Not Haute Horlogerie but not too bad!
Earlier this week Aldi was offering for sale some automatic mechanical watches and also watchwinders for $79.99 each.
They advertised six different styles of watches, although some were the same model with a different dial colour.
My closest Aldi store opens at 8am and I arrived at 8.05 to find that all the watchwinders had gone (they must have only had a few available) and there were only a few watches still left. I bought one just for fun. They had all been sold when I left the store just before 8.15.
The model I purchased was in a stainless steel case of 39mm and had a silver dial. It was, of course, made in China. There was mineral crystal glass on the front and also the back of the watch so the movement could be seen. It was on a real leather band, but not croco or alligator which is hardly surprising at the price.
There was a big date in two windows at 12 o'clock and subdials for the month and the day at 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock respectively. These were all adjusted by pushers in the side of the case.
The movement was a hacking movement and surprisingly, the rotor and the plates were decorated, the rotor with an inner perlage pattern and a radial decoration on the outer edge. I have purchased Swiss watches in the $1,500 to $2,000 price bracket which have had no decoration so that was impressive.
Unlike some earlier Chinese watches I have seen, the date in the date window changed from 31 to 01 instead of continuing on to some random number like 55 before returning to 1.
It claimed, both on the package and on the back of the case to be a "limited edition" though of course that means very little without a number being specified, and in this case I would imagine think a large number.
I thought it was very good value at the price, but of course they are no longer available as Aldi's specials are mostly one-offs and they all sold. Not that it's so good that you would anyhow want to chase one. As I said at the head of this article, the watch is not haute horlogerie, but at the price it was being sold for it was not too bad!
If nothing else it indicated to me how good Chinese watchmaking has become when a timepiece like this could be purchased at such a low price. One wonders what the ex-factory price would have been!
It also shows what the Chinese are capable of manufacturing and how excellent knockoffs of premium brands can be manufactured to be sold at higher price points that are so good they sometimes fool the experts.
For your information, Aldi will offer a Smart Watch in their stores for $129 on Saturday 29 August. This is just to let you know and is not a recommendation. While it won't be as cool as an Apple Watch (I don't know why they didn't call it an iWatch) the model on offer supports both iPhones and Android phones and does more than most of the so-called Smart Phones do, many of which are only activity trackers. Apparently it can make and receive calls and messages, takes photos and videos, has Bluetooth and a micro USB port. It will be offered with an extra strap.
You can get more information on the Aldi web site but if you want to even see one, based on my experience with the offering of the mechanical watches, you will need to be at your Aldi store when they open their doors at 8am on 29 August. Again I stress that I am not recommending this!