Yantai Polaris Watch Factory
Yantai Polaris Watch General Factory is a state-owned subsidiary of Yantai Polaris State-holding Company, a large horological enterprise owning the famous Polaris (Beijixing) brand. The Polaris brand, primarily seen on clocks, is applied to a small range of quartz and mechanical watches. The other watch-related products manufactured by Yantai Polaris are small, generic-sized quartz movements.
It is unclear whether any mechanical movements are manufactured in Yantai. Mechanical Polaris watches appear to use designs identical to those known from other manufacturers (e.g. Shanghai Watch Factory) so they are likely bought-in.
In 1915, China's first modern clock factory - Baoshi Clock Factory - was built in Yantai, Shandong Province, by the industrialist Li Dongshan (1873-1946). Under the brand name 'Bao' many types of clocks were manufactured there. The provincial government in 1956 reorganized the horological enterprises in the city into the Yantai Clock Factory, and China's first marine chronometer was successfully developed the following year. The first Yantai wristwatch was prototyped in 1959, and entered limited production under the brand name Beijixing (Polaris). This brand was subsequently adopted for all products from this factory. In 1962 the Yantai Clock Factory became the Shandong Yantai Timepiece Factory. Watchmaking remained a minor activity.
In the 1970s, as with almost all watchmaking factories in China, the Yantai factory commenced production of 17-jewel watches on the Tongji design. These watches again used the Beijixing brand. Not long after, Yantai's Standard movement was upgraded to 19 jewels. Designated ZYT, it was of good quality. Watches were exported in limited numbers branded Polaris. Beijixing watches continued to be made for the domestic market, including a version with day/night indicator and some simple moon phase models. Additionally a few other brand names were used domestically. In the 1990s, ZYT movements were sold to other manufacturers.
Some ZYT movements have date codes, but many do not. When they appear, the letters YT followed by a 2-digit number indicating the last two numbers of the year of production can be seen under the balance. Example:
- YT89 = 1989
In the 21st century, watchmaking is a minor part of the vast timepiece industry in Yantai. 'Polaris', the English version of the brand is commonly used on watches, clocks and other timekeeping equipment.