Can A $25 Automatic Watch Do The Job?

We only ask the question because we bought a Tevise look-alikey Rolex Datejust for that sum of dollars on AliExpress recently.

UNBOXING

You have to be impressed at the overall package for the money. An outer carboard box, inner VIP owners card, little guarantee/user booklet, with some english words in there, plus a Tevise tag. There are various protector strips on the links, the crystal, caseback and clasp too.

Maybe it’s just my eyesight but the dial and the date window cyclops lens didn’t seem to be 100% aligned. The little shield at 12 o’clock just looked like it was set at 11.59?

FIT N FINISH

Removing X4 pins was easy and then the watch fitted my slim wrist. Pulling out the crown it became obvious that you have to manually advance the hands to advance the date, which is fair enough at this price level. The crown action was a little bit stiff and the same could be said for the winding action, but yes, you can wind it up as well as do the famous Seiko shake.

It does sit quite high on the wrist as the case measures approx 14mm high.

The foldover clasp is pretty basic to, with a firm press needed to get the clasp to fix upon the pin. Push button release worked fine.

The gold painted case and bracelet looks kinda average. This hasn’t got the luxury sheen of the Tudor look-a-like I bought for £31 last month from AliExpress. It probably won’t be long before dings and scratches show on this watch, or the paintwork rubs off.

TIMEKEEPING

I fully wound the watch, set it against my phone and checked back the day after. Given I was mainly deskbound, there wasn’t much wrist movement to charge the movement, so it was a relief to see it was still spot-on the day after.

Looking at the movment under a loupe you can see this is a fairly basic engine and interestingly the rotor barely moves from side-to-side. It doesn’t spin freely like some of the DG Chinese movements do.

The decorated Tevise rotor is a nice touch, as is the see-thru caseback. You would not expect that on a watch that retails for under £20, including postage to be fair.

VERDICT

Does it look like a Rolex from a distance? Nah, too goldie lookin’ chain mate.

Yes, this does the job of telling the time and as it is an auto, you never need a battery, so you’re helping planet earth in that respect. But this feels like a watch from the communist era. There are lots of brands on AliExpress selling automatics for under £60 that offer a look and feel that go way beyond this Tevise. Splash out if you love an automatic we say.

After two days one of the bracelet pins fell out and on inspection it lacked two spring-loaded ends on the pin. I often find one deeper spring end and one shallow end, where there is very little `give’ allows the pin to pop loose – which it did, repeatedly. Luckily I have hundreds of spare pins and a crimping tool to make a replacement pin fit more securely, but if you don’t, then that’s something to bear in mind.

Just want a basic timekeeper? Well the Tevise is incredible value for the £18 price tag.  The auto movement might need some winding help but once running, it’s accurate enough.

Given that you can buy a Casio quartz from Argos for under £20, or a Sekonda/Lorus for about £25-£35 in the H Samuel Sale, there are better ways to spend your tight budget.

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