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The so-called “1963” was produced by the Tianjin Seagull watch factory for pilots in the Chinese air force who required a watch with a timekeeping mechanism (chronograph) to be their official aviation watch. I’m not sure why foreign collectors mistakenly refer to my watch as 1963, because Chinese collectors refer to it as 304, in reference to its project code name.Editor's Note: I asked my friend, Li Wei, to say a few words about his favorite vintage Chinese mechanical watch for an upcoming feature here on EWR. His reply was so thorough and beyond my expectations, I decided to give it its own post here. (Note: this is a translated, and therefore slightly altered version of his original Chinese article, which can be found here. It's entirely possible that a few details were lost in translation...)
In April 1961, the Chinese Ministry of Light Industry assigned the Tianjin watch factory the task of trial-manufacturing watches for the Chinese air force. The project was a nationally classified task, and given the project code 304. The second batch of more than 30 prototypes was completed by the end of 1963. The sample watches, as the one featured here, turned out to be very successful. So while these prototypes were completed in 1963, it is still more appropriate to refer to them by their project code name, 304.
All Chinese military time-keeping equipment was assigned certain product serial numbers in order to maintain order, as well as confidentiality. At the time, there were a total of 6 categories, with 210 varieties of military time-keeping equipment being developed and produced for the national defense industry. Each product of time-keeping equipment that was trial manufactured in the year 1962 was coded, and each variety of products was given its own coding category. For example, the prefix code of products for the navy and shipbuilding industry was One, so various types of nautical and astronomical mechanical clocks fell under the project code of 101. Likewise, the prefix code of products for the army and weapons industry was Two, with the product code 201 specifying mechanical clocks to be used in Chinese military tanks. The prefix code of products for the air force and aviation was Three. Mechanical clocks used in aviation were coded 301. And finally, 304 was the code given to watches created for Chinese Air Force personnel.
http://www.eastwatchreview.com/blog/201 ... hronograph
As an aside, I believe HKED is making a updated version of this https://www.hkedwatches.com/collections ... hronograph
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