Culture > Time

The Cadisen C8212M is a mechanical chronograph that won’t break the bank

For the price of an entry-level automatic timepiece

Are you ready to wear a Chinese-made watch like you have accepted cars from China? PHOTO BY ED GERONIA

Since the 1950s when racing teams and drivers started using mechanical chronographs for their track time, chronographs and motorsports have been closely associated with each other. The finest Swiss-made models are the first to come to mind when thinking about racing chronographs. These watches are sought after by professional drivers, enthusiasts, and watch collectors. With prices going from a few hundred thousands to nearly P3,000,000, getting a Swiss-made mechanical chronograph on your wrist can be quite a daunting challenge if you don’t have the cash to spare.

To be honest, we would not have guessed that this was a Chinese watch if we had not been informed. PHOTO BY ED GERONIA

The Cadisen C8212M is a fully mechanical hand-wound chronograph that costs a mere fraction of the Swiss chronos with a price that’s closer to an entry-level Seiko automatic. If you’ve never heard of the brand, you are not alone. Cadisen is a watchmaker based in Shenzhen, China, known for its line of affordable homage watches. Cased in 316L stainless steel and powered by a Seagull ST1900 movement, the C8212M is a racing-inspired panda chronograph with a cream-colored main dial, orange hands, a tachymeter scale, 100m water resistance, and domed sapphire glass. The stitched leather strap has quick-release pins for changing straps without the need for tools. The finely decorated movement can be clearly seen from the exhibition caseback. When fully wound, the estimated running time is around 38 hours.

Er, have we told you that this is a Chinese watch? Yep, its decorated movement looks so much better than a Seiko. PHOTO BY ED GERONIA

As a little bit of horological history, the Seagull ST1900 mechanical chronograph movement, while fully made in China, has its roots from Venus, a now-defunct Swiss watchmaker. In the 1960s, the Tianjin Watch Factory bought the designs and the machinery for the Venus Caliber 175 movement. The company started to manufacture and use the movement when making chronographs for the Chinese air force in the mid-’60s. Since then, the movement—and its variations—has been known as the Seagull movement, which is used in several models manufactured in China.

This looks like a vintage chrono watch. PHOTO BY ED GERONIA

With a 13mm thickness, a 20mm lug width, and a 40mm dial diameter, the Cadisen is an incredibly compact watch, even for a mechanical one. As mentioned earlier, Cadisen is primarily a homage watchmaker, and the design of the C8212M seems to be inspired by two more well-known and more expensive watches. From the sides, including the two pushers, it bears resemblance to an IWC Ingenieur Chronograph. The side lugs and the profile are reminiscent of the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Chronograph.

In chrono mode, the Cadisen can measure up to 30 minutes, with the three-o’clock subdial displaying the elapsed minutes. The nine-o’clock sundial displays the running seconds in standard timekeeping mode. The watch retails for around P8,750 in online shops such as Lazada and Shopee.

Ed Geronia

Ed is a video game and IT journalist who served as editor-in-chief of GamesMaster Philippines and T3 Philippines. He'd ride a bicycle if he could.