Category Archives: Ali Express Watches

Can You Really Buy a New Quartz Watch For 8p?

We wanted to see how cheap you go when it comes to watches on Ali Express. So we took the plunge and paid the princely sum of 0.08p, yes eight pence, plus postage, for this fine Tissot PRC200 look-a-like.

Chrono buttons do nothing. Just for show.

No box obviously, no paperwork, just a cellophane sleeve and a padded envelope. Fair enough.

We removed the plastic protector near the cown, pushed it in and…nothing. Not a sausage. Opening the case revealed a very basic movement and some plastic spokes holding it inside the case. Changed the battery.

Yep basic movt. Battery change did nothing.

Nope no go. The strap also felt like it was made from some type of recycled bacon rind scraped off a burnt grill.

But hey, we lost a grand total of £4 on the deal and learned the lesson; there IS a price minimum you need to pay to obtain a functioning watch.

That sum will be revealed soon, as we review another bargain basement watch we spotted online.

Reviewed: Ailang Twin Tourbillion, Rose Gold Edition

We love to review watches here at NWC magazine, so let’s take a look at this twin-tourbillon Ailang, which we bought on Ali Express recently.

At around £67 (inc postage) this is a typical budget watch, although there are a few extras included in the deal. For example, you get a proper box complete with outer sleeve, VIP warranty card, handbook – English as well as Mandarin – swing tag and protective covers on the crystal, caseback and clasp.

There is also a spare conventional leather strap, plus a wristband, kinda Harry Styles leather thing, with what looks a bit like an Iron Cross in the centre. Useful if you’re in the Vaccine Enforcement Stormtrooper Squad in Vienna I guess.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

This watch measures 41mm across – excluding crown – and some 13mm high. It does feel chunky on my slim wrists, but not too wide, in fact 40-42mm across suits me fine. You won’t fit this watch under a fitted evening or office shirt, but maybe that’s a good thing, as it is a conversation piece.

The watch was packed nicely with protective tape and padded box, bubble wrap etc for shipping.

The dial has a classic  tourbillon face with those twin barrrels standing out, then a small time telling dial above, almost like an old fashioned mantel clock; black chapter ring, silver Roman markers. The tourbillion wheels are held in place by two steel triangles, which are exact replicas of the rotor on the movement, but segmented – like a slice of rotor pie.

CAGE NOT FITTED CORRECTLY

The sad thing is this watch is not quite right. If you look closely the tourbillon cage on the right isn’t in situ. Hard to believe it slipped out of alignment during transit but it’s possible.

More likely it’s poor quality control at the factory.

The tourbillion cages hide most of the balance wheel spinning action, with the second wheel kicking in as I shook the watch after winding the crown to get wheel number one started.

Quite impressed it ran OK given the manufacturing fault. But so far it’s still ticking and telling the right time. However it will be returned for a refund.

It is visually very striking, hypnotic and apart from an uber-thin second hand, which looks quite fragile, the dial is impressive.

An AR coated sapphire crystal sits slightly proud of the bezel, which is rose gold tone, just like the case and crown.

Skeleton rotor is a nice touch.

TESTING

I wound this one for about ten turns, then shook it for ten seconds. After a day wearing it doing office stuff and one short walk to the shops it ran until 5.23am the following morning. Not bad. Most automatics I test from China tend to conk out in the early hours and I also own a vintage Lanco and Accurist which do the same thing.

By the way the one vintage watch I own which DOES continue to run through the night is a 20 year old Seiko 6309 basic gents automatic, which will run on the bedside cabinet for about 12-15 hours after being worn the day before.

One thing that does stand out is that changing the strap will not be easy. There’s no quick release slider on the pins and the strap is fitted very flush to the lugs, which means there is a risk of damaging the rose gold finish when you prise in a pin removal tool, to free the pin from the lugs.

On the upside the foldover steel clasp is well made and fastens with a reassuring, solid click, on both sides. The push button release works smoothly too. Many Chinese watches have less than perfect machining on clasps and retaining bands, but this leather deployment feels just as good as Rotary or Tissot in my experience.

VERDICT

This model comes with a silver tone case as well, plus blue, white or black dial options.

You know just 5 years ago I told people in the shop that I couldn’t try to repair Chinese watches as they were so hit & miss as regards build quality. Sad to say this is still the case, as the damaged tourbillon shows.

Very disappointed with this watch.

More here at the YJwatch store.

 

 

Big News: AliExpress 11.11 Online Watch Sale is Coming Soon

Yes budget watch fans, this is the real action you’ve been waiting for. Forget about the Amazon Black Friday deals, because AliExpress has thousands of watches with up to 80% off the previous RRP.

We spotted some nice reductions on well known brands like Cadisen, Pagani, Benyar, Paulareis, Steeldive, Addiesdive and more. You can also get a coupon for a few dollars extra off the price, just click to download it before hitting the Cart page.

OK, here’s our top picks.

MOCK TUDOR IS SOMETIMES PRETTY GOOD

We will start with a Benyar Tudor Black Bay homage, which features a two-colour bezel, auto movement and 42mm case width. On the 11.11 deals email we saw this at $44.39 at the Benyar store page. You cannot really argue on value there.

IT ALL ADDIES UP

Over at the Addies watch store, there are discounts of up to 70%, which is very welcome. We like the 007 style Deepseahunter sports spec dive watch, with 4pm crown, plenty of lume, a Seiko NH35 engine, plus sapphire crystal. Beefy 44.5mm case diameter too, so this is a credible dive model with 200m resistance for $140 on special offer.

Lovely sterile dial bronze case 200m diver too, at just over $216, worth a look we think.

PAGANI ARE GOING DEEP

Pagani is another China-based brand with a bit of a cult following and again, it comes down to decent quality features for not much money. They also do nice homages to the Seiko Presage, Rolex Sub and Omega Seamaster.

The Pagrne 300m Prospex look-a-like is very tempting at $110 on the special 11th November Sale deals. Big case watch with 300m resistance, 4pm crown position, plus a big 45mm case diameter lets you make a statement with this baby.

Something slightly smaller? The Pagani GMT in Root Beer colours also floats our boat at just under 90 bucks. Especially with a two-tone bracelet. Just nicely executed we reckon.

More at the Pagani store and you can add all the bargains you like to your Cart, then wait for the final price on 11.11.

Reviewed: Paulareis Omega Planet Ocean Look-a-Likey

There are lots of Chinese watches on Ali Express that bear an uncanny resemblence to famous models from Switzerland, like this Paulareis blue and orange number. It retails for just under £20 including postage, which is super cheap – but is it any good?

GOOD STUFF

This is a big watch at some 44mm across, it has a fairly thick case too at 16.5mm, with a slightly domed and an AR coated crystal. It adds something having that blue tint when you move the watch dial across the light.

With a basic auto movement, it needs a  little winding action, plus a fair bit of shaking to get going. Unlike some DG movement watches NWC has bought for review, this one doesn’t have a nice spinny-spinny rotor to build up some reserve. The rotor slowly tips from one side to the other, meaning you have to work harder to get some power in the mainspring. You get some gold effect on the rotor, which is visible via the see-thru caseback.

Handy little date window too.

The strap is silicone and the blue/orange colour theme continues. There’s a unidirectional click-stop bezel, which is a little bit stiff,  but works OK. All round, it really does look and feel like a solid dive style watch, even though it isn’t. So far, so good.

BAD STUFF

The watch arrived from the Timerunner store with a smashed caseback crystal, which had left dozens of fragments inside the movement. Not good.

I emailed and they sent three new screw down casebacks. Which is good, except it means I had to remove the movement from the watch and try to clean out the caseback crystal pieces to make the watch work.

That took two baths in petroleum ether and a poke about near the stem/crown access hole, with tweezers. Delicate job, as one wrong move and the keyless works would move out of alignment and then the movement needs stripping.

Some lubricant inside the movement was washed out during this rescue mission, which left an oily patch inside the crystal, but that cleaned off.

DUMMY RELEASE VALVE

Second crown is for show, does not do anything exciting.

The second crown at 10pm is a dummy – it doesn’t move a chapter ring and it certainly doesn’t release helium. What do you want to 20 notes? But other cost-cutting measures were revealed on this watch as I continued to repair it.

As it was washed in ether, a little glue was seeping out from the back of the dial plate. Yes glue.

It was then clear that the movement did NOT have dial feet inside the movement, secured by dial screws – as most watch movements do. In fact, the dial pins are clearly visible on the outside of the movement.

There were still glass fragments under the rotor, stopping it from moving around and charging the mainspring. So off it came, which meant the dial plate was pretty wobbly. On the upside, that allowed me to clean glass from under the dial plate without removing the hands.

Luckily when everything was re-assembled and the rotor screwed back on, the watch worked – and continues to do so. But let’s move onto the next problem.

Vandalised by angry customs staff? This was not a good sight to see when unboxing.

SHALLOW LUG PIN HOLES

Trying to re-fit the silicone strap proved to be a frustrating experience. One pin end in, then gently press the spring-loaded pin at the other end..and ping. Off it goes into the workshop somewhere.

New set of pins, and I used the crimper tool to give the pins a chance of sliding into the lub holes each side. Still no joy, and the thin paint also began to scratch off as I fought with the thing.

Finally I gave up and put a blue leather strap on instead. It is too narrow, but at least it went on. The reason for the pin problem is simple; the holes aren’t deep enough, so the slightest touch releases the pin.

VERDICT;

There is a limit to what you get for twenty quid, so bear that in mInd when choosing Ali Express bargains. Sometimes you win and get a lovely watch that just works spot-on and looks very nice, like the Paulareis turquiose dial watch I reviewed last week, also twenty pounds and it’s been no trouble at all, same retailer on Ali Express too.

This one would probably be fine for a while if it arrived undamaged, but that pesky pin problem will come back one day, as you put on/take off the watch, and twist the strap slightly. Then the pin will ping out and your fun half hour begins…