Welcome to the way overdue, proper look and renaming of the Lobinni 1888 featuring the Hangzhou 5000A micro rotor movement. And considering I have a disdain for the name, Lobinni, I thought a nickname was in order, as the title gives away. A few ideas, I had the Lobzhou, LobiMicro, LobHang, BinZhou, not great. I stand by the choice, 'The LoHang', I like it, it's good, there are levels to it, and this watch deserves special recognition.
Lobinni for the win then, for combining that lovely movement into a classic, be it a little conservative from the front, package. The nickname had to feature both Lobinni and Hangzhou as they are the proud parents of this creation - the LoHang.
Purchase / Post / Packaging
A pretty painless experience buying from the Lobinni official store on Aliexpress, ordered in January 2022, it was £151.50 delivered which is a helluva bargain and the watch arrived in a couple of weeks. It's packaged at the price point, with cardboard and plastic wrap, you have to work to get to the golden demi-circle of goodness. I guess my excuse for the delay in the review is that I needed to get to know the watch, understand it, connect with it, etc.
Case, Dial & Hands
Ok, so let's get into it. As you might be aware the business end is the caseback, but you've got to keep the front reasonably attractive or at least classically well considered or it will get overlooked. And Lobinni have done just that. It's a simple but good looking 40mm polished stainless steel case that is split into two layers, with a smaller 'ring' sitting on the base from which the lugs curve to hug the wrist. They are of the cushiony type, all in it is well proportioned and unfussy. It's a slim watch, which is one of the reasons to use or perks of a micro-rotor watch, coming in at 8.5mm. Though it's thin, there is a nice depth to the chapter ring which holds the slightly curved sapphire crystal, it's a solid, elegant and well designed shell.
The dial is again, simple and classic. I like the date at three with bevelled frame, and substitute dot hour marker next to it. It is well designed and well proportioned. The vibe is breguet and it works well, the applied numerals are clean, and are polished giving a nice reflection when the light hits. The small seconds dial is crisp with nice touches of detail like the red text at '60' and the concentric circles. It keeps things interesting. The onion style crown is a bit small but works well, and has an 'L' printed on it, a slightly bigger crown with an embossed 'L' would have worked well. There is no lume as is often the case with dressy watches, it's ok with me.
My digital calipers are still packed away somewhere in a moving box so, I had to go old school, with an old school ruler, looking like a lug to lug of approx. 46mm. The Breguetness continues in the hands, they are simple but add a little more character to the dial. It all fits together very well, it does lack something though. I think a mild sunburst (and a change of name) would have done the trick or an enamel dial to take it to the next level. It's a touch underwhelming, but I think I'm being a bit too picky. Maybe keeping things simple adds to the exhibition of the caseback.
Movement / Complications / Finish
As per the first impressions post, there isn't much to say about Lobinni as a brand or manufacturer of anything. They have some nice looking watches, and some unique ones in their catalogue and some that really aren't. Like many Chinese brands, there isn't much history to them, but that doesn't mean they aren't taking things seriously, using this movement is a statement. Saying that, we aren't sure what the statement is, other than, look at us, we do great work but couldn't think of a good name. The focus then should be on the movement. The Hangzhou 5000A. That's why the nickname had to give credit to the manufacturer. I haven't checked how accurate it is, but I haven't noticed any discrepancies, and quite frankly I probably wouldn't care.
I know right, so, so good. I guess the date and the micro rotor are the only complications in the LoHang, and the latter being the only one of note. The Hangzhou 5000A is one of very few micro-rotors movements that are available on a budget and it is the best value one on the market. It's probably the only well regarded, affordable one out there. And it is extremely visually pleasing, I spent a while taking photos and then looking back at those photos.
It's a Chinese, budget, mass produced, machine-finished movement, but I'll be god-damned if it isn't the best looking case-back in my collection and the best looking one of any budget Chinese watch that I've seen. Of course, the draw is the micro-rotor so the designers know they have to go hard and provide an apt setting for it. However, it isn't a given that they'd get it right. There's bevelling, Geneva stripes, and perlage. We have an engraved lion/griffin the gold rotor, and engraved gold text. And then some plate cut-outs with cogs revealed, jewels, and screws, thankfully not blued - it might have been a bit too much. So inline with all that goodness and praise, a bit Hangzhou background info.
"Hangzhou Watch Co., Ltd. is a nearly 50-year-old professional manufacturer of mechanical watches (mechanics). Located in Chongxian Town, Yuhang District, Hangzhou City, it has built a brand-new modern industrial factory, covering an area of 40,000 square meters and a total construction area of 27,000 square meters."
The link for their site is below, they have history, there's no store but a fair bit of info and examples of their movements. Just in case the 5000A wasn't impressive enough, Hangzhou also make the 3JZ0E - a central tourbillion movement, super yes please. If Lobinni put that in a watch, at under £500 I would stop hating on their name, I promise. Until then I will continue.
Strap / Wearability
After those photos, you'd really just want to wear it upside down and stare at that exhibition back all day long. At 40mm with a low profile thanks to that micro-rotor it's extremely wearable, a lug-to-lug of 46mm or so, makes it look good on a skinny wrist, as the lugs curve into the wrist nicely. The strap is good quality leather, and the butterfly/deployant clasp is nice, I haven't had any issues with it - considering I keep taking it off to look at that micro-rotor. There are a couple of other variations, black dial, rose gold case, but I like this one. Unfortunately they all say Lobinni on them. It is a dress watch put you can get away with everyday smart/casual look.
This watch has no competition at this price point. There is the Baltic MR01, which uses the same base movement, modified in-house by Baltic, but those are sold out at the moment, originally selling for EUR545 and now sell for EUR800+ - the salmon dial being particularly popular. FYI on the Baltics, I think they're reissuing the MR01 in October so save a bit on secondary market by getting on the waiting list - I'm on it (again) and I might pull the trigger this time if the price hasn't gone up and I don't buy anything before. Below we have the 5000A in its Baltic outfit, decent, but I think the LoHang looks better, though the dial on the Baltic is cracking.
If you're after a bit of classic vintage, then Hamilton and Universal Geneve have a few offerings, but they don't have glass casebacks, so no showing off - they come in at £1000-£2000. Actually the one to get is the Universal Geneve Microtor, featuring the UG101 movement ref 8101.126, it's very rare and does have a glass casebook, it's more expensive at £2-4k but it's stunning.
After that it's big p, Patek, Piaget, Panerai (Radiomir 1940 - the only Panny worth getting imo), all have micro rotors at non-micro prices. As do Laurent Ferrier, with the Galet/square which is a stunning timepiece, at a stunning price, £40k+. I wouldn't mind one of them or a Bulgari Octo finissimo auto, see, now that's a good name (I think it means extra flat). Who cares what the front of these watches look like.
Of course, there are many more, but when it comes to high-end, super sexy casebacks there can only be one - A. Lange & Söhne. The 1815 Sax-O-Mat features a less-micro-than-usual-rotor, but oh as usual ALS bring the flair, precision and drama. It's almost as good looking as a LoHang, but we won't pollute this article with shots of it...
In conclusion I submit this photo, and that's it. Go and buy one, even if the price has gone up to c£200, even if you don't wear it, it's worth it. This watch reminds me why I love watches, it is a pure and unfussy expression of the joys of horology, a piece you can show off, that many consumers and watch fans can enjoy, and it laughs in the face of many a misconception.
Disclaimer, I'm not being paid by Lobinni, Hangzhou or Aliexpress but I should be.
Also just have to pat myself on the back, having posted two weeks in a row, 10 in a row and I can buy myself an expensive watch, maybe.
Links below for many watches and stores mentioned in article. If you need an excuse, I think Aliexpress has a sale on from August 22nd 2022.
1888 / 1.8.88
CASE DIAMETER / THICKNESS / MATERIAL
40mm / 8.5mm / 316L Stainless Steel
LUG WIDTH / LUG TO LUG
20mm / 46 mm
Hangzhou 5000A Micro-rotor / 40 hour power reserve / 28,800 bph
to 5 bar (approx 50m) - but I wouldn't go swimming with it...
Links & Things.
Lobinni Official store - https://www.lobinniofficial.com
Hangzhou Watch Co - https://www.hzwatch.com/
Lobinni Aliexpress Store - https://lobinni.aliexpress.com/store/5000183?spm=a2g0o.detail.1000007.1.18d733e5O2ufAh
Baltic MR01 - https://baltic-watches.com/en/collections/mr01