Memorigin Military Tourbillon MO 0707 Watch Review

Memorigin Military Tourbillon MO 0707 Watch Review

Memorigin Military Tourbillon MO 0707 Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

A lot of the times that we post a video about some cool, expensive Swiss watch on the aBlogtoWatch YouTube channel, we get a regular type of comment. In some manner or another, one of our viewers says something akin to "I will wait until the Chinese make one for a few hundred dollars." Yea, I get that timepieces are expensive, sometimes crazy expensive, but it is true that the Chinese can copy just about anything? No, and I think most people know that. One area that they have however been more successful in stealing thunder away from the Swiss has been with tourbillon movements. The Chinese ardently pushed to replicate, in high-quality, the magic of the little revolving balance wheel. This is one of those.

Don't let me get off on the wrong foot by making this review sound like I am talking about a Chinese copy of something European. That isn't exactly the case here. My opening point was however to suggest that in the case of getting a tourbillon, there are fair offerings from Chinese brands that are all less expensive than their European counterparts. Are they analog watches or replicas? No. They are merely Chinese expressions of the same complications, and the best of them have some Asian flair. This is a review of the Memorigin Military Tourbillon, and I have to admit that after several months of wearing it off and on, I've grown quite attached to it.

Memorigin Military Tourbillon MO 0707 Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Hong Kong-based Memorigin is a brand we've discussed before. In this past article we showed you some of their more uniquely designed watches made for the Asian market. The Military Tourbillon (here ref. MO 0707) is a more world-friendly design. With a Panerai-style dial in yellow mixed to a simple black-colored round case, the addition of a tourbillon is a charming, and unexpected addition to the design. This particular mixture of complication and simple sport isn't something you'd ever see out of Switzerland, and it is almost ironic. Though for me it seems to work.

Flip the case around and you'll see the exposed manually wound movement through the case back window. Memorigin designs them to look more classy than sporty with swirly engraved bridges and other decorative motifs on the dark gray colored metal. If you look closely through the tourbillon on the dial-side you can see more of the decorative features under the tourbillon on the movement plate. The mixture of sport and classical elements continue with the sapphire crystal cabochon in the crown. None of this makes sense on paper, but in execution, at least for the right people, it makes perfect sense.

Memorigin Military Tourbillon MO 0707 Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Memorigin Military Tourbillon MO 0707 Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Not everything out of China makes sense to us in the West. Traditional Chinese design is something we don't see very much of and their Western amalgamation products seem to mix and match various things in ways that are often confusing to everyone but the people who combined them in the first place. Some could argue that is the case here. Is the Military Tourbillon a lot like putting fine leather seats inside of a Hummer? In a sense it is. At the same time the design is more playful and fashion-oriented. This is an animal you won't find in nature. A designer animal if you will.

Compared to other more elaborate Memorigin tourbillon watches, I wanted to review the Military Tourbillon the most because of its restrained simplicity. One of the reasons that European design is often much better than Chinese design is that Europeans have a better grasp of the "less can be more principle." A good example is that many Chinese tourbillon-based watches have day/night indicator discs on them. It isn't a useless complication, but it isn't a particularly pretty one. European watches for the most part don't have day/night indicator discs because they understand that aesthetically they don't add to a luxury product. This watch feels a bit more akin to that ethos, rather than the typical Chinese tendency to stick as much great stuff in the same package as possible.

Memorigin Military Tourbillon MO 0707 Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Memorigin Military Tourbillon MO 0707 Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Little things like putting "tourbillon" on the dial are unnecessary. Refined customers know that labels such as this detract from an otherwise clean approach. It isn't stating "tourbillon" that is luxury, it is being able to enjoy the tourbillon that is luxury. But aside from really minor stuff like that, the Military Tourbillon is a pretty good effort in combining a popular sporty look and a popular high-end complication in one package.

While Memorigin is based in Hong Kong, not much is actually produced in Hong Kong anymore. Production is nearby in China, where the caliber MO 0707 manually wound tourbillon movement is produced. The movement is engraved as skeletonized for decorative purposes. It operates at 28,800 vph and has a power reserve of about 40 hours. You should also note that this is a flying tourbillon (which means it has no top bridge). From a chronometric standpoint we haven't done any timing tests, but we figure it is probably just a bit less accurate than most Swiss tourbillons.

Memorigin Military Tourbillon MO 0707 Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

Memorigin Military Tourbillon MO 0707 Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

The black case, strap, and dial mixed with pale yellow hands and hour markers works well. Visibility is good, and the indicators are coated with lume (though not the strongest lume in the world). The crystals are sapphire, and the case is water resistant to 50 meters. On the wrist, the steel case is 44mm wide and wears comfortably on the plush alligator strap. Memorigin isn't trying to be a low-priced alternative to Swiss-made tourbillon watches. Instead, the brand more tries to be a home-grown Asian tourbillon brand with its own personality that just happens to offer a lower-priced alternative to something from Europe.

With the popularity of watches in Asia (especially mainland China) so high, the popularity of Asian watch brands is also on the rise. One of the most interesting elements of the Asian watch industry is that so few of them end up leaving Asia. There are dozens of brands made exclusively for the Chinese market that you'll probably never hear about. Some of them are huge comapnies. Smaller ones like Memorigin represent a class of luxury Chinese brands, and in a sense is a new breed as the Chinese tend to only like foreign-made luxury brands. But again, that is also changing.

The Memorigin is certainly a unique product and one that I like, but not always for logical reasons. What is logical is that if you want a tourbillon but simply can't afford a Swiss one, brands like Memorigin are a good place to look. But remember that affordable doesn't mean cheap. Memorigin isn't a copy-cat brand so you are getting a distinct unique character with them. The Military Tourbillon is further part of a limited edition of 300 pieces. Price is HKD $19,800 (which is about $2,500 USD). memorigin.com

Necessary Data
>Brand: Memorigin
>Model: Military Tourbillon
>Price: $19,800 HKD
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we'd recommend it to first:  An experienced watch lover who values style and a good sense of humor over pure class-ism and classicism.
>Worst characteristic of watch:  Could use better luminant, and "Toubillon" label on dial is unnecessary.
>Best characteristic of watch: Cheeky mixture of Panerai-popularized military dial design with a lux complication makes for a unique wearing experience that is hard to define.

6 comments
allmeads
allmeads

I like what I see in the pictures.  The decorated movement is simply outstanding.  If this was of Swiss pedigree, we would be fawning over it.  Yet, being Chinese there is this hesitancy to embrace the watch for what it is.  My ONLY reason for not wanting to purchase the watch is the unfortunate "tourbillon" written on the bottom of the watch face.  At $2,500 and limited to 300 pieces, this watch will sell out very quickly, with or without the west participating in purchasing it.

DG Cayse
DG Cayse

A quick question - Did Memorigin have a booth at BaselWorld 2013? Did they feature this piece?

DG Cayse
DG Cayse

Good write-up and some very fun analogies..."leather seats in a Hummer"...well done.

IMO this represents a big step outside the box for the Chinese watch making mentality. The attempt at 'less is more', which almost worked, is something not seen previously. The detail is magnificent - blued screws, jewel on crown, engraved and skeletonized movement all look great. And one should keep in mind - in the Chinese mindset looks are paramount. 

I would venture to guess that the factory making this has quite a bit of experience with "Panarai-type dials" (wink wink) thus the resemblance.  If the tourbillon was not inserted this would be just another Panarai rep attempt...with poor lume. Note the use of this dial in their "Batman Dark Knight Rises" offering.

View this as a beginning. How long till a Swiss, German, etc. watch maker offers a Memorigin rep?

Ryan B
Ryan B

Not sure if "military tourbillon" is an oxymoron in the watch industry or if Memorigin are the first ones to have the kahones to do it. The mishmash of styles that seems to take ques from many high end makers is very interesting to see together in one piece.  Either way I applaud them for trying to make their own little niche in a market dominated by swiss and I look forward to seeing more creations from them.

I will also add that throwing the name tourbillon right underneath the mechanism itself is a little weird, that would be like Chevrolet adding "4 wheels" right below where it says Corvette ........ we all know what they are and how they work, no need to advertise. Oh them silly Chinese.

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

I think the worst part about this is the name. 'Military tourbillion' is about as absurd as it gets I think. That said, its an interesting piece. The dial is such a stark contrast to the rear view: undeniably Chinese, not in an insulting way. The PVD looks a little rough in some shots, especially the side view showing the weirdly cabochoned crown. Actually, it appears to be faceted, so I guess its not a cabochon. Whatever.

Maybe it is a trick of the photo, but the tourbillon cage looks to be 'case hardened', which is interesting.

Anyway, it would appear the Asian market is stepping up their tourbillon game. How long until we see a Chinese repeater or sonnerie? Probably soon.

adisoon
adisoon

You're right about the word "Tourbillon" on the dial. How is the level of finish of the movement? I'm curious if there are different levels of finish that define the many price levels of a Chinese tourbillon? Or is the quality generally the same, and the differentiation is in the brand name?