Well looky here, look what Santa brought lucky old me! A Suggess Tourbillon Master SU8230RSW, he was a bit late, it came on 30/12/21, in time for a happy new year, kind of...
Though it's a first impressions, there is a lot to unpack here. There's a story coming but
firstly, let me just say wow! I was very pleasantly surprised, again. Even though the Moonphase Master had lessened my reservations about buying Chinese, and specifically this watch, it's a different ball game, higher price and more elaborate, a sensitive, and prone movement. Let's get into it.
A rather underwhelming box as is usual with Sugess, it's mechanical just in case you didn't know. Instructions and incomplete, unstamped warranty card, standard procedure. Packing is pretty secure in the box, but it came in a doubled up jiffy bag envelope thingy, probably could have done with an extra layer of padding or two.
I actually can't believe how good it looks, it's subtle, and simple, letting the tourbillon take centre stage. The roman numerals on that stonking enamel dial are crisp, and the seconds markers are well suited to the look. The blue Breguet hands are elegant and precise. And of course the tourbillon window is just the right size, it sits well and doesn't overpower the balance of the dial. I'm not sure if this is a copy of a particular watch dial but it works so well, in my opinion it's an absolute win.
It's a bloody tourbillon isn't it! The ST8230 is the Sugess manual wind tourbillon movement, I'm not sure what the RSW means but it is the model differentiator, colour, dial, etc. The whirlwind itself is mesmerising, but looks extremely delicate and of course intricate. I guess it's a little dainty, fragile, magical thing to behold, and at this price it's just an absolute joy to behold. Funny, would a tourbillon be better if it was expensive or inexpensive?
It's a comprehensive and very classy looking case to be honest. Lots of angles in polished steel, the bezel is very nice, the right proportions for the dial. The sides have a brushed steel finish, which looks great, making it a bit more interesting. It's well balanced but I imagine that is down to the size, 42mm with 49mm lug to lug measurement is quite big, any smaller though and the tourbillon would encroach and undo the harmony. Unfortunately skinny wrists might struggle, but who cares. A comparison with its sister Sugess below.
It comes with two quick release straps. The dark blue one in the pictures, states genuine leather has blue stitching and regular steel buckle. The only thing wrong with it is the that it's too pointy. The other in case is a black 'genuine' alligator strap with a deployment clasp, looks okay, but not tried it out.
And now the bad news...
Ah yes, bad news, don't say, you knew it, it was too good to be true, just don't. I have been looking forward to this for ages, last year I posted (prior to a long hiatus) about the Moonphase master and my increased comfort in buying a Chinese watch. I was so buzzed when I opened it and wound it to see the that whirlwind go, it was magic. After a few minutes of staring at it though it became apparent that something was not right, god damn it universe, why must you mess with me.
It was running fast, around +5-10 seconds per minute, acceptable for the day, maybe even the hour in this case, but not the god damn minute. You can see in the picture the hairspring isn't evenly distributed, skewed north, not sure if it's hooked or sticking or what, but it's definitely picking up circa +1hour in 12 hours tested. Outrageous, unbelievable, annoying but not shocking I guess. I expected something wouldn't be right, but everything else was so right that it did hurt my feelings a bit.
I bought this from the same place I bought the Sugess Moonphase Master - the official Sugess store on Aliexpress.com (link in footer). I had no issues with that watch (see Case section photo), it's running strong.
I went to my local watch guy hoping it might just be a case of getting it demagnetized. I didn't have the watch with me at the time, but he advised that a +1hour difference is likely a damaged (by impact) or a malfunctioning hairspring. A tear falls from my eye....ffs.
My chat with the Sugess store customer service was good, they advise they check the watches before shipping so this shouldn't happen, I have no reason not to believe them. In terms of sorting the return and refund, they had me take a few pictures over a day with a benchmark for time (Samsung fit2) and when I sent them over they were very nice and apologetic (though not fluent their English was good enough, even if it was run through a translator, we managed to communicate). Honestly, the packaging might need a bit more bubble wrap outside the box, inside it sat pretty securely, considering the journey it's taking and the general heavy handedness of Royal Mail. But even then that movement is a fragile thing so it might be luck of the draw. Hence the free return option being a must.
I'm not sure if I'm just trying to make myself feel better by trying to blame an in transit moment for the problem. I would prefer it to be that so I have a reason to go for it again.
And the good news...
I am taking positives from this experience, it was a very cool, if short lived experience. I paid £450 (USD610/EUR540) for this bad boy, and it is worth every single penny. I am so glad I ordered it, it is the first tourbillon I have held in loving embrace (stared at a few when I was in Geneva) and worn, it is a hell of an experience for a watch fanatic. Sugess has done such a good job, I mean so good. The only thing some might have wanted is a bit of lume on the hands (which would have unBreguet'd them but made it much more versatile) and for the crown to have a stamped or raised 'S' rather than a flat printed one.
Despite it all, this bittersweet son of a rollercoaster ride, if the return and refund etc goes to plan, free return by the way...will I order another one? The answer is yes, if they give me a discount because the trauma is real, I need an incentive to potentially put myself through that again. Looking into it further, I believe others have had a similar problem, and they align it with watches having sat around for a long time, lubrication issues. Of course this might put you off ordering, but I suggest if you are going to order you shoot them a message with your concerns so they might double check your order. They seem reasonable, I'll be doing this.
So, there you have it, if you like the look of it, you should probably buy one, and then return it if it's not working, you won't be as disappointed as I was, you will be prepared, but hopeful. I will post an update in due course. You're welcome.
Still looks sweet, despite the problem.
Last one for good measure, before it's shipped back...
UPDATE - 19/01/2022 : I received a refund in full on 18/01 after dropping at parcelshop on 08/01. That is comforting, now to ponder - slowly - whether I will repurchase.
Aliexpress Sugess Official Store
Suggess website link