Chunlei

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Chunlei (春蕾) is a brand produced by Shanghai Watch Factory. Its literal translation is Spring Bud, but the name Budlet appears on the dial of early models.

Early Budlet models were first produced in late 1974 or early 1975, soon after Shanghai Watch Factory began mass production of their version of the Chinese Standard Movement. Presumably because Budlet watches were intended for export, the movements and other watch parts used in them were of a higher quality than the ones found in the contemporary Shanghai 7120. Budlet watches were given their own model number, 7524, and sold for a higher price.

The first Budlet movements were signed with the Chunlei logo on the train bridge. In late 1976 or early 1977 the mark was replaced with SS7, only to be replaced again in 1979 with ZSH. A two-letter date code can be seen under the balance, with the first letter indicating the year and the second indicating the month of manufacture. Examples:

  • BD = April 1975
  • CL = December 1976

Beginning in the late 1970s dials were branded with the pinyin Chunlei instead of the English Budlet.

In the 1980s, more models were introduced, including the 7221 with quick-set date and the 7621 with quick-set double calendar. When Shanghai Watch Factory introduced the SS8 movement, it was used in the Chunlei 8520 model. Sometime in the 1980s, Chunlei watches were made with Standard Movements manufactured at Hongqi Watch Factory in Xian, many inscribed with the Chunlei logo on the train bridge. 26-jewel automatic watches were produced with the SHD7ZS movement, also from Xian. Additionally, a number of Chunlei branded watches with a variety of imported movements were made, but it is unknown when they were manufactured or even if they were products of Shanghai Watch Factory.

It appears that production of Chunlei watches stopped in the 1990s and resumed in the 21st century. It is a notable Shanghai brand today.