Power Reserve: N/A
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Case Diameter: 42mm
Case Thickness: 14.2mm
Lug to Lug; 46.5mm
Lug Width: 22mm
Water Resistance: 30 metres
Bracelet Material: Nato, black/green
Original Box & Paper: Yes
The world of horology holds a diverse cast of luxury watchmaking brands that champion accuracy and timeless designs over anything else. These companies mostly hail from Switzerland, Germany, the United States of America, and Japan. That said, there are quite a few watch companies, not from the aforementioned countries, that is criminally underrated by the general public. For instance, the Seagull 1963 chronograph easily comes to mind. This is a classic Chinese watch that holds significant value in terms of its history and intended usage. Indeed, if you are an avid watch collector, you may already be aware of the Seagull 1963.
The horology industry and the military have often affiliated themselves with each other throughout the years. The same can be said with Rolex, Alpina, Casio, and many more renowned watchmaking brands. In many ways, being affiliated with the military boosts a watch’s historical significance, making it a more valuable investment. Others argue that being trusted by the military is a testament to the reliability and quality of a watch and its maker. This is why the Seagull 1963 deserves recognition from more than just long-time watch connoisseurs.
The general design of the Seagull 1963 watches follows one specific blueprint. The sizes may vary, the colour scheme may have certain twists and there may be several options available for straps and bracelets, but the main structure of the Seagull 1963 remains the same. This allows the Seagull 1963 to preserve its value throughout the years, showing the world just what made it popular back during its initial release.
Looking at the Seagull 1963, you may be led to believe that it is a simple quartz watch with limited features. In reality, it is actually an incredible tool watch with robust functionalities. This should be expected since the Seagull 1963 is trusted by the Chinese airforce to the point where extreme confidentiality was enacted during its production. Let us take a closer look at the detailed specifications of the Seagull 1963.
Case, Crown, and Case Back
The original Seagull 1963 (Prototype 304) has a 38mm stainless steel case with an 11mm or 14mm thickness, depending on the crystal used. The case was made smaller and lighter to provide more comfort to the pilots. It may be a little too thin for some, but the NATO or leather straps that come with the Seagull 1963 adds to its comfort. The 38mm diameter and 11mm thickness provide a proportionate design scheme that allows for god compatibility on any wrist size.
The caseback is screwed down to protect the inner mechanisms of the watch from the water. On the newer variations, the caseback now has a see-through crystal, allowing wearers to look inside into and see how the watch’s movement operates. This is a now-common design found in a number of modern luxury watches. The Seagull 1963 also has a 30m water resistance. Keep in mind that this watch has a very thin case, so having 30m of water resistance is already an incredible feat. The scratch-resistant crystal also adds to the protection of the watch. There are many variations of the crystal throughout the production of the Seagull 1963. These crystals can alter the dimensions of the watch since some models come with a domed crystal and others with a flat one. The domed crystal adds 3mm of thickness to the watch, granting a total of 14mm in thickness. This variation is actually the original crystal that was used during the Seagull 1963’s initial production. The flat crystal, which maintains a more standard surface compared to the domed crystal, is only 1mm thick.
The crown of the Seagull 1963 is also screwed down to prevent water from going in, although it is unusually placed on the left side of the watch. As usual, the hands can be adjusted with the un-screwed crown. The same procedure is used to wind the Seagull 1963 since it is a hand-wound mechanical watch. The two buttons beside the crown are used to control the chronograph sub-dials. These buttons are used to start and stop the timer as the wearer pleases.
The dial of the Seagull 1963 is probably its most defining feature. The slim profile of the stainless steel case perfectly complements the clean off-white colour of the dial, without any unnecessary styles or embellishments that encumber the legibility of the watch. The off-white dial itself provides a clear view of each numeric character on the dial. The Seagull 1963 has gold-plated applied indices. It has numeral markers for all of its even numerals, but its odd numerals take the shape of triangle markers. The gold-toned hour markers blend well with the off-white dial and are a very popular colour combination in the watch industry. The minute and seconds markers can be found on the outer rim of the dial. These markers may be small, but they are still visible and easy to read.
The two chronograph sub-dials are positioned at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. The size of these sub-dials is just right, not too small as to be unreadable and not too big, so the dial doesn’t look cluttered. As for the designs of the dial, there is a red star with a gold outline below the 12th-hour marker along with the words “21 Zuan”, which translates to “21 Jewels.” This pertains to the embedded jewels found on the calibre movement used in the watch. Chinese writing can also be found on the bottom part of the dial, which is only natural considering its country of origin. These characters spell out “China”, and under it reads “Tianjin Watch Factory.”
The calibre movement used in the original Seagull 1963 that was released in 1961 was the Venus 175 calibre. This movement was commonly found in watches that were manufactured during the 40s up to the 50s. Given that the Venus 175 calibre is quite outdated in the modern age, the Tianjin Watch Factory has changed the calibre movement used to the new ST19. The Seagull ST19 calibre is a hand-wound mechanical movement that is used in the reissued versions of the Seagull 1963 watch. Not much has changed in regards to the functions and features offered, but the reliability and accuracy of the ST19 calibre movement allow the Seagull 1963 to keep up with its modern contemporaries.
Oddly enough, the Seagull 1963 chooses to highlight the number of jewels used on the dial instead of the calibre movement used. The reason behind this design is still a mystery. On top of that, the Seagull 1963 can last up to an impressive 45 hours when wound to its maximum capability. Winding a watch may not be a significantly time-consuming activity, but it can prove to be a hassle if you forget about it, so the relatively long 45-hour power reserve is very handy. Indeed, the ST19 calibre movement is definitely a huge improvement on the Venus 175 calibre in terms of reliability and utility.