The first piece of Chinese military watch was manufactured in mid 60s. In 1965, Shanghai Wristwatch Factory started to produce a movement called 623. The movement was based on a small modification of Shanghai 581 movement and Rolex date/shock resistance watch movement. In the same year, a small batch of A623 wrist watch was produced. Shanghai A623 was the first batch of wristwatch manufactured in China with date function and also was considered as the earliest Chinese military watch. The watch was given to the generals of People Liberation Army such as Li De Sheng (李德生) and Xiao Ke (肖克). Even more, the first Premier Minister of the People’ Republic of China / Chinese Foreign Minister – Zhou En Lai (周恩来) also owned a piece of A623 and wore it until he passed away. (This A623 is currently displaying in the Chinese Revolutionary/Military Museum). That is the reason A623 also called “Premier Minister Watch.”

Due to the small number of production and the historical significance of A623, the watch is highly collectable and also extremely hard to find. There are two versions of A623. Earlier version has golden carving“上海” (Shanghai) on the dial and the second version has black and white “上海” (Shanghai) printed on the dial. Both versions have date function which appears in red Chinese character. (Premier Minister Zhou had the second version)

May 1962, given order by the general of People’s Liberation Air force, Tianjin Wristwatch Factory (Former Sea-Gull) started a challenging project- to manufacture the first chronograph wrist watch in the Chinese horologic history. December 1963, first 32 pieces trial version of the chronograph watches were successfully produced. After certain modification and adjustments on the watch, next trail version was manufactured in January 1964. Until October 1965, “304” the first generation air force chronograph successfully passed the accuracy, temperature, shock resistance, water resistance, and magnet resistance tests. This chronograph watch became the famous “Tianjin 1963 Air Force Chronograph Wristwatch.” It is the first chronograph wristwatch independently manufactured in China. In December 1965, leading by the First Light Industrial Bureau and combined with The People’s Liberation Air Force, The People’s Liberation Naval Air Force Headquarters, The Navigation Guarantee Department of the Chinese Naval Headquarters total 21 government agencies and 38 leaders and experts decided to put this chronograph watch into batch production. 1400 units (some claim 2000 units were made) manufactured. Due to the complicated manufacture process and the high cost, the watch was discontinued after its first batch production. The “1963 Air Force Chronograph Watch” has thirty minutes accumulator at 3 o’ clock position, sub-second hand at 9 o’clock position, center chronograph second hand in red and the case material is “half steel” (半钢, reissue version is full stainless steel 全钢)。 On the dial, there is “China Made” (中国制造) ,“Tianjin Wristwatch Factory”(天津手表厂),and a golden star. The watch also has 3 different versions and can be identify by the back engraving. On the back it has “Tianjin Wristwatch Factory”, “China 1963” and simply nothing at all. “Tianjin Wristwatch Factory” version is the earliest trail version which consider as the impossible version to collect. The watch also has reissue version which has full stainless steel case, blue screws on the movement and center second hand in blue.


1969, Central Military Commission request Shanghai Wristwatch started to produce military watch in batch production with 29 Jewels SS2 and 24 Jewels SS4 movements. The given model number for this type of watch was called 114. Because wristwatch was considered as luxury items at that time, only division commanders (or higher ranking officers) were qualified to purchase SS2 and regimental commanders (or higher ranking officers) were allowed to purchase SS4. The price for 114 wristwatches was 240 RMB (35USD) back then. Based on the back of the watch, 114 could be divided into three versions, which were the trial version with a 6 digits serial number, early version with a 7 digits serial number and late version with a 8 digits serial number. The production of 114 wristwatches stopped in 1977 and there was total 30,000 pieces were made. One thing worth to mention is that not all of the SS2 and SS4 movements were used in military watches. For example, there were SS4H, SS4H-K (19J mechanical watch), SS4B (19J mechanical watch with date), and SS2C (29J Automatic wristwatch with date). On the dial of the early version 29J 114, it did not has the “Shanghai” logo it. Different than 29J 114, early version of 24J 114 had “Shanghai” logo on the dial and later version 24J 114 had “Torch” logo on the dial and the crown. Also on the rotor of SS2 29J which manufactured in 1967 had engraving “29 zhan, 29占” instead of “29 zuan, 29 钻.” 1970 version of 24J had “滚珠自动 gunzhu zidong” instead of “全自动 quanzidong (automatic)” on the rotor.

In March, 1959, Jinsheng Clock Manufacture Factory successfully produced “Diamond” band mechanical stop watch with 1/10seconds markers and reached total production 20,325 pieces in 1961. Later on, the factory manufactured 1/100seconds (model 501), 1/50seconds (model 502) and 1/5seconds (model 503) total 10 model series. All above mentioned models were special military models. Especially 501 and 502 were extremely rare because of the small production numbers (highly collectable). 1964, the factory supplied MS1S and MS2S dual stop watches to the Navy. In 1968, the factory changed its name to “Shanghai Stopwatch Factory” and successfully manufactured 511-516 special made stop watch models for the Department of Homeland Defense in China.


1978, Shanghai Watch Factory manufactured model 1120 military watches. 1120 could be divided into regular version and military version. Military version had “军用 (military use)” on the dial and was used in the Third Indochina War. Military 1120 went stop in production in 1985 with total 40,000 pieces manufactured, but most of them were destroyed in the frontline.