How Reliable Are Chinese Watch Mechanisms?

Years ago, a friend of mine asked me if I thought that Chinese watch movements were up to par. He was planning to buy a watch from China and was wondering if I thought the mechanism was enough. He admitted to me that he had previously bought watches from China, but that he had always been wary of their quality. A second watch, preferably of a different brand, was something I suggested he have. He settled on a Chinese watch by a recognizable brand and was delighted with his purchase.

Studio Wen

Atelier Wen is a timepiece company with origins in both France and China. Both Robin Tallendier and Wilfried Buiron, the company's founders, spent time in China as students and came away with a deep appreciation for Chinese horology. They came up with the Atelier Wen label because they wanted to make a timepiece that was both authentically Chinese and distinctly French.

They collaborated with a Chinese designer, Li Mingliang, and a French watchmaker, Liu Yuguan, to make a timepiece that reflected the best of Chinese and French cultures. The end product was the Atelier Wen watch, a maritime chronometer with little seconds hands and elegant Chinese characters inscribed on the face.

Detailing is a trademark of the brand. The color of the watch is reflected in the lacquered wooden box in which it is delivered. A metal 316L plaque with the Atelier Wen logo is included.


Sea-Gull, a Chinese watchmaker since 1955, is well-known for its precise mechanical components. Nearly a hundred distinct models of timepieces are produced by them. They are well-known for their reasonably priced but high-quality timepieces. Sea-Gull, unlike some other Chinese watchmakers, constructs each watch individually. They also make tourbillon movements in-house.

In-house production is handled by the firm's Tianjin facilities. More than three thousand employees work for the firm. Over five million clocks are manufactured annually. They have grown to be one of the world's leading producers of mechanical watch movements. They also supply other watchmakers with movements.

Sea-Gull is now competing in the market for mechanical chronographs in addition to its in-house movements. The ETA 2824 and 2892 have been replicated by them, and so have their successors. They also make a trembling, alarming noise.

Design for Ciga

The Ciga Design movement is the newest Chinese watch mechanism. Zhang Jianmin, one of China's top industrial designers, launched the firm after helping the Chinese government with Olympic navigation systems for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

Ciga Design creates timepieces with unique mechanisms and modern aesthetics. Their wristwatches cost between $200 and $400. They may be purchased at any of the world's leading shops. They've picked up 16 design prizes from throughout the world, including the prestigious German Red Dot Award. They are also among the world's best in the watch/jewelry category for the German iF Design Award 2017-2021.

The U Series * Blue Planet watch is their most recent innovative design. The 46mm beauty has a Chinese design inspired by Earth's varied landscape. The Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Geneve also praised its innovative design.


Beijing Watch Factory, established in 1958, is the most well-known Chinese watchmaker. It aims to develop Swiss-quality timepieces for the luxury watch market. It has earned a reputation for producing reliable automated movements.

Twenty-one innovative watchmakers pooled their superior technical know-how and handiwork to start the firm. They came up with a wonderful style and established a label known as Beijing.

In 1996, the business started in-house production of tourbillon timepieces. Beijing Watch also created a three-dimensional (3D) tourbillon mechanism. In addition, the business created the first automated movement with 40 jewels.

The company's OEM (original equipment manufacturer) timepieces and components have won praise for their excellence. Additionally, they played a significant role in the rise of the Chinese Standard Movement.

The Evolution of Chinese Watch Mechanisms

Mechanical movements were the standard during the golden age of Chinese watchmaking. However, the quartz movement revolution had destroyed the market by the 1990s. Early manufacturers struggled to keep up with the ever-shifting demands of consumers throughout the world. In the early years of this century, several of them failed and went bankrupt.

In general, the quality of Chinese quartz movements is rather excellent. Jeweled bearings and metal wheel trains were both features. However, Japanese quartz movements always outperformed their Chinese counterparts.

The federal government initiated efforts to standardize watch design in the early 1970s. All watch manufacturers were tasked with producing it.

The new model was mass-produced by a half-dozen or more Chinese watch manufacturers and came to be known as the Chinese Standard Movement (SZ-1). The design team included some of China's top creative minds. It was an attempt to make the Swiss movement more widely available at a lower price.


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