Ok, it's been two months, and - drum roll please - the Aesop is going strong and I am a very happy watch fanatic. I am also very busy. Once again, university (post graduate course - I just submitted an assignment and then moved onto this post) is in full effect, work is bizzayy and I am trying to keep the watch life alive - time isn't it, getting in the way of my love of time. I've had to reach a compromise here, I realised one of the most time consuming things is the photography and editing with a dslr camera, so over the past few/next few posts I have been/will be using my phone to take photos. They will still be well considered and lovely shots but it may include a bit of trial and error, so I thank you in advance for your patience. I guess that may lead to a few future posts of glamour boudoir sexy photoshoots to compensate for missing pizzazz from reviews etc - still watches though to be clear not glamour shots of me, ahem. There are definitely some benefits to using a phone, especially the close-ups as I don't have a proper close-up/macro lens. Anyway I digress.
The Aesop Tourbillon 7021PZWW, how about it, a Chinese tourbillon, isn't it. Since I put this on the blue strap it has had a considerable amount of wrist time, I really enjoy wearing it. I forgot to log my wrist time as I mentioned I might do but I think it's getting on the old skinny wrist at least once a week, which is quite a lot considering the number of watches. Alongside the Celadon and the Tudor Red Bezel, it's been a popular choice for me in the past few weeks. Let's get to it.
Initially I couldn't find much information on Aesop as a brand. Its website just has a lot, and I mean a lot of watches on it. All tourbillon variations, there is something for everyone. Details-wise, there isn't much though, the usual generic poorly worded spiel with a note that the company originated as part of the Guangzhou watch company in 1988, where it remains since it split to become Aesop in 2000. There is a picture on the 'About Us' page that shows a suspiciously Avengers looking logo next to its name.
Chinese companies are tricky to find information on but I persevered, for you, and was able to find a Chinese language website which seems a bit more polished (https://www.aesopby.cn/en/h-col-101.html, though there is an English translation option a lot is lost when you click it. From there I discovered the 'Guangzhou Chaoyang Trading Co., Ltd.' which has an Alibaba verification under the Aesop name https://aesop.en.alibaba.com. There is a lot of information to be fair, and it appears that Aesop and Jinlery are trademarks of Guangzhou Chaoyang Trading Co. This is comforting and gives us an idea of why my Aesop Tourbillon is still working. Much of this information is geared toward the wholesale market so there is a lot of detail, including factory address and capacity, trademarks and patents. Considering I didn't know this before I bought mine, I am extremely comforted and validated in my impulse buying relating to quality watches. I just knew, you know, I just have a horological feeling about these things.
Purchase / Post / Packaging
It was a warm pre-summer day, June 12 2023, I don't remember it clearly but the email confirmation from Aliexpress says I pulled the trigger on a Monday at 1431, for the record, that's what happens when you're on a work break in between contracts. I waited patiently until June 26, when it finally arrived. It was well packaged but in the simple boxing you expect for this price. This price I mention, it was a very reasonable £206.75 ($257, €237), even more reasonable considering it still works almost 3 months later. This shouldn't be a benchmark of any kind, but you know I have the PSTD (Post Sugess Tourbillon Trauma).
Case, Dial & Hands
If you popped over to the Aesop homepage and had a look at their offerings you will know that I could have gone for a bonkers technicolored futuristic skeleton tourbilon but I went for a conservative and classic dress watch style - to each their own. I said it in the first impressions and it remains the case, that the dial is not as sexy as the Sugess Tourbillon beeyatch that let me down, it's always the pretty ones! Saying that, it's still quite lovely, the photos don't do it justice. It's a a touch large at 42mm, and while the lugs aren't too chunky they are long, L2L being 49.7mm, though they taper in to sit nicely on the skinny wrist. In line with that, it is a reasonable 11mm deep. They slide gently out of the lower section of the case as the separated bezel section curves away. The crown is a good size, the grip is good and it feels robust.
The blued hands look great when they catch the light and there is a drop of lume where Breguet hands are usually hollowed out. This is a nice touch, though it isn't super bright. The dial is functional and tidy, the Aesop text/logo is nice but a bit bland. I can't complain though as I like the name. The chapter ring (inside of the case above the dial under the glass) is quite deep and a bit plain. It's the only part of the watch I think seems a bit abandoned, I do like the Rolex one, that says Rolex all the way around and features the crown at 12. A couple of trips to the AD and I'm moving bars, it's true though I would have noted it either way, it's a finishing touch thing, not a big deal at this price point.
...it's a pleasure watching time fly.
The showstopper of course is the mechanical whirlwind. It's wonderful to wind it up and hear that slight mechanical whirring when you hold up to your eye or ear. You check the time and it flashes as it catches the light. It isn't quite as solidly built or pretty as the Sugess Tourbillon beeyatch but it's smaller and more delicate (and reliable), the centre blue screw acts as a seconds marker, it's a pleasure watching time fly. The palette fork bobs back and forth taking bites out of the escapement wheel like pac-man (hope I've got that right). Go on Jacob & Co. there's an idea for your next bonkers watch...
Movement & Accuracy
So, that Aesop Tourbillon movement then, it's pretty great. It seems that most of the watches have the same in-house tourbillon but there are few variations, the double and Jinlery look to have a fancier one. I have worn it a number of times, it must have a week worth of winding, and it hasn't missed a beat. It has been entirely accurate (without proper testing).
Competition / Value for money
There is no competition, Aesop rule the world of budget tourbillons (in my limited experience). There is more bang for your buck than a Casio F91 up in here. I hope they can continue to create loads of designs as some of them are bound to be half decent. Sugess tourbillons are slightly more than double the price and if you're lucky you might still come in at under £500 with a few Aliexpress special offers, but the one I had was around the same dimensions but just felt less wearable though it looked great. The new Sugess (click here to see it- aliexpress) does look impressive, the tourbillon is a new design and I hope they have done some solid quality control. You can see on the aliexpress video that the whirlwind looks a bit rough in the close up, maybe the Aesop is better finished, I'd have to buy one to confirm...
In terms of the worldwide tourbillon scene, there is Zero Time out of Japan, Memorigin out of Hong Kong, and there are a few micro-brands making very nice examples. But you can have a pre-owned Swiss one from TAG Heuer, the Carrera Heuer-02T Tourbillon Chronograph (ref CAR5A8Y.FC6377) for between £8000-£9000. A bargain, I'm sure you'll agree.
I definitely gotta have a Swiss one, one day. Moving up a level to £11-£13k, the Chronoswiss Regulateur is a stunning piece and the tidy 39mm Frederique Constant Classic Tourbillon Manufacture is simply fantastic, my fave of this bracket (that's Rolex money...). After that it gets a bit mental, the most expensive one on Chrono24 is £7,102,484, the Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon 6002G Grand Complications, it looks about the size of my head, totally worth it.
I think you can guess what's coming in this section, that's right, go and buy one right now. Make sure it's a decent shop on Aliexpress with plenty of reviews so you have some recourse if anything (watch Gods forbid) goes wrong. The Aesop Tourbillon is a fantastic value proposition, loads of fun, the quality is great, and it actually works. The reviews on Aliexpress are all pretty good which is reassuring and Aesop being part of a larger, well established watch group (Guangzhou) adds comfort. With loads of designs to choose from there hasn't been a better time to get into the tourbillon game.
The Chinese Tourbillon Chronicles then are on the right track, I will check back in towards the end of the year with another update, let's see how it holds up, wish me luck and good luck to you with your tourbillon adventures!!
Yours Whirring Mechanically,
CASE DIAMETER / THICKNESS / MATERIAL
42mm / 11mm / 316L Stainless Steel
LUG WIDTH / LUG TO LUG
22mm / 49.7 mm
Original Tourbillon Movement
Energy storage: 40 hours
Travel time error: ±10 seconds/day
ALIEXPRESS LINK - Aesop Tourbillon watch 7021PZWW
WEBSITE - https://aesoptourbillon.com