Supercheap skeletonized automatic watches.

Ever since I saw one, I’ve been enamored of the idea of skeletonized watches. (Mechanical, since quartz has no moving parts to watch.)

Some of these are quite expensive, but the Chinese are now in the mechanical watch market, and their watches are cheap.

For example, consider the Chronoswiss Opus:



(Image swiped from TimeZone, their review is here.)

This watch costs about $7,500 to $15,000. Not cheap by anyone’s standards. Not in my price range, period.

Now consider this one:



This is likely Chinese. I got it on Ebay for $70, including overnight shipping. With patience, I could have paid less. It’s labeled as ‘Stratosphere Watches’, and the auction points to their website at http://www.stratosphere-watches.com/ The detailed page for this model is here , including the ludicrous list price of $400.

Not as pretty as the Opus, no question. Also, for skeletonized watches, manual wind is preferred because the rotor weight blocks the view of the mechanism. Still, you can buy at least 100 of these for the same price…

Review notes

The power reserve seems to be at least 24H, and possibly 36. The auto-wind works well, as does the manual wind. You can see the mainspring from the front. Seems to be 21,600VPH, or 6 beats/second. The autowind is bidirectional with what looks like the Seiko ‘Magic Lever’ system.

The buttons, which look like chronograph start/stop/reset, aren’t. They set the day and date wheels. A bit of false advertising, but it makes this super fast to set if the spring has wound down.

The 24H hand is slaved to the main dial, so you can’t use this as a GMT watch.

Positives

The movement is both manual wind and automatic, it has day/date/24H complications, and it even hacks. (Unlike my beloved Seiko)

It seems to keep time well, off by less than 10 seconds per day, and it looks very nice.

There’s even a glass display caseback to admire the internals:



Pretty, isn’t it?

Negatives

The only lume is a dab on each of the hands, and it fades very quickly. You’ll not be reading this in the dark.

The dial is a bit busy, and the pretty internals also distract.

If you pull too hard on the crown, the whole stem come out. Based on this, I have doubts about the claimed 30M water resistance!

The strap is short, and I have to use the last stop. A replacement could easily cost more than the watch.

Conclusions

I bought this as a dress watch, so the negatives don’t bother me. I don’t expect this to last forever, and it won’t impress anyone for bling or craftsmanship. However, it is quite good looking, keeps excellent time, and looks great as a dress watch with formal clothing. For those of us with the mechanical watch bug, having a view into the internals is both mesmerizing and compelling.

And good lord its cheap. Almost comparable with quartz.

Highly recommended.

Links

Another review of a similar watch.
High-res picture of this watch – check it out!
Europa Timepieces’ ebay store. This is where I bought mine. There are some on ebay.com, but cost more for some reason.

10 thoughts on “Supercheap skeletonized automatic watches.”

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  3. I just purchased a similar model though mine is simpler, without the date dials the internals are much easier to see.
    My only complaint so far has been the lack of a manual. I have never owned a wind up watch before and i’m worried about over winding.
    The thing is you can see the spring easily so it should not be to big a problem.
    Watching the movement is fascinating!

  4. I bought one of these back in 2005. It was my daily wear to the office watch for the first two years and has been again for the last three months. I had to put a new band on it after two years of daily wear but that’s expected because it’s a leather band and I don’t take any special precautions about getting it wet, oiling it, etc.

    Going on four years and it still looks and performs like new. It’s a nice looking watch that I enjoy putting on everyday.

    This has held up much better than the $300 Citizen I bought. After a week of normal office activities that one looked like it was 10 years old.

  5. I received the exact same white skeleton automatic watch you describe here as a gift. I loved this watch, but that has ended.

    After 8 weeks it stops if not fully wound AND worn. The hand indicating the day of the week started sliding (indicated between days, then on days) and today it FELL OFF inside the watch. I’d stay from Stratosphere watches. You can get a Fossil or Lucien Piccard automatic for similar money, and those seem rock solid.

  6. Yeah, mine died too; crown fell out and was lost. Ahh well, next time I’ll spend more to buy a bit more quality. I did learn that skeletonization is something I don’t like on my watches; it’s too distracting. A cheap lesson.

  7. Yesterday I got a £39 Soviet Watch an automatic one from http://www.sovietwatches.co.uk it looks good and I expect good things of it. So have a look for yourselves. As we are all watch nuts so to speak here’s something to read.

    Sep00Michael G Casey email michaelgcasey@hotmail.com

    The Watch and Me ©

    By

    Michael Casey

    I suppose my love affair with the watch started when I was just a child

    now 30 years on the passion is still there . I remember lifting up my

    dad’s shirt sleeve to look at the watch on his wrist , watching the second

    hand sweep around and asking what time was it , not that I really

    understood the concept of time , I knew midnight was always dark , that

    was about it really . Oh apart from some special time called “opening

    time” and “closing time” , our lodgers would pay their rent at the back

    door before rushing off to the pub , it was a mystery to me .

    A cousin of ours was to be ordained a priest in Dublin , so dad and

    2 of my brothers went off to Dublin for the ceremony . I remember Tony

    coming back with a watch on his wrist , it had a black strap and had a

    small face , then at the bottom was seperate dial with a second hand on

    it , we all thought it was very posh . So being children we now used this

    dial to see how long we could hold our breath , we’d take a deep breath

    and pump up our cheeks then Tony waved his hands and we’d start our

    endurance test . Only stopping when we fell over our faces brilliant red

    and our eyes bulging . I remember Tony seemed to win this game always ,

    not because he cheated but because he loved under water swimming so had

    mastered holding his breath . Then we had a contest to run down the yard

    past the hedge to the bottom of the garden and touch the fence and

    come back and touch the wall of the house , we were all young and mad then

    but such simple fun was all because we had a watch with a second hand .

    Jim was our lodger for 20years , when he’d been with us for 11 years

    I badgered him for a present , for a watch . if I passed the 11 plus exam.

    Finally he gave in and gave me his own 2nd best watch , in fact I got it

    before I even sat the exam . So the watch Jim gave me was my first watch

    ever . The trouble with leather watch straps is that they dig into your

    flesh , so you loosen the strap but then the watch dangles , so I

    compromised by using stretch straps , then you can slide a stretch strap

    all the way up your arm , until it feels comfortable . I also always liked

    mechanical watches , it was a night time rictual , taking my watch off and

    winding it up , setting the time against the chimes of Big Ben on the

    radio . So you can see just how important a watch is to me . There is just

    one thing I’ve forgotten to mention , watches always break . Well when I

    wear them anyway . For the past 20 years as a computer operator I’m always

    carrying something and banging my watch on doors or whatever . So they

    break , leaving my watch in the bathroom while I take a bath was another

    of my bad habits . Watches steam up on me , or the winder gets rusty and

    breaks off , or I break the glass , or the glass falls out . Once the

    glass fell out , so I glued it back again , only to make a mess of the job

    and glue the hands of the watch together as well . Finally I decided to

    get a quartz watch , they were accurate , only my sweaty wrist steamed up

    the face constantly , so I couldn’t read the time . On average a watch

    lasts me 1 year , my sister Mary always laughs every time I show her my

    latest new watch . A simple Lorex watch was the best one I ever had , its

    lasted 5 years . However I must confess that it has only lasted me that

    long because when dad was in hospital after mum had died and he had nearly

    died too he wanted a watch so he could pass the time , by looking at the

    watch , so he’d know when his next meal was , the fact that there was a

    clock on the wall not 2 yards away did not matter . Of course I took the

    watch off my wrist and gave it to him . he was my dad and I loved him , so

    if a watch would please him , he could have mine . That was 4 years ago ,

    dad is called the miracle man , by the doctors , he beat death , dad’s

    time was up and the grim reaper made an appearance twice , but dad is

    still alive and kicking , my watch ticking on his wrist . Or so it was

    until last month . Jie Jie my Chinese wife bought me a fancy watch for my

    Birthday so I gave dad my watch , a fancy Esprit model , amd I retired the

    old one , but I have kept it as a souvenir , we all thought dad would die

    in weeks , but his heart is still ticking as strong and reliable as a

    Rolex watch . I think when we all die , if we are not worthy of Paradise

    immediately God will issue us with a Rolex and we have to wear it for a

    billion years , until we are worthy of Paradise . God’s watch is the

    turning tides , the movememnt of the stars accross the heavens and

    rumbling super vovas , after all didn’t time begin with creation . It is

    us stupid mankind who try to limit it to a dial on a watch .

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