Where You Won’t Find Chinese-Made Movements

While the Chinese watch industry is a fairly sizable one, no one is going to argue that Chinese watches are, on the whole, the equal of their Swiss counterparts.

Don’t misunderstand; while many watches from China are of marginal quality, some of them are of exceptional quality and there are people who will argue that the best watches to come from China are every bit as good as those from Switzerland.

That is an argument for another day.  Today I thought I would write about Chinese-made watch movements.  Some companies make watches.  Some companies only make components for watches that are used by other companies in products that are sold under the buying company’s name.  Some companies make movements for sale to others as well as completed watches.

One example of a company that makes only movements is the Japanese company Miyota.  They are owned by Citizen, a company that does make watches, but Miyota only makes movements that are sold to other companies that put them in watches that they sell under their own name.

The Chinese company Seagull, on the other hand, makes both watches and movements.  They are not only one of the largest watch companies in the world, but they are the single largest manufacturer of watch movements on the planet.

Seagull sells millions of watch movements, yet few people are aware of this, nor are most watch buyers even familiar with the Seagull brand.

Still, there are hundreds of companies around the world that sell watches under their own name that are actually powered by movements that were made by Seagull.  They sell watches, but it’s the movements that pay their bills.  The millions of movements they sell are what allow them to create watches on the side that are interesting and of very high quality.

What is interesting, however, is that relatively few watches sold in China under names other than Seagull actually have Seagull movements in them.  Most of the movements that Seagull sells are exported, rather than being purchased and used domestically.

Why is that?  Many Chinese buyers (the Japanese are like this, too) think that the quality of Chinese-made watches are just fine and they have no problem buying them or owning them.  But they are attracted to the appeal of owning something foreign, and the appeal of buying a foreign-made item adds a certain cachet to the purchase.

As such, many Chinese manufacturers who buy third-party movements for their watches purchase them from Japan.  It has little to do with quality, but it’s more about giving customers what they want.  At the end of the day, that is all any manufacturer wants to do, since the customer is the one with the money.