The Seagull 1963 chronograph holds an important place in Chinese horological history as one of the nation's first domestic mechanical wristwatch movements. 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of the original 1963's release. To commemorate this milestone, Seagull has issued several limited edition reissues that pay tribute to the legendary 1960s chronograph.
One of the most anticipated models is the 1963 Times Edition 60th anniversary edition. In this ultimate guide, we'll explore the history of the original Seagull 1963, provide an in-depth review of the 2022 tribute edition, and see how it faithfully recreates the design and spirit of this iconic vintage chronograph.
The Origins of an Aviation Icon
In 1961, China's Ministry of Light Industry tasked the Tianjin Watch Factory (now Sea-Gull) with a secret mission - to produce the nation's first chronograph watches for use by the Chinese Air Force. Named "Project 304", the initiative ran for over 2 years before resulting in the first domestically produced Chinese aviation chronograph in 1963.
Designed specifically for the professional needs of pilots, with clear legible dials, sturdy build, and precision timing, the 1963 chronograph kickstarted Sea-Gull's enduring relationship with aviation. As pioneering pilots took to the skies with the 1963 on their wrists, the watch gained legendary status. Despite several reissues over the decades, the vintage 1963 retains immense popularity among watch collectors in China and worldwide.
2022 Reissue Overview
For the 60th anniversary in 2022, Sea-Gull revived the 1963 chronograph design in the new Sea-Gull 1963 Times Edition model. This limited edition reissue fused modern watchmaking techniques with the aviation pioneering spirit of the original. Marketed with the theme "Sailing the Skies, Shattering the Heavens", the 2022 tribute aims to inspire wearers to begin new journeys and achievements.
The 1960s Design Reborn
The 1963 Times Edition resurrects the most iconic design aspects of the vintage aviation chronograph. The 40mm stainless steel case is faithfully recreated, with an exhibition back offering views of the column wheel movement. It has an sapphire crystal, providing vintage appeal.
The dial and caseback design draw directly from 1963 original sketches, restoring its chronograph layout. The dial steps up from 38mm to 40mm for contemporary appeal, while the vintage domed crystal is hard sapphire for durability. An inner anti-magnetic cover protects precision timing. The crisp white dial with red and blue hands encapsulates a defining moment in time. Details like the "22 zuan" and "Tianjin" inscriptions evoke rich heritage. And the singular red star encapsulates 1963's unique Chinese flair, a soaring ambition made iconic on the wrist.
Upgraded with Modern Improvements
While visually recreating the vintage aesthetic, Sea-Gull made clever upgrades to suit modern expectations. The 38mm case was enlarged to 40mm for contemporary wrists. An anti-magnetic cover inside protects the movement.
The acrylic crystal gained a sapphire coating for enhanced scratch resistance while retaining its vintage dome shape. And the hand-winding Sea-Gull ST19 column wheel chronograph movement features updated decorations like perlage while carrying the legacy of the original ST3 caliber.
So while the 1963 Times Edition looks gorgeously retro on the surface, it incorporates subtle improvements that enhance durability and performance.
Enclosed Gift Packaging
The 1963 Times Edition ships in an exclusive gift box decorated with a textured brown pattern. Inside, the watch is wrapped in soft leather and protective plastic. Included accessories are packaged neatly in separate compartments.
The packaging evokes a premium unboxing experience, hinting at the historic timepiece within. Overall, it provides a satisfying reveal for this special 60th anniversary release.
- Case diameter: 40mm
- Lug width: 20mm
- Case thickness: 14.35mm
- Case material: 316L stainless steel
- Crystal: Domed sapphire
- Caseback: Exhibition with commemorative engraving
- Dial color: Silver white with black contrasting subdials
- Indexes: Tritium coated numerals with red accents
- Hands: Blued steel hands with red tipped chrono seconds
- Water resistance: 30 meters
- Movement: Sea-Gull ST19 mechanical chronograph
- Power reserve: 40+ hours
- Strap: Black calfskin leather with stainless pin buckle
The Historic ST19 Movement
The column-wheel controlled ST19 movement inside the 1963 Times Edition has an iconic lineage. It evolved from the original ST3 used in those pioneering vintage aviation chronographs. Both featured manual winding, column wheel actuation, and blued screws.
With 22 jewels, the ST19 runs at a cadence of 21,600 bph for stability. The chronograph function measures up to 30 minutes elapsed time. Superior to mass-produced automatics, the ST19 offers a smooth, engaging experience through the exhibition caseback.
From the decorated bridges to seashell insignia motif, the ST19 chronograph movement powering this reissue has historic significance for Chinese watchmaking.
Evaluating the 1963 Times Edition
On the wrist, the 1963 Times Edition retains the vintage 38mm charm of early models. The enlarged 40mm case wears modern but keeps the retro appeal intact. The sapphire crystal provides delightful vintage domed distortion from angles.
Winding the signed crown feels substantial. Actuating the chronograph pushers delivers crisp, satisfying clicks with each start, stop, and reset.
Its versatility suits both casual everyday wear and smart-casual business occasions equally. Paired on a NATO strap, it channels military heritage. On leather, it becomes more elegant and vintage.
In summary, the 1963 Times Edition recreates both the tangible specifications and intangible charm of the original aviation chronograph admirably. It brings Chinese watchmaking history alive on the wrist while discreetly enhancing aspects for modern reliability.
The Seagull 1963 Times Edition 60th anniversary edition is a meticulous homage to the legendary vintage aviation chronograph that pioneered Chinese watch production. From the hand-wound column wheel movement to the retro beige dial aesthetic, this reissue authentically revives a landmark timepiece.
Both collectors who recognize the legacy and newcomers to Chinese watchmaking can appreciate this accessible, value-packed commemoration. As China's first truly original mechanical chronograph, the 1963 holds a significant place in the nation's horological achievements. With this 60th anniversary tribute model, Seagull celebrates those engineering milestones where it all began.