nimbleboy wrote: ↑
April 10th 2020, 6:00pm
I really like these. I've looked into it, but I'm not sure I've gone the right places... plus, it's been awhile. So... are any of these "official," or "more official" than others? I know the HKED watches are new designs (and they're sooo good), but I am wondering about these anew, I guess.
CJ, the non-practicing librarian who could damn-well look this stuff up again, for god's sake...
Here's my present
Between about 2005 and 2010, so far as I know, all 1963s were coming from Tsinlien Sea-Gull (HK) which I understand to be a subsidiary or associate company to Tianjin Sea-Gull Watch Factory, at that time mostly through Thomas Leung as an employee of Tsinlien.
Details are unclear about the separation of Thomas with Tsinlien, but in 2010 or 2011, Thomas and Tsinlien separated and Thomas began his own company, making '63s. Tsinlien might
still make '63s, but so far as I know, they don't sell directly to single customers any more, even if they exist. Thomas sells to single customers, though, and also to other sellers as well, including HKED, with a range available variants.
Tianjin Sea-Gull only started selling/producing (both?) the commonly known design '63 model re-issues recently, about a year or so ago. maybe two.
I interviewed Thomas directly about this, and there's audio--and also links to Thomas's Time King Industrial Company Limited, as well as photos of some of his other "Red Star" branded products--so you can hear some of this as directly as I got it.
I don't near fully know which producer/distributor has greatest market share, nor do I know fully who sells to who.
: Although, like I said, Tianjin did not sell the most widely known design of Chinese Air Force chronograph until recently, they did (and still do?) sell a 304 watch they call(ed?) the "D304". If I recall it was in the market from about 2011/12 to 2019, But it looks markedly different that what we're used to--except the 304 logo, and not a star
That last is a TJ Sea-Gull advertising image.
I also understand that only Sea-Gull produces/distributes ST/TY 19xx movements, but I don't know if that is TJ, HK or both. Among the sellers, there are differences in the movements, some with differing engraving, others with swan necks, etc., but all are from Sea-Gull. (And, of course, Sea-Gull ST19xx movements are found in lots of micro-brand mechanical chronos, too).
That said, and as I've put elsewhere:
Tianjin Sea-Gull *is* the original maker of Project 304 watches, and is one of the original 8 domestic watch factories in China. Company history goes back to around 1954/1955, and they have a long-established record of self-branded and OEM movement production. That history, track-record and direct lineage to the original provide ample justification for the higher asking price for their re-issues, although every individual customer is free to decide whether or not to pay a higher price for that, or to purchase an alternate that is cosmetically extremely similar (slight variants in dial printing), and that also contains a Sea-Gull movement.
As well, Tianjin Sea-Gull certainly has the most stringent "authenticity" protocols (QR codes integrated with Wechat) and they very much appear to support the understanding that they are the "official" producer, now.
A historical note
: Although present Tianjin Sea-Gull Watch Factory watches have a red star, that's not accurate to the original Project 304s I've seen. The very first original Project 304 watch looked like this, what TJSGWF calls "the first aircraft watch in China," taken by me in 2013 at the Tianjin Sea-Gull Factory museum in Tianjin. No star/no 304 logo. The upper logo is, simply "Tianjin" and the lower text here is "WuYi Watch Factory" in Han characters, which was the factory name at the time.
all the general production originals I've seen do have the 304 (now HKED style) logo and, instead, look like this:
Taken by me at the Tianjin Collectors Association private museum in 2013.
Taken by me at the Shenzhen Watch and Clock Fair 2019 vintage watch exhibit, a collaboration some of the country's top collectors.
A photo provided from Micmicmor collector Joel Chan, and
An original black dial, first shown to me at EastWatchReview by Ed from HKED,
As you can see, I have a Watchunique version in my collection, and three HKED versions, and the Chinese Watch Enthusiast Association version. I also have other non-'63 but still HKED and/or Thomas/Watchuseek collaborations in my collection as well.
Which all leads to: I don't know how to exactly answer your question about "official" except to give you as broad a view of the territory as I can, let you see how my collection has approached it, recommend the usual "buy the seller, not the watch" proviso, and raise questions like lineage, aesthetic accuracy, and about who the main players are, or might be. And, of course, tease you with photos of gorgeous variants :-)
I provide opinions, not advice, and I know nothing of the background legalities between any of the players.