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Always"watching"

SKMEI Watches: Difficult to Ignore

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If you are, like me, aware of what is going on at the lower end of the watch market, then you may have noticed the recent expansion into the UK of the Chinese watch brand, "SKMEI". If you are not cognisant of this company then I shall enlighten you, and given that I spent the huge sum of £10 on two SKMEI analogue-digital watches in order to write this topic, I hope you will find such enlightenment interesting. Actually, this watch company is becoming increasingly noticeable and has recently expanded away from its former image of merely making cheap "imitations" of Casio G-Shock watches. SKMEI takes an unusually "bullish" approach to promotion, and it is rather novel to find a company that wears much of its business on its sleeve, so to speak.

A year ago, Isghj posted a question on reddit.com/r/watches asking, "Are SKMEI watches worth anything?", and at that time the inevitable reply from one postee was that the watches were knock-offs of Casio G-Shock watches. Nevertheless, another respondent said the following, "I bought an SKMEI for 9 dollars, and it keeps time better than my Seiko 7s26, and the EL backlight is lovely. ... All in all, it's the most interesting watch I've gotten for under $10." And I must admit that I do concur with this respondent, NoPanfakeMix (yes, that's his moniker) in the sense that the cheap analogue-digital and digital SKMEI watches are ludicrously cheap and perfectly functional. Mind you, they tend to be big, and yes, there are some that do imitate their betters. But for about a fiver, you can't really do better in terms of value for money, for a watch that one can wear without ANY concern that it might get damaged.

 

A representative ten US dollar SKMEI analogue-digital watch with 50 metre WR (though it is probably wise not to press any buttons while the watch is wet) and steel bracelet (pic from gearbest.com):

1395859929621-P-1528590.jpg

 

So, who is SKMEI? Well, the company is proud to give a considerable amount of information about itself - both on its own website and on en.alibaba.com - meaning that we can at least compile a decent company profile. And the first thing in the firm's favour, as far as I am concerned, is that SKMEI is an actual manufacturer of watches and not just a company that brands and markets watches. That is not to say, however, that SKMEI doesn't actually market watches made by other companies, and the firm is listed as both a manufacturer and a trading business.

The full title of SKMEI is, "Guangzhou SKMEI Watch Co., Ltd." and the description given by SKMEI of its business states that they, "specialize in producing various types of multifunctional diving electronic watches, LED electronic watches, heart rate watches, voice and time table watches, dual movement quartz watches, art desk clocks and sports watches." Also, the company prides itself on its testing facilities and after sales service, as well as value for money and fashion sense. SKMEI was founded in 2010, with headquarters in Guangdong, mainland China, and it has already garnered a wealth of watch types within its remit, either manufactured by the company or sourced from outside.

In terms of exports, geographically speaking, SKMEI is happy to provide a breakdown of its market operations. According to the firm, their products are exported to Europe, the United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan. and elsewhere. The breakdown reveals that 40% of SKMEI watches are sold in the domestic Chinese market, with another 30% or so going to the United States. Eastern Asia, Western Europe, and Oceania take up much of the remaining exported watches, with other parts of the world having only a small uptake.

A SKMEI "classic" is this stealth-aircraft styled digital watch, found both under the SKMEI brand and other brands, in different colourways,  and variously (cheaply) priced (pic from dhgate.com):

201311180858352391.jpg

 

In terms of its manufacturing capabilities, the latest SKMEI figures for 2015 reveal the following:

The factory, based in Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province, is 1000-3000 square metres in floor area and has 5 production lines. There are between 51 and 100 people employed in total, including a small group of quality controllers and a group of under 5 people engaged in research and development. Interestingly, the trading section of SKMEI only employs between 3 and 5 people and the company as a whole is still rated as having an annual sales volume below US$1m.  A closeup view of manufacture and sale of one particular SKMEI watch model shows just how large the scale of operation can be even with a limited number of people and factory resources available, so let us look at a "main product" of SKMEI, one of their digital sports fashion watches, with ABS case, PU strap, 50 metres stated WR, alarm, auto date, chronograph and day/date features. This watch, is supplied wholesale with a minimum order of 200 pieces, and the maximum supply ability is, staggeringly, 300,000 pieces per month. The FOB price for this model is stated to be $5.18 to $10 (US) per piece, presumably depending on how many are ordered, and it is therefore not surprising that one of these watches can cost well under a tenner over here.

Within a remarkably short space of time, the range of SKMEI branded watches has become staggeringly large, especially when one considers that the company as a whole seems to be relatively small. And of course, it almost goes without saying, given the nature of the Chinese watch industry, that SKMEI offers not only OEM service but also offers both a design service and "Buyer label" whereby other watch companies can brand and market watches made by SKMEI as their own. The list of watch types on the SKMEI website runs as follows: Dual time watch, Digital sport watch, Quartz Watch, Kids Watch, Automatic Watch, Stainless steel watch, LED Watch, LCD Watch, LCA Watch, Solar Watch, Promotion watch, and Special Function Watch (capitals as in list), and of course there are different models and colourways for many of these types.

 

A rather attractive blue-dial SKMEI quartz watch with 40mm case, hardlex crystal, stainless steel case, genuine leather strap, and 30 metre WR. This watch costs just over US$20 whixh would seem to be a bit of a bargain - other colourways are available - (pic from alicdn.com):

SKMEI-9083-Luxury-Brand-Watches-clock-fa

 

As stated above, the number of different watch models branded and sold by SKMEI is considerable, and it is not clear which of these, and how many, are actually manufactured by the company. I would estimate that the digital LED and LCD watches, as well as the analogue-digital models, are for the most part manufactured by SKMEI themselves, but when it comes to the traditional analogue watches, including chronographs and mechanical automatics, the situation is less clear. My feeling is that these may more frequently be bought in (though perhaps with design input from SKMEI), branded and then traded out. When it comes to automatic watches, the SKMEI range is branded, "Umeishi", and these include traditional three-hand with date window models and those with a tourbillon-style balance wheel in the dial. Unlike the other SKMEI products, the mechanical watches do not conform to the bargain basement prices of many of the company's other watches. A three-hand/date window automatic with stainless steel case, for example, will set you back about US$200, and the tourbillon-style watch shown here below will probably cost more than that. If the stated specifications hold good, and certainly at least some of the automatic watches utilise a 21-jewel Miyota movement, then the mechanical SKMEI watches still represent fair value for money. I should just mention here that some quartz analogue watches are also branded "Umeishi", and this name seems to be reserved for SKMEI offerings of a more expensive breed, including a rather nice steel-cased quartz chrono which I illustrate here immediately below:

 

SKMEI "Umeishi" Q009 stainless steel chronograph watch with Swiss quartz movement, sapphire crystal and 100 metre WR (some sites give 30m). This is one of my favourite SKMEI watches, and it is variously priced between about $75 and $140 US dollars (pic from alicdn.com):

HTB1ikE2HpXXXXXjXVXXq6xXFXXXv.jpg

 

Umeishi automatic watch with tourbillon-style balance wheel and complications. This watch is stated as coming from the SKMEI factory, and its specifications are apparently quite good. It is described as being of 316L stainless steel with sapphire crystal, Japanese movement, and 100 metre WR (pic from alicdn.com):

HTB1Y_kBGXXXXXXqXFXXq6xXFXXXb.jpg

 

 

As far as watch collecting is concerned, I would not pretend that SKMEI watches are likely to become popular, at least in the short term, and I have no illusions that the company's watches represent the art or craft of watchmaking. It is true that there are people, like myself, mad enough to deliberately include a few SKMEI watches in their collections, and a few more collectors might decide to buy an SKMEI "Umeishi" automatic, but by and large, it would seem that SKMEI caters for the "general" market. And that is not to decry the watches made and/or produced by this interesting company. SKMEI is an example of a firm that essentially "tells it like it is" with no attempt to pretend a heritage or link itself with something more glorious. If one wants an inexpensive but perfectly acceptable watch then SKMEI are happy to provide one, and not just a choice from few but a choice from many different types and models. In fact, some SKMEI watches are surprisingly attractive, and perhaps one scoffs at one's own expense, especially since the firm seems to now be making more inroads in the UK, most notably when it comes to their more traditional analogue watches. Finally, may I just say that my own two £5 analogue-digital SKMEI watches are both working fine, though, I am afraid to admit, one of them is a bit of a G-Shock knock-off.

 

SKMEI quartz chronograph recently being sold by dealdey.com in Nigeria for equivalent of £22.50 (pic from s3.amazonaws.com):

Skmei-Multifunction-Chronograph-Watch.jp

 

SKMEI 2080 day/date/24 hour display watch with Japanese quartz movement and 30 metre WR. Hardened resin crystal, alloy case and genuine leather strap (pic from alicdn.com):

HTB1X.wiGVXXXXaRXVXXq6xXFXXXh.jpg

 

 

 

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Guest Bruce

i good write up as usual Honor, but i have a thing about trash being transported around the world with huge damage to the environment, these are not IMHO, of any value short or long term and when looking at them all i can think is : yeeesh :scared: ....its easy for manufacturers of crap to make happy clappy pictures of their products, but they will disappoint :yes:

sorry, dont mean to trash your topic :sorry:

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Good read as ever Honor. I quite like digitals so will explore these a little further myself. I've always been a little distrusting of quartz analogues. It's good they use Miyolta, some assurance over the quality.

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Guest Bruce
25 minutes ago, Muddy D said:

Good read as ever Honor. I quite like digitals so will explore these a little further myself. I've always been a little distrusting of quartz analogues. It's good they use Miyolta, some assurance over the quality.

problem is, if you look at the sub dials, not one of them is a chronograph, just made to look like one so completely pointless

Q009 described as swiss quartz movement, it says japan movement on the dial

the others are are day/date 24 hr movements and i will eat my hat if any are actually genuine miyota movements

i think a lot of these cheap chinese watches are designed specifically for sale on eBay and Amazon, i doubt any other retailer would touch them

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Now Bruce, be kindness personified - - at least SMKEI are not producing $20 knock-offs of ROLEX and the likes for large dark chaps to peddle on the streets of Benidorm and other European street markets. :yes:

There will always be a market for tat - - well as long as my generation is around, and a lot of folks (enough at least) to justify moving cheapies around the world, whether you have a thing about the moving of them or not, and SMKEI seems to be (by comparison) a legitimate company, not producing anything that promises much other than a very inexpensive timepiece that personifies "you get what you pay for" :blind:

The blue one Honor posted is very vaguely reminiscent of a SKAGEN in it's dial and design, probably influenced by that perhaps subconsciously, but it's NOT a Skagen, it's being sold as their product - - I have said a number of times on the forum that I wish more Chinasian companies would do this and try to build up a brand and reputation, even if it is at the bottom end of the "food chain"

Now! my handbag is ready Bruce, but I do have broad shoulders - - :whistling:

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Guest Bruce
9 minutes ago, mel said:

Now! my handbag is ready Bruce, but I do have broad shoulders

no handbag required, its all opinions, my issue is with the sheer quantity of utter sh*t that china is churning out, not just watches.its all landing in the western world and that's our fault for buying it.......... nothing against Honor..again all opinions.

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"SKMEI Watches: Difficult to Ignore"

 

I thought it was quite easy........:)

 

 

Edited by Garry
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If Skmie is ripping off other watches, then most of the originals must be as truly ugly.:laugh:

The Visodate is an exception.:wink:

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10 minutes ago, RWP said:

My wife helps me ignore watches......even for a tenner :)

What, you give her a tenner to help you ignore watches? Mrs Mel always seems to want more than that for anything I ask her to do :bash:

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1 minute ago, mel said:

What, you give her a tenner to help you ignore watches? Mrs Mel always seems to want more than that for anything I ask her to do :bash:

Worse......every time I buy a watch Bozenka buys something, clothes, whatever, for about the price of the watch, in the name of fairness:watch:

Effectively my watches cost me double...woe is me!

 

 

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Guest Bruce
8 minutes ago, RWP said:

Worse......every time I buy a watch Bozenka buys something, clothes, whatever, for about the price of the watch, in the name of fairness:watch:

Effectively my watches cost me double...woe is me!

 

 

have you not tried the old..."what ..that one? nah ..had it for ages..you've seen it already" :laugh:

Edited by Bruce

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Just now, Bruce said:

have you not tried the old..."what ..that one? nah ..had it for ages..you've seen already" :laugh:

I just say I've changed the strap, it works surprisingly well. Most of the time, that's what I've done anyway.:wink:

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3 minutes ago, Bruce said:

have you not tried the old..."what ..that one? nah ..had it for ages..you've seen it already" :laugh:

Works every time for me.

1 minute ago, Stan said:

I just say I've changed the strap, it works surprisingly well. Most of the time, that's what I've done anyway.:wink:

As does this.

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  • Yup she can't tell a Timex from a Tissot  but she can spot a new one from a hundred paces.  Probably because I stop changing watches three times a day for a while :blind:
Edited by RWP
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Loved the article, very well presented and a good read. I do believe that you get what you pay for quality wise. Saying that ,as long as your aware that it may not last very long  then knock yourself out..if its a fun bright colour modern style or what may be a mirror image of a high end classic. its your money so enjoy it..

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Well, that is quite a bunch of replies, and some could be said to be a bunch of fives in my face.:laugh:  Actually, since I have nothing invested in SKMEI and regard them for what they are - a company making and branding very inexpensive watches for a low-end market, with no pretensions to be anything else - I rather revel in the criticisms that are engendered by my topic.

The fact that watches made by SKMEI sometimes look, on first sight, like watches from higher in the market, is NOT the same as an attempt to pass off the watches as being made by more exclusive watch companies; when made and sold by SKMEI, they are clearly marked with the SKMEI brand name, and anyway, a cursory examination of the products would reveal that these are not high-end watches.

I suppose what I do find difficult to accept, and never will, is that a forum discussing watches should condemn companies who make their watches to sell to the less well-off sections of the community, or make their watches to be more of a short-term accessory. Like other members, I love and respect watches that are built with care and designed to last, and I write about such companies just as I write about lower-end companies. The point is that watches are watches, and there is a place in the world for all sorts of watches at all sorts of price levels. My analogue-digital SKMEI watches are perfectly decent models, and are very useful for general work-wear. Indeed, for a fiver each, these are a good value product.

I am not going to go into the question of how eco-friendly it is for companies to ship watches round the world because I do feel there might be a bit of hypocrisy involved in this argument. However, the remarks made contesting as to whether the watches I have discussed are specified correctly need to be addressed. I do acknowledge that there is a problem with some models in obtaining a consistent list of specifications and I have done my best to provide accurate comments. But the remarks from Bruce that SKMEI chronograph watches have fake subdials is just plain wrong! I have to correct you on this, dear Bruce, because you are apparently confusing those SKMEI fashion models that have fake subdials with SKMEI analogue watches that have functioning subdials of chronograph or calendar complication. Also, I can confirm that at least some, if not most, SKMEI automatic watches DO contain Miyota 21-jewel automatic movements, and as for the Umeishi quartz chrono I illustrate above, the movement has a functioning chronograph movement, and it may be Japanese. However, even if it is a Japanese rather than a Swiss movement, the watch is likely to work well, and full marks to you for noting the "Japanese movement" legend on the dial, and full marks to SKMEI for their honesty in marking the watch correctly.

As a final remark concerning your somewhat hasty condemnation of SKMEI, Bruce, I would be a bit cautious about claiming that no retailer would touch SKMEI watches. The fact is that many SKMEI watches undoubtedly end up in the hands of other companies who brand and market watches as being their own products. The nature of the Chinese watch industry is such that most Chinese companies making watches or watch components rely upon outsourcing their products to other firms, who then put their own "stamp" on them. I would therefore not be surprised to find some of the better quality SKMEI watches  in a retail or jewellery store context, online or otherwise, bearing a different name and being sold at a considerable margin over the original SKMEI price.

May I thank all of you who have contributed to this thread. It is always good to have a lively discussion.:)

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A fair response AW but I will have to politely disagree with you. 

The buyers of a skmei watch are, in the majority, probably unaware of the more expensive watch that skmei has stolen from and, as such, are passing off as their own. 

So, the likes of Longines, Tissot, et al invest time and money to design, develop and market products from scratch only for companies like this to steal that hard work, produce a far inferior copy and pass off as their own to make a quick buck. 

They've exploited others hard work and, no doubt, those that have spent a few quid on their tat.

Now, I do have a kemmner bund in today's Sunday watch thread...but that's another matter! 

:laugh:

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Guest Bruce
44 minutes ago, Always"watching" said:

the remarks from Bruce that SKMEI chronograph watches have fake subdials is just plain wrong! I have to correct you on this, dear Bruce, because you are

 

44 minutes ago, Always"watching" said:

calendar complication. Also, I can confirm that at least some, if not most, SKMEI automatic watches DO contain Miyota 21-jewel automatic movements, and as for

excuse the mess above.

i disagree about the chrono functions on those watches, they are designed to deceive, there is no need for a chronograph case on a watch that is not a chronograph, these non chrono functions can and are regularly controlled by a single crown.

my issues is not just cheap watches, it is with all the trash that comes out of china, this is no condemnation of china, on the contrary they are just providing what the west appear to want or need, but to say they are being made for the less well off sections of the community is in my opinion wrong, they are made purely and simply to make a profit ...no other reason and the other thing to remember: do you think they have employment laws and national minimum wages in China or most other places in Asia? the thing about these countries is they have a very basic class system..people are either very very wealthy or very very poor, rarely will you find any middle class. so how i see it is: the very wealthy export rubbish to the western countries, we are left to dispose of it when it inevitably goes wrong and our countries are then contaminated with the detritus that no body needed in the first place, the poor sods that made it in the factories are still poor sods, nothing is gained and plenty is lost, China controls the rare metals market which in turn has effect on everything else in the world even down to how much a plumber charges for a bit of copper pipe, its total madness and there is, in my opinion, no defense for it all.

and Honor please don't kid your self that there is ANY quality in SKMEI watches, i also doubt very much if they really use a Miyota 21 jewel movement, it is probably the biggest lie in china, the DG2813 is a miyota clone and is the most used movement in cheap watches AND fakes, they are unmarked in any way and cannot be traced to an individual factory and they can also be classed as fakes,  i also doubt very much if any one would buy them to rebrand although happy to be proven wrong, a lot of these companies in China started out making parts and components and have moved into manufacturing their own watches which is not always a good idea.

i have been to Guangdong China albeit a few years ago now which is one of the biggest watch manufacturing areas in China and it would shock you to see what they got up to, a lot of these makes popping up now don't have a very good history and the less said the better, but Honor dont take offence if i or anyone else disagrees with you, i have my views you have yours.................B

P.S there was no "hasty" condemnation, i held these views long before you wrote yours:thumbsup:

10 minutes ago, KrispyDK said:

A fair response AW but I will have to politely disagree with you. 

The buyers of a skmei watch are, in the majority, probably unaware of the more expensive watch that skmei has stolen from and, as such, are passing off as their own. 

So, the likes of Longines, Tissot, et al invest time and money to design, develop and market products from scratch only for companies like this to steal that hard work, produce a far inferior copy and pass off as their own to make a quick buck. 

They've exploited others hard work and, no doubt, those that have spent a few quid on their tat.

Now, I do have a kemmner bund in today's Sunday watch thread...but that's another matter! 

:laugh:

couldn't agree more

Edited by Bruce

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Dear all. Please understand that I NEVER get offended by members expressing views that are contrary to my own. I am well-aware that I can be a bit of a maverick, and I don't apologise for this, because without a wide approach to watches, the forum might become a bit staid.:)

Also, please note that I am under no illusions about the nature of the Chinese watch industry. Mind you, I reckon you would find a good number of gremlins lurking in the watch industry pertaining to other countries, including Switzerland.

Now, just to reveal my references concerning automatic movements in the SKMEI Umeishi mechanical watches:

The multi-function mechanical watch I illustrated in my topic is rather "Chinese" in style and does have a Chinese movement. I did suspect that this might be the case and I therefore was careful in my description of the stated specifications. However, it seems that the majority of the Umeishi mechanical watches are powered by Miyota automatic movements, and I show the backs of two such watches:

(pic from alicdc.com):

HTB1LYBiGXXXXXbdaXXXq6xXFXXXl.jpg

 

(pic from alicdc.com):

HTB1r5a6HVXXXXc3XpXXq6xXFXXXA.jpg

 

I think that I am now beginning to lose the will to live.:)

I do my best within my capabilities and the available material to be accurate, and I should just remind people that my topic was a look at one Chinese manufacturer and trader of inexpensive wristwatches. This was not meant to be a thorough expose of Chinese industry practices, nor an undercover critique of SKMEI watches. I therefore hope I have now covered all bases in replying to members who have been kind enough to post on this thread. I have never claimed to be the world's greatest expert on watch movements, and therefore am reliant on information and illustrations supplied in the available literature for the movement origins and specifications I provide in my topics.

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Again, I'd be skeptical of a company that goes so far as to steal others marketing material and (badly) photoshop their own product on to the models wrist (upside down!), to pass off as their own...

HTB1Y_kBGXXXXXXqXFXXq6xXFXXXb.jpg

Have they also photoshopped another's movement into their product...hmmm...?

HTB1r5a6HVXXXXc3XpXXq6xXFXXXA.jpg

 

 

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Guest Bruce

with respect Honour [ spelt right ? ] i don't believe for one second they are genuine Miyota movements, why, when surrounded by probably millions of clones/fakes would a chinese manufacturer [ who probably makes movements] use Miyota? makes no sense, i may be wrong [ wouldn't be the first time]but chinese company profiles, web pages and adverts are probably the most unreliable on the planet,not only are you dealing with a language barrier, but dare i say..the odd lie or two maybe?

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