Review: Chinese made tourbillon - is it any good?

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  1. #1
    AaaVee's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Review: Chinese made tourbillon - is it any good?

    I've seen here several discussions on chinese tourbillons, so to bring some clarity on this topic I decided to make my own review on a watch that I recently bought in WUS sales corner. I hope it'll help somebody to make a right decision.

    Watch is made (or rather assembled) by small HK based workshop called 'Perpetual Watch Company' (Good Chinese Mechanical Watches/Direct From Hong Kong Workshop/$130). Movement is made by Chinese company Sea-Gull. Not sure where the rest of the parts are sourced, but again probably China. There are 2 years warranty (which actually works, as previous owner experienced with his another Perpetual watch). Watch is no longer in production, but I assume that original price was somewhere in 850-1100$ range.

    Box: Watch is delivered in a solid and heavy wooden box with a nice black piano style glossy finish. This was a real positive surprise. Shortly after first impression was ruined by mis-alligned print inside of the box - that's a real shame





    Case: 40mm polished 316L stainless steel, height 10mm. No sharp edges or anything to complain about. Design-wise I think there is some influence from Blancpain.









    Dial: Clean white, no any yellowish or blueish reflections. Shinny hour markers - really well executed, in line with design of polished hands. Still there is one complaint - logo & name of the brand could be printed on a dial in better quality (more precise, higher resolution).



    Crystal: flat, scratch resistant sapphire crystal on both sides. Not sure if there is any antireflective treatment, but on a white dial model it's not anyhow an issue. Also it's smoothly integrated into case, so that no nasty reflections from sides of the crystal.



    Movement: it's Sea-Gull made ST8000 manual wind movement. 19 jewels, 21.600bph, 42h power reserve. It's a real 1 minute flying tourbillon, it means tourbillon cage will rotate 360 degrees every minute. Tail of the tourbillon cage acts as seconds hand. It's a pleasure to watch it in action (see attached YouTube video). Front side rotating parts are really well made, at least you wouldn't notice with a naked eye any deficiencies or engineering shortcuts. It's less impressive on a see-through back. On a movement 'frame' there are basic 'geneva stripes', but quality-wise not really comparable to Swiss made competitors. Winding wheels are fixed with a nice looking blued screws, but again brushed finish of the wheels could be better. Another confusion is 3 drilled holes on the back of movement - can't see any reason or function for that. On top of movement there is attached/glued (?) small shiny 'Perpetual' logo, which looks a bit 'alien' in this environment.
    Movement operations: it's very, very silent, you can hardly hear 'tick-tack' noise. There is a bit too much of 'springy' resistance when you do manual winding (at least if compared to other manual wind watches I own). Movement seems running pretty accurate within few seconds per day.







    Strap/clasp: Watch was delivered on a simple alligator grain leather strap with a butterfly style stainless steel deployment clasp. Strap quality is OK, something similar you would get on entry level swiss watches . Clasp works really good and no any sharp edges that could hurt you. Also there is engraved 'Perpetual' logo and name on the clasp. Rubber strap was a free extra - this one feels rather cheap (you can get similar one on eBay for about 15$, except this one got 'Perpetual' logo engraved). In a photos watch is displayed on a aftermarket python strap.







    Conclusions

    It's still a REAL tourbillon and you'll enjoy watching tourbillon movement in action. What concerns overall quality of the watch - it pretty much depends on a workshop that is assembling/implementing it. I'd say that overal quality is about in-line with entry level swiss made watches (quartz tissots, certinas etc) or sligthly below. I would definetely see a big potential if some of swiss brands decide to use Sea-Gull tourbillon movement in their watch lines. Considering price level, it's not fair to compare this watch with a highly decorated swiss made tourbillons, but still it raises question why swiss brands are not able to make entry-level tourbillon in sub-5k price range.

    + beautiful, well functioning tourbillon movement (see YouTube video at the end of review)
    + pleasant/original watch design (not another Breguet copycat)
    + well made deployment clasp

    - average print quality on a dial (logo & brand name)
    - average quality decorations on the back of the movement
    - too heavy/springy resistance for manual winding








  2. #2
    kitchen415's Avatar
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    What a great write-up! I really appreciate it, because I have always wanted to meet someone who bought one of these just to see how they actually function and get some personal pictures and experiences. Since you've joined you've been contributing lots of really interesting stuff, from great pictures to great write-ups. Keep it up!

    Although the quality is, as you put it, nowhere near a Swiss-made tourbillon, it still seems like such a cool idea for those that appreciate the mechanical aspects of a tourbillon, but don't foresee affording something above 40k in the near future.

    Again, great addition to the forum because a lot of people ask about them, but nobody ever seems to do more than ask. Enjoy watching your wrist!
    Last edited by kitchen415; 01-28-2011 at 11:59 AM.

  3. #3
    kwottro is offline Junior Member
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    Nice review and great photos!

    Looks like a bargain, have occasionally considered buying a seagull, first time I've seen a decent review of one.
    2 Little things that bug me about your Perpetual are the name (for a non-QP) and the logo (representing a column-wheel, on a watch that is not chrono and has no column wheel...)
    I do like the simple dauphine hands though, have always been a fan of those.
    The 3 holes are just a cheap way of making manufacturing and assembly easier, to hold the parts while machining also to line up the baseplate/bridges etc during assembly.
    But anyway, for the price I guess you can't complain. Even a cheap tourbillon is still a tourbillon. And I don't think it will be THAT many years before the Chinese catch up with us...!

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    Dope strap.

    Great write up. Although I'm new to watches. Def not something you see everyday or more so have the chance to experience.

    Great post.
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  5. #5
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    No offense but just because something uses a "tourbillon" then it must be good. It really looks cheap to me. And I live in Asia, I've seen my fair share of these Seagull watches when I was in Hongkong and I wasn't impressed with the quality that went into the making of these watches.

    Thanks for the detailed and clear unbiased write-up though. At least you are not trying to make it something far more than it's not.
    Last edited by jtanoyo1; 01-28-2011 at 02:55 PM.
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    Very interesting. I was wondering what the 3 holes were for. I can see them cleaning this up quite a bit in the near future. I've seen cleaner ones and wouldn't mind buying one just to learn/experience. They may not pass muster now but they will one day, you can bet on it.

  7. #7
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    Correct me if I am wrong more seasoned vets but from the little research I have done it seems that Swiss and higher end American movements particularly automatic and tourbillons seem to be top notch and to try compete with them especially @ such a cheap price there is far no comparison. IMO the watch overall looks ok at first glance but subpar in other areas just my opinion. Great write up!
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    Seduction: You're right, however I don't think the Chinese are really 'competing' with the Swiss/Americans yet, more like filling a different market, because as you say, any comparison quickly shows up the vast differences. have you ever been to a Chinese factory? Making any product? I have visited a few, and generally speaking the differences in working environment, worker health and safety, machining processes, parts logistics, packaging, quality control, and pretty much every other area of the manufacturing process, compared to a 'western' manufacturing setup, are as enormous as the differences in quality evident in the finished product. I cannot speak for American watch manufacturing facilities, but am sure they are similar to Swiss ones (which I can speak for! )
    However another thing I have noticed is that Chinese are very good at bringing about massive and very fast changes within factories, without the bureaucratic/personnel/logistics nightmare that this may imply in factories elsewhere. I'm not saying this is good or bad, but in other words, if a new big invester (of which China has more than their share) comes in and wants to make sweeping changes, it is just done. Overnight, if necessary.
    So although they may still be quite far behind right now, the time will probably come soon when all of a sudden they are not so far behind. We (Swiss) and you (Americans) just have to keep improving our watches(/products) little by little so that we are ready when their quality levels approach ours...

    Anyway, that's my 2 centimes.

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    The word "Chinese" and "tourbillon" doesn't sound right together!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jc5d5d View Post
    The word "Chinese" and "tourbillon" doesn't sound right together!
    You're right. That's why swiss brands hide any chinese parts used in the manufacture of their current products.

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