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Thread: Seagull movements.

  1. #101
    Craftsman Richie_101's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Great thread Bob!

    I'm intrigued by the Delph software that you are using, it looks pretty comprehensive. I see that you are testing in each position for 16 seconds, is that long enough to get an accurate reading?

    The reason I ask is that I use a Microset timer, which takes a sample every 5 seconds, so 16 seconds wouldn't be nearly enough time to get a decent reading. Do you know how many samples the Delph software takes in that time?

    Rich.

  2. #102

    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richie_101
    Great thread Bob!

    I'm intrigued by the Delph software that you are using, it looks pretty comprehensive. I see that you are testing in each position for 16 seconds, is that long enough to get an accurate reading?

    The reason I ask is that I use a Microset timer, which takes a sample every 5 seconds, so 16 seconds wouldn't be nearly enough time to get a decent reading. Do you know how many samples the Delph software takes in that time?

    Rich.
    Are you sure about the Microset? That doesn't sound right to me.

    The Delph timer takes 96000 samples a second. A watch train running at 28800 vph has 8 beats per second. So, it is 12000 samples per beat.

    Best wishes,
    Bob

    PS The sampling rate is sound card dependent. There are sound cards that can sample at more than 96kHz, e.g., 192kHz. Perhaps the microset needs 5 seconds for a valid sample? The only tricky bit in using a sound card is calibrating it.

    It is relatively CPU intensive. I have a two Xeon 2.66GHZ CPUs, and 3GB of memory. It uses about 15 percent of the capacity of one of the CPUs.
    RLF

  3. #103
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Hi Bob,

    Not related to the movements, although I'm very impressed with the analysis so far, but how come when I view this thread using firefox in windows it loads like arse, but when using FF on FreeBSD it's speedy as hell?

    Cheers,

    Mark

  4. #104

    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by smashie
    Hi Bob,

    Not related to the movements, although I'm very impressed with the analysis so far, but how come when I view this thread using firefox in windows it loads like arse, but when using FF on FreeBSD it's speedy as hell?

    Cheers,

    Mark
    I'm not sure. This is just a guess. The Firefox on Windows loads everything before displaying anything? Whereas on FreeBSD is displays incrementally? Alternatively, it could be that the pictures are cached on FreeBSD, but not cached on Windows. But, frankly, you've got me on this one. It isn't that I've got any special anti-Windows formatting. ;)

    Best wishes,
    Bob

  5. #105
    Craftsman Richie_101's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    I'm sure you're right about the Microset, it couldn't possibly be taking only one sample every 5 seconds. It's the terminology that is confusing I think as they call every 5 seconds worth of 'listening' a 'sample'.

    When using the standalone timer, the readout on the screen is updated every 5 seconds, so for a 16 seconds of 'listening' I would only have seen 3 readouts which isn't enough to be sure about the rate. Whether the sampling is done in real time when connected to the Microset computer interface I wouldn't know as I don't have a copy.

    I've read that when using the Microset, an average of 100 readouts (100 x 5 secs) should be recorded in each position, but I've found that 50 is more than enough. Using the Delph software that would be a serious amount of information!

    Thanks for the info on the Delph timer though, it looks like a decent piece of kit.

    Rich.

  6. #106

    Re: Seagull movements.

    Bob, I can contribute absolutely nothing to this thread, other than to say that it's been (and is) probably THE most wonderfully informative and enlightening threads I've read in these fora.

    It's also interesting to compare some of the reaction to these reviews of the Seagull movements to those of Walt Odets' review of the Rolex 14270 in the Explorer I. While there is obviously a massive difference between Seagull and Rolex, my interpretation of the experiences born out of both show that there is more to it than simple, linear causality between finishing and real-world performance.

    EDIT: One of these days I'll learn to, before I post it, proofread text for intelligibility that has been hacked to bits in an editor. I hope.

  7. #107

    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by rfrazier
    Quote Originally Posted by swanbourne
    I'm interested to see whether you can tweak the ST26 for better performance Bob.

    It will probably go all pear shaped, but I'm off to the shed to clean it (while smoking a cigar), then I'll oil it and put enough of it back together to time it.

    I'm not going to clean the automatic winding system (indeed, I won't even put it back on until it is cased up). Since the mainspring is new, and the inside of the barrel looks clean, I'll leave that be.

    Best wishes,
    Bob
    I got it back together okay.


    1600 x n.
    Full size.

    I spent quite a bit of time today fiddling with it, including messing with the hairspring, changing the beat, checking the pivots, etc. I introduced significant errors (not on purpose), got rid of them, tried it again, etc.

    Here's the best I could do.


    The rate is pretty good. 2.78 s/d with 3.15 s/d difference between the slowest and fastest. The beat is okay (I think). The amplitude isn't all it should be. It is okay in the vertical positions (PU and PD), but should be a bit better in the horizontal positions (PL, DD, and DU). I suspect the amplitude would improve with another cleaning (as the movement is now pretty dirty from my fiddling).

    This is the end. (I've got to get back to the "a complete watch" project).

    Best wishes,
    Bob

    PS I didn't use the fine regulator. I set it to the center and left it. Using it, one could, of course, get things closer to 0s/d. I was mostly interested in difference in rate between positions, beat and amplitude.
    RLF
    Last edited by rfrazier; 9th November 2014 at 03:24.

  8. #108

    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by abraxas
    Quote Originally Posted by bricktop
    ..........

    I don't care if a watch costs more with an ETA movement, I'd happily pay for it.
    I am afraid I feel the same. And as we are not talking about a hell of a lot of money ... for a Chinese movement to impress me, it would have to be the same cost as a Swiss one but offering superior quality.

    john
    But John, didn't you expect Swiss to be superior at almost every level? And SIGNIFICANTLY superior overall? I did. Although, as I stated on another post---the 2824 has not served me well in more than one occasion.

  9. #109
    Grand Master Daddelvirks's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    This was all very interesting reading, thanks for posting!
    This shows that if the Chinese do a bit more work they are getting pretty close to Swiss quality standards.

    Cheers,

    Daddel.
    Got a new watch, divers watch it is, had to drown the bastard to get it!

  10. #110
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Great report, Bob. So-so movement - having seen your report I'd be more concerned about gunk left inside the watch eventually working loose and affecting long term reliability moreso than the actual design of the thing. Wonder if it would be cost effective to get somebody to clean and service each one to avoid future hassles...

    Ming

  11. #111

    Re: Seagull movements.

    Thank for your kind comments, folks!

    I've been curious about the better Chinese movements, and it was good to have this curiosity satisfied.

    Best wishes,
    Bob

  12. #112
    Grand Master magirus's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Thanks for your time and effort on this project Bob.I held off reading through it until it was complete and have found it fascinating and informative, not only in the ETA v ST sense, but also for helping along my slow understanding of what all of the gubbins inside a watch does! :)

  13. #113
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Bob, I think you've now entered WIS Valhalla with these posts :-)

    Time to name a temple after you there... :-)
    We can't stop here, this is bat country.


  14. #114
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    I imported seagulls for a couple of years into the US, even sold some here. Shipped more than 300 of various types and models. I can't remember getting a non-chrono back with a movement problem, got a couple back with scratches, but who knows I may have done that packing them. The chronos worked very well, with the only weakness being 5% or having a wandering second hand reset. The problem was the same on all of the ones that came back... burrs on the reset lever that was catching, once these was polished off they worked fine.

    I even bought one of the triple dates to see if they could possibly get all that to work, and it ran like a charm.

    I quit because the shipping and recieving was a royal pain, took more time than it was worth with my real job. When I was selling them I made very little, and any that came back came out of my pocket. That being said I would have no problem buying a seagull I liked, or a watch with a seagull movement. Knowing the one "weakness" I saw with the chrono, and confident Eddie knows too, has me anxious for the prs-5.

    Looking at the microscopic pictures can make you shudder, seeing the differences in fit and finish but I doubt it really makes a difference one way or another on the wrist. I have a seiko 6309 I bought in 1982 in okinawa, has the movement fit and finish of a russian car, but it has been through the wars (literally), even saved my wrist by absorbing the hit from a slamming tank hatch, and still works great with no service since new.

  15. #115
    Grand Master Griswold's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Firstly Bob, many thanks for undertaking this major piece of dis-assembly, analysis and reassembly; and for an excellent review and report on the two movements.

    I have been following the thread closely, but have refrained from comment so far as I wanted to fully digest the huge amount of information you provided for us.

    From my long standing work on and with mechanical telephone systems I feel I can draw some comparisons with your findings. I guess others in different branches of 'engineering' may also have a view, though it may or may not be similar to mine; however, here goes.

    The key areas that affect accuracy, repeatability, reliability and long term stability, (given suitable maintenance), of any mechanical telephone system are those where a physical interface occurs, i.e. the moving bits that touch each other; the bearings, gears, relay springs, contacts etc. Of far less importance, (other than to the eye), is the finish of those parts simply charged with holding the key areas together - but more of that later.

    I think it is the same with watch movements, and whilst the areas of contact are finer and to tighter tolerances in watches than in telephone systems and the loadings and stress on them is significantly less; the principles remain the same.

    From the pictures you kindly provided it would seem evident that all those physical interfaces, the pivots, jewels, gears/teeth, (those you showed at any rate), and bearings on the Seagulls were in the right place and of an equal standard and quality to those on the ETA. This would also appear to be born out by your findings on the movements accuracy.

    There is nothing to suggest, either from your pictures or your report, that maintenance/servicing would be an issue as neither Seagull movement appears to have any untoward complexity - I've always been an advocate of the KISS principle where mechanics are concerned - so it would be reasonable to suspect that wear and tear would happen at a similar rate to that of the ETA. So long term stability and accuracy should also be similar to that of an ETA.

    In respect of the fluff and other debris, that shows a certain failing in the assembly process/area. It was interesting to note that the second movement was better in respect to this than the first. Different assembly area/plant/process? Better QC? Who knows? But I'm sure that if Seagull were made aware of such findings, (on a global basis, not just one report), then they would quickly take steps to manage that problem out.

    So what about finish? Ah, the thing that people see and draw conclusions about! When I worked on mechanical telephone systems the Clerk of Works would complain about sign-writing on relays being out of alignment. Didn't affect performance, couldn't be seen when the covers were on; and external customers would never see it anyway as they never go in there................. It's the same, I think, with watches.

    And that's the major stumbling block to promoting movements such as these Seagulls. For no matter how good they are connoisseurs will look at the outward appearances of the more visible parts simply charged with holding the key areas together and make judgements based on that appearance. And, of course, close up photographs only help to exaggerate any imperfections that may exist in these lesser important areas anyway. :(

    One could argue of course that it's more than that. 'Finish' can also reasonably be seen to be a reflection of the overall care a manufacturer takes in his product. But then the cost of improving the finish would only lead to improved perception and not greater accuracy or reliability. In the end it's like so many things, a compromise. One which will suit some but not others. And one that a wider public, (i.e. non-WIS), wouldn't see or care about anyway. They pick up a phone dial a number and talk to somebody.... they pick up a watch, strap it on their wrist and tell the time.

    Of course, all of this could be skewed by the size of the sample. One of each type isn't necessarily a reflection of the product as a whole, Seagull or ETA. And yes, it would have been nice to have had a few more taken apart, and it would have been nice for you to have had the time, (and inclination? :wink: :lol: ), to do it. But we have to draw upon what we have.

    So, would I buy a watch from Eddie with a Seagull movement in it? Dunno. But I can say it would be down to the design and individuality of the watch. From what you've shown of the movements and what they do there's nothing to put me off on that score.

    Apologies for my rambling, I just felt I had to put my thoughts down as some sort of expression of my thanks for all the work you've put in on this. Thanks again Bob. :)
    Best Regards - Peter
    Please Note: It is possible that Griswold may know nothing whatsoever about horology. It's even possible that he has never even owned a watch. It is also highly possible the he has a strange imagination. His wife insists he would be far better off paying more attention to taking his medication on time.

  16. #116
    Grand Master hogthrob's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by Griswold
    From my long standing work on and with mechanical telephone systems
    Oil dag. Vertical marking bank. Final Selector. :D

    Get a load of this (clickable):

  17. #117
    Grand Master Griswold's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by hogthrob
    Quote Originally Posted by Griswold
    From my long standing work on and with mechanical telephone systems
    Oil dag. Vertical marking bank. Final Selector. :D
    Now you're talking my language :D :D :D :D :D :D :D


    Still got my Atkinson's Telephony Vols 1 and 2 :wink: :lol:
    Best Regards - Peter
    Please Note: It is possible that Griswold may know nothing whatsoever about horology. It's even possible that he has never even owned a watch. It is also highly possible the he has a strange imagination. His wife insists he would be far better off paying more attention to taking his medication on time.

  18. #118
    Grand Master hogthrob's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Listen to this: http://www.seg.co.uk/telecomm/step1.wav

    Sorry about the thread hijack

  19. #119
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Hello Bob,

    Excellent post! :D A few of the other forums are buzzing about this post and I had to come over here and check it out. It was well worth it.

    I'm no expert but I am familiar with Seagull ST16, ST17, ST19, & ST25's but have never heard of the ST24 & ST26. Do you know any history behind these movements or what watch brands are using them?

    I just searched through some of the forums and saw mention of a ST18 that is a ETA 2824 clone. Can anyone shed some light on this discrepancy?

    Cheers,
    gigfy

  20. #120

    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by gigfy
    Hello Bob,

    Excellent post! :D A few of the other forums are buzzing about this post and I had to come over here and check it out. It was well worth it.

    I'm no expert but I am familiar with Seagull ST16, ST17, ST19, & ST25's but have never heard of the ST24 & ST26. Do you know any history behind these movements or what watch brands are using them?

    I just searched through some of the forums and saw mention of a ST18 that is a ETA 2824 clone. Can anyone shed some light on this discrepancy?

    Cheers,
    gigfy
    I don't anything else about them. I got them from Eddie.

    Best wishes,
    Bob

  21. #121
    Administrator swanbourne's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    I got them from my German supplier who keeps "suggesting" that I consider using them due to the current difficulties obtaining ETA at sensible prices. The supply situation will not get better, so I can see others turning to Chinese movements in the next 2 or 3 years and it makes sense to start the change now rather than do it in a panic later.

    I don't know how long the movements have been sat in a cupboard or drawer and I don't know how much of the debris found inside the movements accumulated after they left the factory, all I know is that they were already in his possession. The Seagull factory has been producing mechanical movements since 1955, so I think we can assume they know quite a bit about movement manufacture and they do make some very high end movements (genuine tourbillons and repeaters) which do not sell for typical Chinese prices.

    Regarding the finish of the movements, has anyone taken a close look at the Seiko 7S26, 35 or 36? Miyota movements are only finished where they need to be as well. You can buy some of the finest furniture in the world but you will still see that they don't bother French-polishing the parts that you can't see.

    Eddie
    Whole chunks of my life come under the heading "it seemed like a good idea at the time".

  22. #122
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Hi Eddie,

    I was just composing an email to you and noticed your post. I don't usually hang out here but I do visit from time to time.

    Thanks for the info. I've asked about these movements in the Chinese Mechanicals forum. Someone will know something about them.

    As far as a ETA 2824 replacement. Have you considered a Sellita SW200? There was a great article last November in the International Watch magazine that talked about the company and their movements. I can send it to you if you are interested. I think you can view it online at their website but you have to pay.

    Cheers,
    gigfy

  23. #123
    Administrator swanbourne's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    We discussed Sellita elsewhere on the forum. They're not cheap and have suffered reliability problems.

    Eddie
    Whole chunks of my life come under the heading "it seemed like a good idea at the time".

  24. #124
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    new Watch Time does a review on "fliegers," they singled out the one with the sellita because of its bad performance in the timekeeping variability tests.

  25. #125
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by swanbourne
    I got them from my German supplier who keeps "suggesting" that I consider using them due to the current difficulties obtaining ETA at sensible prices. The supply situation will not get better, so I can see others turning to Chinese movements in the next 2 or 3 years and it makes sense to start the change now rather than do it in a panic later.



    Eddie
    makes sense to me, i say go for it Eddie

    karl

  26. #126
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Any idea what the repeater movements cost? :D

  27. #127
    Grand Master abraxas's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ming Thein
    Any idea what the repeater movements cost? :D
    The watch is around 9.5K. The movs have just been made so I doubt if they'd as yet be on the market. Heinrich Geisen has managed to get five of them tho ...
    http://forums.watchuseek.com/showthread.php?p=794652

    john

  28. #128
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by abraxas
    Quote Originally Posted by Ming Thein
    Any idea what the repeater movements cost? :D
    The watch is around 9.5K. The movs have just been made so I doubt if they'd as yet be on the market. Heinrich Geisen has managed to get five of them tho ...
    http://forums.watchuseek.com/showthread.php?p=794652

    john
    Interesting...

  29. #129
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Thanks very much for that magnificent job of work. Such a good series of posts - and thread- that I felt I rteally had to join up and thank you for it.

    I have been watching the Chinese watch industry for some time now, buying representative watches (for peanuts) every six months or so. the last two years have been a period of transformation - with the emergence of credible brands that are starting to move away from the rebadged fake 'homage' approach towards having a genuine brand identity. You have demonstrated rather well that in the all important mid range they are on the verge of having the movements to support their drive towards recognition as credible mass market brands in their own right. Have you considered an analysis of any lower end movements such as the ST16 (which I have found (anecdotally) capable of remarkably strong performance. There might also be a great deal of interest in looking at their Venus clone: the ST19.

    I am firmly of the opinion that the massive skills base and tradition of excellence that Maoist China almost managed to extinguish is resurgent. How well the Swiss are going to weather the eventual appearance of cheap, very high quality, mechanical watches remains to be seen. It could be as catastrophic for them as quartz was in the seventies and eighties.

    SO apart from that, hello all and sundry. As I'm here, I have to say; thanks for the Goldbird, it's a bloody marvelous watch (even if I did fit a MKII '53 date to it!)

  30. #130

    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt
    I am firmly of the opinion that the massive skills base and tradition of excellence that Maoist China almost managed to extinguish is resurgent. How well the Swiss are going to weather the eventual appearance of cheap, very high quality, mechanical watches remains to be seen. It could be as catastrophic for them as quartz was in the seventies and eighties.
    100% in agreement. They have the movements, but they still do not have the taste for design (I was in Beijing during Easter and went into some true chinese watch shops, just to go away horrified about the terrible design of watches!), and hence people like Eddie will have their chance.

  31. #131

    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt
    Have you considered an analysis of any lower end movements such as the ST16 (which I have found (anecdotally) capable of remarkably strong performance.
    I bought a really low end one last year to take a look at. I don't remember which calibre/manufacturer. It was garbage, and I tossed it.

    Best wishes,
    Bob

  32. #132

    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by Griswold
    Firstly Bob, many thanks for undertaking this major piece of dis-assembly, analysis and reassembly; and for an excellent review and report on the two movements.

    I have been following the thread closely, but have refrained from comment so far as I wanted to fully digest the huge amount of information you provided for us.

    From my long standing work on and with mechanical telephone systems I feel I can draw some comparisons with your findings. I guess others in different branches of 'engineering' may also have a view, though it may or may not be similar to mine; however, here goes.

    The key areas that affect accuracy, repeatability, reliability and long term stability, (given suitable maintenance), of any mechanical telephone system are those where a physical interface occurs, i.e. the moving bits that touch each other; the bearings, gears, relay springs, contacts etc. Of far less importance, (other than to the eye), is the finish of those parts simply charged with holding the key areas together - but more of that later.

    I think it is the same with watch movements, and whilst the areas of contact are finer and to tighter tolerances in watches than in telephone systems and the loadings and stress on them is significantly less; the principles remain the same.

    From the pictures you kindly provided it would seem evident that all those physical interfaces, the pivots, jewels, gears/teeth, (those you showed at any rate), and bearings on the Seagulls were in the right place and of an equal standard and quality to those on the ETA. This would also appear to be born out by your findings on the movements accuracy.

    There is nothing to suggest, either from your pictures or your report, that maintenance/servicing would be an issue as neither Seagull movement appears to have any untoward complexity - I've always been an advocate of the KISS principle where mechanics are concerned - so it would be reasonable to suspect that wear and tear would happen at a similar rate to that of the ETA. So long term stability and accuracy should also be similar to that of an ETA.

    In respect of the fluff and other debris, that shows a certain failing in the assembly process/area. It was interesting to note that the second movement was better in respect to this than the first. Different assembly area/plant/process? Better QC? Who knows? But I'm sure that if Seagull were made aware of such findings, (on a global basis, not just one report), then they would quickly take steps to manage that problem out.

    So what about finish? Ah, the thing that people see and draw conclusions about! When I worked on mechanical telephone systems the Clerk of Works would complain about sign-writing on relays being out of alignment. Didn't affect performance, couldn't be seen when the covers were on; and external customers would never see it anyway as they never go in there................. It's the same, I think, with watches.

    And that's the major stumbling block to promoting movements such as these Seagulls. For no matter how good they are connoisseurs will look at the outward appearances of the more visible parts simply charged with holding the key areas together and make judgements based on that appearance. And, of course, close up photographs only help to exaggerate any imperfections that may exist in these lesser important areas anyway. :(

    One could argue of course that it's more than that. 'Finish' can also reasonably be seen to be a reflection of the overall care a manufacturer takes in his product. But then the cost of improving the finish would only lead to improved perception and not greater accuracy or reliability. In the end it's like so many things, a compromise. One which will suit some but not others. And one that a wider public, (i.e. non-WIS), wouldn't see or care about anyway. They pick up a phone dial a number and talk to somebody.... they pick up a watch, strap it on their wrist and tell the time.

    Of course, all of this could be skewed by the size of the sample. One of each type isn't necessarily a reflection of the product as a whole, Seagull or ETA. And yes, it would have been nice to have had a few more taken apart, and it would have been nice for you to have had the time, (and inclination? :wink: :lol: ), to do it. But we have to draw upon what we have.

    So, would I buy a watch from Eddie with a Seagull movement in it? Dunno. But I can say it would be down to the design and individuality of the watch. From what you've shown of the movements and what they do there's nothing to put me off on that score.

    Apologies for my rambling, I just felt I had to put my thoughts down as some sort of expression of my thanks for all the work you've put in on this. Thanks again Bob. :)
    Thanks, Peter.

    I've been thinking about what you've said, on and off. Here are my first thoughts.

    I think that you are absolutely correct in that we differentiate between the utility goodness of something, and its other qualities, e.g., beauty, although sometimes one can be a sign of the other.

    If one wants just utility, then quartz might be the way to go. If one wants mechanical utility, well let's put that aside for a minute. One might also want aesthetic beauty. Let's also put that aside. There is something else that one might want. It isn't purely aesthetic, but something like honesty in craft. This is difficult to characterize, but, in this case, it has something to do with an complete expression of the watchmaker's craft. This doesn't require anything to be tarted-up, but does require attention to detail.

    It is this honesty in craft that the Swiss watch manufacturers are trading on. All their advertising showing people at benches in little Swiss villages is playing on this. We know the truth is that a lot of things are done by machines in industrial, mass production, settings, but some of them, to some extent, are still trying to realize some of these craft values in their production. Although they are now engaged, for the most part, in industrial watchmaking, their roots are firmly in watchmaking as a craft. Swiss watchmaking started as a craft and wound up as an automated industry. The more industrial it gets, the less of the craft values it reflects.

    The Chinese watch movement makers have stripped away the craft like features of making mechanical movements. They are starting at the other end, with industrial, automated manufacturing. They are moving, perhaps slowly, to incorporate the attention to detail that reflects the craft values of watchmaking.

    Now to mechanical utility. It is here where the two will first meet, and, indeed, probably have met. The Chinese movements are probably just about as good mechanically. But, they don't reflect much of the honesty of craft that we want. At the upper end, the Chinese will get better, with more attention to detail, reflecting more of the craft values. At the bottom end, the Swiss will care less and less about the craft values, and treat it as an industrial exercise. (Notice the change in shape of teeth on the wheel of the ETA 2824.) The interesting question is how much they (the Swiss) want the top tier associated with their bottom tier, as they drop more and more the craft values at the bottom.

    So, the Swiss (ETA, etc.) are moving upmarket where the margins are better, and they can afford to realize more of the craft values, even if only in an industrial way. But, they are being chased by the Chinese manufacturers who are also trying to realize some of those values in their manufacturing processes.

    It will all end in tears. ;)

    Best wishes,
    Bob

  33. #133

    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by rfrazier

    Thanks, Peter.

    I've been thinking about what you've said, on and off. Here are my first thoughts.

    I think that you are absolutely correct in that we differentiate between the utility goodness of something, and its other qualities, e.g., beauty, although sometimes one can be a sign of the other.

    If one wants just utility, then quartz might be the way to go. If one wants mechanical utility, well let's put that aside for a minute. One might also want aesthetic beauty. Let's also put that aside. There is something else that one might want. It isn't purely aesthetic, but something like honesty in craft. This is difficult to characterize, but, in this case, it has something to do with an complete expression of the watchmaker's craft. This doesn't require anything to be tarted-up, but does require attention to detail.

    It is this honesty in craft that the Swiss watch manufacturers are trading on. All their advertising showing people at benches in little Swiss villages is playing on this. We know the truth is that a lot of things are done by machines in industrial, mass production, settings, but some of them, to some extent, are still trying to realize some of these craft values in their production. Although they are now engaged, for the most part, in industrial watchmaking, their roots are firmly in watchmaking as a craft. Swiss watchmaking started as a craft and wound up as an automated industry. The more industrial it gets, the less of the craft values it reflects.

    The Chinese watch movement makers have stripped away the craft like features of making mechanical movements. They are starting at the other end, with industrial, automated manufacturing. They are moving, perhaps slowly, to incorporate the attention to detail that reflects the craft values of watchmaking.

    Now to mechanical utility. It is here where the two will first meet, and, indeed, probably have met. The Chinese movements are probably just about as good mechanically. But, they don't reflect much of the honesty of craft that we want. At the upper end, the Chinese will get better, with more attention to detail, reflecting more of the craft values. At the bottom end, the Swiss will care less and less about the craft values, and treat it as an industrial exercise. (Notice the change in shape of teeth on the wheel of the ETA 2824.) The interesting question is how much they (the Swiss) want the top tier associated with their bottom tier, as they drop more and more the craft values at the bottom.

    So, the Swiss (ETA, etc.) are moving upmarket where the margins are better, and they can afford to realize more of the craft values, even if only in an industrial way. But, they are being chased by the Chinese manufacturers who are also trying to realize some of those values in their manufacturing processes.

    It will all end in tears. ;)

    Best wishes,
    Bob
    Very thought-provoking, Bob.
    Thank you for sharing.

    R
    Ignorance breeds Fear. Fear breeds Hatred. Hatred breeds Ignorance. Break the chain.

  34. #134
    Grand Master abraxas's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by ralphy
    ...................

    Very thought-provoking, Bob.
    Thank you for sharing.

    R
    I thought so too.

    john

  35. #135

    Re: Seagull movements.

    Yep, I agree....

  36. #136
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by mr1973
    Btw, TZ-UK member pugwash has set up a very nice page about chinese movements:

    http://jearle.free.fr/pugwash/
    I'd best move that site as I no longer have access to my old French site. :)

    Edit: Ok, I've read the whole thread. Excellent breakdown! Nice work, Bob.

  37. #137
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    That's so true, Bob.
    But hopefully tears at significantly reduced prices. :D

  38. #138

    Re: Seagull movements.

    It appears to me that performance is going to be ok, just QC is the problem, I wonder if the price differential would warrant re-finishing and assembly in europe to iron out these issues. No doubt the cost would double, but if availability is the main issue.....maybe theres mileage in it?

  39. #139
    Master Jim:'s Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Fascinating stuff and real food for thought.

    How is it that the Chinese are moving forward yet the Russians are standing still?

    Jim

  40. #140
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by rfrazier
    Thanks, Peter.

    I've been thinking about what you've said, on and off. Here are my first thoughts.

    I think that you are absolutely correct in that we differentiate between the utility goodness of something, and its other qualities, e.g., beauty, although sometimes one can be a sign of the other.

    If one wants just utility, then quartz might be the way to go. If one wants mechanical utility, well let's put that aside for a minute. One might also want aesthetic beauty. Let's also put that aside. There is something else that one might want. It isn't purely aesthetic, but something like honesty in craft. This is difficult to characterize, but, in this case, it has something to do with an complete expression of the watchmaker's craft. This doesn't require anything to be tarted-up, but does require attention to detail.

    It is this honesty in craft that the Swiss watch manufacturers are trading on. All their advertising showing people at benches in little Swiss villages is playing on this. We know the truth is that a lot of things are done by machines in industrial, mass production, settings, but some of them, to some extent, are still trying to realize some of these craft values in their production. Although they are now engaged, for the most part, in industrial watchmaking, their roots are firmly in watchmaking as a craft. Swiss watchmaking started as a craft and wound up as an automated industry. The more industrial it gets, the less of the craft values it reflects.

    The Chinese watch movement makers have stripped away the craft like features of making mechanical movements. They are starting at the other end, with industrial, automated manufacturing. They are moving, perhaps slowly, to incorporate the attention to detail that reflects the craft values of watchmaking.

    Now to mechanical utility. It is here where the two will first meet, and, indeed, probably have met. The Chinese movements are probably just about as good mechanically. But, they don't reflect much of the honesty of craft that we want. At the upper end, the Chinese will get better, with more attention to detail, reflecting more of the craft values. At the bottom end, the Swiss will care less and less about the craft values, and treat it as an industrial exercise. (Notice the change in shape of teeth on the wheel of the ETA 2824.) The interesting question is how much they (the Swiss) want the top tier associated with their bottom tier, as they drop more and more the craft values at the bottom.

    So, the Swiss (ETA, etc.) are moving upmarket where the margins are better, and they can afford to realize more of the craft values, even if only in an industrial way. But, they are being chased by the Chinese manufacturers who are also trying to realize some of those values in their manufacturing processes.

    It will all end in tears. ;)

    Best wishes,
    Bob
    Very interesting Bob, and as others have said, very thought provoking. Particularly your last bit..
    It will all end in tears. ;)
    Perhaps the UK car industry is an indicator?

    That started very much as an 'artisan', ''craft' and 'small company' business with many of the values attributed to the Swiss watch industry.

    Then came industrialisation, mechanisation, mass production. The merging of companies under single large 'umbrellas'. The loss of individualism and identity. The loss of customer loyalty.

    Competition at the low/mid end came, initially from the Eastern Block, (Skoda etc), then the Europeans, the Japanese, then the Koreans. Initially these products were perceived to be, and probably were, inferior to UK made cars. But they all made steady progress whilst the UK industry remained pretty static. My father had an original Skoda Octavia in the late 1960's; rusted away in no time, the mechanics were unreliable, it was a shed!!!! I owned a Skoda 120 LSE in the early 80's and the differences were remarkable. It didn't rust, was one of the most mechanically reliable cars I've owned, but still left much to be desired in design and desirability. Now look at Skoda, some of the best cars around in design, build and performance.

    It was a similar story with Japanese and European cars.

    And yes, as you suggest with the Swiss watch industry, the higher marques such as Rolls Royce, Bentley, and Aston Martin differentiated themselves by highlighting the 'craft' values they apparently held dear - and charged highly for the privilege.

    But then what happened?

    The low/mid end, (mass market), was taken over by Japanese and European products that could be made better and cheaper than the UK product.

    The UK car industry ceased to exist except for the high end 'craft' companies which, whilst still manufacturing here and retaining those same values whilst charging even higher prices, are now all owned by 'foreign' companies, many of whom are the famous names in the low/mid price band (BMW, VW etc).

    Oh, and interestingly MG, once a doyen of the sports car 'craft', is now owned by a Chinese company. :shock: Difference here is though, MG's are now going to be built in China. :evil:

    So. Is this the way the Swiss watch industry will go? Alpha owning Omega?

    Who can tell? My crystal ball is a little cloudy right now, but perhaps there is some logic to my liking of vintage watches after all. :wink: :lol:
    Best Regards - Peter
    Please Note: It is possible that Griswold may know nothing whatsoever about horology. It's even possible that he has never even owned a watch. It is also highly possible the he has a strange imagination. His wife insists he would be far better off paying more attention to taking his medication on time.

  41. #141

    Re: Seagull movements.

    Truly amazing. The most interesting tpic I've read through on this or any other forum. As well as being very informative about Seagull versus ETA movements this also provides a wonderful illustration and some understanding of the workings of mechanical movements.

    This has definitely opened my mind to the chinese movements, my initial thoughts were always to steer well clear. But that was based on no real evidence of what the movements were like.

  42. #142
    Master lysanderxiii's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    the higher marques such as Rolls Royce, Bentley, and Aston Martin differentiated themselves by highlighting the 'craft' values they apparently held dear - and charged highly for the privilege.
    Rolls-Royce, now wholly owned by Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, uses a German engine (BMW).

    Bentley, now wholly owned by Volkswagen Group, uses a German engine (VW).

    Aston Martin is more, or less, still wholly British owned, (although Ford Motors still has a stake in it) and even better, still uses its own engines, a variation of a Ford design, and shares many components.

  43. #143
    Grand Master Griswold's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by lysanderxiii
    Aston Martin is more, or less, still wholly British owned, (although Ford Motors still has a stake in it) and even better, still uses its own engines, a variation of a Ford design, and shares many components.
    David Richards is, I believe the only UK stakeholder in the consortium that owns Aston. The other major stake holders are Investment Dar and Adeem Investment, both Kuwaiti companies and John Sinders, an American from Texas with connexions in Dubai. IIRC, Ford have relinquished all ownership and no longer have any stake in the company, though I think the do supply parts.

    I would suggest that it is 'less' rather than 'more' wholly British owned. :cry:

    Ignoring coach-builders, probably the only wholly British owned car manufacturer is Caterham, but I'm sure someone will correct me on this.
    Best Regards - Peter
    Please Note: It is possible that Griswold may know nothing whatsoever about horology. It's even possible that he has never even owned a watch. It is also highly possible the he has a strange imagination. His wife insists he would be far better off paying more attention to taking his medication on time.

  44. #144
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim:
    Fascinating stuff and real food for thought.

    How is it that the Chinese are moving forward yet the Russians are standing still?

    Jim
    Following a discussion on another forum I found this: Prim watches factory from Czech Republic. Although I think the prices are steep, most of the designs are attractive. The watches are made using a Prim caliber and offer (for a price) a degree of personalization.

    Prim watches

  45. #145
    Craftsman Kaiser's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    As far as I know the Aston Martin Engines are manufactured in the Ford Cologne Engine Plant.

  46. #146
    Master raysablade's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by aliasrichmond
    It appears to me that performance is going to be ok, just QC is the problem, I wonder if the price differential would warrant re-finishing and assembly in europe to iron out these issues. No doubt the cost would double, but if availability is the main issue.....maybe theres mileage in it?
    Titoni strip and reassemble their ETAs and still turn out budget priced watches, so I doubt that the labour costs are excessive.

  47. #147
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Picking up on the British Cars theme I am reminded of the same theme in the world of motorcycles about which I am a little better informed.

    It would be easy to tell a (possibly slightly racist) story that began with Kawasaki BSA clones and ended with the death of the British motorcycle industry. However I think that this is misleading, much as I suspect that the same mythology may be just as misleading with cars.

    Like many of you I have owned my share of slightly foxed post war British motorcycles and the fact is that few of them were as good as they are remembered to be. The crucial battleground with the Japanese was not initially large motorcycles, Ultimately it was the small commuter bikes that were the shocktroops in this struggle. We may remember the CB750 and the Z900 but the Honda 1958 C50 cub remains the best selling motorcycle of all time and is still in production (Unlike the equally ancient Omega, it isn't a Speedmaster) closely followed by 50cc 70cc and 110cc versions.

    Now it just happens that I have, in my time, owned at least half a dozen of the C50 and C90's direct competition: the BSA Bantam. Don't get me wrong, I love the Bantam in a exasperated oil coated manner but no one would deny that ownership is a labour of love. The Bantam. like the MZ 125/175, Harley Davidson 125/175 and Cagiva 125/175 was basically a 1940's DKW design which all the allies 'borrowed' after WWII. I have even owned a C90 a bit. The C90 always started, never broke down and never ever dripped oil, let alone burned it. The breaks were better and, arguably, it even handled better than everything up to the D7 despite the 'interesting' suspension.

    And this brings me to my point:

    I cannot think of a single Japanese bike that was mechanically inferior to the equivalent British product during the time that the British motorcycle industry was destroyed. We can argue about soul, styling, 'grunt' and so on but when it comes to the actual engineering the infuriating fact is that it was always better as, generally, was the finishing and QC.

    The Japanese invasion of the Swiss watch industry was, ultimately, on the back of quartz, which as a 'disruptive technology' ie. a technology which undermines the fabric of the industry it revolutionises, rather undermines the value of this event as a guide to the potential effect of the Chinese. Thus, I would argue that the Japanese destruction of the British motorcycle (car?) industry is a better model for predicting the future.

    If you accept this argument then the only question is simply: are Chinese products better engineered than Swiss ones? The answer has to be no. More to the point, the Swiss industry is currently going through a period of dynamism where the British car and bike industry was, at best, moribund.

    As long as the Swiss don't do anything stupid like, say, restrict stocks of their most popular middle rank movement, thus allowing the Chinese an uncontested foothold then the future looks good. Surely they wouldn't be that stupid, would they?

  48. #148
    Grand Master Glamdring's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    If they think it might inflate this year's bottom line, yes.

  49. #149
    Grand Master abraxas's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt
    ...............

    If you accept this argument then the only question is simply: are Chinese products better engineered than Swiss ones? The answer has to be no. More to the point, the Swiss industry is currently going through a period of dynamism where the British car and bike industry was, at best, moribund.

    ............
    Excellent post M4tt. I more or less said something similar some weeks back. For the mid-tier Chinese movements to take hold, they will have to be superior to the Swiss product at the equivalent (if not lower) price.

    An Indian Enfield will just not do it ... :P

    john

  50. #150
    Administrator swanbourne's Avatar
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    Re: Seagull movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by abraxas
    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt
    ...............

    If you accept this argument then the only question is simply: are Chinese products better engineered than Swiss ones? The answer has to be no. More to the point, the Swiss industry is currently going through a period of dynamism where the British car and bike industry was, at best, moribund.

    ............
    Excellent post M4tt. I more or less said something similar some weeks back. For the mid-tier Chinese movements to take hold, they will have to be superior to the Swiss product at the equivalent (if not lower) price.

    An Indian Enfield will just not do it ... :P

    john
    This isn't quite true John. I remember the first Honda Dream and Super Dream, fast, glitzy, electric starter and cheap compared with British bikes of the day. Thinner steel and not long-lasting, the early Hondas failed to deliver the early promise. This didn't matter, they gained a foothold in the market and improved the specification. How many BSAs and Ariels do you think are sold today?

    Eddie
    Whole chunks of my life come under the heading "it seemed like a good idea at the time".

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