May 22, 2009
by Paul Hubbard
I am fortunate to present you with this special watch review from aBlogtoRead.com guest Mr. Paul Hubbard, a distinguished fellow watch lover and reviewer online. You’ll find more of his work at WatchReport.com, and you’ll find that these days Mr. Hubbard practically runs the site. This quality review is of a quite controversial watch. Why? Because it is not only a Chinese watch with a Chinese movement (actually the base movement might be Japanese), but it is labeled as such. For a number of reasons some people refuse to accept Chinese watches as being legit brands, part of this has to do with the fact that China is the major source of replica watches. However, you’ll find that China makes a lot of the parts that go into high-end European watches, but they don’t exactly advertise that fact. Sea-Gull is of the few Chinese watch brands that do a decent job marketing themselves, and offer an arguably good value. Chinese watches are not nearly at the point of quite being competitor watches to Japanese or European watches, but instead offer a different appeal. Here you can get a true-to-life classic looking watch that you don’t have to worry about beating up. Take the 40mm wide stainless steel M177 watch for what it is – an interesting interpretation of classic watches from a wholly Chinese watch manufacturer. The price is quite low, easily a mere fraction of comparably styled European watches – but you do get what you pay for. If you explore Sea-Gull’s site a bit, you can see that they have gold watches and those with traditionally upscale complications such minute repeaters and tourbillons. These go for many thousands – all from a Chinese maker. I have no idea how those do, but this under $150 timepiece is probably a safer investment. Please see Mr. Hubbard’s interesting straight forward review below of his Sea-Gull M177 mechanical automatic watch.
To please, enjoy Mr. Hubbard’s review of the Sea-Gull M177 watch below:
“Let me reintroduce you to a very old story: Emerging country X starts making widgets of type Foo. Initially, their efforts are poor, and established manufacturers mock them. Over time, X works hard, improves its product, and starts making better and better widgets, all of the while doing so for less money. (Insert sideshow of political protests, tariffs, etc.) One day, everyone wakes up and notices that X’s widgets are better and cheaper, and just like that the older manufacturers have to start playing catchup.
For X, insert China. For widget Foo, insert mechanical watches. They’re not yet at the stage of threatening the high-end Japanese or Swiss manufactures, but it’s fascinating to see them work closer to that goal.
Say hi to the Sea-Gull M177s. It’s a classic men’s dress watch, in the style of Jaeger-LeCoultre.
* 40mm, across by about 14mm thick.
* List price is $139 and includes a two-year warranty and free shipping from the website of Sea-Gull USA.
* ST-16 movement, 21 jewels, 21600vph, hacking and handwinding, quicket date.
* 316L stainless steel case, display back, mineral crystal, screwed caseback.
* Alligator-patterned black leather strap with thorn buckle.
* Signed, non-screw-down crown
* Water resistant to 30m.
In other words, functionally its very much on par with the competition, with two omissions: Sapphire crystal and decent luminosity. Then again, no other watch for $140 has those either!
The case is a nice mixture of brushed and polished finishes. Here’s a side profile showing the finishes and the signed crown:
The display back shows a basic movement, with stamped faux-decorations. The movement is an ST-16, in house from Sea-Gull and cheerfully using ideas like Seiko-style winding. The base design of the movement is probably Miyota’s 8200 series.
It’s an attractive watch, and sits well on my 7.25″ wrist:
As you can see from the side profile, the bezel is sloped as is appropriate for a dress watch intended for wear with dress shirts:
The dial is finished with a radial pattern, which is subtly done and quite pretty. As you change the angle, the reflections precess around the dial, yet the effect is not flashy or obtrusive. The hands are quite good, with minute and hour polished and sporting center stripes of white lume. The second hand is the sole color on the watch or dial, at a nice blued-steel color. It’s almost certainly blue paint, but attractive nonetheless. Look at the hour markers – they’re nicely faceted and quite well done:
The watch keeps good time, within a few seconds per day. Handwinding is a bit rough, and the crown had a bit of a burr that I removed with a small file. A bit rough around the edges, you might say.
Overall, it’s an excellent watch that I can recommend without hesitation. The addition of a US office and two-year warranty change Sea-Gull from gamble to ‘why not?’, and the results are an incredibly good value. It’s not yet time for the Swiss to panic, but I’d certainly hope that they’re paying attention. “
By Paul Hubbard for aBlogtoRead.com