The Chinese watch industry is primarily known for offering watches with little brand recognition and prestige but a whole lot of value for the money. Ask the average person in the Western world to name a famous Chinese watch brand and they might come up with a Japanese brand instead. Chinese watch companies manufacture many components and complete watches for many famous “Swiss” brands. They are even coming up with their own high end complications for a fraction of the price of their non Asian competition. Of course, they are the biggest world player in quartz movements and watches.
[Editors note: The use of ‘Chronometer’ is a little controversial with some under the impression that only COSC certified movements can use the label. In fact, it is only Swiss-made watches that are bound by COSC’s rules on the use of “chronometer”, IE: that it must be COSC certified. A non Swiss movement is not bound by those rules and the use of ‘Chronometer’ on a dial is not restricted for non Swiss-made watches. For a non Swiss watch it is interchangeable with ‘Chronograph’.]
The Megir brand was totally unknown to me until I ran across their watches for sale on Amazon. Megir is made by Shenzhen-Meigeer Watch Company Ltd of Guangdong. From what I have found, Guangdong is the volume watch manufacturing center of the world. Shenzhen-Meigeer also sells under their premium Nakzen brand, which is registered in Japan, and Ruimas, which is registered in Switzerland. All of these names and registration locations don’t mean much other than the company is trying to give their brands a non Chinese heritage with greater credibility and prestige. At one time, Megir was a high end brand equivalent to Nakzen, but now it is the company’s high volume, low price brand.
I noticed various Breitling Navitimer copies with the name Megir on it, so I knew the watch was not trying to be a Breitling, but just a homage of one. When you read the watch’s specs and look at the photos and the $30 price, you actually wonder if it’s possible to buy a decent quartz Breitling style chronograph for next to nothing. The watch shipped in a zip lock bag with a polishing cloth and sheet of paper for instructions and nothing else. No box or case, just a flat padded shipping envelope. There is zero presentation here!
The Megir is 46 mm in diameter, 24 mm strap lug width, about 12 mm thick and is 54 mm lug to lug. Water resistence is rated at 30 meters. The watch doesn’t hug your wrist at the lugs because the lugs turn down from the middle of the case, but it is very light and comfortable for it’s size. The case, lugs and Breitling style bezel appear to be chromed. The crocodile style chocolate brown leather strap has white stitching and tapers to 20mm with a brushed stainless steel signed buckle. I will likely change the buckle to a butterfly clasp. The flat, slightly raised crystal claims to be hardlex, which should be more scratch resistant than standard mineral crystal. The snap on chrome stainless steel identified case back is engraved with the company name and the watch model number, in a Chinese style font. There is a decorative design circling the case back as well.
There are three working subdials at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock responsible for 24 hour, chronograph seconds and chronograph minutes, respectively. There is a black on white date window at 4:30. The well detailed face is perfectly printed, which proves the technology is out there to do it and it does not have to be expensive. The beveled inner bezel is well finished as well. This bezel doesn’t turn like on a real Navitimer would, but frankly, who would actually need or know how to use it?
All three subdials have a wonderful fine guilloche pattern of concentric circles. The twelve points of the dial are marked with perfectly proportioned rectangular markers with two shorter parallel markers at 12 o’clock and three short single rectangles at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. All three subdials are chrome sword hands, as well as the lumed hour and minute hands. The running second hand is thin, chromed with a sword tail and has a very appropriate red arrow head tip. The 2 and 4 o’clock chromed pushers are as expected and the 3 o’clock chromed push pull gear edge crown is perfectly sized.
Inside is a Chinese quartz chronograph movement that I believe is made in house. I can’t find any information about the movement, but so far it’s been just a few seconds a week slow. The chronograph function works and resets by the 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock hands reversing to zero when the 4 o’clock pusher is used. The 4 o’clock pusher can also stop the second hand and restart where it continues, allowing the timing of two objects at once. The 9 o’clock cumulative minute subdial is only marked every five minutes, so it’s usefulness for accurate timing purposes is limited. The main second hand is somewhat misaligned, a common characteristic of quartz movements.
The real Navitimer, which there are many variations available, is a self winding 47 jewel, 28,800 vph, 70 hour reserve Swiss movement timepiece that costs at least $6,000. The Breitling crystal is sapphire, with a screw back and the bezel rotates. Oddly, the real Navitimer also receives a water resistance rating of only 30 meters. A real Navitimer is of the highest quality and the price reflects this. Of course, the presentation box for the Breitling is top notch as well. Breitling has a long and storied history dating back to 1884 and remains independent, despite rumors currently going around that the company is for sale.
Overall, I can’t imagine a quartz chronograph that offers more for less than the Megir, particularly when you consider it only costs about $30 on Amazon. If this is what they can do for $30, I really want to see what they can do for $100 or $200. This watch is a great example of a classic design that will impress anyone not into watch brand snobbery. www.meigeerwatch.com
Bert Kanne is a freelance contributor to MBWW with a love for well made dive watches and chronographs. All photos by Bert Kanne unless otherwise noted.