Using the proceeds from WatchReport, I won this on eBay recently
(Seller’s picture, better picture from Alpha is here.)
It’s an automatic jump-hour regulateur, with subseconds and display back. That’s usually an expensive proposition, even with stamped dial and unfinished movement.
I’m a big fan of Chinese mechanical watches; I really think that the future Swiss competition is Chinese, not Japanese. Even though I love Seiko, they just aren’t as interested as Chinese manufacturers. (Velociphile has an excellent post on this trend here.)
This watch itself is interesting, and has functions I’ve wanted to check out for some time. ‘Jump hour’ means that the hour is shown at 12 o’clock, in the circular window, and changes quickly. This might be a pseudo-jump-hour, where the hours are on a disc that rotates at a constant speed – unknown. ‘Regulateur’ or ‘Regulator’ means that the minutes are shown by the center hand. Seconds, obviously, are a 6 o’clock on the small dial. It’s automatic, mechanical and probably decently made. I had pretty good luck with my previous Alpha, so I’m pretty psyched for this one too. My other Chinese wristwatch, a skeletonized model, has also lasted quite well and my Mom is wearing it now.
Alpha makes a wide range of models, ranging from original styles to Rolex lookalikes, and reports on various forums have indicated that their quality control is poor, so you may well get a lemon. On the other hand, even at list price (63 dollars) this is an amazing value, and highly recommended if you want to explore mechanical watches.
Now I just have to wait for Customs and the USPS.
Update two: Added a bit more about jump hour and fixed some formatting.
Update 12/3/08: Review posted to WatchReport. Enjoy!
Update 12/9/08: Christian pulled the review from WatchReport, so I’ll either post it here or rewrite and post here.