd made watches using the hand-wind only ST19 for other micros, and I asked for their experience. I was told they order 1000 movements, 400 go back to Sea-Gull. They get those 400 back from Sea-Gull, they turn around and send 200 back, and so on, and so on, and so on.

I asked HKEd how he managed to deliver so many good ones. He told me his QC process involved testing, testing, testing, and re-testing them all, for weeks on end.

HKEd's production partner is the WUS-famous Mr. Thomas, the man who led "Hong Kong Sea-Gull" in the development of the "original" re-issue of the 1963 chrono (or at least, that's how I remember the lore regarding him, and it). If anyone would seem to be well-positioned to get so-called "good" ST19's, it would seem to be him.

And yet, there's Ed, with each new batch, testing, testing, testing, testing, for weeks on end, and sending many back to be sorted out before he can ship them.

And when it comes to sending them back, I've heard mixed reports. My factory portrayed Sea-gull as being unmoved by the problems we were having. On the other hand, I've heard other micros more recently report a more cooperative attitude within SG. I suppose time will tell.

I believe the proprietor of Perpetual Watches published the definitive work about the ST19, in his chrono report, available for download on his website. If my understanding is correct, he is in the habit of tearing every movement down and rebuilding them himself, in order to ensure they are all road-worthy. Unless I'm mistaken, though, he hasn't produced a chrono in a few years, and he doesn't seem to have any plans for more.

But, again, surprisingly, many of the Riccardos we produced are still out there, running well, in fact, surprisingly well. It wasn't uncommon for me to hear, or personally find, that a Riccardo which ran well would exceed all specs for accuracy and power reserve. I had one in for repair, with a loose case clamp screw rattling around in the movement, and it ran better than spec.

My best and only advice, beyond "buy the seller", is to go into an ST19 purchase understanding that there's a possibility - and it's not a remote possibility - that you'll get a bad one, and you'll be faced with the hassle of having to get it sorted.

Many, possibly most US watchmakers won't want to touch it, and you'll be happy you did consider the seller if you have to rely on them to get it working for you.

In some ways, it does make sense to consider used examples as being "proven", assuming you're dealing with an honest seller, and they have good reason to believe the watch is in fact a good example.

By that I mean, I personally am an honest seller when it comes to my used watch sales, but I'm not one to investigate the performance of my personal pieces, and I wouldn't have good reason to tell someone I knew for sure a watch was running well unless I'd actually bothered to test it, something not every seller is in the habit of doing, if they're even effectively equipped to do it, as I am (I own a timegrapher, have access to a watchmaker, etc).

If you were buying a used ST19 from someone like me (sometimes lazy, always unconcerned with performance in my personal watches), I might not put too much faith in its vintage as being an indication that it's a good example, since it's supposedly "performed this long". I might ask a seller if they'd actually tested the watch, how they tested it, and if not, would they have it tested, prior to sending funds.

TL; DR - it's a gamble, buying any low-priced Chinese mechanical watch, and you should be willing to accept the risks before handing over your money.
 
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