Watch Review: Sugess MoonPhase Master SU1908SW
After a couple of weeks on and off the wrist, it's time for a full write up on the Chinese superstar, the Sugess MoonPhase Master. If you saw the first impression post, you'll know that I was impressed at first, and you might not be surprised that I remain impressed, or maybe that is a surprise. But is that because of preconceptions about Chinese watches, rather than actual true facts? I think it's a bit of both, for sure, there was a surprise at how much I like the watch, how there is nothing wrong with it, some of the satisfaction is due to the fact that it's a relief that it's not rubbish. So that bias should be factored out of the my feelings towards this watch...done.
Let's try a structured review then, not sure if my rambling style is suited to a prescribed method but I will give it go.
CASE, DIAL & HANDS
The MoonPhase Master is a pretty watch, but I was concerned as the the dial is quite busy and there was potential for it to be either too much, or for error due to the number of design features. There is a wheat grain central section, concentric circles around that, as well as raised second markers on the subdials and around the main dial. At this price point, just under £150, and the reasonable expectation of quality control issues that I had read about, there was prior skepticism. However, as mentioned, the first impression and since then, the design, quality and accuracy have been spot on.
The hands are in the traditional leaf style, and are slick, the chronograph hand is very thin and discreet, with a nice loop on the end, empty lollipop style, in contrast to some of the 1963 style ones that have a Zenith style star on it, which I like on a Zenith but not so much on anything else, despite the potential connection to the Chinese flag. The hand length is just right, the minutes reach the minute markings, just shy of the seconds, and the hour hand falls just over the baton hour markers. Everyone has there own preference when it comes to hand length and I feel like for the dial size, the hands are just right, the are slender and do not obstruct the sub dials, it all sits together rather well on an overall quite small dial.
The only downside under the sapphire glass covering the dial, is the sub dial hands that on close inspection show a slight lack of finesse. but this isn't really apparent at a glance. The moon phase dial is simple but effective, I haven't actually checked if it's accurate yet. The writing over the moon phase dial says, "MECHANICAL 22 JEWELS HAND-WINDING', no errors or inconsistencies. I think the Sugess badge is well placed and subtle, though I don't know what Sugess means, and neither could I find it online - might shoot them an email to find out.
The case looks great in 316L stainless steel, the proportions are well balanced and the lugs crown and pushers are suitable size for the compact frame. The lugs angle downwards and fit the wrist very nicely. It is quite thick at 12mm, but not overly so, it's got good wrist presence but isn't too bulbous. It's a well presented package that doesn't show any weakness, it's solid and robust, the crown pops out to one position nicely, the top pusher brings the needle like central chrono hand to life, it pops satisfyingly but lacks a quality feel, or feedback, and can be a touch crunchy at times. Saying that the chronograph works fine and I do like messing around with it.
In terms of design cues, I noted it takes inspiration from the Patek Philipe 5790G Perpetual Calendar, but also other heritage, classic style multi-dial watches, not a bad place to look for inspiration, and it's executed very well.
The heart of the MoonPhase Master is the hand-winding Seagull 1908 movement. It features a chronograph with minute sub dial, moon phase (obviously), date and seconds sub dials. It's a decent movement, reviews and general consensus of these watches is that they are reliable and accurate, reportedly losing a few seconds a day, though I didn't test thoroughly. It's feature packed and has been reliable so far, the chronograph works well as do the quick set date and moon phase buttons. Power reserve of 45 hours is legit, no worries there, I just picked it up after a day and half of not wearing it and the time was pretty much bang on.
The caseback shows off the 1908 movement in all its glory. I love a glass caseback, to see the heartbeat of the watch and create an additional dimension of connection to the timepiece. It's not the highest of finishes but that's not expected, it has it's own charm and maintains a respectable level of sophistication. It's fun to watch and be hypnotized by the pulsing balance wheel and the additional magic of bringing it to life by hand winding is a treat.
STRAP & WEARABILITY
This is essentially a dress watch and there is no lume, which reduces its usage somewhat, but its fairly versatile, you could wear with jeans and a shirt too. It works on brown, black and dark blue straps, it comes with the brown and black alligator leather straps with butterfly buckle. They are of good quality, but personally I find the butterfly a bit fiddly. I have a dark blue leather strap on it, with white stitching which compliments the dial perfectly. As I mentioned, the dial has a good balance to it, though it's busy it doesn't get in its own way. The sub dials are small, but only the date dial at 12 o'clock requires some attention to figure it out.
On my skinny 6.75" wrist it sits pretty well at just over 48mm lug to lug, It's quite tall at 12mm though sits well on the wrist and doesn't protrude too much. I don't think it would work as well on a large wrist, as its compact nature makes it quite stocky, but you'd have to test it out.
The Sugess MoonPhase Master SU1908SW is a great watch, it does what it's supposed to and looks fantastic as it does, form and function combine successfully which is all we really want from a watch. On top of that it's a bargain, but even so I still can't help but feeling like I wouldn't be surprised if something went wrong with it, which is a shame, though that kind of bias seems unavoidable. I guess that's the legacy of the 'made in China' myth, and I'm not entirely sure what it's going to take to amend that. Saying that I have no problems with it, if it stays strong that will prove me wrong. I enjoy wearing it and showing it off. I certainly recommend it as a versatile, well made dress watch to add to any collection.
With my initial interest in Chinese watches being peaked by the Tourbillons, and the MoonPhase Master being the test subject, it has come through that test with flying colours and the new strap only boosts its appeal in my eyes. While the technical maintenance side of the Tourbillons remains a concern, I'm willing to give it shot when the right deal and the right watch come to my attention. For now, I'm a happy watch addict, and I hold the MoonPhase Master in hand with no intention of letting it go.
I'm not sure if full reviews are for me. It wasn't particularly long, and I find doing them useful and interesting, opens the mind a little to think objectively but it feels like a chore and I struggled to get motivated. It might be because I don't see watches in that kind of light, the whole idea watches is a subjective passionate one, an irrational, stupendous and superlative area of art and engineering. I guess I'll see how it goes, it's takes a fair bit of time as well which ironically is reducing as more watches join the collection.
CASE DIAMETER (inc. crown) / THICKNESS / MATERIAL
40.3mm (44.5mm) / 12mm / 316L Stainless Steel
LUG WIDTH / LUG TO LUG
20mm / 48.3mm
Manual Wind Seagull ST1908