Tag Archives: replica

Ali Express Sub-a-Like for £31 – DECENT Replica or Timewaster?

We love testing watches here at Northern Watch Co magazine and this week we have been checking out the latest automatic to arrive from China, or possibly Singapore – hard to tell – in the shape of this sterile dial Rolex Sub look-a-likey.

First impressions;

Very well packaged in bubble wrap and then surrounded by a padded bubble bag, about the size of a large US style Coke can. The watch links and clasp were covered in sticky clear tape to prevent scratches and the blue tab on the crown needed some watch cleaner to remove the last bits.

Nothing protecting the crystal though.

There were two adjustable links on one side of the steel bracelet and three on the other. I neeed three links out to find the perfect fit on my wrist. The link pins are screwdown by the way, which is a quality touch I did not expect at this price.

Yes, the price. Just £31.56 including VAT and shipping – amazing.

Inside the movement sounds like the super-spinning DG variety, which you would expect for this money.

The DG is a copy of the Miyota automatic found in many Citizens, Accurists and countless microbrands over the last decade or so.

I haven’t bothered using my Rolex opening tool on the caseback to check it out, as the watch has been keeping good time for the last two days. Frankly, a DG movement photo isn’t going to be that exciting to look at.

Yep, you can wind it, or just shake it to get some reserve power in there.  Fully wound it ran for about 18 hours, which is not as good as a typical Seiko NH35/36 auto – but they cost the manufacturer a little bit more, so you pay £45-£65 or so for some of the Aliexpress watches that feature the Seiko engine.

Setting the date is easy, unscrew and pull the crown to the first position, and away you go. The second position sets the hands of course.

The clasp is nicely finished and closes with a healthy snap, plus it has a little foldover tab for security. The bezel is unidirectional and has orange numbers set into its ceramic surface. Lume is bright on the hands, not quite so bright on the hour markers.


There are a few sharp edges on the bracelet clasp. The crown needs a fair bit of pressure on the tube, so you really have to push in hard before trying to screw the crown down. You get used to it.

It would be great to have the option of paying a few pounds extra to have a brand name on the dial, even if it is a made up word, or perhaps just a logo graphic? Sharks, Rays n Turtles are kinda already spoken for, but maybe a marlin, or something ocean/dive related?

Just an idea, although personally I wouldn’t go diving wearing a £30 watch. It’s like the Bell helmet advert; if you have a ten dollar head, buy a ten dollar helmet.

VERDICT; Superb value for very little money. You won’t impress fellow watch nerds but you will get regular citizens doing a double take at your wrist, until you tell them, `yeah it’s a copy mate.’

Best plan these days, as you can get stabbed for a real Rolex.

Vario 1918 Trench Watch Captures Spirit of The Era

World War One was a pivotal moment for watchmaking as it marked the beginning of the transition from pocket watch, to wristwatch – and the rise of the mass market.

Previously wristwatches were largely seen as ladies items by the Swiss, US and English watchmaking factories but the trench warfare of 1914-18 changed that mindset. Why? Well a soldier who wore a pocket watch would soon find it getting very dirty and wet most likely, thus filling the keywind mechanism with muck and then ruining the movement. The other factor was sniper targeting, and getting a fob watch out to check the time on a moonlit night or sunny day, was an invitation for a sniper to take aim at that tempting flash of silver or gold.

The solution was a small watch you could wear under your sleeve to protect it from the worst of the weather, mud and shrapnel flying about.

To help soldiers see in the dark original trench watches were marked with radioactive paint, which probably led to the early deaths of many watch factory staff and repairers. Todfay’s Vario range have lume applied to the numbers but no radium, perfectly safe. The style of the Vario is spot-on, a true homage to the watches that evolved during the Great War. With a sapphire crystal and a range of straps, these are ultra modern timekeepers as well.

Inside the case there’s a Japanese automatic movement, and the watch case features solid loop type lugs, so the strap threads through – no push pins. You can have a default soldier and rifle logo on the caseback, or have it engraved with a special message, up to 40 characters, English language only.

They look the business and the Kickstarter funding is at £122,000, so well over target. The Vario watches start at £193 and delivery is expected in May 2021. Vario say they are looking at budget quartz edition next year as well, if enough people register their interest.