When it comes to affordable entry-level mechanical watches, the usual suspects are from Japanese brands such as Seiko, Citizen and Casio. The prices range from a Seiko 5 (~US$50) to an SKX (~US$200). For the longest time, I have been wondering if there are alternatives out that that are even more affordable, and how cheap it can actually get. I think I might just have found the answer with this automatic mechanical watch from a Chinese brand Tevise which can be had for around US$25.
Most of the popular fashion watch brands you often see on social media and Youtube are most likely made by Chinese manufacturers. It should not be a surprise that these Chinese manufacturers then decide to create their own watch brands and sell them directly to customers.
Chinese watch companies often use a weird looking name or go with Chinese pinyin, both which are huge turnoffs. It is such a pity there are some nice designs ruined by an ugly brand name. The Tevise brand name and logo, in my humble opinion, while is not anything amazing, is at least on an acceptable level. With that being said, I still don’t exactly know how it is pronounced (is it “Tee-Vise” or “Te-veese”?)
I have seen the same design used by another Chinese brand, but I decided to pick this one up by Tevise mainly due to its brand name and logo being slightly better looking than the others. There are plenty of colour combinations to choose from. Dials come in black, blue and white. The case and bracelet come in silver or two-tone. I would not recommend going for the two-tone though as the colour plating will surely wear off very soon. I picked up a blacked out version because I wanted to have a little fun with the colours, and I am not concerned about the longevity of the watch.
Tevise is better known for its Submariner and Datejust homage models. This model, as far as I can tell, is not a direct homage of another watch, which is a plus. I also like the fact that they are not trying too hard with the design with this watch. Watches are often skeletonized to give the illusion that they are more complicated than they actually are. Sometimes, design elements are added when they serve no purpose at all. For instance, the picture above shows a watch with a Tachymeter bezel when there is no timing function.
The dial makes you believe the watch is much more complicated than it actually is. The “moon phase” on the top of the dial is actually a “Sun and Moon”, which is non-adjustable. The sub-dial on the right is a 24-hour indicator and the sub-dial on the bottom is just another seconds hand and sweeps in sync with the large seconds hand on the main dial. The only you can adjust is the time. To my surprise, the movement can be hand wound and hackable, which you cannot find in entry-level Seiko 5 (7s series) movements.
There is no information provided about the movement inside the watch, but it is likely a Chinese unified movement. If it is a Chinese unified movement, then the movement is likely a 17 Jewel movement running at 21,600 BPH. At this price point, I don’t have any complaints.
Again, at this price point, my expectations on build quality are not high. You can definitely see this is where the corners are cut to make the watch available at such a low price.
The oyster style bracelet has a brushed finish with polished center links. There is a lot of wiggle in the bracelet, if you didn’t know you’d think you were wearing a jubilee bracelet. At this price point, hollow end links are to be expected, at least the links themselves appear to be solid.
The product description claims that the case and bracelet are all in stainless steel. However, I am very skeptical about this as the watch wears extremely light for a 40mm diameter watch. I suspect that the material is some kind of base metal or metal alloy.
The seller was actually kind enough to throw in an extra (faux) leather strap. Unfortunately, the strap is so bad that you’ll probably end up throwing it away. Then again, I don’t think anyone is buying this watch for its bracelet or strap. You can easily watch with another aftermarket strap or bracelet. Ironically, the aftermarket strap will most likely be more expensive than the watch itself.
This watch is a great pickup if you want:
- To try a wearing a mechanical watch without breaking the bank
- A cheap automatic beater watch
- An affordable alternative to expensive fashion watches
At under $25, this watch packs incredible value and punches WAY above its class. When you compare it with fashion watches with quartz movements selling for upwards of US$200, this watch presents a pretty good value proposition. If you are realistic about your expectations, you will be pleasantly surprised with this fun little timepiece.
Get yours on Aliexpress: Here (affiliate link)