What Have You Purchased on Aliexpress?

I've often wondered how many watch enthusiasts have considered, but then hesitated about purchasing watches and related accessories from Aliexpress.

Are these watches any good? Are the accessories well made? Will the straps be supple, the bracelets fit well, and what about the watch tool kits?

Here are the answers from my experience.

Firstly, I am always curious to explore the bottom end of things to see what kind of value can be gained. For example, I tested how cheaply I could buy an electric guitar that was brand new and still functional. I found a Chinese guitar on eBay for $7 plus $25 shipping. For $32, it was actually a reasonably well made guitar that any beginner would be happy to own. I gave it to one of my nephews who was interested in learning guitar.

I explored Aliexpress a few years ago, just to see what the quality of the products were like and whether they would take an eternity to arrive, if at all.

The good news - I have never been stiffed on an Aliexpress purchase. As to quality, however, that is another matter.

Here are some thoughts:

  1. Watch Tools - Don't buy inexpensive watch toolkits (either on Aliexpress or Amazon) - unless you are working only on sub $500 watches, I would highly recommend spending the necessary price to purchase quality tools from Bergeon or other high-end toolmakers. One scratch on your expensive watch from a cheap Chinese strap tool is enough to warrant the purchase of a Bergeon tool. Scratching the bracelet because of inferior watch screwdrivers will make you wish you purchased the proper tools. This is probably the most valuable advice in the posting. That's why it's first.
  2. Accessories - this covers a lot of ground. In general, I have found that the rubber tropic style straps for dive watches are almost always acceptable and look great. The bracelets are a mixed bag, but I have had very good success with Milanese Mesh bracelets. The leather straps are a much dodgier proposition. Oftentimes, they are too stiff or just really poorly made. However, some of the leather goods like watch cases/holders are very good. I would be cautious with watch boxes as a number of them for some odd reason have magnetic catches to close the box which is a major no-no for your mechanical watches. Remember magnets and mechanical watches are a very bad combination unless you like to see your watches run fast and erratic.
  3. Watches - as you can imagine this is the widest dispersion of quality that can be found on Aliexpress. My best recommendation is watching YouTubers like Jody from Just One More Watch. Since Jody has done much of the heavy lifting already, you can find superb quality inexpensive watches on Aliexpress by digging through Jody's excellent reviews on YT. Below are some of the watches I have purchased on Aliexpress for less than $250 that I am very satisfied with (the ones I wasn't - I gave away):

Escapement Time Flieger ($98)

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Merkur - Pierre Paulin chronograph ST1901 ($230)

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Merkur Sharkmaster Professional ($249)

(couldn't find a wrist shot for this one - my Cheap Trick watch)

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Merkur Decompression Watch 1960s ($123)

(still waiting for this one to arrive)

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Pagani Design Sky Blue OP ($110)

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San Martin Rainbow Series Dive Watch ($210)

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San Martin Bronze Pilot ($235)

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Seestern (Sugess Watch Co) - SUB300T Doxa-style Diver ($180)

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So there you have it.

Can you find value on Aliexpress? Absolutely.

Always look for the discount codes/coupons and, if you can wait, the big sales events that happen a few times throughout the year.

Hope this was helpful - and if you have Aliexpress recommendations, then show us down below.

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I have been looking very hard at the Steeldive 1970.  But I am not certain about giving them my credit card number.   Just FYI. 

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Rocky150

I have been looking very hard at the Steeldive 1970.  But I am not certain about giving them my credit card number.   Just FYI. 

I have had no issues with that and have made more than twenty purchases on Aliexpress. They are one of the largest Chinese companies - it's like giving eBay or Amazon your credit card.

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I made my first purchase - of any product from Aliexpress- mid-May. A 1963 Seagull Chrono (per JOMW a sort of homage with the ST1901 movement). While shopping for the watch I got a couple of leather and couple of NATO straps.  Watch arrived within 4 weeks and straps took 2 extra weeks.  Enjoying the watch quite a bit, it has become my nato strap watch (I won’t bore you with all pics, plus I dont take good pics).

The nato straps are comfortable, let’s see how long they last. The leather straps appear to be good, I still haven’t put them on any watch. Here are the two NATO straps.

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Shahid

I made my first purchase - of any product from Aliexpress- mid-May. A 1963 Seagull Chrono (per JOMW a sort of homage with the ST1901 movement). While shopping for the watch I got a couple of leather and couple of NATO straps.  Watch arrived within 4 weeks and straps took 2 extra weeks.  Enjoying the watch quite a bit, it has become my nato strap watch (I won’t bore you with all pics, plus I dont take good pics).

The nato straps are comfortable, let’s see how long they last. The leather straps appear to be good, I still haven’t put them on any watch. Here are the two NATO straps.

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Great choice! Those NATOs look perfect on the Chrono.

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Rocky150

I have been looking very hard at the Steeldive 1970.  But I am not certain about giving them my credit card number.   Just FYI. 

I use PayPal. One of the most secure payment methods in the internet. I have lurched several watches from Ali Express including the 1970 and have never had an issue. 

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JackieMoon_LMS

I use PayPal. One of the most secure payment methods in the internet. I have lurched several watches from Ali Express including the 1970 and have never had an issue. 

I like that idea best. Thanks

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Your spot on,with tools you definitely get what you pay for,I've got one of those amazon kits just for the real basics like battery changing ,yes they're OK for that but not much else and the screwdrivers are woeful,but I have a set of eclipse micro screwdrivers (many years old but top quality), please post some pictures of your merkur decompressio when you get it as I like the look of it (was looking at it the other week) and haven't quite got the funds for a mido or the offering from delma,cheers.

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Stricko

Your spot on,with tools you definitely get what you pay for,I've got one of those amazon kits just for the real basics like battery changing ,yes they're OK for that but not much else and the screwdrivers are woeful,but I have a set of eclipse micro screwdrivers (many years old but top quality), please post some pictures of your merkur decompressio when you get it as I like the look of it (was looking at it the other week) and haven't quite got the funds for a mido or the offering from delma,cheers.

Definitely - I'll do a comparison of wrist shots for the Mido, Vulcain and Merkur.

Now I just have to wait for the watch to arrive...😉

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ChronoGuy

Definitely - I'll do a comparison of wrist shots for the Mido, Vulcain and Merkur.

Now I just have to wait for the watch to arrive...😉

Thankyou I will look forward to it.

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I have this on the way! 

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I got a bunch of these FKM (at least that's what it says) rubber straps. I bought a blue one and then I bought three more of the same in other colors (blue, black and orange) as well as a similar one in a different style that I gave away with my Zelos Mako. I don't think they suck to be honest and I have it on very good authority that expensive/premium rubber straps are a massive rip-off, ie they cost next to nothing in terms of manufacturing and are way easier to make than leather. Of course we buy them sometimes from the brands anyway to have it all original but we also collect watches so we are a little 🤪 obviously... I can recommend these unless you have insane expectations.

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I agree 100% that Bergeon spring bar tools etc are worth it so I don't buy these (the crap ones sometimes come with straps anyway). 

I never bought a watch on AliExpress but maybe one day. I do fancy a minute repeater so if they come out with one of these and they are as good as the tourbillons my impulsiveness will be tested badly. I mean who am I kidding, I know what's going to happen....

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I have bought a ton of stuff on AliExpress, mostly watches, quite a few straps, plus a timegrapher. I am actually a "Diamond member" on Ali, whatever that entails.

Buying leather straps there is a bit iffy. The straps coming with the watches are a mixed bag, replacement (leather) straps were more miss than hit for me. Silicon straps I got from there were great though.

Watches - the phrase "you get what you pay for" is more true for watches on Ali than for straps. But not always - I'd stay well clear of Oupinke; and I let others try Agelocer first. There is some value to be had with watches so cheap that JOMW would not even consider them at all (perhaps there's no affiliate programme for reviewers...): I had a couple of Carnival watches that are excellent. Ochstin is extremely good value in general - their chrono is a stinker though, but the 6020G dress watch is a stunner. If you like weird designs give Forsining a try - surprisingly well-built considering how dirt cheap they are. On the quartz side, a brand I'd be wary of is SKMEI: they are doing Casio-like watches on the cheap.

Merkur and Lobinni are a little bit higher end and do not get mentioned often (if at all) in those professional youtube reviews either, because they do not create clones of Seikos and Rolexes, but these brands are pretty good. The brand I bought most watches (four) from is Parnis, not a bad one in the lot.

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uhrensohn

I have bought a ton of stuff on AliExpress, mostly watches, quite a few straps, plus a timegrapher. I am actually a "Diamond member" on Ali, whatever that entails.

Buying leather straps there is a bit iffy. The straps coming with the watches are a mixed bag, replacement (leather) straps were more miss than hit for me. Silicon straps I got from there were great though.

Watches - the phrase "you get what you pay for" is more true for watches on Ali than for straps. But not always - I'd stay well clear of Oupinke; and I let others try Agelocer first. There is some value to be had with watches so cheap that JOMW would not even consider them at all (perhaps there's no affiliate programme for reviewers...): I had a couple of Carnival watches that are excellent. Ochstin is extremely good value in general - their chrono is a stinker though, but the 6020G dress watch is a stunner. If you like weird designs give Forsining a try - surprisingly well-built considering how dirt cheap they are. On the quartz side, a brand I'd be wary of is SKMEI: they are doing Casio-like watches on the cheap.

Merkur and Lobinni are a little bit higher end and do not get mentioned often (if at all) in those professional youtube reviews either, because they do not create clones of Seikos and Rolexes, but these brands are pretty good. The brand I bought most watches (four) from is Parnis, not a bad one in the lot.

Thanks for the great detailed posting. Really good stuff there.

I wonder if you or anyone else on this thread has purchased some of the knock-off MoonSwatches? Really curious to know if there is a vendor producing some that are decent.

I agree that Merkur are higher end on the Ali scale and that's why you pay between $200-300 for them. Pagani Design is also on the higher end of the quality spectrum. I have not yet found a Parnis that caught my attention, but know that many in the watch community are fans.

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ChronoGuy

Thanks for the great detailed posting. Really good stuff there.

I wonder if you or anyone else on this thread has purchased some of the knock-off MoonSwatches? Really curious to know if there is a vendor producing some that are decent.

I agree that Merkur are higher end on the Ali scale and that's why you pay between $200-300 for them. Pagani Design is also on the higher end of the quality spectrum. I have not yet found a Parnis that caught my attention, but know that many in the watch community are fans.

I am not going anywhere near the Moonswatch knock offs on Ali, because they are not just knock offs - they are fakes. You look at the product images, and they look like moonswatches minus the logo, and then sometimes there are product images made by customers and the things do have the logo and all the branding. Few if any of the stores selling them are well-established stores - several have been around for less than two months, and most of their other products are fakes too. I spotted a few Breitling fakes there, a Tag Heuer Aquaracer. etc.

If I just wanted something that looks like an omega moonwatch, I'd buy the Pagani design homage to the thing. Bar the logo that is also a much better watch than any of the real moonswatches anyway.

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ChronoGuy

Thanks for the great detailed posting. Really good stuff there.

I wonder if you or anyone else on this thread has purchased some of the knock-off MoonSwatches? Really curious to know if there is a vendor producing some that are decent.

I agree that Merkur are higher end on the Ali scale and that's why you pay between $200-300 for them. Pagani Design is also on the higher end of the quality spectrum. I have not yet found a Parnis that caught my attention, but know that many in the watch community are fans.

Regarding Parnis - they have such a vast catalogue that searching through AliExpress with its multiple stores you don't see the woods for all the trees. So, I'd browse instead their website parnistime.com to see what they have on offer, and if I find anything that takes my fancy I then try to track it down on Ali. Parnis has usually quite a selection of nice dress watches. I know, most watchcrunchers are not into dress watches, but the PA6031 is quite a looker:

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