Top 5 Mechanical Chronographs to check out on AliExpress
Updated: Jun 29
Have you been on the fence for some time lusting after a Column Wheel Chronograph but can´t quite afford their introductory price (US $900 and above) on the swiss side of things? Well this article can definitely help you in making your mind and finally pull the trigger to scratch that itch for a Mechanical Chronograph without breaking your bank. Here I will share with you my Top 5 favorite Mechanical Chronographs worth taking a look on AliExpress. One thing in common for all of them, they all use the Seagull ST1901 Column Wheel Chronograph Movement. Let's take a look!
# 5 : Pierre Paulin PP1963 Retro Chronograph
These two watches offer a Panda and also a reverse Panda Dial; resembling the look of the Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono, beautifully polished lumed pencil hands, inverted color seconds subdial at 9 o'clock and 30min. counter at 3 plus inverted color tachymeter for better contrast, applied hour markers lumed at the outer end, and domed acrylic crystal; this watch packs a whole punch for what is worth. The retro racing looks and the tachymeter call it for some action on the road. In addition, the better dimensions 38mm diameter by 46mm lug to lug, 18mm lug width and 14mm thickness makes it a no brainer.
# 4 : Red Star 1901 Cream Dial Gold Colored Markers
So what could I say better than the pictures of this jaw dropping dial: dark sub dials for seconds at 9 and 30min at the 3, a beautifully domed acrylic glass, applied arabic numerals and applied markers gold colored to give it a very classy and elegant look, you could technically wear this cronograph with any outfit. Conservative dimensions as well 38mm diameter by 46mm lug to lug, 18mm lug width and 14mm thickness, to top it all a soft cream dial that gives this watch an overall coherent and nicely sophisticated look.
# 3 : MERKUR FOD Tianjin 1963 Pilot Chronograph
There are 2 features of this chronograph on the list that sets it apart from the rest; the classic and timeless Breguet Type XX like pilot dial with printed arabic numerals and printed lume dots and a swan neck regulator added to the movement for precise adjustment. A true pilot looking chronograph that sets the bar at another level. The case dimensions are the same as the previous cronos above 38mm diameter x 46mm lug to lug x 18mm lugwidth x 14mm thickness and an acrylic crystal as well.
# 2 : Seagull 65th Anniversary Chronograph Reissue Ref.819.17.1962
As stated above, this watch is special for being a limited edition reissue from Seagull of the original chronograph, 650 pieces to commemorate this design that has earned the respect from all type of watch collectors. The caseback although not being a see through, has engraved the original watch design manuscript. In addition, the highly applied detail of the markers and of the red star, the circle shaped ridges; and the contrasted blue hour, minute, sub seconds, and 30min counter hands plus the red cronograph hand, makes this the Ultimate looking original design mechanical chronograph sub US $1000; definitely a collector's piece.
# 1 : 1963 Chinese Air Force Pilot Chronograph
Although not being directly manufactured by Seagull, the word online and around the YouTube watch world is this 1963 Chronos are being produced under license of Seagull by various manufacturers. Now, this has allowed the price of this classic design pilot chronograph to drop to extremelly affordable levels for a mechanical column wheel chrono.
Besides this, I chose this for my number 1 pick due to the fact that it is a Sapphire crystal version, sure you won't get the asthetics of a domed acrylic one but acknowleding myself of how I unintentionally manage to bang my watches on door knobs, desks, keyboards, etc. I would rather go for this safer more resistant option. You also get an additional leather strap (chose the brown one). Dimensions as with the rest of the models are nice and conservative, 38mm x 46mm x 18mm x 14mm. Please also note that this and the rest of the watches on this list all have a 30m water resistance.
Finally, you are getting the whole deal with its beautiful cream dial, the gold colored applied numerals, metallic blue painted hands ans sub dial hands, and the attractive applied red star and red crono hand. You can´t definitely go wrong with this choice, an original design and the fact that you can own a hand wind mechanical cronograph for less than $200 dollars just blows my mind. I have already ordered this one for myself and I hope despite the actual situation to get it soon to enjoy looking and admiring this intricate movement.
I want to thank you very much if you have made it to the end of this article, the blog is still officially under construction and soon it will be launched. This AliExpress sale caught me by surprise but if you are currently considering getting a watch on Ali, I do appreciate a lot if used the links provided above. This will not cost you anything extra neither will affect the final price of your purchase, and it will help me in funding, maintaining the blog and allow me to get more pieces to review and to tell you my experiences in this journey of watch collecting. I do enjoy the time I take to research and gather all these information to share with all of you. The fun of the hunt definitely makes a big part of this experience as well.
Thanks a lot again for taking the time to read my blog, and please stay safe.