Hongqi Watch Factory

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Hongqi (Red Flag) Watch Factory was the largest manufacturer of wristwatches in northwestern China. It was located in Xian, Shaanxi province. It produced a number of brands of watches, including Yanan and Butterfly, and not, as some might suspect, Hongqi brand watches, which were products of Liaoning Watch Factory.

History

Construction began in 1967 and the first trial watches were produced in 1969, with a significant amount influence from the Ministry of Light Industry and Shanghai Watch Factory. Early watches had SS1 movements based on Shanghai's design. Yanan, the name of the nearby city which served as Communist headquarters from 1936-1948, was chosen as their brand name. Full production began in January 1971. The factory's SS1-style movements were signed SHI.

Hongqi Watch Factory was involved in the Chinese Standard Movement project. It released its version in 1974 in new watches bearing the Yanan brand name. Their quality is very good, and the brand achieved grade 1 status. In the late 1970s, the number of jewels increased in HWF's standard movements from 17 to 19 jewels, 20 jewels in calendar watches. Quartz models were released to the market at the beginning of the 1980s.

In 1980, apparently with an intent to export, the factory introduced a new grade 1 brand with the English-language name Butterfly. Early Butterfly brand watches were powered by the ZHQ Standard movement. Sometime in the 1980s a new, thinner 17-jewel mechanical movement, the SHD7ZS was developed. A 26-jewel (possibly 28 too) automatic version followed. It appears that the SHD7ZS and the standard movement were manufactured simultaneously for a time. Butterfly watches won national level competitions several times. In 1987, the factory's name was changed to Hudie Shoubiaochang (Butterfly Watch Factory).

The factory did not survive the challenges it faced due to reorganisation and foreign competition, and closed in the late 1990s. Bankruptcy was finalised in 2002.

Brands