Perhaps the most popular watch on wristwatchreview.co.uk is the Seagull 1963 Chronograph. We have previously reviewed the HKED version of the watch but now our Editor has got his hands on the “period correct” version. Here’s the lowdown.
A Week on the Wrist – Seagull 1963 Chronograph
My WRUK reviews usually begin by looking at the packaging of a watch, but in the case of the Seagull 1963, there is no packaging to speak of, except that which the various sellers provide. I bought the watch in a “plain” box but would have been just as happy with nothing at all as watches are for wearing! At this price point, the lack of presentation is just fine with me.
The Seagull Chinese chronograph watch has a 38mm case, topped with a domed acrylic crystal. Acrylic crystals look good, and although they scratch more easily than glass they can be polished out with Polywatch or even toothpaste and they are very cheap to replace. As with most military watches, the case has few decorative features: the crown and pushers are plain and unsigned and the case back is solid with some simple engraving. Military watches are intended to be functional and this is certainly the case here.
Dial and Hands
The dial and hands are more decorative than the case. The dial is a stunning cream colour that looks authentically vintage. Applied gold markers are used for hours, with numbers at 12, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 with triangles elsewhere (unlike the HKED Seagull 1963 that has squares). The logo is a red star with an applied gold border. All the dial text is clear and legible (if you can read chinese). The subdials denote running seconds (on the left) and elapsed minutes for the chronograph (on the right)
The hands are really nice. Hours, minutes and sub-dials are a rich blue colour and the central chronograph hand is red. The balance between the colours is spot on and gives the watch a real depth and that indescribable feeling of quality.
The supplied strap went straight in the bin. To produce a watch at this price means compromise and Chinese watches are famous for the poor quality of their straps. This is of no concern to me, as pairing a watch with the right strap is one of the most enjoyable parts of budget wristwatch collecting for me. I chose an olive green 18mm single piece strap for mine but a NATO, Zulu or two-piece strap would look just as good.
What I liked
- The watch looks great – the colour combination and vintage feel are a winner
- At the price, it’s a steal for a mechanical chronograph
- It’s really comfortable to wear as it is so small and light
What I didn’t like
- A common moan of mine, but the lack of a date makes it frustrating as a daily wearer
- The small case might not be to everyone’s taste (although you can buy a 42mm Seagull 1963 watch)
- The lack of presentation and after-sales support could put some buyers off
Seagull 1963 Chinese Airforce Watch – The WRUK Verdict
Well, for what it’s worth, this is my own, personal watch. I like it enough to part with my own hard-earned cash and there can be no higher praise than that! There’s a place in every collection for a mechanical chronograph and this one is about the best balance between price, quality and looks that you will find – I’d wholeheartedly recommend it.
Buy a Seagull 1963 Watch
There are loads of sellers on eBay with Seagull 1963s in stock. Some buyers have expressed concern that the watches from these sellers may not be authentic but as far as I can tell they all look identical, no matter where you buy them from. There are some sellers in the EU but sadly I cannot recommend any – my watch came from Watchunique in the Netherlands and when it arrived with a broken crystal their customer support was non-existent. If you’re not going to get after-sales support than you may as well save a few pounds and go direct to the Chinese factory. The cheapest seller I have found is here on eBay, and you have buyer protection if anything goes wrong.
What do the Chinese Characters on the Seagull 1963 Say?
Reader Nick Hewitt tells us that he recently bought on a Seagull 1963 – the 21 jewel version with 4 Chinese characters 中国制造 on the face. These translate to Made in China (literally China 中国 Manufacture 制造) There is no mention of the Tianjin Watch Factory on the watch, but there are variants with 6 characters on the face – the one reviewed by Worn & Wound for example – which have 中 国 and 天津手表厂 on them which is indeed China (中 国) – Tianjin (天津) Watch (手表) Factory (厂). The engraving on his transparent case is …. 中國空軍第一隻航空碼表復刻版 – which translates as follows …. 中國空軍 (Chinese Air Force) 第一隻 (first) 航空碼表 (aviation chronograph) 復刻版 (reissue) … Chinese Air Force first aviation chronograph reissue.