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Chinese Watches

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China may not be the first country that springs to mind when it comes to the manufacture of watches, but in fact they have a long (albeit not quite as long as some European countries) history of fine watch making dating back to the 1950's. Things really started picking up in the 1960's when venerable Swiss manufacturer Venus sold them the tooling for the 175 caliber chronograph movement which was then used to produce the Project 304 pilot's watch (see "Seagull 1963 Chinese Air Force" below) and since then they haven't looked back!  For possibly the most extensive collection of Chinese watches on the Internet that certainly puts my meagre collection to shame, I recommend you check out the Alberta Museum of Chinese Horology.
Alpha "direct read"Alpha direct read:
Alpha watches are made in China to an impressively high standard given their modest price.  This one (which cost about 20 including delivery from Hong Kong) is reminiscent of the "direct read" digital watches of the 1960's/1970's.  The watch is powered by a mechanical, 21 jewel automatic movement.
Alpha Jump HourAlpha Jump Hour:
Perhaps not a true "jump hour" as such, what they've done here is replace the hour and minute hands with dials that are numbered anti-clockwise.  As the dials rotate clockwise, the time can then be read off against an index mark printed on the viewing window - an interesting addition to any collection I think.  The watch is powered by a mechanical, 21 jewel automatic movement.
Alpha "Reverso" / ReversataAlpha "Reverso" / Reversata:
OK, so whilst this isn't  a true JLC-type Reverso, it's a double-sided watch that can be worn one side up or the other.  To reduce the overall thickness of the final watch, the rotors at the bottoms of two automatic movements are removed.  Thickness is further reduced by relocating the second hand from the centre position of one movement to a subdial located at 6 O'Clock and then removing the second hand of the other movement but exposing the balance wheel to serve the function of a second hand instead.  The two movements are then fused together to form a double-sided, hand-winding watch with hands independently adjustable on each side giving dual time zone functionality.  Alternatively,  the hands on each side can of course be set to the same time and you can then just wear the watch whichever way up you like.
Alpha SkeletonAlpha Skeleton:
Another little marvel from the Chinese Alpha stable.  This time a 17 jewel manual wind skeleton watch in a "tank" style.
Seagull 1963 Chinese Air ForceSeagull 1963 Chinese Air Force:
The Seagull 1963 is an official reproduction (or replica, if you will) made by Tsinlien Seagull of the Tianjin Project 304 that was issued to the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force in the early 1960's. It utilises the 21 jewel version of the Seagull ST-19 hand-winding column wheel chronograph movement which, like the similar Soviet Poljot 3017, is based on a Swiss Venus caliber using original tooling sold by the Swiss manufacturer. The result is a high quality watch of historical interest with classically beautiful styling at an affordable price.
WEIDE WH1105-3WEIDE (Guangzhou WEIDE) WH1105-3:
WEIDE watches are designed and made by Gauangzhou Ohsen Watch Co. Ltd.  They specialise in fashionable sports/diving watches.  This large (44mm wide) model is part of the "LED series" range and, unlike many Chinese fashion watches, is actually rather well put together, especially considering the price.  The bracelet is of fair quality incorporating brushed centre links and a safety clasp.  Inside I was pleasantly surprised to find that there wasn't a near-vacuum with a miniscule movement  in the centre but a Japanese movement with additional circuitry to power the WEIDE's party trick, a hidden multi-functional LED display that's great for low-light conditions.  Water-resistant to 30M we're not talking "real" dive watch capabilities here but, if you're looking for an inexpensive watch to take on holiday that'll look cool lounging on the beach, by the pool or in the bar, a sporty watch from WEIDE might well fit the bill.
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