Chinese made vs European or American made

Hi 

I have a dilemma, when I think about Chinese produced vs European or American watches, speaking of San Martin specifically, they look good on reviews and I know someone who has one so I've had the opportunity to confirm their quality first hand, they're great but I think for the price they're charging, you could get one entry level Swiss, American, German, British, etc watch which are known for its quality, reliability, and even status they might provide it's owner, so what do you think?

would you buy a San Martin  or would you go for an entry level Swiss or German made for example?

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Personally I'd buy a microbrand like Vaer, Islander, or Zelos. You get the specs of the San Martin, from a company that is likely going to be easier to deal with if things go wrong. 

There is no real "status" to be gained by anything but the luxury end of the market. You'd get as much "street cred" from a San Martin as you would from a Laco, just from different parts of the community. 

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I’d first compare to Japanese brands like Seiko, Orient or Citizen.  Much better value than SM imop, and if you’d already consider Chinese you’re def not a watch snob to omit Japanese. 

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You said they’re great so buy one If you:

a. Like it

b. Can afford it

No one else is you. Simple.

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There are a few that have good reputations like Merkur that I just bought...but i cant attest to that as I have not had it in hand yet.  With that said, a lot of Chinese watches are being fitted with Meca-quartz movements or entry level Seiko/Miyota movements so those should be ok.  And I agree with the above that if you want a "sure thing" then go Seiko or Orient with a ton of options.  I would just say that if you do that, try to buy in person and take your time looking over the entire watch/face/hands for QC differences between different watches of the same model. You dont want to get home and realize that this or that doesnt line up...take your time when picking those out...my 2 cents. 

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If you like them, get one. But have you ever seen one in real life? That should be very important for your final choice. Me personally? I would buy a Seiko for 250, not a San Martin, and I would get it at a Seiko AD, so I can try it on and get a good discount (20% if possible). That's what I've done recently with my 5KX after the MoonSwatch "situation", and I recommend that 100%. You can also check out Orient and Citizen. But if you like the San Martin, who am I to tell you anything bad about it? I've never seen one in real life so I cannot judge them in a fair way, I just don't like homages. But this is just my take on this. Enjoy the hobby and buy what you really want! 💪🏻

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I would agree that I would check out a Seiko at a retail outlet if you are truly new to watches. While not perfect in any way, they are somewhat of a benchmark of what is available in the entry-level segment. The chances that you are completely going to regret the purchase are fairly slim, as these are well-established models from a well-established brand. (The same would be true for Orient, Tissot, Casio or Citizen.) And buying it retail usually means that somebody will be able to size the bracelet for you.

From my perspective one should be a little more experienced with watches before buying a microbrand, because it takes a bit of an experience to figure out if something is an original design/development, or a low-value item that has been dressed up. 

In that sense I would also recommend Ben's Watch Club on YouTube, with tons of entry-level watch reviews.

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I own a SanMartin myself (the SN026B), one of their original designs.

I would say that the dilemma you described is a wrong one. In terms of specs and QC you wont get anything remotely equivalent from a European brand, and not from Seiko either - less sure about Orient and Citizen, though Citizen watches are really in a different marketplace. As a "safe" entry brand, Orient might be the best choice [Seiko has QC issues], but this is not first-hand experience speaking.

The issue with SanMartin is that only a minority of their watches are original designs, most are homages. There are some original models, like the aforementioned one, but not a ton to choose from.

If homages don't bother you then, besides SanMartin, Chinese brands Cronos, Seestern, Hruodland offer you high quality pieces at prices European brands cannot match.

If they do bother you, brands like Merkur, Sugess and Lobinni have plenty of original models, and form the higher end of the Chinese market. [Unless you count Agelocer, their designs are a bit out there.] This is more of jump into the unknown though, because youtube reviewers tend to focus on the homages and ignore the orginals. I own a Lobinni, have a second one on order, and Merkur is on my radar, will probably buy from them too.

In comparison, if I look at the German entry-level brand Dugena, which of their mechanical watches would I fancy? Well, the Epsilon Automatik would be tempting, but that sets you back 500 Euros. Perhaps a Red Baron III from Gigandet for 250 Euros? You have to go watch by watch, and see what you like.

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Chinese watches are only good with Japanese guts as do the microbrands. Difference is quality and warranty which is lacking in Chinese. When it comes to quartz the swiss have an edge.

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Given a choice, 

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hbein2022

I would agree that I would check out a Seiko at a retail outlet if you are truly new to watches. While not perfect in any way, they are somewhat of a benchmark of what is available in the entry-level segment. The chances that you are completely going to regret the purchase are fairly slim, as these are well-established models from a well-established brand. (The same would be true for Orient, Tissot, Casio or Citizen.) And buying it retail usually means that somebody will be able to size the bracelet for you.

From my perspective one should be a little more experienced with watches before buying a microbrand, because it takes a bit of an experience to figure out if something is an original design/development, or a low-value item that has been dressed up. 

In that sense I would also recommend Ben's Watch Club on YouTube, with tons of entry-level watch reviews.

You are right. There is value in microbrands and Chinese watches, but you need to know a little bit about the game before jumping into the pool.

Even with experience in watch collecting, it is extremely risky to buy a watch without checking it out in real life, as the heft, attention to detail and proportions do not translate properly in pictures or videos. 

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TheLeftyWatchNerd

If you like them, get one. But have you ever seen one in real life? That should be very important for your final choice. Me personally? I would buy a Seiko for 250, not a San Martin, and I would get it at a Seiko AD, so I can try it on and get a good discount (20% if possible). That's what I've done recently with my 5KX after the MoonSwatch "situation", and I recommend that 100%. You can also check out Orient and Citizen. But if you like the San Martin, who am I to tell you anything bad about it? I've never seen one in real life so I cannot judge them in a fair way, I just don't like homages. But this is just my take on this. Enjoy the hobby and buy what you really want! 💪🏻

Thanks for your feedback, I've seen one on real life and they look great for the price, but I mean, by adding a couple of euros, you can get a Swiss made micro brand and in my case, living in Europe, I'd be able to send the watch back if any issues come around, so my 'decision' is already made!

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American made?

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ERONAV

American made?

yes, some micro brands!

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BetoMC

yes, some micro brands!

I think you mean American assembled. What Watch company manufactures an entire watch in the US from  American-made parts?