There are many ways of making money...R&D costs loads of money. Their goal is to make money.
keep the costs low, the price low, sell in large volumes
make the cost very low, the price medium, sell in smaller volumes
let the costs evolve, set the price a bit above, sell in large volumes
have large costs, much larger prices, don't care about the volume.
Sea-Gull seems to have positioned itself, at the moment, on the first case, setting a very low price and then keeping the costs lower. So, indeed, they don't go into too much R&D except on the outside look of watches (not very costly, allows to boost volumes). However, the could progressively see the possibilities in developing a new, better mid-range movement that could compete on the world market with the potential replacement of the 2824-2 as the go-to calibre for mid-range auto watches, like the SW200 (clone, but Swiss), the Miyota 90xx, and the like...
It's not necessarily that costly to develop a new calibre that can bring something new, both in terms of industrialization and horology. Christopher Ward seems to have done so, and they're not that big a company. Nor that much higher compared to Sea-Gull...