Big companies are usually well known, and lots of brands from around the world have become famous even in other countries. Everyone knows Coca-Cola, and lots of people know Michelin and brands such as Volkswagen. What people do not yet know are some of the famous brands from China, even though they are very large companies.
Seagull, for example, is the world’s largest manufacturer of mechanical watch movements. Bigger than anyone! But few people outside of China know of the company or are familiar with their watches.
Seagull, also known as Sea-Gull, was founded in China in 1955 with just four people working to make the watches there. They have grown substantially. In 1992, the company switched production to make only quartz watches, but in 1997, they changed their minds and now make mechanical watches exclusively.
The full company name is Tianjin Seagull Watch Group, and the company is now publicly traded. They make 25% of all of the world’s mechanical watch movements, including those that go into watches that are sold by many other companies under their own brand.
Seagull sells through a variety of retailers, and in the United States, the company sells direct to the public via their own Website, usseagull.com. The company sells a wide variety of watches on their site, and they are of much better quality than many of the less expensive Chinese brands.
Seagull watches have sapphire crystal on many of their models and good water resistance. They also offer a very good warranty – two years parts and labor from the date of purchase. This is a comparable warranty to many other famous brands.
Most of the watches that Seagull makes have automatic (self-winding) mechanical movements. They also make a few watches with manually wound movements for those who like a more traditional watch. They also make a few watches with gold cases. These are the high end models, most of which include a tourbillon.
You may recall that Chinese manufacturers admire the tourbillon and a few of them make them in order to demonstrate their watchmaking skills. Seagull currently offers eight different watches with a tourbillon that sell for prices that range from U.S. $6900 to U.S. $13,800.
Most of the company’s other watches are far less expensive, with many of them being sold at prices as low as $200. For that price, you can still get a watch with a stainless steel case, a Sea-Gull automatic movement, sapphire crystal, 30 meters of water resistance and a power reserve indicator.
One watch that Seagull recently introduced was a special model created to honor the company’s 55th anniversary. This special watch had the number “55” on the dial in place of the usual number “11.”
If you like the chronograph, Seagull makes three different models. What they do not yet seem to make is watches for women. This seems to be true for many Chinese watch manufacturers. While some make a few models for women, most offer only men’s models. This will probably change with time, but most decisions about models are made with Chinese consumers in mind, and right now, most watch buyers are men.
Still, Seagaull has more than 50 years of history making quality watches.