Originally Published on Chengdu Business Daily, June 11, 2010
Chengdu, China - Sitting in front of the reporter, Wang Gang, wearing a polo shirt with a white base and dark red flowers, simple black-framed glasses, appears as a typical middle-aged professional. It's hard to imagine that he is a person from the 1960s, with over 15 years of experience in collecting and playing with watches. "In the 1990s, shortly after starting my career, I used my modest savings to buy a FIYTA watch, which chimed at 7:00 every day before the evening news. The FIYTA, with its once satisfying charm, was soon replaced. Wang Gang embarked on a journey of collecting Swiss mechanical watches: Over the past decade, he went from Tissot and Longines to eventually acquiring a Vacheron Constantin. However, the resurgence of Seagull watches around 2008 changed Wang Gang's watch-collecting trajectory.
"Technically speaking, Seagull watches are absolutely trustworthy. Seagull's annual production of watch movements accounts for almost half of the domestic market and 20% of the world's total production. Many global watch brands have their watch movements produced by Seagull. Besides production capacity, what makes Seagull stand out is its breakthrough in the 'three classics' of the watch world: the tourbillon, minute repeater, and perpetual calendar technologies. Seagull successfully developed and mass-produced watches with fully independent intellectual property rights in 'double tourbillon,' 'minute repeater,' and 'perpetual calendar.' This is quite remarkable." This was Wang Gang's original intention in transitioning from the Swiss watch route to the Seagull route.
In 2006, Seagull unveiled the 'Double Tourbillon Watch' at the Hong Kong Jewelry and Watch Fair. Simultaneously, they assembled two different structures of tourbillons, one with an eccentric (also known as non-coaxial, meaning the center of the balance wheel and the center of the tourbillon device are not on the same axis) and the other with a coaxial (meaning the center of the balance wheel and the center of the tourbillon device are on the same axis), on a single watch. The synchronized movement of the two tourbillons with the escapement mechanism enhances the visual appeal. Even compared to Breguet's double tourbillon (two concentric tourbillons), the creatively designed and successfully assembled Seagull watch generated considerable attention. "The global watch industry was astonished by China's tourbillon technology. At the 2008 Baselworld Watch and Jewelry Fair in Switzerland, Seagull watches faced direct questioning, with a Swiss brand officially filing a 'infringement' complaint against Seagull's tourbillon. However, after a careful investigation by Swiss authorities, Seagull's 'double tourbillon' eventually won the case with complete 'independent intellectual property rights,' bringing pride to the national watch industry and becoming the focus of the global watch community." Saying this, Wang Gang's eyes were filled with pride.
In addition to its exquisite technology, the affordable price of Seagull watches is also why Wang Gang remains 'loyal' to them. The tourbillon was invented by the Swiss, and every watch enthusiast is interested in this technology. Taking the double tourbillon watch as an example, Breguet priced it as high as 300,000 euros, while the market price of Seagull's double tourbillon at that time was only 200,000 RMB. However, with prices reaching tens of thousands of RMB, it's still a substantial threshold. Even if it's just a perpetual calendar or a minute repeater, it becomes a reason for high prices. 'The original intention of inventing the tourbillon was just to reduce the time error of watches, unlike using precious metal materials. The Seagull small tourbillon on my wrist, priced at just over 20,000 RMB, is equally precise. I've passed the stage where I need to prove myself with brands. The reason for collecting Seagull watches is the intrinsic value.' Wang Gang said.
Today, Wang Gang owns more than 10 Seagull watches, ranging in price from hundreds to over two thousand RMB. The total cost is still less than a Vacheron Constantin he bought before. On the day of the interview, Wang Gang took out three Seagull watches from his moisture-proof cabinet: an eccentric tourbillon, a moon phase chronograph, and an 8mm high-frequency watch, representing three masterpieces of Seagull. Among them, the moon phase chronograph has a stainless steel case, a crocodile leather strap, and a large flip dial, with craftsmanship and design that rival top Swiss brands. The high-frequency chronograph achieves a vibration frequency of 5 Hz, and its thickness is only 8 millimeters, which is truly amazing.
'Most of my friends are now fascinated by Seagull because of me. Whenever they see the watch on my wrist, they come over and ask about it. If they like it, they will directly take it off and take it away.' One of Wang Gang's Seagull double retrograde perpetual calendar watches was forcibly 'borrowed' by a friend.
As the conversation grew more lively, more guests gathered at the Zuihuxuan teahouse. Many of them wore Seagull watches on their wrists, and some had even argued over buying watches. But in the end, they all became friends. They are the 'Seagull Gang.'