Remember the Chinese watch maker Longio? I talked about them here when discussing their first tourbillon watches. I applauded the Hong Kong based watch maker for having the courage to thrust itself in the tourbillon watch market that is dominated by European watch companies that have the process down pretty well. China’s strength is in ingenuity and keeping costs low. The highly sought after tourbillon complication could be had from Longio at a fraction of what the European makers charge. Not that Chinese tourbillon watches are a replacement for the Europeans, but it is was certainly a knock on the door of the stalwart giants.
Now comes Longio’s second tourbillon watch, the yet to be properly named 1000m Diving Tourbillon. Diver tourbillon watches aren’t new, but this combination of 1000m water resistant case, sporty looks, and cost of about $8,000 simply cannot be found in any European watch for double, triple, or even quadruple the cost. In fact most European diving tourbillon watches cost north of $100,000. So while $8,000 sure isn’t cheap, it is a bargain compared to the competition. As a special benefit to Longio, it is part of a company that produces many watch parts for German and Swiss watch makers. The only difference here is that it bears a name that is openly Chinese in origin.
I am surprised by this watch actually. The aggressive styling is pretty cool looking. Certainly a departure from the blase Chinese designed watches we’ve come to easily disregard. It has an attractive but simple modern appeal, and would standout nicely. The case itself is a large 47mm wide, and comes with the metal bracelet and rubber strap (24mm wide). It isn’t going to win any design awards, but it isn’t half bad. The bracelet looks interesting as well, something I’d like to inspect a bit more. Inside the watch is the SG3829 automatic mechanical tourbillon movement. The tourbillon is an actual tourbillon as you’d come to expect, and it rotates once each 60 seconds. The movement is acceptable, and interesting to view. It doesn’t have nearly the refinement of a Swiss or German movement, but again, think of the cost. Accuracy is also less that its European counterparts, but not by as much as you’d think. It took the Europeans how long to get a decent tourbillon movement into a watch? Decades probably. And in just a few years here is China with their own. China will never beat Europe when it comes to quality or refinement, but it will always beat them when it comes to speed – just a different mentality at work.
The $8,000 question (literally) is whether buyers are going to be taken enough by the watch to buy it. No one will argue that the watch is unattractive, as it clearly has its merits, and as 1000 meter diver it is at least made solidly. The tourbillon movement has always been about enjoyment in watching it operate. The question is whether enough people will be taken by the design plus the mechanics to appreciate it as a worthy alternative given the less expensive, but still expensive price. Longio’s challenge will be to show customers what goes into the creation of each of its tourbillon watches. Chinese firms have always had a weak communication ability in terms of “speaking” to Western nations – so Longio will likely need to reach out to external sources to gets its messages across. Until then, you have this watch item of interest which should be available soon.