Liaoning Watch Factory
From Chinese Watch Industry Wiki
The Liaoning Watch Factory, located in Dandong City, Liaoning Province, is one of China's biggest watch movement manufacturers with over 50 years experience. The range of movements made by the factory include hand-winding tourbillons, automatic chronographs and several variants of the Chinese Standard movement including skeleton and open-heart. Liaoning Watch Factory is a major supplier of movements to Million Smart Enterprises and other OEM companies.
The Liaoning Watch Factory was established in 1958 and the first watches branded 'Qianjin' (Forward) completed in 1960, of a design identical to the 1st Moscow Watch Factory calibre 2409, probably made on imported Soviet tooling. 'Liaoning' and 'Wannianqin' (Evergreen) branded watches followed, until the introduction of the 'HongQi' (Red Flag) in 1966 with the SL-2 movement built on imported Swiss tooling. The earlier SL-1 design continued in production at the Qiqihar Watch Factory. The SL-2 was upgraded to 21,600bph in the late 1960s. These earlier HongQi watches enjoyed an excellent reputation and continue to be sought after by collectors.
In the early 1970s, the Liaoning Watch Factory commenced production of a new watch series based on the Chinese Standard Movement, designated SL-3 and branded KongQue (Peacock). HongQi was retained as a second-tier brand but now also with the Standard movement. In the early 1980s an automatic KongQue watch was developed incorporating an auto module that brought the jewel count to 33. A special edition was released to the National Railways (Jing Tie). KongQue watches, both hand-winding and automatic were exported as 'Peacock' brand.
The export Peacock automatics were one response to the success of quartz watches, another was to begin selling movements to Hong Kong watch producers. The Liaoning 'ZLN' soon became one of the most commonly used Standard movements in the industry. However declining sales on the domestic market prompted development of a new product; something cheaper but with added value. The KongQue 'Sun & Moon' watch was introduced with a modern square case and a simple 24 hour disk turning counterclockwise at 6 o'clock. This watch was a commercial failure, and many unused examples continue to be available nearly 20 years later. The significance of this watch however is that it is an early example of the trends that continue to define mechanical watch production in China; that is, simple mechanical enhancements for maximum visual effect. Liaoning Watch Factory now boasts a wide selection of multi-calendar, skeleton and open-heart variants of the automatic Standard movement. Development of new variants is ongoing.
Early in the 21st century, Liaoning introduced China's first automatic chronograph, based on the design of the ETA 7750. Of even greater significance was the development of their tourbillon movement, which offers unrivalled value-for-money for such a complicated feature and has been a major successs in watches assembled by Million Smart Enterprises. This movment was even used for the 150th anniversary watch of the prestigious British Horological Institute. Swiss watch makers Cecil Purnell, for their first generation of watches, used an ebauche of the Liaoning tourbillon, finished in Switzerland with local content.
While Liaoning continue to produce some complete watches for OEM clients, the 'KongQue' brand has been consigned to history.