June 10, 2013
by Ariel Adams
I am sitting here with my Longio Zhuke watch a few months after getting it, examining the patina on the case. A modern looking dive watch, rather than being in a typical steel case, the Zhuke comes in bronze. The odd material became popular over the last few years for unknown reasons. I think it has something to do with how the case ages quickly, making it look vintage, and how the color fits somewhere between steel and gold. Bronze is not an ideal material for cases as it begins to oxidize quickly. Sure you can polish it, but most people who own bronze watches seem to love how each of them age in their own special way.
So my bronze Zhuke is starting to look like some type of vintage instrument. In a strange way it is cool, but I can’t seem to pinpoint why. The patina doesn’t quite look “dirty” and as I run my finger over the case it still feels smooth and pleasant. I could get behind this bronze thing – but certainly only for a select number of watches in my collection. The bronze appeal is real, and perhaps each person whose collection of divers is large enough might want to strongly consider something like the Longio Zhuke.
Over the years we’ve written a lot about Longio. Click above to see our reviews of their 1000 Meter Tourbillon and other interesting timepieces. We like the brand because as Chinese watchmakers, they are proudly Chinese. Having developed their own unique style. Nevertheless, their core business is as a supplier to other brands. Producing entire watches or just cases for a range of brands all over the world. The Zhuke itself has elements that appeared in a watch they produced for a tiny brand called Olivier. The Zhuke has the same bronze case. Different are the dial and strap. Each of them even have the same movements.
As a Chinese watch, the Zhuke still contains a Swiss movement. Inside the Zhuke is a Swiss ETA 2824 which should satisfy most watch lovers though Longio’s price for the Zhuke seems high. To be honest, most “Swiss watches” have Chinese cases, dials, and straps with ETA movements. So what makes the Longio Zhuke different? Not too much aside from the fact that it has the name of a Chinese brand on it. And it does so in a sort of cool way. There is Chinese writing on the case and even the name “Zhuke” is Chinese. When buying a Chinese watch – this is the way to go. It doesn’t hurt that it is a limited edition as well.
As a sporty dive watch, the Zhuke is a rather capable and good looking option. The 44-45mm wide case is water resistant to 500 meters and has a helium release valve to boot. You have a rotating diver’s bezel with lume indicators, and I like the bronze on bronze look of the case and bezel. Because bronze is a poor choice for a crown and caseback (not good to have bronze making prolonged contact with skin), the caseback is in steel while the crown is PVD black with the Longio logo etched into it. Longio offers the Zhuke with either an olive green or black dial. I was intrigued by the green dial as it paired well with the bronze color, but in the end opted for a more classic black dial.
Over the dial is a sapphire crystal and overall legibility is good. I even don’t mind that the dial is relatively flat – something I shy away from for the most part these days as I like dials with more depth. However, in this case the colors on the dial as well as the bold contrast of the hour markers wins out in the end. Longio made the hands the right length (not something they always do), and the stark utilitarian qualities of the design have won me over. Lume is really quite good as super LumiNova is used for the hands and hour markers. Sadly none is applied to any part of the seconds hand.
Longio further ensured that the date dial is black to match the dial of the watch. Often on watches like this you have a less intense attention to detail as date discs are typically white. Good of Longio to make sure there wasn’t a glaring white element on the dial that didn’t fit. Placement of the date is between 4 and 5 o’clock so as not to disturb any of the hour markers. If you aren’t looking for it, the date almost sneakily hides in the background.
I’ve always liked these tonneau-style divers with round dials. They offer a chunky, durable appeal that is nevertheless very comfortable on the wrist. The almost lugless style helps ensure that despite the size, the case fits on most all wrists. Longio includes a black silicon strap with the Zhuke, as well as a black leather strap. They even offer a useful strap changing tool. I bet there are a lot of interesting strap options that would look good on this piece.
There aren’t too many downsides to the watch aside from the fact that Longio’s website offers zero information on it and the watch is hard to find outside of Asia. I am a fan of the brand and want people to see more of these. They do a decent job, and for whatever they lack in marketing prowess, they do an honest job at trying to make an interesting watch that isn’t a direct copy of something else. Speaking about a watch from China that is still saying a lot, Longio will produce just 200 pieces of the Zhuke in each dial color. That isn’t too many and certainly qualifies it as an indy diver. If you want one you’ll need understand the Chinese text on their e-commerce website here. Price is $2,980. longiowatch.com
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Some interesting in a good looking bronze dive watch at a good price – and is willing to jump through hoops to find it.
>Best characteristic of watch: Well-conceived design and use of trend bronze. Looks nicer than it costs, and is refreshingly Chinese.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Dial is a bit flat and rubber versus silicon strap would have been nice. Hard to find any information on it via the brand as well.