Reviewed: Ailang Breguet Homage: Lost In Translation

Back in November 2021, your NWC mag Editor was tempted by this Ailang twin escapement tribute to the Breguet Tradition.

OK, so it’s not a tourbillon, it’s a Seagull or other Chinese movement with some kind of clutch or ratchet mechanism that spins two escape wheels as the mainspring unwinds. But it had a certain luxury look with a rose gold tone case, that handsome sub-dial and the see-thru caseback. The final clincher, as is always the case on Ali Express, was the low price of around £79 inc postage.

So the watch arrived about a month later and sadly, one piece of trim in front of an escapement wheel was loose, probably damaged in transit by cargo handlers or more likely, UK customs staff looking for an easy VAT plus duty tax bolt-on by ripping open packaging and not securing the watch properly on resealing.

Anyway, the emails were exchanged and the YJ store asked for it to be sent back. That cost £9.50 via Royal Mail. Then they sent it the factory. Months passed.

After more email chasing YJstore said the factory had received the watch and they would fix it. More months. Finally an email asking for one penny payment before sending it back to me – why? Nobody knows. Paid.

Broken escape wheel cover

June 2022 and the watch is back, wrapped in clingfilm and boxed with its comedy paperwork. So I ventured out for a couple of days wearing it.

The auto movement doesn’t need much shaking to get it going, which is handy. Normal walking and arm swinging powers it up, enough to run overnight if you walked about 1 mile. Whilst out filming a short You Tube clip, the watch attracted one person, who said `it looks nice and vintage.’

They were surprised it was Chinese and said `feels well made, I like the chunky strap.’

Indeed the leather strap is nice quality, with a foldover clasp that clicks shut perfectly. The folding tab grips the end perfectly too, slicing through the hole neatly. The case and both crystals feel well finished, smooth and durable. It does sit high on my thin wrist and looks bigger than 39mm wide too.

BAD POINTS

The entire saga of getting a faulty watch replaced/repaired has put me off this Ailang. It shouldn’t but I guess it’s human nature, you always want to avoid a repeat of a bad experience. Frankly the customer service skills of most Ali Express retailers are woeful – why should you have to do all the chasing and spend more money on pstage getting another watch sent out?

Although the Ailang is nicely manufactured, it feels on par with some of the divers watches I’ve bought, also with auto movements, for about £23-£33 in the last year. On balance, I reckon an RRP of about £50 is fair, not £79. Just saying.

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