This is a purchase I have been contemplating for a while now, a proper Chinese watch, not a homage or a cheap watch but a bonafide made in China quality timepiece. It was the Seagull Tourbillons that first brought my attention to the far east watch movement, but I wanted to try one out before spending any reasonable amount. Kind of ridiculous that an actual tourbillon is available for less than £500, and also ridiculous that I'm not sure that I should get one when the next price point for the whirlwind 'complication' is around £10k. That conversation needs a big old proper post, to be continued.
There are so many people out there who are very happy with their Chinese watches, Seagull being the main brand and movement maker. Considering half the stuff you own is probably partly made in China, I think it warrants a look without snobbery.
The Seagull 1963 watch and the ST1901 movement is well respected and has garnered many a glass case back shot shared on the interwebs, it's a good looking watch and has various iterations, but the classic replica is the one to have. The Seagull movements are well regarded around the world, I'm aware that French microbrand, Baltic, use the ST1901 in their great looking Bicompax, I might have to get one of them, but I have to buy it from Paris for the experience, so who knows when that will be.
I decided to go for the MoonPhase Master as I don't have that complication and I figured if I get the more complicated ST1908 movement it would be a good test of the quality of the watch and movement. At first glance everything looks in order and aligned. There is a definite quality to it, it's reassuring that there are no signs of shoddy workmanship. It's a proper quality watch. The dial is busy but not overly so, the hour marker batons are a good choice, rather than cutting into numbers, not a big fan of that. The wheat-grain dial centre section is crisp, as are the hands and the loop on chronograph hand is nice subtle touch (rather than some 1963 iterations which a Zenith style star on the chrono hand). The styling follows the classic looks of Longines and other Heritage collection styles and is very well balanced even though the dial is quite small - it may be borrowed from a specific watch, but I'm not sure which one.
The chronograph works well and the pushers are solid, the crown feels tight with no cause for concern. It's a pleasant surprise, I was expecting something to be a bit off, but I haven't noticed anything untoward. It's great looking, well made watch. And then you flip it over and it gets even better. You can tell the movement isn't the highest quality or finish, but it's certainly not the lowest. It looks delicate, intricate and pretty, it's not as fluid and organic as some of the higher end internals but it's definitely captivating and is fun to watch.
So, initial feelings then, are very good. I just changed the strap to a dark blue-black leather one with white stitching, without a deployment clasp, they're a bit annoying. It looks even better, photos of the new look are on Instagram, and more to follow with a review after I've had it on the wrist for a while. I was hoping for a genuine article and the Sugess Moonphase Master has delivered a suberb first impression, I hope it lasts as I get some quality time with it.