The Seagull 1963 is one of the more intriguing watches to come out, or rather be re-released, in a little while. It got a lot of attention from watch forums and fashion blogs because, simply, it’s a great looking and affordable watch with authentic vintage styling that refers to non-Swiss watch-making history. Sure, if you are a watch-nerd, you are probably aware of the Seagull brand as a major manufacturer of movements and watches (including tourbillons), but you also most likely don’t own one. The movement in your watch probably comes from ETA, Ronda, Miyota or Seiko (yes, making big generalizations, but wait for the point). Yet, Seagull, or Tianjin Seagull, is one of the 4 (sometimes said 3) largest watch manufacturers currently in business. But, in the US at least, you wont find Seagull brand at your local jewelry shop, in big department stores or at most on-line retailers; at least, not in the open.
There are bargain brands, like Android, Stuhrling and Aeromatic 1912, as well as “homage” brands that use Seagull mechanical movements, because they are more affordable and accessible than their Swiss counterparts, but rarely will you see true Seagull brand watches around. Whether this is due to the stigma of Chinese manufacturing being cheap and unreliable, traditionalism in watch manufacturing that says “if it ain’t Swiss, it ain’t good”, a lack of brand awareness or poor product positioning (or a combination therein) is hard to say without a lot of market research…We all know how valuable “Swiss Made” is for a watch brand and that “made is China” doesn’t always inspire confidence. But, I also think that they have made some very weird choices with the watch selections they put forth on their US and EU sites. For watches that are comparatively inexpensive, they seem to be largely styled to compete in the luxury market. So, the fact that the Seagull 1963, as an affordable and sexy watch, has made waves, should serve as lesson to the brand about how the bring a watch to the US market.