Guide to r/ChinaTime - Affordable Replica Watches
New updated guide for watches: https://repsguide.com/watches/
1a. Recommended Sellers List
Below is a list of sellers verified through the community as having a variety of content and confirmed legitimacy as a seller at r/ChinaTime tier. Their product quality will range from bottom shitter to high tier, based on your request, preferences, cost and QC approval.
These are different to a Trusted Dealer (or TD) at r/RepTime level, as these TDs go through a stringent review process
Last updated 5 Dec 2022.
WhatsApp: +86 131 1330 7655
The One Watches
WhatsApp: +86 170 8193 4955
1b. Trusted Dealers List
This is a list of Trusted Dealers for r/RepTime tier sales and have undergone a strict process to be approved as a TD.
The websites & email addresses listed here are the only one to be used. Any other website found online or in a post other than from the dealer itself are not recommended. Be careful, copycat websites are one of the most common scam out there and their addresses are very similar. Do your due diligence before making any online order.
Cool and unique models plus all the usual from a Singapore based dealer.
The goto source for all those wonderful dealer clocks you see on the walls in ADs.
A long time solid dealer with a large variety of available pieces.
Everyone knows Hont, one of the oldest of the forum dealers.
InTime Watches New
You all know Ryan, a great source for rep watches and gen parts.
Jtime Watch Store New
A better choice for your hobby with nice and experienced service support
PureTime Watches International New
Favorable price, best quality, you will have a different experience with WatchEden
Andrew is a long-established dealer known for excellent service and a great website.
Last update 9/1/2023
2. Guide to r/ChinaTime
Welcome to r/chinatime, a huge community of over twenty thousand diverse people who share two things in common: The love of great-looking watches and being really fucking cheap. In most places those two things couldn’t co-exist together in the same place, but Chinatime isn’t most places; here those two things don’t just exist happily together, they are a way of life™.
Replica watches are a weird thing. People from r/reptime love the word “replica” and get butt-hurt when their $400 Rolex is called “fake”. We can understand that, as those replica watches can truly be works of engineering themselves and can even be of the same quality as the pieces that inspired them. Here at Chinatime, though, we do not put on such airs. If our watches are fake-ass watches that cost less than some of my Uber trips, and that’s OK.
We could spend a lot more money on arguably better watches that look more like the originals, but there’s something truly rewarding about tracking down a treasure on Ali Express or DH Gate that looks close enough to the genuine article for $50 that one simply can’t be found when ordering one of the master-class Reptime watches. Sure, one day I’ll have an ARF* or Noob Submariner that would fool my Rolex rep, but for now my U1 Submariner fools my Uber driver and parole officer, and for now that’s good enough for me. Oh, it keeps good time, too, which is nice.
(* There will not be a full glossary at the end of this piece explaining most of the terms we use in this sub to talk about our awesome reps, but explanations will be peppered throughout. “Arf” and “Noob” and “U1”, for example, are all well-respected fake watch manufacturers in China.)
If you’re here to learn more about this world, then that’s great, because this interest in cheap rep watches that you have may turn into a hobby, which may then turn into an obsession. I’ve made friends on this subreddit because that’s what like-minded people do when they all become fans of the same thing, and we’re happy you’ve decided to learn more with us.
Automatic vs Quartz
To get started it helps to know a bit about watches themselves, besides how they look. Most of the watches we talk about in this subreddit are what are referred to “automatic” watches. Most watches in the world are quartz, but for the most part they don’t carry much weight here, because most of the watches we’re interested in the fake-versions-of are automatics, not quartz. This is because quartz watches can literally be found in vending machines, but automatic watches have a degree of engineering and craftsmanship to them, even the cheapest of them. Also, most of the Swiss shit we can’t afford are autos, as well.
An automatic watch is simply one that is wound by the person wearing the watch simply doing their shit. There’s no battery; instead there is a rotor that is connected to the mainspring of the watch. As the wearer does whatever the fuck it is they do all day, their movement moves the rotor, which acts as a pendulum, which winds the watch, and then it tells the user what time it is so they can get home in time to catch their wife in bed with their boss. These are the important matters we deal with.
Not all the watches we deal with here are autos, but the vast majority of them are. Quartz units are generally relegated to the chronograph copies (which means “watches that are also stopwatches that you’ll never actually use”), though there are a few non-chrono quartzes peppered here and there, but not many.
The Rotor & Movement
The rotor of an automatic watch is mounted on what’s called the movement of the watch. The movement is not the sweep of the seconds hand but rather the name for the guts of the watch itself — the gears, the springs, the cogs, and everything else that makes a watch keep time. It is arguably the most important part of a watch to consider when making buying choices, so knowing a few basics can really help you to make the right choice when it comes time to buy your first watch.
For example, a large percentage of the watches on Chinatime will be built around a fairly generic movement called the 2813. The 2813 is a Chinese clone of the Japanese Miyota 8205/8215 movement, which is to be found in a number of Citizen brand watches, as well as high-end Invicta divers and many, many more. The Miyota is a well-respected and sturdy movement, but the 2813 clones not so much. The most famous of these clones is the DG2813, though the rest are made by several factories in China. Because of this the quality varies from movement to movements and thus watch to watch, since there’s very little in the way of quality control when the Chinese factories make our watches for us. This is part of why they’re so cheap, and really part of the fun and charm.
Fun fact! There is an ETA2813 that is an actual Swiss movement, and the Chinese 2813 (often called a2813 where “a” means “Asia”) may have started life as a clone of it, but it’s a Miyota clone now, so there we go.
So now you know what a movement is and why it’s important, but that’s not what you’re here to find. You’re here to find some timepiece that will act as either a panty-moistener or pants-tightener when you wear it around your town/school/cellblock/institution, and most people don’t care about the movement.
Finding the watch you want (or ‘W2C’ aka Want To Cop/obtain)
You probably instead already have a model of watch in mind that you’d like to find a cheap rep for, and there’s a really good chance that there’s at least some Chinatime-budget version out there for you. It’s just a matter of finding it, and that is where this subreddit shines, because chances are that some other cheap fuck had the exact same idea as you, and since so many of our users share their triumphs with the rest of us there’s a good chance you’re watch is linked to in one of the posts already here. I know most subreddits have a “search it first” mantra, and that’s because that shit works, so use it.
If your watch has been found and purchased before, and the users reported back here (which they should do, more on that later), then you can usually find in their post or comment a link to the watch they bought under the label of “W2C”, which stands for “Want to cop”, which is a weird phrase brought over from Chinatime’s big dickhead brother Reptime. Cop or w2c means to “get your hands on” and “want to” is something none of Harvey Weinstein’s victims ever said.
So you find the watch, find the W2C link, and then you’ll be taken to a place to buy the watch. Usually that place will be DHGate, (or The Gate,) a Chinese website that’s sort of a second home for us here. That’s because The Gate has about a thousand vendors selling about a couple hundred (at least) different rep watches at a variety of price points, meaning that you’ll probably be able to find your watch there at the price you want.
DHGate is hard to navigate for most of us because it’s a Chinese website in English and they do a very poor job of quality control when it comes to organization of products. This may be on purpose — selling fake versions of real watches violates international law, and by not making it easy to find a particular watch they get a bit of reasonable deniability when questioned by the authorities. But with some practice, patience, help from here, and luck, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for.
Fun fact! Buying replicas of real watches for a fraction of the price is understandably illegal in most countries, so all of us here are, technically, taking part in a huge act of fraud and/or larceny, you newly-minted criminal you. The good news is that Customs in most countries are far too busy with actual problems to really care about what we do here, so don’t sweat the whole petty felony thing too much.
So you’ve got your watch in mind, you’ve searched for the W2Cs on here and found a few, and even checked out the links on The Gate, which is awesome, because that means I’m doing a good job here. The next logical step is choosing which rep watch to get, and this is where things can get a bit tricky — not to mention sketchy.
This may surprise some of our more sensitive newcomers, but it has to be said: Not all of the vendors on sites like DHGate can be trusted! In fact, it’s best to assume that most of them are out to scam you, because it’s very easy to scam someone on the Internet from a completely different hemisphere, and it happens all the fucking time. But you don’t want it to happen to you, and neither do we, so this next part is for you: Do your fucking research.
Also, use our guide of trusted sellers.
There are a few vendors that we like to go to again and again (more on them later) because they are simply good to work with. Some of them might be a couple bucks more expensive here and there but it’s made up for with customer service and not getting your credit card charged for $2500 in the middle of the night in Hunan Province.
Navigate & Communicate on the ‘Gate
It’s worth noting that in Chinese culture there is (traditionally speaking) no such thing as “customer service”. Our western notion of sales customs, where the vendor caters to the customer, is not universal, and certainly not the norm in parts of Asia. This is an important thing to keep in mind, as things don’t always go smooth, and acting like a total Karen will get your messages blocked and you’ll never get a resolution. Always be respectful (but not a sucker) and things will go a lot smoother.
When looking over the different offerings from the different vendors, the two most important things you can do are:
Ask us for advice, such as “has anyone else here ever dealt with ‘TittyBobbyJill20000057’?
Check the customer reviews on the product you’re looking at!
As noted before, there are a lot of independent vendors on The Gate and the other sites, and chances are you’re not the first person looking for your particular watch, so learn from the mistakes and successes of those who came before you. Feel free to ask anyone here, and always — always! — check the customer reviews, especially if they have photos.
Fun fact! There are a few search terms you can use to find the watch you want since you generally can’t find them via their actual brand names because that just becomes blatant counterfeiting, and we can’t have that. For Omegas, search for “co-axial”; for Rolex, search for the model number; for Tag Heuer sports watches, search for “I have no taste in anything and will die alone”. Try it out yourself!
This is because very often the photos of the watch you see on the DHGate listing is not a photo of the actual watch you’ll be receiving. Often it’s the genuine (or “gen”) article in the photos, presumably to help shoppers find what they want. They will often have pictures of the actual units they sell mixed in, so check those, but make sure to check for photos of received units in the reviews, as these are unfiltered and unmoderated feedback directly from and to customers like you. It’s a great tool that will save everyone a lot of grief and headache if used correctly.
Asking for Quality Check (QC) Photos
In addition, reputable vendors are often happy to send you photos of the actual watches themselves if there are none in the reviews. Add to that the fact that we love doing our own reviews here, and you’ll be in good shape to buy the watch you want from a trusted seller and be very happy with it.
This, though, is where things get tricky. Since sites like DHGate and AliExpress are in China, not every bank or credit card vendor will work to place your order, so make sure that you have at least two different accounts to try from. In addition, keep in mind that there are sophisticated hacker-bros in China that would love nothing more than have access to a foreign credit card that works in their country easily. For my own purchases, I use my CapitalOne credit card via their Eno system which generates a one time “burner number” for each of my transactions. See if your cards or bank offer the same kind of thing if at all possible.
If you’ve found your watch, and you’ve found your vendor, and made your purchase, then you should have your watch — sometime in the distant future.
Shipping from China
Cheap quality watches are cheap by skimping on a few things, and one of those things is fast shipping. Most watches include free shipping, (via China’s EMS or ePacket services,) but that free shipping can take a long fucking time. It’s not uncommon for watches to take a month and a half to arrive, so if you’re in a hurry to get something for a certain event, like a court date, use one of the paid services (DHL, etc.) to get it faster. But keep in mind that you still might be in for a wait, because that’s how things in China work.
Some sellers are faster than others, and your research here should tell you which are known for fast shipments, so it’s worth taking into consideration when making your choice.
Customs & Replica Watches
Sometimes, though, things happen, and it’s far too common for things to go wrong on the shipment part.
Fun fact! Chinese people are a lot like you, only way more broke and oppressed. The average person there makes about $15k a year. The few bucks they make off of selling fake watches to the rest of the world is real money to them, so if things go wacky don’t automatically assume that you’re being scammed, just be aware that they’ll also do anything they can to not have to issue a refund, so be willing to work with them.
If your watch gets seized by customs then you’ll get a letter. Ignore it, tell your vendor, and they’ll generally send you a new one. This kind of thing is factored into their prices as the cost of doing business.
If your tracking number shows your watch going somewhere far away that’s not you, there are a few reasons why this can happen. If you’re shipping with DHL you should know that they often recycle waybill numbers (I’m not kidding, it just happened to me). It’s also possible the vendor just mixed up your tracking number with someone else’s, which is also common. Or, also too common, your vendor is trying to scam you. Do not let them off the hook.
Every case is different, so we won’t attempt to tackle a “how to” on dealing with problems like this on sites like The Gate, but enough people here have been through it that they’ll be happy to help you navigate it, since we hate when those fuckers try stuff on any of us.
Receiving Your New Watch
So let’s say you’ve managed to not fuck up all of the above. That means that your watch has arrived and you’re stoked, and you should be! The process isn’t the easiest, but the reward is worth it.
Wear your watch. Get to know it. Maybe you’ll need to re-size the bracelet (we can help walk you through that) or something’s wrong with it (that, too), or maybe you need to brag to some people (that would be us). That is why we do ask that you share it with us. (Don’t forget the lume shot!)
Take photos, videos, post a review, post a W2C link, and answer any questions others may have, because you were only successful because others pass on their knowledge to you, and it would be good to show the other newcomers how it works. It’s part of what makes this subreddit more than just a place to get links and instead a place that’s genuinely fun to waste time on.
We’re glad you’ve decided to take the morally ambiguous step towards becoming a Chinatime bro or bro-ette (for there are more rep-ladies here than one might think) and welcome you to the world of like-minded cheapskates who would still like to enjoy build quality and the classical aesthetics that go along with world class timepieces.
3. Glossary of Common Terms
AD: Authorized Dealer who sells genuine watches.
AP: Audemars Piquet.
AR: Anti-Reflective coating. It is a coating that is placed on watch crystals to deflect glare. Can be single or double sided. Double AR can scratch as one layer is on the outside of the crystal.
B&R: Bell & Ross.
BCE: Short for Breitling Chronomat Evolution.
Beginmariner: An entry level Submariner. Referred to by other names such as Noobmariner and VIPmariner.
Bling: A watch encrusted with diamonds or jewels.
Breit: Short for Breitling.
BST: Buy, Sell & Trade
Builder: A Watchsmith or Watchmaker who builds watches from the ground up.
Bump: The process of bumping a thread back to the top of the new posts section because the poster feels it contains information they want others to see.
C1: A model of Concord watch.
CC: Credit Card.
CG: Crown Guard.
CN: Short for China or Chinese.
CNY: Chinese currency or Chinese New Year.
CONUS: Continental United States (See IN CONUS).
DD: Rolex Day Date
DHL: A shipper often used by the dealers.
DJ: Rolex Datejust
DRSD: Rolex Double Red Sea-Dweller
EMS: Express Mail Service. They are the usual courier for packages.
ETA: A Swiss movement used in watches. Also available as a China made clone. Gen (Swiss) ETAs are now very rare in reps.
Fakebreaking: A phenomenon wherein rep buyers constantly break certain models of watches. Even if the movements in those watches are commonly used in gens with no issues. This is caused by a failure to understand the limitations of a mechanical timepiece in general. Gen owners are usually not afflicted by this. An example would be the Rolex Daytona. (See Seconds @6).
Fedex: A package delivery service. NEVER USE THEM FOR REPS!
Fiddy: Panerai 127
Fidestro: Panerai 217
FM: Abbreviation for Franck Muller
Franken: A watch that has had genuine parts added to it in order to make it closer to the genuine counterpart.
Gen: Short for genuine watch.
Group Buy: A forum-wide mass buy where items can be purchased at a discounted price.
GBP: British Pound.
HBB: Hublot Big Bang.
HVS: High Value Sale.
Black Magic: An all black Hublot Big Bang.
IMO: In my opinion.
IN CONUS: A designation when something or someone is in the Continental United States. Also a designation in sales ads when someone will only ship within that area (See CONUS).
IWC: International Watch Company.
Lume: The material applied to a watch dial that makes it glow in the dark.
LV: Abbreviation for the Rolex anniversary LV (Lunette Verde) Submariner. Also used to describe Louis Vuitton.
Modded: A watch that has been altered from it’s OEM state.
Mods: Customisations applied to a watch.
Modder: Someone who performs aftermarket modifications to timepieces.
MOP: Short for Mother of Pearl dial.
NWBIG: Stands for ‘Not Worth Buying In Genuine’. A watch with a replica so good there is no point paying the real counterpart.
OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer.
OP: Original poster.
PO: Short for Omega Planet Ocean.
POS: Piece of shit.
PP: PayPal. Also an abbreviation for Patek Philippe.
PVD: Physical Vapor Deposition. A particle vacuum coating process used on watches.
QC: Quality Control, Usually refers to the photos sent by a dealer to approve the watch you will be receiving.
Rehaut: The metal ring between the crystal and dial on a watch.
Rep: Short for replica.
RG/Repgeek: A replica forum.
Rollercoasting: When a watch hand has not been installed level. As it spins it moves up and down vertically like a rollercoaster and at some point touches the inside of the crystal jacking everything up.
ROO: A model made by Audemar Piquet, the Royal Oak Offshore.
RWG.CC: A replica forum.
RWG.BZ: Our sister forum, often referred to as “The wild west of rep fora”
RWI: A forum full of autistic and rude old fucks that think elitism about fake watches is cool.
SEL: Solid End Link. A type of bracelet end link (the bit that joins the bracelet to the watch).
Slevin: Nickname for the IWC Aquatimer.
SMP: Short for Omega Seamaster Professional.
SOH: Breitling Superocen Heritage
SOSF: Short for Superocean Steelfish. It is not SFSO, SSFO, SOF or SF .
SV: Supporting Vendor. A Type of dealer.
Tag: Tag Heuer.
TNT: Another delivery service used by the dealers. Generally for air shipment.
Trustytime ’aka Andrew’: a dealer.
UN: Ulysses Nardin.
UPO: Short for Ultimate Omega Planet Ocean.
UPS: United Parcel Service.
USPS: United States Postal Service
V1/V2/V3/V20????: A term applied to each new version of the previously described ‘Ultimate/1:1/Exact copy’ that was released even though it was already perfect.
VC: Vacheron Constantin
W2B/WTB: Want To Buy aka Where can I find this watch so I can buy it.
W2C: Want To Cop aka Where can I find this watch so I can buy it.
Watch Expert: Someone who has extensive knowledge about timepieces. They are often also a Watchsmith, Watchmaker or Modder (See Builder & Modder).
WU: Western Union. Also ‘Wu’ which is short for the watch dealer WuWatch.
Yachtie: Short for Rolex Yachtmaster.
4. Buying Replica Watches Common Q&A
Q: I see the watches on DHGate, but they’re missing the logos. Will the watch I get have the logo?
A: Unless otherwise stated in the listing, you bet. The reason that they don’t show the logo in most of the photos is because by not showing them then they have plausible deniability when the authorities come knocking on their door, which happens from time to time. Without the logo, they’re selling “homages”, which is fine. If a logo accidentally falls off the back of a truck and ends up on your faux Patek, then, ya know, oops and shit.
Q: I want to buy something cheap to start with to get used to things. What’s the best watch I can get for $XXX?
A: As stated above, nearly every watch has multiple grades available from different vendors. The Rolex Submariner is probably the most-replicated watch in the world, being that it’s such an iconic status symbol all over the globe. On DHGate you can find them for as little as $12 for a half-plastic quartz shitter, all the way up to $700 clones that are almost completely identical in every way to the original. Not all watches have good cheap versions, but some do. Omega’s Planet Oceans and Seamaster 300s have both inspired rather cheap reps in the $26-32 range that are surprisingly good for the money and make great choices for first-time buyers. (I still wear my $28 Planet Ocean on the regular because it’s a really great watch, period.)
A: For the most part, Chinatime deals with watches in the $30-$120 area, and anything above that goes to the snobby dudes over in Reptime (JK, fellow rep-bros! Love you too!). Their focus is far more on the complete replications and 1:1 cloning of watches, and some of that shit is fascinating. Expensive, sure, but fascinating.
Since most (but by no means all) ChinaTime reps aren’t in that neighbourhood of sophistication this subreddit was spun off to be its own thing. That said, I’d be surprised if more than ten percent of the people subscribed to ChinaTime aren’t also subscribed to RepTime.
Q: Am I going to go to jail?
A: Not for this, but probably for that other stuff. You need to learn how to delete your browser history.
Q: Shut the fuck up and tell me where I can find a XXX!
A: First off, fuck you. Second off, no, I won’t, but u/SvB78 made this fantastic set of entries that should get you started because he’s a great guy like that. Or girl. It’s the Internet and I don’t want to make any assumptions here.
Q: Did Epstein kill himself?
Q: How long will my cheap fake watch last?
A: That’s a great question and one that could be a whole post this long on its own. In short, it depends, which I know is not a satisfying answer. There are a couple things to consider, namely “what movement is it?” and “was it put together well?”
If you’re rocking a 2813-based model, it can be a crap shoot. I’ve had three U1 Submariners. My first one broke (my fault) so I ordered a second. It froze after a week. I ordered a third and it’s sturdy like a well-trained horse and should last awhile. These all use the 2813 movement mentioned above.
I also have an Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre clone that I got on the cheap that has a Tongji (or Chinese “unified”) movement, one of the most bare-bones and cheap mechanical movements out there, and it’s not missed a beat in nearly a year. (This watch is a good watch, but a bad, bad rep.)
So, again, there’s no easy answer for your question. Your best bet is to ask your fellow ChinaTimers here.
Q: I can’t seem to find the watch I want. What do?
A: If you have a vendor you like then feel free to message them and ask if they can find it for you. It’s not hyperbole to say that every popular luxury watch on the market right now likely has a rep available, so feel free to ask.
Q: So do I now know everything I need to know to ChinaTime right?
A: You know enough to get started, and thanks for using ChinaTime like a verb. That was cute.
There’s more than can be found from RepTime, though how much of it is applicable to ChinaTime is up for debate.
Q: Will I be a fraud if I walk around with a fake-ass Rolex or Patek on my wrist?
A: Yeah, but you’ll be a dope-looking fraud, so who cares?
As a general tip, keep your luxury within reason. It would make sense for a person with a half-way decent job to afford an Omega Seamaster or a Longines, but if you’re attending community college and sporting an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore then you’d best believe that you’re going to need a really fantastic explanation for how you got it, which may need to include a whole backstory that involves cocaine, hookers, a crime spree, an unfortunate night at a Thai brothel, cocaine, a stolen pickup, a Canadian gigalo that goes by “Mr. Mountie”, and cocaine.
Q: Can I get a watch from China and sell it to my local pawn shop/on craiglist/to my idiot brother/anyone else?
A: You might be able to pass it off to someone else as the real thing to make money, but that would be a total dick move. We may be breaking international law here in ChinaTime, but we’re not fucking assholes.
Q: WTF is a [insert unknown watch term]?
A: This Q&A isn’t exhaustive, and there is a lot to know in the world of watches. I recommend spending some time in r/watches as well as r/reptime, but if I were you I’d be careful about even speaking about r/chinatime in r/watches, as I got banned for a week for doing that, because those guys are fucking touchy.
Q: I just got my first XXX! It looks great! I’m going to go to r/XXX and show it off!
A: Don’t get cute. If you have even the best Submariner you can get from the ranks of ChinaTime and try to show it off on r/Rolex then you’ll be banned faster than the Astros can cheat at baseball, and you’ll also bring unwanted attention onto our own little cheap-and-shiesty corner of the internet. Don’t do that shit.
Q: Can I buy a used watch from one of you dudes who seem to know what you’re doing?
A: Sure! We offer trades and sales here often, and “I’d like to buy a used XXX” aren’t uncommon, but chances are someone will have something you want that’s maybe even been improved, so feel it out.
Q: Wait, improved? You can make these less-sucky?
A: Absolutely. Do yourself a favor and get a basic watch repair kit from Amazon for like $15. You can use the tools for basic maintenance — such as resizing the bracelet or regulating the balance wheel. You can also use it if your 2813 breaks down and you’d rather replace it than buy a new one. It’s not that hard with the help of youtube.
Q: I tried to regulate it and I broke it! Fuck you!
A: It’s not my fault you’re a butterfingers. Order another $50 watch, you cheap-but-classy bastard.
Guide to Taobao
Taobao is a website similar to eBay, DHgate, or AliExpress – but completely in Chinese. They don’t have too many cheaper built watches, but a plethora of replica clothes and, most importantly, watch parts.
For anyone people who want to buy a submariner rep, Wu and Jason are good (overpriced, but good) choices. But what if you have just a little bit of class, and want to try your hand at building your own watch? How about swapping a dial, or upgrading a 2813/21j movement to something like a Miyota 8215/Seagull ST16? What if r/SeikoMods is your spirit animal, but don’t want to dish out $300 for your watches or $10 for an extra set of hands?
I mean, let’s get it straight. The website can be a pain to use. Google Translate only gets you so far before you had enough of “new Baby” and “more Baby”. And there is no shipping option to the US.
So how do you ship to the US?
If you’re new to Taobao… it can be counterintuitive. You need an agent – a separate company who ships your items for you from their warehouse in China, to your address. And I’m really not a good person to ask questions to about this (let’s make believe I have no idea). All I’ll say is take a look – Wegobuy is a trusted agent over at FashionReps, and the guide linked above will get you through how to use them.
Not Wu or Jason
WGB’s currency rates aren’t the best. Look on that sub for freight forwarders if you’re brave enough.
Shipping can be expensive – watches aren’t inherently heavy, but to the US, it can be $25 for a single KG (think maybe 3 watches, more in parts if you omit the SS bracelets).
But, as for pros… there are prices here you wouldn’t imagine. Full 2813 or NH35 stainless steel cases for $7, dials and dials for under $3, and swarms of full sets of hands for $1 each. Working 2813’s for $6, NH35’s for $20, ST16’s for $13 or less.
Ever wanted a Wave of Kanagawa or Van Gogh watch build? How about a meteorite or mother of pearl watch face? Try getting that on eBay.
“Yeah, but how do I find this stuff?”
Written by u/SpaceForceAwakens
5. How to QC Your Watch
r/ChinaTime tier QC guide
I’ve seen a lot of QC posts and people arguing about the quality of QC videos/pics from sellers lately.
It needs to be pointed out that ChinaTime level sellers will do a number of things if asked for QC shots of a watch you’re interested in buying. None of which are done consistently by any of them, nor is there a regulated process.
1. A quick view video of a watch you have requested, usually flipped around while being held to show different angles. This is usually one they happen to have on hand (sellers don’t hold on to stock as it’s too dangerous – they source per order)
2. A video they send to multiple buyers (often exactly the same video) of the same watch from the same batch.
3. Photos you’ve probably already seen before used of the watch on multiple different dhgate stores and can easily recognise. These are used by many sellers as they simply don’t have any other photos of that particular watch.
4. Some low quality phone photos of a couple angles. Usually taken when they have one around or have taken before to send QC pics to another buyer.
4. Photos or videos showing you the actual watch you are being sent just before it gets packaged up with your postage label. These are often done after you’ve ordered and paid and it’s about to be sent out.
The ChinaTime QC process is different to the QC process on r/RepTime where sellers show you the exact watch you have bought, allowing for feedback, RL (Red Lighting aka Not happy with quality so sending it back) or GL (Green Lighting aka I am happy with this watch so let’s fucking gooo).
ChinaTime level sellers shift a high volume of product in short timeframes.
Don’t expect a RepTime level QC process for your $80 shitter.
6. Guide to Watch Movements
Common movements used in rep watches
Non-chronos (i.e. if the watch has subdials, they will not work in the same way as the gen)
1. 21J/DG2813 (note that despite the “21J” description these movements usually run 23 jewels). This is a generic term used to cover a wide variety of cheap Chinese movements – some are better than others, but as a general rule they are low-beat (21,600vph / 6 ‘ticks’ per second) movements, very cheaply built (from as little as $7 for the whole movement) but generally reliable and easy to live with. Usually automatic, but occasionally hand wind, dependent on the watch. A lot of really nice budget watches come with these fitted and whilst the sweep isn’t as smooth as, say, a gen Rolex, they’re damned good value for money and can just be thrown away and replaced if they break or need a service.
There’s also the DG4813 variant, which is high-beat but this has become very difficult to obtain of late, so is not commonly seen. It has largely been replaced by the Z2 (see below)
2. Z2 aka ‘high beat 2813’ aka various other names. Some have suggested that this is one to avoid, but it’s not quite that clear cut. Basically a cheap 28,800vph alternative to the “Asian ETA” movements, these are occasionally swapped into existing models by the factories without informing the dealers. Reliability can be okay – provided you get a good one. The real issue is that there are no parts available, so servicing can be a problem. The Asian ETAs are a much better choice, but these are maybe worth considering if the price is right – just don’t be conned into buying high-priced reps with ’em, it ain’t worth it.
3. Asian ‘clone’ ETA (A2824/A2836 & variants): These are literally copies/clones of the equivalent Swiss (ETA) automatic movements. Generally high quality – although not as well built as the Swiss equivalents – but reliable and with parts generally available (which makes servicing an easier proposition than some other movements). High beat (28,800) and great value. Probably the best choice of movement for higher-quality reps as they give the smooth sweep found in most gen watches
4. Swiss ETA (2836/2824 as above): Supposedly the genuine ETA (owned by swatch group) swiss automatic movements. This is a complete lottery. ETA have not been supplying ebauches outside Swatch group for several years now. There are NO new ETA movements in reps any more – only refurbished (usually with Asian parts). On top of that, as anyone who’s been in the game for a while should know, factories tell the dealer the spec of the watch they’re producing – and the dealers then use that for their sales pitch. That spec often then changes dependent on what parts the factories have available on a particular day – about which they DO NOT inform the dealers. Given that dealers DO NOT take the back off the watch during QC (nor should they), they’re as much in the dark about it as you. At best you get a refurbished (i.e. used) movement with asian parts in it. I wouldn’t recommend spending extra for ETA in a rep these days – more often than not, you’ll be getting an asian clone.
5. Sellita: As mentioned above, supply of ETA movements is getting very difficult as Swatch group are no longer selling ebauches outside their own group of companies. Sellita are another Swiss company who make a very similar range of high-quality movements. We’ve seen a few reps with “Swiss ETA” being supplied with Sellitas, but they’re fairly rare.
6. Rolex 3135 copy (and other Rolex clone movements). This is an Asian clone ETA automatic movement with modified rotor and bridges to make it look more like the real thing. It’s not going to convince anybody who knows their Rolex movements and tends to be less reliable than the alternatives (as well as being more expensive!). There are newer versions beginning to appear which are a little more reliable and look closer to the gen, but they are still near impossible to service and generally inferior to the clone ETAs. Rolex have closed casebacks anyhow, so I really don’t see the point in paying the extra for what is, effectively, just a higher-priced and less reliable Asian clone movement.
There is one notable exception to the above – the Yuki-sourced movement used by JF in their new (as of 2017) high-end subs. This is a proper copy of the Rolex movements (to the extent of being compatible with a lot of gen parts) and is much better quality than the modified Asian ETA-based clones otherwise supplied in reps. A good movement and well worth consideration.
7. Miyota 9015. With the disappearance of gen ETA movements, some reps are now coming with Japanese Miyota-sourced movements. The 9015 is a case in point – a high-beat 28,800vph 25 jewel movement that is an excellent alternative to ETA or clone ETA models mentioned above. Highly reliable and very good quality. Don’t hesitate.
8. Miyota 8215. As above, a solid workhorse movement. The only gotcha is that the second hand on these movements tends to stutter a little and is therefore a lot less smooth than the 9015 or, say, an Asian 2836 clone. The amount of stutter is dependent on the weight of the second hand – the heavier/longer the hand, the worse it’s going to be. I’d certainly avoid this movement on watches such as Tudors which tend to have “snowflake” hands. Although the 8215 is reliable, for this reason I would tend to think carefully before buying a watch with this movement.
9. Sea-Gull. Sea-Gull are a chinese maker of both movements and watches. Quality is very close to that of the Swiss and Japanese manufacturers and they’re generally a very safe buy – they make clones of several well-known movements (such as the 6497) as well as their own designs. The ST2555 has lately been turning up in quite a few reps. As with Miyota, they’re a good choice. Don’t hesitate.
10. A6497/A6498: An Asian copy of the Unitas 6497 or 6498 movement. Common in Panerai and various others – it’s an ultra-reliable yet inexpensive hand wind movement available with or without swan-neck regulator. Note, however, that there are several different grades and some are better built than others. However, they’re easy to service and generally bombproof. Either 18,000vph (5 ‘ticks’ per second) or 21600 vph (6 ‘ticks’ per second) but it is hard to tell the difference visually due to the short seconds hand (where fitted). It can come with or without a seconds hand, but usually with. If it has a seconds hand, the 6497 has the seconds hand opposite the crown (i.e. at 9 if the crown is at 3) whereas the 6498 has the seconds 90 degrees to the left of the crown (i.e. at 6 if the crown is at 3).
11. Swiss Unitas 6497/6498: Again, a hand wind movement. They used to be found in some higher-end Panerai reps but that has now ended since ETA quit supplying ebauches outside Swatch Group some years back.
12. Molnija: Not common these days, but DSN and others have used them on occasion – mainly for vintage Panerai models. This is actually a Russian-built descendant of the Cortebert (latterly Rolex) hand-wind pocketwatch movements used by Panerai and others in the 40s-50s. Very high quality but parts can be tricky to obtain. Functionally similar to the 6497 above and generally reliable, but less robust than the 6497.
13. Asian 52010 aka Liaoning SL6601. This movement has started to appear in the IWC 5007 and could, of course, turn up in other reps with similar functions in due course. It supports secs@9, PR @3 plus date. Liaoning are another well-established Chinese maker of movements – quality is generally good, although parts can be difficult to obtain. Should be relatively easy to service and reliability appears to be decent.
Then there are a few that don’t fit any of the above groups. Movements advertised as “Asian 23J with power reserve” being probably the most common. These can vary from being basic 21J’s with an added module for the PR complication to something like Sea Gull’s 23J PR movement – the latter being of rather better quality than most other low-beat autos and likely to be long-term reliable. You’ll also see ‘Asian 35J” movements advertised fairly frequently – which can also be from a range of sources but are often higher-quality generic Chinese movements similar to the Sea-Gull mentioned above – not as good as a normal Asian clone or other mainstream movement and generally low-beat, but can be good value for money in the right rep. One last oddity worth mentioning is the A7750 as described below. This is sometimes used as a regular automatic movement with the chrono complications removed (most often in Panerai autos). In this form it is much less fragile and many of the caveats mentioned elsewhere no longer apply. Likewise you will – even more rarely – find the same non-chrono A7750 with the auto-wind mechanism removed. This essentially removes the fragile parts that can be damaged by hand-winding on the normal version and is, likewise, not subject to most of the caveats noted elsewhere.
Japan OS chrono (aka Japan Quartz aka a variety of other names): Basically cheap quartz chrono movements (i.e. battery powered). Reliable, great timekeepers, cheap. There’s a couple of varieties with different features, but quality is the same. If you can live with a ticking chrono hand (and seconds subdial) rather than the smooth sweep provided by autos, then there’s no reason not to buy one of these. Note that there are ‘smooth sweep’ quartz movements available and they very occasionally show up in reps. They’re a bit more expensive than regular quartz, but good quality. The smooth sweep applies to center seconds (i.e. the chrono hand) only, however – not running seconds in a subdial.
A7750 (occasionally called Asian Valjoux 7750): The standard automatic chrono movement used in a vast range of replica watches. Usually high-beat (28,800vph), but there is an older low-beat (21,600 vph) variant which still pops up now and again. Occasionally converted to hand-wind and also used in some non-chrono reps. Can be fragile and is difficult to service due to the lack of available spares. When serviced and running properly, however, it’s solid and works well. See the separate sticky about caveats as there are problems with some adaptations to this movement: http://www.replica-watches-guide.com/forum…?showtopic=6101
A7753: This is a variant on the A7750 and not a true clone of the Swiss 7753. Its primary difference from the A7750 is that its native position for subdials is 3, 6, 9 as opposed to 6, 9,12 for the 7750. The resulting lack of transfer gearing needed to move the subdials into the more common 3, 6, 9 position reduces the distance between datewheel and dial eliminating the ‘sunken datewheel’ seen on many reps. These movement also frequently feature a pusher (usually flush) at the 10 position which operates quick-set date. So far it has only made it into a handful of fairly recent models (notably Panerai). In other respects it shares the same strengths and weaknesses with its A7750 sibling, but the lack of transfer gearing does make it a little more robust in some cases.
A7751: This is a goodie as it replicates all the functions of the genuine Swiss movement including working moonphase complication. Found in a limited number of reps (notably a couple of Longines and Patek models). Should be treated gently but generally appears to be reliable.
Swiss Valjoux 7750: Used to appear in high-priced reps occasionally, but no longer available to the rep makers since ETA quit supplying ebauches to makers outside Swatch Group.
Copy Venus (or sometimes inaccurately described as Lemania). Actually a Sea Gull ST19 – fundamentally the same as the original Swiss Venus movement as Sea-Gull bought the original tooling. This is an excellent handwind chrono movement. Very reliable and feels like quality. The most robust chrono movement in reps outside of quartz options. Don’t hesitate.
- 3Hz is also called 21600bph or 6bps, 4Hz is 28800bph or 8bps.
The reason for this disparity (3Hz vs 6bps or 4Hz vs 8bps) is that the balance wheel advances the second hand both on the clockwise turn and counterclockwise turn, so a full turn cycle is 2 beats.
Chinese 21J, Chinese 23J – no-name movements, based on DG2813 (if you’re lucky) or the Chinese Standard Movement and company, that the Chinese have perfected… mostly when it comes to cost of production – they can make a shitty versions for under 10 dollars, but you cannot expect any kind of reliability from it. The worst versions can be found in Chinese street reps and tend to break after a few months of use. If you ever see something like a Daytona with days of the week and month indicator on the subdials, you can bet it sports one of those bad boys.
Some of the more reputable factories sometimes use movement called that and you can expect them to be of a passable to good quality then, but it’s still hit or miss.
Most of them are 3Hz, some are 4Hz.
DG2813 or other DG-something – firstly, it still might be the shitty movements described above (especially if called A2813), them being clones of DG movements, which are in turn clones of old movements from Citizen. If you get an actual DG2813, you should not expect amazing quality, but it is very reasonable for it to work for years (accuracy is another thing though).
Most of them are 3Hz, some are 4Hz (e.g. DG4813).
A2824, A2836 – the best of the best – ETA used to have factories in China, so the Chinese know how to produce the movements. The materials are somewhat worse than ETA required and the quality control is nowhere near what you would find in a gen Breitling or such, but they are reliable, any watchsmith can service or repair them, and replacements are freely available anywhere.
They beat at 4Hz.
A2892 – Chinese copy of a newer, thinner “version” of ETA 2824 – good movement, but way more rare and as such possibly slightly lower quality than the above two. Most of them will probably come from Sea-Gull, which would be good, but they might be QC rejects.
They beat at 4Hz.
A6497/A6498 – clone of ETA Unitas 6497/6498, great movement, simple, handwound, you are most likely to find one in a Panerai rep and you can’t really go wrong with this one.
They beat at 3Hz.
Swiss ETA 2824/2836/others – hit or miss – it depends on how the repmakers sourced it and how they stored it. I have a rep with a swiss movement and it performs beautifully, other people report the opposite – problems and having to replace. Could also get a Sellita instead of ETA (which is in no way a bad thing, Sellita is an excellent Swiss movement manufacturer and a former contractor for ETA).
They beat at 4Hz unless vintage (check specific model) or Unitas 6497 – 3Hz.
A775X (X is placeholder for other digits) – ETA Valjoux 775X clone, used in most rep chronographs. More costly to service and harder to source than other Asian ETAs, also more likely to break – all of this because it’s more complex. Check if the positions of the subdials were modified compared to the original – if yes, that’s a major yellow flag when it comes to relability and servicability. There are exceptions – ZF IWC chronos for example started using a sensible mod that you can safely go for.
They beat at 4Hz.
SA3135 – a modded A2836, may accept a genuine Rolex datewheel. Possibly the worst option you can get in a Submariner.
They beat at 4Hz.
SH3135, SH3131, VR3135 – Chinese “superclone” rolex movements, harder to service than A2836, but a lot of people prefer them because they can fit a genuine datedisc on them (not SH3131 because it has no date). Not actual superclones (as in there are differences between those and actual Rolex movements), but can be swapped for a genuine movement if you can get your hands on one.
They beat at 4Hz.
(S)A3186/(S)A3187 – modified asian ETA with contraptions that make it impossible to service and faulty. Best avoided, but currently the only way to get correct hand stack (as in order of hands seconds -> minutes -> 24hr -> 12hr) and setting method in Rolex GMT.
They beat at 4Hz.
A4130 – a weird mod of A7750 with subdials moved and possibly decorated, which is pointless in a closed-caseback watch. Comments about modified A7750s apply.
They beat at 4Hz.
SA4130 – either a complete superclone of Rolex 4130, or an ARF mod of A7750 – check if it’s from Noob Factory and expensive – if yes, its the former, otherwise the latter. ARF SA4130 simply doesn’t use the minutes and hours subdials (they are frozen) so there is little to no problem with added torque. If it’s not a new expensive Noob or ARF, it’s probably A4130 (described above) with an S tacked in front of the name.
They beat at 4Hz.
A8900/A8500 (in Omega reps) – movements modified to look like Omega calibers. Used to be modified ETA clones or even modified Chinese 21J/23J, but lately VSF started boasting a “superclone” version that gives the same functionality as gen. Some people seem to overhype those “superclones” as actual complete cloned movements – this is not actually the case, but they are reportedly more reliable than SA3186/SA3187s which strive to provide a similar functionality. Also, no rep Omega movements have the correct beatrate currently (3.5Hz), none have actual co-axial escapement (to my knowledge), and they use overlays with fake jewels, so take VSF’s “almost the same as genuine movement” with a grain of salt.
They beat at 3Hz or 4Hz depending on the movement used as a base. VSF “superclones” beat at 4Hz.
Sea-Gull movements – mostly good movements, but the versions used in reps are not exactly high end (more likely factory QC rejects or lower-tier versions).
Check specific model to know beatrate.
Miyota movements – mostly good movements, but the versions used in reps are not exactly high end (more likely factory QC rejects or lower-tier versions). People were high on Miyota 9015 at first (it’s thin like ETA 2892) because it made some thin reps possible, going as far as putting it in Tudor Pelagos for example, but in the end a lot of Miyota9015 reps have noisy rotors (unidirectional rotors can rotate in one direction freely so it’s harder to silence), so their expansion into the rep industry has been halted somewhat. Miyota 8125 is mostly an entry-level movement and often found in Submariner homages for example.
Another thing worth mentioning is that SevenFriday reps use Miyota movements for a different reason entirely – the gens also do.
9015 beats at 4Hz, 8125 beats at 3Hz, movements in SevenFridays beat at 3Hz (at least all of those I know about).
Written by u/eposseeker
7. Which Factories Make the Best Models
Current brands covered:
2. Patek Philippe
3. Audemars Piguet
4. Vacheron Constantin
5. Richard Mille
7. Gem set ‘Iced Out’ Watches
126610LN, LV & all variants
3235 movement: VSF, Clean also makes a good sub as well but be warned about fakes. Joker is a new factory that seems to be good too.
2836, 2824 movements: GMF/BP are good.
116610LN, LV & all variants:
3135 movement: VSF, ZF, JVS and VVSF are good, as is Clean (but there are fakes of Clean).
124060, 114060 (no date): VSF, Clean, BPF/GMF, ROF
Two tone and RG subs (i.e. 116613LB): VSF, Clean, GMF, ARF
Special note: Noob Daytona v4 was the best awhile ago, but are now closed.
All Daytona models:
White dial ceramic bezel: Clean v1, Clean v2, BTF in that order
Black dial ceramic bezel: BTF
ARF has gen-like thickness (slightly thicker), but the subdials that would count hours and minutes while the chrono is working do NOT function. If you don’t use chrono often, or want a different style than what Clean has to offer, go for this one.
GMT Master II
PEPSI 126710BLRO, 116710BLRO: Clean Factory, GMF v6 (get with VR3186 movement if you can)
BATMAN/BATGIRL 126710BLNR, 116710BLNR: Clean, VRF, ARF (best insert, movement might be unstable)
116710LN: Clean, VRF
Rootbeer: GMF with VR3186
GMT Master I: BPF
GMT Master 6542: RBF (only available via Puretime for some reason), may be out of stock now.
Explorer II 216570 – All models: GMF/BP ask for VR3186 if available
Explorer I 214270: BPF
Two-tone Explorer I 124273: EWF
Airking 116900: GMF (904L), BP (316L)
Blue: ARF or BPF
226659: VSF, 3EF, JVS/VVSF.
116655 (Rose gold): VRF
126655 (Rose gold): EWF
268622 37mm: ARF
Datejust 36 – All models:
Decorated 3235: ARF. ARF has good dials, but date font can be too bold (v3 might be fixed now) and the crystal lacks enough AR coating on the cyclops.
2824: GMF is well executed overall, gold plating does not cover the side of the midlinks/endlinks, but the date font is better overall. There are a few other factories in the 36mm space, and GMF and ARF do not cover all dial variants. Take your time and look around and compare to gen
New 2021 & 2022 dial variants: GMF or BP.
Datejust 41 – All models:
3235 Clone movements: VSF, Clean
2824: ZF, ARF, GMF and BP in that order
New 2021 & 2022 dial variants: GMF or BP.
Special note: VSF made great DJ41s but are hard to get
DayDate 40 & 36 – All models: BPF, GMF
SkyDweller – all models: Noob v2. Has low beat movement, and other issues with the movement not being like gen, but it’s the best we’ve got.
Datejust 28 – all models: GMF
Oyster Perpetual: EWF all models. GMF also good.
5711 all color dials – All models: PPF v4 best overall factory but has a fat bezel. 3KF v2 has a good movement but small date font. OVERALL BEST NAUTILUS IN GENERAL is the PPF 5711.
Iced out Nautilus – R8 factory. Very well done. DM v2 is also well done and differently styled (baguette bezel)
5712 (moonphase date) – PPF v2. All functions are the same. Excellent rep.
5726 (triple calendar) – PPF (now ZF)
5980 Chronograph – I cannot recommend any good model. All have poor date font, too thick and not done very well. TWF, BPF and a few others are in this space.
7010 Ladies 33mm – PF. Overall well done, quartz movement.
7118 Ladies 35mm – PF. Very well done.
5067 ladies 35mm aquanaut – PPF. Thin, quartz, but gen like.
5164 Travel Time – GRF v2. Too thick compared to gen, time zone functionality does not work. Gray dial and rose gold model are the only good options here.
5165 37mm – All models ZF. Excellent rep as well.
5167 40mm – All models: ZF Factory best overall factory, despite the “5” flaw (the line of the grenade pattern extends below the lower left of the 5 numeral, unlike gen). 3KF has a clone movement but machining is not as nice as ZF. OVERALL BEST AQUANAUT REP IN GENERAL is the ZF.
5168 42mm Blue and Green – ZF. Blue dial isn’t quite as nice as gen, green dial and strap misses the mark compared to gen. Overall best execution though.
5968 Chronograph – OMF. Very thick, overall not recommended unless you like the look.
5077 – Notre Dame & Bhutan enamel craftsman dials – FLF Factory
5088 – FLF Factory
5089 Azulejos enamel craftsman dial – FLF Factory
5119 – TW Factory
5120 – TW Factory. Very nice execution.
5123 – TW Factory. Overall decent execution.
5196 sub seconds – AIF.
5296 (open caseback) – All models: ZF Factory. OVERALL BEST CALATRAVA IN GENERAL
5297G (diamond bezel) – ZF Factory
5153 (officer’s caseback, smaller case) – All models: ZF Factory
5227 (officer’s caseback, lacquer dial) – All models: ZF Factory. OVERALL BEST CALATRAVA IN GENERAL
6007 – ZF Factory. Dial and strap color are not as dark as gen.
7112 – KGF. Decent execution, not amazing.
4968 Ladies moonphase – KGF.
5070 – There is a rep, unsure of the factory. Not all versions are in stock though.
5205 Triple calendar moonphase – GRF v2 or KMF. Both are not great compared to gen, honestly, but look fine enough.
5396 – GRF for all models.
Known issues: sunken date disc, smaller day and month font than gen.
5524 Travel Time – GRF v2. Get the blue textured dial with brown strap, but the GMT hand is fixed on a 24hr loop, and the inner circle of that hand should be blue and not white. time zone switching is faux. Dial is not as nice as gen, but overall nice try and relatively thin.
6102 Celestial map – TZF. Looks good, but functions nothing like gen. Not recommended overall unless you love the look.
NOTE: Patek has almost never put a tourbillon in a watch and had it visible from the dial side. They have for a select few references a long time ago.
15500 41mm – ZF
15400 41mm – ZF just released new clone movement and good dial (12/2021)
15450 37mm – JF
15202ST 39mm ultra thin – XF has thinner hand base, ZF has better dial color. Choose according to your preferences they are both great. XF is no longer available.
15202IP – ZF, XF (no longer available), BF
15202 green dial and diamond variants – BF v2
16202 – not available yet
15703 & 15710 42mm Offshore: ZF and JF are overall similar enough.
Note: colored variants of these models will be from JF or BPF
15720 42mm Offshore: all 3 variants – BF Factory
67540 Ladies Offshore 37mm: unknown factory, but a high quality rep is out there with real diamonds. Ask your TD.
Royal Oak Tourbillon – R8 Factory
JF made a good ultra-thin tourbillon (but still ~11mm)
26579 Annual Calendar – ZP factory
26331 Chronograph – BF and OMF, but none are great.
Open work tourbillon – R8 factory
77350 34mm Royal Oak (ladies) – 8F
Royal Oak Offshore 44mm: JF for nearly all models
Overseas Ultra-thin 2000V: XF for all models (black, grey, blue) – currently closed. Cross is a bit flat below the 12 marker, movement finishing isn’t great, but overall a great rep. 8F is good.
Overseas generation 2 reference 47040
JJF Factory is no longer making these, but in general had a good rep if you find it on M2M. Their v2 was superior to their v1.
MKS Factory – seems to take cues from JJF. Best models are the grey and blue models. Gen-like thickness.
Known flaws: Black and white dials have different dial patterns than gen. The triangles/pyramids should be stacked on top of each other, but they are instead offset between rows. Grey dial bezel should be titanium, but appears to be painted (unvetted claim). All models have a flat cross below 12, gen has a nicely beveled cross
Overseas generation 3 reference 4500V
ZF Factory for all references. No other factory comes close. I used to list BP Factory, but ZF blows them out of the water.
Chronometre Royal 1907: MKS factory for all models. Good not great rep.
Patrimony reference 85150: 3 main factories: AIF, MKS, and FKF. Not enough comparisons between models, but both MKS and FKF are very good.
Fiftysix reference 4600: ZF for all references.
Fiftysix complete calendar: ZF, MXF ( may have day alignment issues – right justified)
Historique reference 86300: GSF for all models. Not great, but good rep
All other references – check the TD listings for other models available, but most are either too thick, or have other significant flaws.
RM011: KVF – thick but best deco, older models for thinner cases but worse deco. Glossy ceramic instead of matte, carbon fiber reinforced plastic instead of NTPT
RM035: ZF – real NTPT, closest to 1:1 size and proportions, v4 for absolute best, but all acceptable
RM055: BBR Factory has a ‘clone’ movement, and overall great execution. ZF – real ATZ matte ceramic case, closest to 1:1 size and proportions
RM027: EURF – serviceable tourbillon movement
RM056: EURF – sapphire bezels, plastic midcase, serviceable tourbillon movement
RM052 Skull: JBF – sometimes branded as ZF, serviceable tourbillon movement, out of production. EURF model may be available from some sources, may be same thing as JBF (unconfirmed)
RM012: KVF – thick case and weird deco, but real tourbillon. May be serviceable movement
RM68: RR Factory
RM010: RR Factory
RM07: RM Factory – including bon-bon model
Seamaster: All permutations – VSF (now closed), ORF, OMF
Aqua Terra: VSF, OMF
Diver 300M: VSF, OMF
Planet Ocean: VSF, MKF
Speedmaster Racing: HRF
DeVille 33mm: UVS Factory
No Time to Die Seamaster: VSF, ORF
Deville Dew Drop 33mm: 3S Factory
Tresor Quartz 39mm: 3M Factory
Deville 36mm: HR Factory
Speedmaster 57: OMF (but not great)
Deville Prestige 39mm: ZF
Send these links to your TD of choice and have them price it and source it for you. Most of these are smaller batches and don’t always have a ‘factory name’. The stones are typically CZ.
Rolex Submariner iced out green (also comes in blue and all diamonds) https://a202004241438341790100492.szwego.com/static/index.html?t=1638928514142#/theme_detail/A202004241438341790100492/I202112051625336710001752
Daytona Rainbow, comes in both RG and YG https://a202004241438341790100492.szwego.com/static/index.html#/theme_detail/A202004241438341790100492/I202112022034435930003330
Daytona Rainbow, in WG (stainless steel) https://a202004241438341790100492.szwego.com/static/index.html#/theme_detail/A202004241438341790100492/I202112022034435930002112
Santos (2018) 35mm or 40mm: GF for steel, BVF for two-tone or gold. GF has fixed their crystals in the most recent batches, and is the only one with a consistently gen-like bracelet. GF > BVF > V6F > 3KF. Important note: GF has been noted to have some screws fall off, whereas BVF does not seem to have this issue on the bracelet.
All AF Cartier reps are top tier, but they are not as active as some other factories, so alternatives are listed.
Tank Solo: AF; K11F decent alternative.
Tank Must (2021): F1.
Tank Francaise: 8848F.
Ballon Bleu 33mm or 36mm: AF with Cal.076 or quartz; 3KF with Cal.076, or V6F with quartz are decent alternatives. Recommended to avoid models with Seiko NH05. Ballon Bleu 28mm or 42mm: AF; V6F decent alternative.
Panthere: GF for steel, BVF for two-tone or gold.
8. How to Read a Timegrapher
9. The 'Not Worth Buying In Gen' (NWBIG) Guide
10. How to set up your Manual Watch
11. List of Known Watch Factories
12. How to Identify Scammers & Avoid Scams
What can we do to prevent being scammed? And, whom exactly is responsible for preventing or at least reducing the potential of being scammed here?
Simply stated: It is up to each and everyone of us to conduct our own best due diligence to prevent being scammed prior to participating in any m2m sale.
Of course we know to research an item before making a purchase. The more we know, the better the experience.
Always commit yourself to finding out as much about the member posting the item for sale as possible.
The forum makes it rather simple to check out the selling members join date, along with his/her posting and sales history. Take time to read the type of comments the selling member makes in his/her post history. Look for any potential red flags, negative or derogatory comments. See if you can follow a previous sales post involving the seller whereas he/she was the actual buyer.
If you find any comments that appear to be misleading in any way, dig deeper:
- What kind of buyer or seller have they been?
- Is there a previous history of nuked sales, withdrawn sales?
- Have they been repeatedly asked to clarify or provide documentation?
- Did they fail to respond to specific questions?
- Any history of hesitation or refusal to respond to a sales mod?
- Is the seller using the correct sales form and have they completed it accurately and clearly?
- Are they claiming to be selling the item for a friend ?
- Is the seller keeping the sales post open after claiming it is sold?
- Has the seller suddenly sent you a PM offering a special lower price , if you buy now or send payment via PayPal family and friends?
- Does the seller appear to be posting several items for sale all at once?
- Are they listing items for sell at considerably lower than average pricing?
- Is the seller posting several sales in various m2m sales areas for gen items, replicas etc?
- Does the seller react adversely to questions or comments concerning authenticity of the item for sale?
- Do you get a feeling that something is off about the seller or the item for sale?
We all have an inner sense of intuition. If you have a gut feeling something is not quite right, dig deeper, ask more questions. If you are not satisfied with his/her answer – walk away. There will always be another great watch that you just have to have.
Remember, patience is a prime factor in this hobby.
Before you spend your first dollar in this hobby, ask yourself this question: Can I afford to lose my hard earned money?
If you feel in any way that you can’t afford a loss, then just don’t do it.
You are responsible for you. You are the only one responsible for your actions. The forum is not responsible for your decisions or the choices you make here, nor are the admin/mods, the TD’s, or anyone else, Just you. If you can’t take full responsibility for your own actions, decisions, you certainly can’t expect anyone else to.
The absolute most important thing after accepting responsible is to be prepared. Prepare yourself to avoid being scammed by educating yourself. Use the forum resources to educate yourself on every aspect of this hobby. Educate yourself to know the best factory, the pros and cons of each replica. Educate yourself on the genuine watch you like.
Familiarize yourself with the brand. Know what the gen looks like, feels like, it’s specifications, how it functions, the type of movement it has. How can you expect to find the most accurate replica if you don’t know all there is to know about the gen.
Finally, make your own decisions based on your own research to spend your own money.
Each of us must be prepared to take the full responsibility of our actions.
13. Wrist Watch Size Guide
Find the best watch size for your wrist. Use this guide to size up the watch to best suit your wrist width.
Here is a complete watch size table, including lug to lug distance, that will help you find the perfect watch for your wrist size.
Always remember: in any case, you don’t want the lugs to overhang the width of your wrist.
How To Measure a Watch Case Size
If you’re in a hurry, here is how you do it: with a set of digital callipers, measure the watch case from one side of the case to opposite side, without including the crown.
Because on most watches the crown sits à the 3 o’clock position, it’s often easier to measure a watch case from the 2 o’clock to the 10 o’clock position.
If you don’t have callipers, you can use a transparent ruler to get an approximation of that size. The size reading won’t be perfect, but it will give you a good idea.
How Big Is a 38mm Watch?
I cannot stress this enough: the watch case size is not everything! That single dimension is not the whole story!
Pretty much all articles and guides on the Internet are way too simplistic regarding watch sizes: they just tell you to not get a watch above 40mm in diameter, with 38mm being the sweet spot. But is it?
A 38 mm diver like the Seiko SKX013 (check it on Amazon or read my full review of the Seiko SKX013) would look tiny on a 7.5 inch wrist. Conversely, a 38 mm dress watch like the Hamilton Intra-Matic (check it on Amazon) would look perfect.
The other way around is true too: the Seiko SKX013 looks perfect on my 6 inch wrist, but the Hamilton Intra-Matic looks quite big (but still okay) on me. It’s all about how it looks on your wrist. 38 mm, in and of itself, doesn’t mean anything.
Now, while getting a 38mm watch is a safe choice most of the time, it’s not nearly enough to make a watch work for you. I have 42mm watches that still look good on me, while some 40mm watches look absolutely huge. We’ll see later in this article why.
Also, you have to take into account your tastes. I prefer modern watches. The problem is: most modern watches are on the bigger side, with 40mm being about the smallest you can get (unless you go to more luxurious brands).
So if you’re like me, you will have to accept that some watches will look quite big on your wrist. And that’s okay if you stick to the upcoming points.
However, if you like vintage watches, rejoice! You have plenty of models ranging from 30mm (or even less !) to 38mm. Most are pretty cheap in comparison the value they offer, and they can make great investments too.
You’ll find a watch suiting your taste without a problem, and you’ll be sure that it will fit your wrists perfectly. Just don’t go overboard and get a 30mm watch if you have 7 inch wrists: it might begin to look really tiny on you.
Try to keep the watch case size in your range (see the watch size guide table above, depending on your wrists size and preferences).
But don’t exaggerate and get a small watch because you read that this is what you should do. You’ll end up with what some call a “boy’s watch”: a watch that is too small for you.
Factors That Affect the Subjective Watch Case Size
Remember: the case size is only a small portion of the watch size equation. Many other factors will change your perception of a watch size.
The Lug to Lug Distance
A really important aspect of a watch size is the lug to lug distance. This is almost as important (if not more) as the watch case size in itself.
The lug to lug distance is the distance between the lug (or tip) of the watch at the top of the watch head and the lug at the bottom of the watch head.
The lug to lug distance should be as small as possible to work with your small wrist. Try to keep the watch head within the limits of your wrist width as much as possible.
The reason is simple: we want the watch head to fit within your wrist width.We don’t want it to stick out or overhang. It just doesn’t look good.
If you have small wrists, you might have a hard time finding watches that fit within your wrist width.
My wrists are so thin that most watches visually touch both ends of my wrist. There is just no way around this for me, given my tastes and budget. But I try to keep that lug to lug distance as short as possible.
So, what’s a good lug to lug distance for your wrist?
The lug to lug distance of a watch will suit your wrist when it is 75 to 95% of your wrist width. The variation accounts for the different wrists shapes and personal preferences.
You see, some of us are blessed, some not so much. The weird thing is that your wrist size (or circumference) does not relate directly to your wrist width.
If you have a flat wrist, you’re lucky. Most of the circumference of your wrist will serve as the flat area where your watch will sit, allowing for a larger lug to lug distance.
But if you have thicker or rounder wrists (or if your wrists are very small like mine) well, you’ll have to settle for smaller timepieces. Don’t fear, there are still plenty of great mens watches for small wrists.
(Again, to have an estimate of your wrist width (its flat surface), you can easily measure your wrist size in millimiters and divide its size by 3. And remember to check in the watch size guide table above what lug to lug distance will work on your wrist.)
Now, an interesting thing is that the lug to lug distance is not in direct proportion to a watch size. Some 41mm watches have ridiculously long lugs, with a 50mm lug to lug distance (I’m looking at you, Tudor Black Bay!).
Some are the exact opposite. A notable example is my beloved Citizen Promaster Nighthawk: 42mm in diameter for 46.5mm lug to lug distance only!
So always try to know (or measure by yourself) the lug to lug distance before committing to buying a watch. And remember: a small watch doesn’t always have a short lug to lug distance.
The good thing is: the other way around is true too!
The Shape of the Lugs: Flat vs Curved
Something else to know about the lugs (even if it seems pretty obvious): some are almost flat, and some are more curved.
If you have smaller wrists, you want to get a watch with curved lugs as they will hug your wrist better, and not stick out like marshmallow roasting sticks.
And if you really like a watch with flat lugs, just make sure that the lug to lug distance is still within your wrist width for the best results.
Trust me: I’ve bought 3 watches with a 50mm lug to lug distance and flat lugs. The watch would not sit flush against my wrist at the lug tip, leaving a big and gap between the tip of the lug and my wrist.
Not to mention that they overhung… Not only was it painful to look at, but it was really uncomfortable. Don’t make the same mistake.
The Hour Markers Circle
Okay, now we’re getting serious. Remember when I said that the watch case size is not everything? Well, here is a not so obvious reason why.
The hour markers circle size is another important factor that makes a watch look bigger or smaller. Maybe you read or heard some people telling that a “42 mm watch wears like a 40 mm”.
This is because the hour markers circle size is small for the watch case.
This is not really a physical dimension, but it’s one that is most definitely visible when you look at the dial of a watch.
The hour markers circle size is measured from one tip of an hour marker on the dial to the tip of the opposite hour marker.
Again, you can get more information about this in my How To Measure A Watch Case Size article.
As you can see on my Citizen Promaster Nighthawk (on the left), the crystal is huge. It fills most of the 42 mm case, yet the hour markers circle only measures 26 mm.
On the other end of the spectrum, that 42 mm Hamilton Pilot Day Date Automatic (Amazon link) has a whopping 35 mm hour markers circle size. Yet it has the exact same case size than the Citizen!
I love the Hamilton, but it looks huge on me – even with its 48 mm lug to lug distance.
The Hamilton has thick lines at the edge of the dial that really stand out in real life (more than the numbers). That’s why I measured the hour markers circle there.
As soon as I began to get this measurement on watches – either in real life or on pictures – I could know if a watch would suit my wrist (granted the case size and lug to lug distance was good too).
On my 6 inch wrist, I find that 30mm is as big as the hour markers circle can get. I only get a watch with a greater hour markers circle size if all the other boxes are ticked and I really, really, really like it.
So, watch out for this hour markers circle.
Watches with a bezel have a smaller hour makers circle, and so will look smaller. A 40mm watch with a bezel will always look smaller than a 40mm watch with no bezel.
For example, my Orient Ray 2 has a case size of 41.5mm. Yet it looks smaller than my Seiko SRPB41, measuring only 40.5mm.
The Orient has a 25mm hour markers circle, while the one on the Seiko is 32mm! (I know I said 30mm is the maximum for me, but I don’t care, I really, really like it :P)
If sports watches are more your thing, finding a watch that will suit your small wrist should be fairly easy. Sports watches often feature a bezel.
The two most common bezel types are the ones you find on dive watches and chronographs.
- The first one features a rotating bezel counting the elapsed time underwater by 5 minutes increments.
- The second one is a tachymeter, giving you a speed by timing the time you take to drive one mile.
There are other bezels out there, but they will all reduce the hour markers circle size, so pick your favorite one.
Some dress watches feature a bezel too, but not as thick and prominent as the one you might find on sports watches.
If you’re really into the more dressier side of watches, pay attention and get a watch with a bezel (that is part of the case, most of the time), if possible.
For example, the Rolex Explorer above (which looks stunning, by the way) has a fixed polished bezel that will reduce the size of the dial. And consequently, the hour markers circle as well.
The Chapter Ring
Sometimes, the rotating bezel is not on the outside of the watch, but rather under the crystal. Inside the case, it’s not called a bezel, but a chapter ring.
And guess what: a chapter ring also changes the perception you have of a watch size. It will give you the same benefit as a bezel, but with a different look: you’ll get a much bigger crystal.
Just be aware that a watch with a bigger crystal will still always look bigger than a watch with a smaller crystal.
But once you know that, it all depends on the look you’re after. Bezel or chapter ring? It’s up to you.
Many watches have chapter rings, including watches with bezels. Some are thin, some are large. Some are fixed, some are rotating.
It doesn’t matter, they have the same effect: they keep the hour markers away from the edge of the case. So that the subjective size of a watch with a chapter ring will be smaller.
One of the most pleasing chapter rings you get (in my opinion) is the one you find on some pilot watches: the slide rule.
It looks good and it’s super useful (to convert currencies while abroad, for example). Another popular chapter ring is the compass you find on hiking watches. Again, pick your favorite style.
The Color of the Dial: Dark vs Light
If you take two exact same watches – one with a light dial and one with a dark dial – the one with a dark dial will always look smaller. This is because of the way our brain perceives the light reflected by objects.
Of course, you don’t have to get a black watch just because it looks smaller.
But if you have smaller wrists and you like light dials, you should get a watch with a smaller case size and hour markers circle size than you would normally get to compensate that perception.
The Case Thickness
Thin watches for the win!
One last thing about the watch case itself. A watch will always look a bit smaller if it’s thinner. The effect is not as visible as having a small case size, lug to lug distance, hour markers circle, or dark dial, but it certainly helps.
You’ll have an easier time getting a thin watch by getting a dress watch (quartz or mechanical). Most quartz watches are super thin too.
You’ll get the added benefits of having a watch that fits easily under the cuff, and that is lightweight and comfortable to wear.
Thick watches (of more than 12mm) tend to be really top heavy, especially if you wear them on a band or strap.They might turn around your wrist and will always look a bit bigger.
Watch and Strap Sizing FAQs
Here are the answers to some common questions about watch sizing.
How Do I Choose a Watch Size?
The easiest way to choose a watch size is by using your wrist size and comparing it to the watch case size and lug to lug distance using the chart above.
We recommend a case size that’s 60% to 75% of your flat wrist width and a lug to lug distance that’s 75% to 95% of your wrist width.
Are Watches One Size Fits All?
It depends. If you have a fairly average wrist size, then you probably don’t need to worry too much about watch or strap size.
But there’s also a lot of misinformation out there in the form of people wearing watches that are too big (more common) or too small (less common). That’s why it’s important to know your wrist size.
Can You Adjust the Size of a Watch?
No. You can adjust the size of the strap, but there’s no way to reduce the size of the watch case.
How Do You Tell if a Watch Is Too Big for Your Wrist?
The easiest way to tell is by simply looking at it. If it looks too big, it probably is. You can also use our suggested parameters shown above to help guide you toward the right size.
What Size Watch Band Do I Need?
The size of watch band you need for a watch depends on two factors: the lug width of the watch case, which correlates to strap width, and the circumference of your wrist, which correlates to strap length. See our sizing chart above for more information.
Is a 40mm Watch Too Big for a 6-Inch Wrist?
Yep—we recommend not going above 38mm for a 6” wrist. (That said, if the 40mm watch has a short lug to lug distance, you may be able to get away with it, but it’s unlikely.)
So there you have it! I hope this guide will help you find the perfect watch for your wrist.
Don’t forget: case size, lug to lug distance, lug shape, hour markers circle, dial color and case thickness all play a part in the overall impression of a watch size. You want to make sure to check them all.
Now that you know everything about watch sizes, make sure you actually measure your wrist properly! It’s always a bad surprise when you get a watch online and that it happens to be too big for your wrist.
14. Guide to the Best Budget Mid-Tier Watches ($250-$400)
These are not the $500+ versions with super clone movements or hyper fine details. These are the better than bottom barrel, ‘good enough’ versions.
Last Update: October 25, 2022
All models with an * are considered High tier (aka the best you can get and are quite good).
Submariner 116610LN, LV and others: BP Factory ($350) (ZF 116610LN is $400), VRF ($320-$350)
Submariner 126610LN, LV and others: BP Factory ($350)
Submariner 116040 and 126040 (no date): BPF ($300)
*Explorer I: BP Factory ($300)
Explorer II 216570: BP factory ($350)
*Seadweller 16600: BP Factory ($300)
GMT Master II (Batman, Batgirl, Pepsi, LN): BP Factory with incorrect hand stack movement A2836 ($300)
GMT Master II 5 digit 16710/16750: BP factory $330
Datejust 36 (all variants): BP Factory with 2824 movement ($300-$320), ARF ($400)
Datejust 41 (all variants): BP Factory with 2824 movement ($310-$320)
DayDate 36/40: BP Factory ($300+)
Oyster Perpetual 41 and 36: BP Factory ($320)
Yachtmaster 40mm: VRF with 2836 movement ($350-$370)
*15450 Royal Oak 37mm: JF for $380
15400 Royal Oak 41mm: APSF v1 (might not be widely available) for $300
15500 Royal Oak 41mm: MPF ($300)
15703 RO Offshore: ROF ($400)
No other ‘good enough’ reps for AP. Recommend higher price bracket. See AP section for who makes the best.
Nautilus: BP Factory for $350.
Aquanaut: BP Factory for $350 (unsure if still made)
*Calatrava 5296: ZF for $400
Still recommend higher price bracket for Nautilus and Aquanaut
*Patrimony Date: PPF for $318
No other good recommendations – for Overseas go for ZF (higher price bracket)
*BB58: ZF ($300)
*BB36: KRF ($340)
Pelagos: ZF ($360)
*Planet Ocean 600m 39.5mm: VSF ($390)
*Seamaster Diver 300m: VSF/SBF with clone ($390), ZF with modified 2824 ($360)
*Seamaster Spectre: VSF v2 ($390)
*Speedmaster Racing Chrono 40mm: HRF ($380)
*Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m: VSF ($400)
*Tank Louis: DRF for $248
*Tank Solo: K11 for $280
*Ballon Bleu 42mm: AF for $250
*Ballon Bleu 42: AF ($200-250)
*Portofino: V7F ($310)
*Mark XVIII Pilot: V7F ($350)
There are more <$400 IWC model available, check TD websites.
Master Ultra Thin Moonphase: AZF ($380)
Reserve de Marche: ZF ($390)
Panerai – There are reps that are <$400, but look for anything by VSF from a TD website
Richard Mille – nothing noteworthy in this price range.
15. Automatic Vs. Quartz. Vs. Mechanical Watch Movements Guide
When you’re shopping for a new watch, you’ll quickly realize that there are three main types of watch movements: automatic, quartz, and mechanical.
While these three watch movements might sound similar, the difference between them is what makes each type unique and valuable.
So, what’s the difference between these movements?
Mechanical watches are powered by a mainspring, which must be manually wound, typically every 2-3 days.
Automatic watches are just like mechanical watches, except they also use the movement of your arm to wind the mainspring automatically.
Finally, quartz watches are powered by a small battery. Quartz watches tend to be the most affordable and accurate, thanks to their electronically powered movement.
How Are Automatic, Mechanical, and Quartz Watches Powered?
Mechanical watches don’t have any batteries or circuits to power them, so how on earth do they work?
These sophisticated timepieces have 6 main parts:
- The Crown
- The Mainspring
- The Gear Train
- The Hairspring
- The Balance Wheel
- The Escapement (Pallet Fork & Escape Wheel)
Here is how it works:
The crown is connected to the mainspring, which is a foot-long (30cm) strip of hardened metal coiled into a spring.
By rotating the crown a few times, you add tension on the mainspring.
As is the case of any coiled spring, the spring will want to return to its original shape, so it will unwind slowly, releasing energy into our watch over time.
This is exactly what powers the watch movement and makes it tick!
The mechanical movement simply uses a train of small gears to transfer the mainspring’s energy throughout the movement; all the way to the escapement and balance wheels, an integral part of any mechanical movement.
This is the heart of the watch’s operation and it’s responsible for the smooth sweep of the second hand.
By spinning the crown, you wind the mainspring and this force is then transferred via small gears to the escapement, which keeps it ticking at a consistent rate, just like our heart!
Automatic watches are very similar to mechanical watches, the only difference is that you don’t need to manually wind the watch’s coil.
You can think of it as a self-winding mechanical watch.
The watch can use the power of your wrist’s movement to keep its mainspring fully wound, so it never stops working.
The way they achieve this is through something called the ” automatic rotor”.
A watch rotor is a half-circle-shaped piece of metal attached to the watch’s mainspring.
It spins freely around an axis point, and as it moves, it winds the mainspring.
Like the movement in any mechanical watch, an automatic watch doesn’t use a battery to operate. Instead, it uses a series of gears to transfer the energy from the automatic rotor into the watch’s mainspring and eventually the rest of the movement.
An automatic watch gets its name from the fact that it is powered by the movement of your arm.
This is rather similar to how mechanical watches work, but the main difference here is that you don’t need to manually wind them each day.
Unlike mechanical and automatic watches, quartz timepieces are driven by a battery and an electronic circuit.
The battery sends a small electric current through the quartz tuning fork-shaped crystal, which vibrates at exactly 32,768 Hertz/second.
Why precisely 32,768?
Well, there are 2 reasons for that:
First, it needs to be above 20,000hz, and outside the range of the human’s hearing frequency range. This makes the quartz movement silent in operation.
Second, it needs to be a power of the number 2 because we use electronic parts to convert the frequency into seconds, minutes, and hours.
And no matter how complex the electronic part is, on a basic level, it still just has only 2 modes, either on or off. And 32,768 is the first power of 2 above 20,000.
The quartz’s vibration is picked up by a set of sensors, which convert it into electrical pulses.
These pulses are what drive the watch’s second hand and all its other functions.
Also, since we are dealing with electrical current here, we can use digital screens to display the time, which is why digital watches are always quartz.
Quartz watches are driven by a battery and an electronic circuit.
The vibration of the quartz crystal is converted into electrical pulses and the electronic circuit uses these pulses to display time.
Mechanical and Automatic Watches
One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between mechanical and quartz watches is by looking at their movement.
In the case of mechanical and automatic watches, the power source is the mainspring.
As we discussed earlier, the spring slowly unwinds, releasing energy through the gears to the escapement and balance wheel, which keeps the watch ticking.
Since this is a continuous process rather than a ticking process, the second-hand moves in a smooth motion.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a super smooth motion, it just ticks so fast that we can’t see it unless we really look closely.
And this is what gives mechanical watches that special charm and character.
Quartz watches, on the other hand, have no mainspring.
They get their power from a battery, which sends an electric current through the quartz crystal.
Since the electric signal is on/off rather than continuous like with the mainspring, the second-hand moves in a jumpy motion, ticking once per second.
The second hand on a mechanical watch moves in a smooth motion while the second hand on a quartz watch moves in a jumpy, ticky motion.
Mechanical & Automatic Watches
This is where mechanical and automatic watches differ the most.
As we previously discussed, automatic watches are powered by your movement.
Every time you move your arm, the rotor spins and winds the mainspring.
This means that you don’t need to worry about winding your automatic watch as long as you’re wearing it regularly.
However, if you don’t wear your watch for a few days, the mainspring will slowly run down and you’ll need to give it a manual wind.
Mechanical watches, on the other hand, require more frequent winding in order to keep it running.
How often you should wind your watch mainly depends on the quality of the mainspring, the wear and tear of the gears, the lubrication of the movement, and most importantly, the power reserve.
The power reserve demonstrates the maximum amount of time a mechanical watch will run, once fully round. Often, watches will have power reserves between 40 and 80 hours.
As a general rule, you’ll want to wind your watch every day to make sure it’s running, though some watches, with larger power reserves, can go for longer without needing additional winding.
Quartz timepieces don’t require any winding at all, as they simply don’t have any springs.
Instead, they do need semi-frequent battery changes, which we will explain in detail in the next section.
Mechanical watches need to be wound daily, automatic watches only need to be wound if you are not wearing them regularly, and quartz timepieces don’t require any winding at all.
Automatic & Mechanical Watches
One aspect that is often overlooked by newbies is the maintenance of their mechanical watches.
As we discussed, mechanical watches have lots of moving parts.
This puts them suspect to wear and tear, which can cause them to run slow or stop working altogether.
Think of your mechanical watch as a car.
If you don’t perform regular maintenance on your car, it will eventually break down and it will cost you a lot more to fix than if you had just taken care of it in the first place.
The same goes for your mechanical watch, although thankfully they don’t require as much maintenance as a car.
So, what kind of maintenance do you need to perform on your watch?
Well, the most important thing is to make sure the movement is well lubricated or “oiled.”
This is because the gears and bearings in the movement will eventually start to wear down if they’re not lubricated and this can significantly affect the watch’s accuracy.
For this reason, it’s suggested to take your mechanical timepiece to a qualified watchmaker once every 3-5 years for regular maintenance, though some movements, like Seiko’s reliable 7S26 and 4R36, are known to go 7-10 years and beyond without ever needing service.
He/she will strip down the movement and replace all of the oils with fresh ones.
It’s important to mention that servicing a mechanical watch can be quite pricey, depending on its working mechanism and condition.
The cost for a watch service can vary based on the type of watch being serviced, availability of parts, and a watchmaker’s experience level. On average, you should expect to pay around $250 every 4 years, an average of $62.50 per year.
This is where quartz timepieces really take the cake.
Since they have much fewer moving parts than mechanical watches, they’re not as prone to wear and tear.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is some maintenance involved.
Every 2 to 5 years, you’ll need to have the battery replaced, which is often simple enough to do yourself. Further, battery replacements are much cheaper than a watch service required on a mechanical watch.
Overall, quartz watches are a lot less work than mechanical or automatic watches.
In terms of the maintenance cost, servicing a quartz timepiece is relatively cheap, especially when compared to mechanical watches.
All mechanical watches need regular maintenance in the form of watch services every few years in order to keep the watch running smoothly.
This usually entails taking it to a qualified watchmaker every few years to have the movement oiled.
Maintenance also can be pricey, depending on the watch, but it’s important in order to keep your timepiece ticking.
Quartz watches, on the other hand, are by far the easiest to take care of since they don’t have as many moving parts as mechanical watches. Quartz watches only require a very simple to perform, and affordable battery change every few years.
Overall, quartz timepieces maintenance cost is relatively low when compared to mechanical watches.
Durability & Longevity
Automatic & Mechanical Watches
One of the main things that many people fail to consider when buying a new watch is its durability.
Mechanical watches are the most susceptible to wear and tear due to the many small, mechanical moving parts that can easily get out of whack.
Yes, they can always be fixed by a skilled watchmaker, given replacement parts are readily available, but this can sometimes be costly.
Sometimes, it can even cost you more than buying a new one, especially in the case of an affordable mechanical watch. If the price of replacing your mechanical watch costs less than the service of the watch, it may be worth considering replacing it entirely.
However, while mechanical watches aren’t as durable as quartz ones, they can last much longer, if properly maintained for.
On average, a mechanical timepiece can last for around 150 years!
That’s why they are often treated as heirlooms and passed down from generation to generation. You’ll often hear stories of a family member passing down a mechanical Rolex or Seiko, while it is much rarer to hear someone passing down their G-Shock, for instance.
One of the biggest benefits of quartz watches is that they are extremely durable.
In fact, I’m not exaggerating if I said that my quartz G-Shock has been beaten and dropped numerous times with next-to-no damage, whatsoever.
Now, I’m not saying that quartz watches are invincible.
They still can break down, but only if you really try to break them.
However, what they have in durability, they lack in longevity.
On average, a quartz timepiece can last around 25 years before the electric circuit breaks down.
Yes, you can always change the inner mechanism, but obviously, it will cost you; sometimes more than a replacement of the watch itself.
Quartz watches are super durable and can survive numerous falls, bumps, drops, and scrapes, but don’t have the longevity of a well-maintained and cared for mechanical watch.
Automatic & Mechanical Watches
To be honest, mechanical watches aren’t the most accurate timepieces.
The reason why they aren’t as accurate is, you guessed it, the moving parts that can easily get out of whack.
It’s not that they are inaccurate by design, but more likely due to the many minuscule parts required to be in perfect motion for precise timekeeping.
The average automatic watch, even some of the higher-end luxury watches, such as Rolex, Omega, Patek Philippe, etc. can lose or gain anywhere from 2-25 seconds per day, depending on their quality of movement.
That may not seem like a lot day-to-day, but over the course of a week, month, or year, it can add up, and become quite inaccurate over time.
For example: assuming your watch is off by only 3 seconds/day, then this means it will be off by 90 seconds/day at the end of the month, or 1,080 seconds/day by the end of the year; that’s 18 minutes!
Unlike mechanical timepieces, quartz watches are extremely accurate.
They may not be as precise as an atomic clock, but they’re close.
The average quartz watch can lose or gain ~1-2 minutes per year, which is pretty impressive if I might say.
Mechanical watches are not that accurate and can lose/gain up to 25 seconds per day.
Quartz watches, on the other hand, are extremely accurate and can lose/gain about a minute or two per year.
Size & Weight
Automatic & Mechanical Watches
Another thing to consider is the size and weight of the watch.
Automatic watches are typically heavier than their mechanical and quartz countertops.
As you guessed, it’s because of the many smaller, mechanical parts, often made with various metals used in the movement, combined with the rotor. The rotor needs to be heavy, so it can efficiently rotate and shift when wearing it on the wrist, in-turn, winding the mainspring.
Although mechanical watches don’t have a rotor, they are still quite heavy as well due to the number of gears and springs inside.
The average mechanical watch can weigh around 3.5 ounces (100 grams) and have a thickness of 0.4 inches (10 millimeters).
Since quartz timepieces don’t have any moving parts (except for the second hand), they can often be made smaller, lighter, and thinner than automatic or mechanical watches.
The average weight of a quartz watch is around 2.5 ounces (70 grams) and has a thickness of 0.27 inches (6 millimeters).
Automatic timepieces are the heaviest and bulkiest watches, followed by mechanical watches, while quartz watches are the slimmest and smallest.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a quartz watch be automatic?
No, an automatic watch is a self-powered [automatic] mechanical movement, while a quartz watch is an electronically powered movement.
Can a quartz watch be mechanical?
No, a mechanical watch movement is comprised of small mechanical parts, such as springs and gears, while a quartz watch is electronically powered.
Are Rolex watches mechanical, automatic, or quartz?
Rolex has made Rolex Oyster Quartz watches, which use a battery, in the past, however, modern Rolex watches use automatic movements.
Which Type Of Watch Movement Is Better?
At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference.
If you’re someone who wants the most accurate, affordable, easy to maintain, and durable timepiece, you should definitely stick with a quartz watch.
On the other hand, if you want a watch that contains a tiny, mechanically driven machine, and a watch you can hand down for generations, a mechanical watch is the one for you, so long as you don’t mind the semi-regular cost of a watch service.
And finally, if you want all of the charm of a mechanical watch, without having to deal with the hassle of winding the watch regularly, a self-powered automatic watch that will wind itself while you’re wearing it on your wrist is the one for you.
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