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Chinese watchmakers won't stop ticking


09:06, February 05, 2013

BEIJING, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Wang Jun, a salesman for the Tianjin Sea-Gull Watch Group Company, is proud of the watches his company manufactures, even if they aren't as well-known as their Swiss counterparts.

"Older Chinese watch brands like Sea-Gull have started to attract more attention from consumers," Wang said, adding that the shoppers tend to range in age from those born in the 1950s to younger customers who were born in the 1980s.

The People's Republic of China had no watch manufacturers in the early years following its founding in 1949. It was not until former Premier Zhou Enlai called for the creation of such companies that China's watchmaking industry began to take shape.

Four workers from northern city of Tianjin manufactured the first Chinese watch in 1955. Three years later, the Wuyi Watch Factory was founded, changing its name to Sea-Gull in 1973.

"Sea-gull has witnessed the progress of China's industrial prowess and represents precision machining," Wang said.

While most of Wang's customers are older people who have nostalgic feelings for the company's timepieces, younger people who wish to buy high-performance watches are starting to trickle in as well.

"A Swiss-made tourbillion watch costs over 200,000 yuan (32,107 U.S. dollars) while a similar domestic watch only costs 30,000 yuan," Wang explained.

To that end, Sea-Gull has worked to attract younger consumers by opening an account on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

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