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Handmade chronometers from China
The Pilot Watch Magazine
01 April 2024

Mechanical movements and timepieces from the Middle Kingdom

The watch brand Seagull was founded at the beginning of 1955 by order of the Chinese government to build up its own watch industry in China. The company is based in the metropolis of Tianjin in the north of the country. The watchmaker started out as a small manufacturer of simple timepieces, which were assembled by a small number of employees in manageable quantities. Today, the state-owned company with the stylized seagull in its logo is the world’s largest manufacturer of mechanical watch movements and produces around a quarter of the world’s total output.

At the beginning of the 1990s, Seagull – by now a large nationwide state-owned enterprise – ceased production of mechanical timepieces in favor of modern quartz watches. Five years later, the roll backwards – since then, exclusively mechanical movements and watches have been developed and manufactured again. Initially, sales took place exclusively locally and on the Chinese online platform Alibaba. In the meantime, however, the timepieces from Tianjin are also available worldwide via the company’s own online store.

A handful of people set about making China’s first wristwatch in a small workshop with just a few tools in 1955. Today, Seagull is the world’s largest manufacturer of mechanical movements.


Innovation and quality from China

Seagull produces all the parts and components of its watches – including attractive chronometers for pilots – itself. The watchmaker from the Middle Kingdom surprises its competitors again and again with high-quality movements and innovative models. In 2006, for example, Seagull presented its first double tourbillon – a device in which the oscillating and escapement system of the mechanical movement rotates on its own axis to achieve accuracy as independent of position as possible. Today, the manufacture’s specialties include in particular complications such as perpetual calendars and calibers with minute repeaters, as well as particularly thin automatic movements.

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