Sunday, March 13, 2011

The "Flying" Sea-gull

SEA-GULL "Flying Wheel Mechanical" M163S
Caliber ST25 Twenty-one jewels
Power Reserve indicator
Handwinding Automatic with Hacking
Centre "Flying Wheel" completes one full round in 60 seconds
I was initially skeptical of China brands. Probably a stigma in this part of the world where Chinese produce = Low quality and in the extreme, fakes. When I learn about Tianjin Sea-Gull brand having an AD here in Singapore, I paid no attention.
By coincidence, one of my favourite Seiko AD is carrying the Sea-Gull brand so I thought why not pop by to see how cheap this China brand is, little did I know I will be in for a surprise...
The "Flying Wheel Mechanical" (model 163S) caught my eye and I decide to bring her home. At SGD300+, it is a lot of watch for the money.

Simple yet elegant presentation box with the "SEA-GULL" brand. I was even given a "SEA-GULL" carrier bag. Knowing the shop-owner very well, he gave me a copy of "Time & China" watch magazine featuring all about this Tianjin brand. There is a free subscription form so I have filled up and mailed back, hopefully I do get free future copies!

The Chinese paid attention to details as can be seen on the different dial textures on the same dial face. Blued steel hands with smooth sweep second-hand, this watch goes well with leather strap even though it came original on a polished solid stainless steel bracelet.

Nothing to shout about the movement but I would definitely not call this "cheap and crude". The spinning rotor feels heavy and when swung, you can actually feel the momentum created by the spin! Jeweled movement with hand-winding (to bring the power reserve indicator up) and hacking, I will rate it slightly a notch higher than the basic Seiko 7S26 caliber.

The bracelet comprises of solid stainless steel links. Even the end-links are solid! The butterfly clasp is stamped on underside showing the material of the bracelet. I though the branding presentation on the upperside could have been executed better had it been engraved instead of etched on. But this is trivial.

Platic warranty card is a nice touch in the overall presentation.
I had this watch for a week before selling it. The reason I sold her was that I am so impressed by the Sea-Gull brand that I have decided to top up more funds to get a slightly higher end piece that I will share later on this blog.

Some takeaways:

  • As a WIS, never judge a watch by name or country of origin;
  • Chinese brands are not all junk. As my watchmaker (an 80 year-old) puts it: "If the Chinese can send space shuttles into space, watch-making is nothing. It is a matter whether they (the Chinese) want to do it or not."

1 comment:

fungus said...

Hi! I have one of these movements but not in a Seagull watch. With the power reserve indicator, fly back date, ability to hand wind and hack, I think it is several notches above the Seiko 7S26 or 36 movements.

Accuracy is pretty impressive too.