Yanan (延安) was a grade 1 watch brand produced by Hongqi Watch Factory in Xian, Shaanxi province (and not by the little-known Yanan Watch Factory). Yan'an is the name of a city, also in Shaanxi, which played a pivotal role in the Chinese Civil War and Communist Revolution.
Yanan was the first brand produced by Hongqi Watch Factory. Trial production of two models, the so-called XiaoYanan (Little Yanan) and the 1120-101, occurred from 1969 to 1971 with a considerable amount of assistance from representatives of Shanghai Watch Factory. Both models have unsigned 18,000 bph SS1-style movements. The XiaoYanan is quite uncommon, as it was produced for only a few months within the three-year period. The 1120-101 is also uncommon, as only a limited number of small batches were produced. It came in two case types; a smaller case, similar to the Shanghai 1120 and, late in the trial period, a slightly larger case.
The XiaoYanan has a caseback depicting Baotashan (Pagoda Hill), an iconic symbol of the city of Yanan. The image includes an over 1000-year-old pagoda on the hill with many yaodongs, traditional artificial cave dwellings used especially after Japanese bombings during the Second World War destroyed most of the buildings in the city. In the foreground the Yan River Bridge can be seen. The effectively text-only 1120-101 caseback is much plainer.
In January 1972 the factory began full production, introducing a new model, the SHI-101. It, like the 1120-101, is similar to the Shanghai 1120, but its Xian-made SS1-style movement is signed SHI under the balance. It's possible that SHI is in reality SH1, which more closely follows movement designation conventions of the time. A 2-letter date code, similar to Shanghai's was introduced. To differentiate it, however, the first letter, representing the year of production, was Z in 1972. Subsequent years were assigned letters proceeding in reverse alphabetical order. Examples:
- ZH = August 1972
- YA = January 1973
The SHI-102 soon followed. It also is powered by a SHI movement, but it has a bigger case, similar to the Shanghai 1524. In contrast to the relatively plain caseback of the SHI-101, the SHI-102's has a large stylised 延安 (Yanan) at its centre. The SHI-101 and SHI-102 were manufactured between 1972 and 1974. It appears likely that production of both models occurred simultaneously for some or all of this time.
Standard Movement Watches
Production of Standard Movement Yanan brand watches began in 1974, with the model name ZHQ-104 (103 was not used because the number is apparently taboo). ZHQ was the factory's Standard Movement code -- Z stands for Zhongguo (China) and HQ for HongQi. The movement was marked SZH1 on the train bridge and SZH1A under the balance. The two-letter date code system continued to be used, but unlike Shanghai's, it didn't start over when the Standard Movement was introduced. Consequently the earliest (1974) Standard Movement Yanan watches have date codes beginning with the letter X. The ZHQ-104 has what is called the "wheel" caseback where an outer circle is divided into three sections by spokes creating a letter Y.
The next two models were the ZHQ-105 and ZHQ-106. The movements inside them (and subsequent Standard movement models) are signed ZHQ. Most commonly these two models have casebacks with a plum blossom pattern, but a very few late 106 models have a caseback depicting Pagoda Hill inside a diamond-shaped border. In 1978, the ZHQ-206 calendar model was introduced, with its own caseback. ZHQ-107, ZHQ-108 and ZHQB followed. During this time the movement was upgraded to 19 jewels, 20 jewels for calendar models. There was also a rare 20-jewel double calendar model produced in 1980. These models have the diamond Pagoda Hill caseback, the Pagoda Hill and Yan River Waves caseback, or, extremely rarely, the Red Sun over Pagoda Hill caseback.
At the beginning of the 1980s a Yanan double calendar men's quartz watch was produced. It was followed by a single calendar women's quartz model. At this time Hongqi Watch Factory introduced its Butterfly brand, probably with the intent to export. Soon after, the Yanan brand, with its Revolutionary connection, was consigned to history.