Over the coming months, we will be serialising some of the articles from our sister site Seagull1963.co.uk. This month we cover “The Seagull Story”:
60 Years of Tianjin Sea-Gull Watch Company
Often referred to simply as, ‘Seagull,’ the Sea-Gull Watch Group first saw the light of day in 1958, in the city of Tianjin, a now bustling, 15 million metropole with strong, traditional ties to the Chinese watch-making industry. Having grown from a few, faltering efforts pre-1958, Seagull is today by far the biggest (by volume) industrial producer in China.
Known initially as the Wuyi Watch Factory, the company became the title, Tianjin Watch Factory first after it relocated in 1962 and it took up the production of several mechanical and electronic movements.
The Sea-Gull Watch Group is best known for its 1965 production of the ST5 movement, the first ever movement to be exclusively designed and produced inside mainland China. After the People’s Republic’s mechanical watch industry had, along with most of the world’s, been devastated by the ‘quartz revolution,’ in 1992, the Tianjin Watch Factory once again became a new title and the Tianjin Sea-Gull Watch Group Co. Ltd was born.
Desperate to answer global demands, the company spent the next five years concentrating on the production of quartz watches. But in 1997 it reverted to what it did best and returned to the manufacture of mechanical movements. Seagull has since evolved to become a formidable force in the worldwide watch industry, producing 25% of all mechanical movements sold today.
History of Seagull Watches
By order of the Chinese government, a national initiative was started in early 1955 to establish a watchmaking industry in the north of the country. A handful of men in a tiny workshop, equipped with limited tools, set out to create China’s first wristwatch. Completed by the 24th of March, the Wuxing (Five Stars), was a hand-made, low-grade watch, that only managed to reach limited production levels. But the Wuxing would prove to be the humble beginning of what today is probably the largest mechanical watch enterprise in the world.