When I wrote recently about cheap watches, I said that was it for now, but I have ordered another one, not only that, I’ve received it as well as the super-cheap one I had already ordered. It’s difficult to draw comparisons as I haven’t had a couple of them long enough, but some things are very noticeable.
First about my latest order. It’s an interesting watch, because the design turns up under a number of brand names. The design itself is by Tissot, and it is the original “Le Locle” watch though other designs also use this name now. Le Locle is the small town in Switzerland where Tissot was founded, and where its factory remains, and the original design is based on the town clock. Tissot’s “Le Locle” watches come in two broad types. Automatic and Powermatic 80. Both types are Mechanical watches, self-winding and the difference is how many hours each can store. Such watches these days are based on traditional craftsmanship, and can he very expensive. I think the Powermatic 80 sells for around £700.
The copies are Quartz watches, and can be bought very cheaply. I suspect they are all from the same production line with different logos stuck on. I bought the SKMEI 9058. SKMEI does actually manufacture watches, but I don’t know whether they manufacture all their models. And they do manufacture them for other people. So whilst I’d like to think this comes from the SKMEI factory, you never know for sure.
I took a couple of photos under different conditions to give an idea of what this watch looks like. There is a thickness to the gold-coloured ink on the face, giving it a little 3D relief, and it looks very elegant. It comes in a number of colours and with a choice of supposedly “Genuine Leather” or a Stainless Steel strap. It claims water resistance to 30m. The price varies from day to day, as with various offers, but on the day I paid £8.78 for it and it’s a stunner in real life.
Its outside diameter is just under 40mm, and there is a smaller “ladies” version which measures only 32mm, but otherwise looks the same. Nowadays watches tend to be huge, 50mm men’s and 40+mm women’s are quite common. I’m a big bloke and I think they just look unnecessarily flash at that size. But 40mm works for me.
I’ve seen watches advertised that look identical to SKMEI models, some at the same price (which is OK), some at over ten times the price, where you are not getting a better watch, just a fashionable branding on it. I promise you, they come from the same factory. It’s an area where you can save a fortune by refusing to become a fashion victim!
More realistically there are also brands which charge a little more (maybe between £20 and £30) but offer UK-based after sales support and backup if things go wrong. Whether that’s worth the extra is depends on your point of view.
So, how do the watches I’ve bought stack up in comparison. I’ve photographed them in a line, in order of a very unscientific appraisal of their performance.
From Left to Right:
The SKMEI 9058. £8.78. Water resistance 30m. Only had it for two days. Compared to the clock on my computer, which is set to network time, it has not visibly drifted at all. Pulling out the crown fully, freezes the seconds and, importantly, I could push the crown back in without turning the minutes hand away from where I set it. No Lume, unusable in the dark. If going somewhere you won’t have to worry about that, it’s easily the best looking watch of this group.
The Shshd skeleton watch. Super cheap at £1.94. No water resistance. Pulling out the crown did not stop the second hand, but it was only a couple of seconds ahead of where it should have been. It took several attempts to push the crown back in without turning the minute hand, but I got there in the end. After all that, I’m pleased to say that it is the same 2 seconds fast as it was when I set it. Surprisingly accurate. No Lume, unusable in the dark. It’s a bit of fun and why not?
The SKMEI 1220. £6.89. Water Resistance 30m. Has drifted forwards about 3 seconds over the course of about a week. But it’s easy to correct forward drift, if under 20 seconds: just reset the seconds and the analogue hands take care of themselves. No Lume on dial, but top left button backlights the digital read-out for 3 seconds. Best if being worn though, as it’s easy to pick the watch up face down and mess up the analog time setting. A nice-looking watch if you go out somewhere that may end up dark later on.
The SKMEI 1278. £4.96. Water Resistance 50m. Has drifted forwards about 7 seconds over the course of about a week. Easy to correct forward drift if less than a minute, just reset the seconds. A totally practical watch for putting on the bedside table at night. The angle at which the straps attach to the body, makes it easy to feel that you have the watch the right way up before you press the “Light” button at the top right.
Tissot PR100. £175 a very long time ago. Water Resistance 100m. I probably did something when I changed the battery, and maybe I should get it serviced when things get back to normal. It depends on what it’s going to cost. I mentioned in a previous article how the date gets stuck, and I think this also slows the watch down when it’s trying to advance the date. It’s got about 40 seconds slow over the last week, it never used to. The minute hand tends to jump a little when you push the crown back in after resetting the time, that was always an annoyance. There is Lume on the dial, but it doesn’t last very long, so if you leave it by your bed in the dark, you won’t be able to read it if you need to during the night. Its main attraction is the typical Tissot understated, simple and classy design.
Not at all Scientific
This test is not at all scientific, as the watches haven’t been given equal times to establish drift rates. But you normally notice something, even if it’s tiny, in the first day or two, and with the SKMEI 9058 and with the Shshd Skeleton watch, I really can’t. If anything shows itself over the next week, I’ll update this article.
The invention of Quartz movement levelled the playing field between the brands when it comes to accuracy. I don’t see the point of paying a fortune for watches any more. The only worse thing is paying a large amount for a fashion brand when the watch is no different to a cheap one except for the name across the face. It’s all a load of воʟох if you ask me!