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Hi all. I'm pretty new to this section of the forum, since I'm usually in the Seiko/Citizen/Orient section. My understanding is that many Chinese movements are imitations of lower grade Swiss (ETA 2824, Unitas, etc.) calibres to some degree - though I'm not sure about Sea Gull. Are there any Chinese movements that are based off higher caliber movements (GP, JLC, etc)? If so, what watches are they in? Any bargains out there? What's the best bang for the buck?

Thanks! :-!

edit: let's keep it to the less complicated movements (no chronos, tourbillon, etc., just day-date)
 

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Hi all. I'm pretty new to this section of the forum, since I'm usually in the Seiko/Citizen/Orient section. My understanding is that many Chinese movements are imitations of lower grade Swiss (ETA 2824, Unitas, etc.) calibres to some degree - though I'm not sure about Sea Gull. Are there any Chinese movements that are based off higher caliber movements (GP, JLC, etc)? If so, what watches are they in? Any bargains out there? What's the best bang for the buck?

Thanks! :-!
The best Chinese movements are not based on Swiss movements. In fact, even at the lower end, there is as much Japanese and Swiss influence.

As for the best movements, I'd rank them roughly as follows:

Beijing MRB-1 tourbillon with minute repeater (a bargain at $50000, and I'm not being ironic)
Beijing TB02 dual tourbillon with differential device
Beijing TB03 8-day tourbillon
Shanghai orbital dual tourbillon
Shanghai orbital single tourbillon
Beijing TB01 tourbillon
Sea-Gull ST8080 dual tourbillon
Sea-Gull ST9000 repeater

After that you get down to the various single tourbillons from Sea-Gull, Shanghai, Liaoning and PTS-Hangzhou, roughly in that order.

Below that are the chronographs from Shanghai, Sea-Gull and Liaoning.

After that you get to all the rest of the movements usually talked about here.
 

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The best Chinese movements are not based on Swiss movements. In fact, even at the lower end, there is as much Japanese and Swiss influence.

As for the best movements, I'd rank them roughly as follows:

Beijing MRB-1 tourbillon with minute repeater (a bargain at $50000, and I'm not being ironic)
Beijing TB02 dual tourbillon with differential device
Beijing TB03 8-day tourbillon
Shanghai orbital dual tourbillon
Shanghai orbital single tourbillon
Beijing TB01 tourbillon
Sea-Gull ST8080 dual tourbillon
Sea-Gull ST9000 repeater

After that you get down to the various single tourbillons from Sea-Gull, Shanghai, Liaoning and PTS-Hangzhou, roughly in that order.

Below that are the chronographs from Shanghai, Sea-Gull and Liaoning.

After that you get to all the rest of the movements usually talked about here.
I am very impressed of not the movements, but your knowleadge of them. :-! Unfortunately, these are no longer affordable to me. o|I have to tear down a movement and fix a defective one to understand how it works.
It seems to me that Chinese makers are making much faster progress these couple of years that any other.:)
 

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The best Chinese movements are not based on Swiss movements. In fact, even at the lower end, there is as much Japanese and Swiss influence.

As for the best movements, I'd rank them roughly as follows:

Beijing MRB-1 tourbillon with minute repeater (a bargain at $50000, and I'm not being ironic)
Beijing TB02 dual tourbillon with differential device
Beijing TB03 8-day tourbillon
Shanghai orbital dual tourbillon
Shanghai orbital single tourbillon
Beijing TB01 tourbillon
Sea-Gull ST8080 dual tourbillon
Sea-Gull ST9000 repeater

After that you get down to the various single tourbillons from Sea-Gull, Shanghai, Liaoning and PTS-Hangzhou, roughly in that order.

Below that are the chronographs from Shanghai, Sea-Gull and Liaoning.

After that you get to all the rest of the movements usually talked about here.
When you consider less complicated movements, so anything below chronograph, what would be the movements to go for?

I. for example, love the looks of a Beijing SB18, but also a SeaGull 3600k looks great. I'm considering buying a ZhuFeng (or even better, a BeiHai limited Watch) for the looks of the movement alone.
But are they the better movements? And for auto's should I go for an ST25, or rather something else?

Regards,

Martin
 

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Chas, could you enlighten us as to why there are 'cheaper' Chinese tourbillons available to us now but the other interesting complications such as repeater remain on the high-end? Is there a chance we'll be seeing affordable movements with such complications in the near future, or is there just not enough market for them the way there was for tourbillon movements?
 

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Re: not including complications...

Unfortunately, these are no longer affordable to me.
Define affordable... An Alpha with a Sea-Gull ST19 handwound columnwheel chronograph can be bought for $132. My chinese watch with a Liaoning tourbillon movement cost me 250 euro secondhand, while I saw one sold in a sales corner for a mere 175 euro this week (new they are a lot more expensive, I have to admit).





For me personally, this is where Chinese watchmaking shines. I would be out a whole lot more money if I wanted a hw column chrono or a tourbillon from Switzerland. They put interesting movements into reach of a starving student.
 

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I am not saying that Chinese watches are expensive now, but for me as a hobby of disassembling and assembling watches, those hundreds or thousands $$ watches are just too expensive toys to tear down.:-d I tried to assmble all sorts of vintage Chinese watches to understand the technical aspects of a watch as well as a piece of history.

The prices of some Swiss watches are like highway robbery to me for what they are.<|
 

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I am not saying that Chinese watches are expensive now, but for me as a hobby of disassembling and assembling watches, those hundreds or thousands $$ watches are just too expensive toys to tear down.:-d
Well, yeah - I get that. But what I'm trying to say is... Well, if you're interested in a teardown of a tourbillon movement, basically the only way you'll ever get to do that is by buying a Chinese one for a few hundred bucks. I don't think I've heard of a cheaper mechanical chrono than the ST19 either (though the classic Poljot 3133 might be). These aren't the multi-thousand dollar movements yet by a long shot - but yeah, you'd have to lay down 100+ dollars to do it.
 

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Chas, could you enlighten us as to why there are 'cheaper' Chinese tourbillons available to us now but the other interesting complications such as repeater remain on the high-end? Is there a chance we'll be seeing affordable movements with such complications in the near future, or is there just not enough market for them the way there was for tourbillon movements?
Repeaters don't have a cool whirly thing on the dial like a tourbillon, hence less market. Probably the same reason why there are dozens of open-heart movements but only one alarm (ST28), and Sea-Gull have not shown much interest in promoting that one either.

Open heart movements are particularly interesting as there is no equivalent made anywhere else in the world. For the Swiss, Russians and Japanese, 'open-heart' just means a port-hole on the dial, rather than a complete re-engineering of the movement the way the Chinese do it.

The whole thing about copying foreign designs is a distraction. The best Chinese watchmaking is in-house designs.

Getting back to flawless51's original (amended) question; the closest you'll get to a high-grade 'simple' watch from China are vintage pieces like the extremely rare ZuanShi SM2H and Sea-Gull ST7. The Chinese have never really gone for wrist chronometers of the award-winning kind. Even the marvelous ZuanShi SM1 has only a basic regulator; and this on a 13''' movement with 12mm balance and a 55 hour power-reserve. It's chronometer capable, but at the time there was no interest in chronometers in China, but much interest in very good 'ordinary' watches.

Getting more specific
Are there any Chinese movements that are based off higher caliber movements (GP, JLC, etc)?
Well no there isn't, because such movements are generally:
- unnecessarily complicated for what they do
- 'better' than they need to be to achieve what most customers want
- an odd mix of modern and archaic technologies
- complicated, inefficient and expensive to manufacture
- only attractive to the hard-core enthusiast who would never buy an imitation

And any watchmaker with the skill to replicate such movements to a standard worth bothering with has surely got better things to do with his time, such as designing an effective dual-axis tourbillon to sell for less than $100,000.
 

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Re: not including complications...

Define affordable... My chinese watch with a Liaoning tourbillon movement cost me 250 euro secondhand, while I saw one sold in a sales corner for a mere 175 euro this week (new they are a lot more expensive, I have to admit).

Guysie, Would you mind telling me where I can get a similar watch?

Chas, I am amazed at your knowledge of chinese watches. Thanks for sharing.
 

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Repeaters don't have a cool whirly thing on the dial like a tourbillon, hence less market.
Ah, sadly true... The tourb has a 'flashy' image to go along with it, even the non-WIS quartz wearers are amazed when I explain the whole gravity compensation concept, while I imagine repeaters and alarm movements generally fall into the "My $10 casio can do that too!" category.

Probably the same reason why there are dozens of open-heart movements but only one alarm (ST28), and Sea-Gull have not shown much interest in promoting that one either.
Do you know of any watches on the market right now that feature the ST28? I don't have an alarm in my collection yet either :) or is it far more high-end and costly than I'm thinking?
 

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Guysie, Would you mind telling me where I can get a similar watch?
I got mine secondhand, but the seller got it from this dealer:
http://shop.ebay.com/merchant/exclusive_watches_inc_W0QQ_nkwZQQ_armrsZ1QQ_fromZQQ_mdoZ

I would recommend trawling the sales corners on various forums though. They pop up every so often and their resale value appears to be quite poor, so you should save quite a few quid on it.

Also, this one was posted by Dapper a few days ago:
http://www.bhi.co.uk/150Watch.html

The official anniversary watch of the British Horological Institute with their insignia on it - same Liaoning tourbillon movement inside.
 

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Do you know of any watches on the market right now that feature the ST28? I don't have an alarm in my collection yet either :) or is it far more high-end and costly than I'm thinking?
Look up Trias and Sorna (the old Swiss brand with new owners). I think Minorva has one styled like the recent Vulcain with a world-time bezel.
 

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Look up Trias and Sorna (the old Swiss brand with new owners). I think Minorva has one styled like the recent Vulcain with a world-time bezel.
Thanks! Found the Sorna (not that expensive!) and Minorva, haven't spotted the Trias yet.



 

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Chascomm: Thanks for the enlightening post. Are there any inexpensive, genuinely Chinese, moon phase watches? I really like the Seagull moon phase, but it's a bit out of my budget at the moment. I'd prefer not to get a mushroom brand as well.
 

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Chascomm: Thanks for the enlightening post. Are there any inexpensive, genuinely Chinese, moon phase watches? I really like the Seagull moon phase, but it's a bit out of my budget at the moment. I'd prefer not to get a mushroom brand as well.
I'm pretty sure they're out there even in the lower price range, but I couldn't tell you which brands currently offer genuine moonphase. Part of the problem is that most sellers are happy to use the word 'moonphase' to mean day/night indicator, and I guess many people are happy to buy the cheaper complication to get the same visual effect.

Perhaps somebody else has seen one recently?
 

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I'm pretty sure they're out there even in the lower price range, but I couldn't tell you which brands currently offer genuine moonphase. Part of the problem is that most sellers are happy to use the word 'moonphase' to mean day/night indicator, and I guess many people are happy to buy the cheaper complication to get the same visual effect.

Perhaps somebody else has seen one recently?
I know of just two cheap real moonphases, using mechanincal movements. The ingersoll Pawnee, around €180 and the Russian Buran,with some luck around €250, and after that, the SeaGull Chrono...

(Pics have been stolen from the internet ;-) )







Regards,

Martin
 

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Are the weights on the balance wheel actually real and serve a purpose? or are they just molded onto the wheel and just for show?
 

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Are the weights on the balance wheel actually real and serve a purpose? or are they just molded onto the wheel and just for show?
Are you talking about the 2 screws? I don't think those are on the balance wheel. I would assume they help hold the tourbillon cage together.

cheers,
gigfy
 
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