The First Chinese clock

The first clock in China was invented in Song Dynasty (AD 1088) by Su Song (an engineer) and Zhang Heng (an astronomer). It is called “Water Power Armillary Sphere (水运浑天仪)” a clock-tower by using flowing water as energy and capable of telling time. The clock-tower had three floors; the top floor and middle floor were observatory for astronomy. The bottom floor was the heart of the device; it could tell time every quarter by beating drum and every ShiCheng (one ShiChen was equal to two hours in ancient China) by striking bell. The clock tower played critical role in horology history because it had a part which was similar to an escapement.

Tianjin Wristwatch Factory

the first wristwatch manufactured in China

Four workers, Jiang Zhengying, Sun Wenjin, Wang, cimin, and Zhang Shuwen worked in a single small room on four simple apparatuses. With a budget of RMB 100 provided by the Tianjin Bureau of light Industry, the four craftsmen successfully produced "the first Chinese wristwatch" on March 24, 1955 after 100 days of work. "At 5:45 p.m on March 24, 1955, after the last part had been assembled, the four workers began to wind the spring; the watch's second hand started to turn and the watch ticked rhythmically at a constant speed... The newly manufactured wrist watch is simple and tasteful in appearance. The dial featured three gilded Chinese characters which read "Made in China" and a golden star. This is the first domestically produced wristwatch manufactured by the Working Class, and the historic birth of this miracle was thus recorded for posterity. This small workshop is the predecessor of Tianjin Watch Factory

In end of 1956, China invested nine million RMB to establish the Tianjin Wristwatch Factory (later on the factory become Sea-Gull) witch produced twenty-four thousand watches annually. Followed the successful story of Tianjin Wristwatch Factory, the Chinese government start to build watch factories among the countries and they were majorly allocated in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Xian, Dandong, Qingdao, etc.


Having developed the Wu Xing wristwatch, Tianjin watch factory then set production of the nationally-recognized Wu Yi wristwatch, which was based on the basic technology of the Wu Xing. Wu Yi wristwatches became a fashionable accessory in the economy which was at the time plagued by shortages, and had entered large scale batch production by October 1958. Wu Yi- named after the "Wu Yi labor day" which dedicated to the workers of the world. The Wu Yi wristwatch, China's first batch-produced wristwatch, fulfilled its historic mission in 1971, after which production was discontinued.

In April 1961, Tianjin Watch Factory initiated an aviator watch project to meet the specific needs of China's air force, in accordance to Mission 304 issued by the First Ministry of Light Industries. From September 1961 to October 1965, three batches of prototype watches were trial-manufactured, such that by October 1965, opinions on the tests conducted on the "China's first aviator watch" were issued. In December 1965, the aviator watch passed an appraisal run by 38 leaders and experts from 21 institutions including the then 08 institution, the PLA Force Headquarters, the Naval Air Force Headquarters, the Supervisory and the Navigation Guarantee Department of the Chinese Naval Headquarters. The design was thus finalized for batch production, and its movement was then named T3. In May 1966, Tianjin Watch Factory established a production plan, and at the end of October 1966, 1400 assembled watches were formally delivered to front line units of the Chinese Air Force.

From September 1969 to September 1971, the researchers developed a successive range of watch movements, from ST5B and ST5D, by adding further refinements to the ST5 movement, thus creating an entire series of Dong Feng wristwatches- a upgrade from Wu Yi wristwatch and the wristwatches were independently developed, designed and manufactured in China. The reliability of the Dong Feng wristwatch gradually ensured that it became one of the three basic necessities for a marriage ceremony. In 1987, Dong Feng wristwatches were withdrawn from production.

In 1973, after ratification by State Council Vice Premier Li Xiannian, Dong Feng wristwatches began to be exported on the international market under "Sea-Gull". Early in 1974, Tianjin Watch Factory set up a committee to design the ST6 ladies' wristwatches, and watches were put into production next year. ST6 ladies' wristwatches became advanced products ranked just after Swiss and Japanese-made wristwatch products. Even at the time when China's horologe industry has been in the doldrums, the leadership status of ST6 ladies' wristwatch on the domestic market remained unshaken.

Having successfully launched the tourbillon watch, Sea-Gull succeeded in putting a technologically extremely complicated double tourbillon watch into production. The double tourbillon watch features two kinds of toubillon: an eccentric tourbillon (also called a non-coaxial structure, where the centre of the balance wheel and that of the tourbillon structure are not on the same axis) and a coaxial tourbillon (where the centre of the balance wheel and that of the toubillon structure are on the same axis). China' wristwatch industry, initially established in 1955, has undoubtedly faced extreme development challenges. Yes, Sea-Gull has proven that China can match the high-end technology which has taken years of continuous development and improvement abroad.

On February 6, 2006, after incessant exploration, Sea-Gull has launched ten limited edition platinum quarter-repeater watches and 40 limited edition rose gold quarter-repeater watches. The release of repeater watches demonstrates that China's watch manufacturing industry has reached new heights in terms of both the level of craftsmanship and design concept.


Shanghai Wristwatch Factory

July 9th, 1955, Shanghai Second Light Industry Bureau associated with Shanghai Clock & Wristwatch Industry Association, 13 clock manufacture factories, Jianguo Device Factory, Huakuang Clock Equipment Shop, ShengChang Watch shop, and Yixing, Hecheng, Huacheng, Zhongshu 4 industrial shops with 6 watch repairmen and 58 technicians joined up for an experimental project and tried to create a wristwatch based on a Cyma 17J movement (contains more than 150 parts). The groups of technicians expanded into 150 people in May 1956. April 1957, the technicians drew more than 150 blueprints of parts and established 1070 production procedures. March 1958, A581 mechanical watch movement was manufactured and registered under the brand “Shanghai.” April 23, 1958, Shanghai Wristwatch Factory was established and produced 13600 units of “Shanghai” wrist watch (A581movement) in the same year.

In 1968, Shanghai Wristwatch Factory produced 1 million wristwatches and soon increased the number to 2.28 millions in the following year. In the following decades, Shanghai Wristwatch Factory, Shanghai Wristwatch Second Factory, Shanghai Diamond Wristwatch Factory designed and manufactured bunch of wristwatch movements with functions of date, date & day, and automatic winding. Between 1980~1990, 10.67 million watches were exported to more than 120 counties.

In 1990, Shanghai had 24 wristwatch manufacturers, 1 research department, 20 sales departments, 1 industrial university, 2 join venture organizations, allocated in 10 districts and with total occupied area 0.4 million square meter, 21719 machines, total asset 0.4 billion RMB, and 31720 workers (1320 technicians.

Liaoning Wristwatch Factory

Established in 1958, with a 130 thousand square meters facility, over 5000 machines, and more than 40 years wristwatches and parts manufacture experience, Liaoning Wristwatch Factory became the top 3 wristwatch production based in China. Since 1960, the factory manufactured wristwatches under the brand “Qianjin” (forward) ,“Liaoning”, “Wannianqin”(evergreen) , 19 Jewels “Hongqi” (red flag) and “Kongque” (peacock), “Donglang” and “Yashi”.