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Chinese Watches Made in 1970s (2)

Article and Photos by Youfang
March 2011


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2, The Development of High Frequency Day-date Watch by Shanghai Stopwatch Plant

The following entry is found in Shanghai Chronicle: “In April 1969, the first Jewel Mechanic Watch SMIA with off-centre movement was produced by Shanghai Stopwatch Plant, which has a triangular structure and runs at 21,600 beats per hour. It won the Best Watch Prize of the Year 10 times out 17 China's watch quality assessments for possessing bigger barrel, lengther spring bar and keeping time for longer period, and received High Quality Export Product Award granted by the Ministry of Light Industry.

In 1978, Shanghai Stopwatch Plant further produced mens day/date mechanic automatic watch SM2H, with additional brands SBIZS205, SBIZS2, SBIZB2, SBIZZB2 and SBIZZS2 developed in 1991."

Shanghai Stopwatch Plant began to develop high frequency auto day/date watch ever since 1972 when the then Shanghai leadership decided to catch up on the latest international trend by producing a new generation of timepieces. Towards the end of 1972, a formal design team was assembled with the members including Wu Xiangqi, Lu Longcai, Wang Changxing, Yuan Minghua, Shen Cailiang, Shen Fuhua and Sun Hongjun.

Their work was greatly benefited from the previous experience in developing SMIA watch and a system that encouraged, not just chief engineers, but all related people - from machine operators to technicians - to be actively involved in the program, which helped the design team successfully produce the product in 1974. The watches from the production trial run were distributed to the workers for test use with commercial production line set up four years late in 1978.

The new product, that was formally named SM2H, beats at 21600 vibrations per hour with quickset mechanism for the day and the date and a stopwatch function. However, the commercial production continued only for two years, partly due to lack of support from the higher level authorities, partly because of the high demand for old products, in addition to the factor that the new product did contain some quality problems that could not be easily fixed with the relatively backward machine tools of the time. By 1980, the production line stopped completely. According to the records, the plant produced 487 SM2H-watches all together, and the semi-finished products and the components were used for making Jewel 19 high frequency mechanic watches which display date only but were quite popular among Chinese consumers that had a total output reached 23,650 by 1983.

The material in this section was provided by Mr. Chen Heli, a collector of Chinese watches. I hereby thank him for his wonderful input

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