An interesting find in my recent China travels

This automatic Patek Philippe watch was discovered in the southern city of Guangzhou at an interesting market I know of that deals in various antiques, some “antiques” and a whole lotta high end watches if you know where to look and ask.

The watch was in very good condition, probably seldom worn, and came with the original paperwork & box from Patek Philippe. Also an interesting story behind the the organization that commissioned the engraving and issuance of the watch that can found here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investors_Overseas_Service

Though a bit small at about 35mm, I was attracted to its simplicity and classic styling. Look at the beautiful movement, too – one of Patek’s most famous and beautiful! Though I’m not a big fan of the integrated ’70s style bracelets, this fine mesh one didn’t bother me that much as it had more play than other integrated Patek bracelets I’ve tried on from that era

 

And now for something non Swiss…

This is a “You Yi” (Friendship) watch from the Suzhou Watch Company. It’s a little kitschy with the seagulls, Chinese numeric markings and background picture of what I think is the Forbidden City at Tian An Men Square, but a fun watch, overall.

It’s got a ’70s style case and is hand winding with a locally produced movement though probably actually assembled in the late 80s or early 90s using a mish mash of parts. Back when China was a hardcore planned economy with entirely state owned factories, virtually every major region/city had a watch factory of its own  with people proclaiming that so-and-so factory produced the best watches out of local pride. In my experience, Chinese movements are a bit crude and basic but they are robust, get the job done and are pretty reliable.  Naturally even the Chinese watch industry has had to consolidate and downsize but they are still making some good stuff, including tourbillons and have virtually mastered reproducing basic Swiss movements like the ETA 7750 and 2824 probably due to Swatch Group having many factories in country and the ability to use machining now available to them thanks to the Swiss.You Yi