Today we’re reviewing the official remake of the “Project 304” Chinese Airforce watch, the 1963 Seagull Mechanical Chronograph. Both the vintage design and the relative rarity of this hand wound watch make it a unique statement piece. With only 1400 watches being manufactured in the 1960s and the remake being reportedly difficult to find, you can wear this Seagull with confidence that nobody else will show up to the party wearing the same watch as you.
As you can see, the Seagull 1963 Mechanical Chronograph has a unique and eye catching design. The blue hour and minute hands and the contrasting red sweep second hand pop against the dial. Along with the gold bezel, the gold tint of the cream colored dial complements the gold Arabic and triangle stick number indicators, giving this watch a cohesive look.
Other design elements make this timepiece a conversation starter, no matter where you decide to wear it. The red star outlined in gold at the 12 o’clock position and the Chinese characters tell the story of its Chinese military origins. Toward the bottom of the dial on the front, the writing translates to “China Tianjin Watch Factory” in reference to the factory where the original Project 304 watches were manufactured.
Based on the vintage design, the round case of this military chronograph has a classic look. The polished stainless steel is both a resilient material and an elegant design element that enhances the gold throughout the rest of the watch. At 38 mm in diameter and 13 mm in height, this case isn’t too large and would look great on just about any size wrist.
The Seagull 1963 has a skeleton case with an exhibition window on the back. Exposed by the exhibition window, the movement carries through the color scheme from the rest of the watch; gold wheels are surrounded by silver and pops of color. Engraved around the edges on the back are more Chinese symbols, adding to the authenticity of this timepiece. 1963 is also engraved at the 6 o’clock position on the back.
The only potential flaw with the 1963 from Seagull is the strap. If you’re looking for a watch to wear in more formal settings, the green nylon NATO strap might not be ideal. While the green NATO strap is a more authentic look for this military chronograph and suitable for casual wear, a brown leather strap would also look great with the watch and potentially dress it up a bit. The simple act of replacing the strap could take this from something you can wear only some of the time to a great day-to-day watch.
Seagull 1963 Features
Military chronographs were created with purpose and functionality in mind, and the Seagull 1963 Chronograph is no exception. For accuracy, seconds and minutes indices run around the outer edge of the dial and using the pusher at the 2 o’clock position activates the chronograph. The sub-dial at the 3 o’clock position is the chronograph’s 30 minute timer. At the 9 o’clock position, there is also a running seconds counter, with a tiny spear style hand that matches the blue of the hour and minute hands.
This military style watch isn’t completely about function, however. One glance and that’s obvious. The domed sapphire crystal also adds a high-end touch that indicates exceptional style and quality. The 1963 proves that a watch doesn’t have to be Swiss to be a worthwhile investment.
Swiss movements dominate the high-end market due to their quality, but the Seagull ST19 is just as accurate and comes within +/- 10 seconds a day. Even though the movement doesn’t need to be Swiss to be impressive, this Seagull’s accuracy is actually based on the Swiss made Venus 175. In the 1960s, Venus sold the 175 parts to the manufacturer of the Chinese Airforce watches. The parts were used to create the 21 jewel movement, indicated by the “21 Zuan” printed on the dial just under the star detail.
As the 1963 is a mechanical chronograph, it requires hand winding. If you’re not looking for a watch to wear every day, you can rest easy that this one has a 45 hour power reserve when the chronograph is turned off. For something that you do want to wear every day, the beat frequency of 21,600 VPH hits that sweet spot of accuracy and durability. This military timepiece also has shock protection and is water resistant up to 30 meters for added protection.
Great addition to your collection
The Seagull 1963 Mechanical Chronograph Watch has touch of class and style not common to military watches. With a vintage design that has a modern feel, this is a great watch for all but the most formal occasions. The history and authenticity of this historic watch makes this a great collectors item and showpiece.