Modern Chinese watch portal
In comparison to the vintage Chinese watch industry, the modern Chinese watch industry is distinctly more complicated, being characterised by globalisation and horizontal integration. Some of the largest and most technically developed of the vintage Chinese watch factories, such as those at Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Tianjin, are still in operation today and continue to manufacture complete watches to sell under their own brands. Many of these factories have also attempted to enter the lucrative high-end market, developing watches with elaborate complications such as minute repeaters and tourbillons - see the High-end Chinese watch portal for more information. However, modern Chinese factories also sell just movements (either assembled or as ebauches) to other companies who then assemble complete watches by combining these movements with cases, dials and hands which they have either manufactured themselves cor again purchased from other manufacturers. Some of these companies sell the completed watches under their own brand, while other companies, called OEMs, specialise in producing completed watches for yet other companies to sell under their brands. Thus, modern Chinese watch movements can turn up in a wide range of places, from watches sold only on eBay by small, fly-by-night Chinese companies with negligible quality control or warranty, to high quality watches sold at fancy bricks-and-mortar stores by reputable Chinese manufacturers with over 50 years of history, to watches assembled in Switzerland by Swiss companies from Chinese movements, which can be legally sold as "Swiss made".
Most modern Chinese mechanical movements are made by a relatively small number of factories, most of which had their origins in the 1950s or 1960s. Tianjin Seagull alone produce more than 25% of the world's mechanical movements. A comprehensive list of watch movements can be found here, but some of the most widely-used models are detailed below.
Main article: Clone movements
Many but certainly not all modern Chinese watch movements are clones of popular Swiss or Japanese movements (often featuring functional enhancements over the original). Some noteworthy examples are:
|ETA 2824-2||HZ6300 (Hangzhou), SL3000 (Liaoning), ST21 (Seagull)|
|ETA 2836-2||HZ6311 (Hangzhou), ST21 (Seagull)|
|ETA 2892.A2||ST18 (Seagull)|
|Unitas 6497-1||HZ90 (Hangzhou), ST36 (Seagull)|
|Miyota 8205/8215||DG28/38 (Guangzhou), NN28/38 (Nanning), ST16 (with some significant changes, Seagull)|
|Seiko 7009||HZ20 (Hangzhou)|
Modern Chinese watch manufacturers also manufacture original movements which are not clones. Some noteworthy examples are:
- From Beijing Watch Factory: BF171, SB1HRZ2, SB10, SB11, SB12, SB18, T18
- From Guangzhou Watch Factory: DG8000, DG8101
- From Shanghai Watch Factory: 08ZR00AD, 2HR45, 2HN53, 2L31, 2LZF2, 3LZF19
- From Tianjin Seagull: ST18, ST19, ST25, ST68, ST80
Surviving vintage brands
The 1970s saw an explosion of hundreds of Chinese watch brands, as every factory building the Chinese Standard Movement did so under own brand. The vast majority of these brands have not survived to the present day, but a relatively small number have are in still in production, using modern movements:
New modern brands
Joining the old vintage brands which have survived into the present are a large number of modern brands. Most of these new brands' owners do not manufacture the complete watches themselves (unlike some of the major surviving vintage brands, such as Beijing, Guangzhou, Seagull and Shanghai). They either purchase one of the movements listed above from its manufacturer and combine it with their own case, dial and hands, or outsource the manufacturing completely to one of the OEM companies listed below.
Major modern brands
A more complete list of modern Chinese brands can be found here. However, a relatively small number of brands have been the most successful inside of China and represent the mainstream of the modern Chinese watch industry. These brands are:
Online modern brands
Some very small Chinese brands only sell their watches online, either through their own websites or through sites like eBay or Taobao. Some of these brands specialise in producing homage watches, while others come up with their own designs. Many of these brands "pop up overnight", and often disappear just as quickly. These informally known as "Mushroom brands". Some brands, despite being entirely or largely Chinese in origin, claim to have European heritage, and these are sometimes called "Germasian or Eurasian brands". Some prominent online brands are listed below, and more can be found here.
Major non-movement-manufacturing companies
The modern Chinese watch industry includes a number of large companies who do not manufacture watch movements but nevertheless play an important role in the industry.
Many modern Chinese watch factories sell movements to other companies, but these sales are not always direct. PTS Resources are a major movement distributor who sell movements from many major watch factories, including Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Nanning and Shanghai.
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)
Main article: OEM
The term OEM, Original Equipment Manufacturer, refers to manufacturers who build products for others to sell under their own brand names.
An increasing number of non-Chinese companies are making use of Chinese manufactured movements in their watches. Some examples are: