From Chinese Watch Industry Wiki
A mechanical chronograph is a spring and gear driven watch with both timekeeping and stopwatch functions. Among the most common mechanical chronograph watch movements are the ETA-Valjoux 7750, ETA 2892, Lemania 1873 and Poljot 3133.
Currently there are three Chinese mechanical chronograph calibre series currently in production:
The Liaoning and Shanghai calibres are both automatic and based on the design of the ETA-Valjoux 7750. As far as is known, both were developed in the 21st century. A popular informal designation for Chinese 7750-clones is '8850', although this is not used by either Shanghai or Liaoning.
The first 7750-clones were made by the Liaoning Watch Factory. They have a 21,600 bph escapement, and rotor assembly that differs visually from the ETA. There is a visually impressive, but ineffective micrometer regulator device. Some of the earliest examples of this movement were found in counterfeits of famous Swiss brands and gained a poor reputation for reliability. Later examples of this 21,600bph version seem to be more reliable. 28,800bph versions also believed to be from Liaoning have been seen in some watches. These generally lack the device on the regulator.
The Shanghai chronograph features a 28,800bph escapement, the same as the ETA 7750. It can be visually distinguished from the Laioning example by a cloverleaf-shaped shockproofing device. Unlike both the Liaoning and ETA movements, the Shanghai features this company's trademark 5 jewel clutch-wheel in the auto-winding module. The cosmetic finish of the plates is more elaborate than on the Liaoning chronographs, and the screws are usually blued.
Both factories currently offer a variety of sub-dial and calendar layouts mimicking some of the available variants of the ETA 7750. There is also a variant that mimics the layout of the Rolex Daytona, however this is achieved by an aftermarket module that is not from the same source as the base calibre and has extremely poor reliability.
The Sea-gull ST-19 is an entirely different beast. Most variants are hand-winding only, with a 21,600 bph escapement and column-wheel chronograph actuation. Its origins lie with the purchase in 1963 by the Tianjin Watch Factory of the calibre 175 from the Venus Watch Company, Switzerland, for use in a watch provided to pilots in the People's Liberation Army Air Force. A few short production runs were made in the 1960s. In the early 2000s the calibre was resurrected, with numerous detail upgrades, as the ST-19. Early examples of the new calibre found their way into counterfeit Omega Speedmasters and thus gained the erroneous informal designation 'Lemania-clone'.
Several sub-dial layouts have now been added to the ST19 range, as well as power-reserve indication. There is also a skeleton version. Other enhancements are in development. In competition with the Liaoning and Shanghai chronographs, the ST19 is now available as an automatic.
ST-19's are found in many brands in several countries e.g. Sea-Gull (China), Plazeon (Thailand), Riedenschild (Germany), Soyuz (Russia), Invicta (USA), & Haurex (Italy). The ST-19 is the only genuine column-wheel chronograph available in watches selling in the sub-$1000 range. It has a reputation as a robust movement as failures are rare.
On 29 Septamber 2008, Zhai Zhigang performed the first ever spacewalk by a Chinese taikonaut. He was wearing a Fiyta Spacemaster hand-winding chronograph. The use of a mechanical watch for EVA (extra-vehicular activity) is standard practice in all the world’s space agencies. Fiyta had already been awarded the supply contract for the first two Chinese manned space missions. The Spacemaster is the first watch built specifically for EVA.
Fiyta’s press release states that the Spacemaster movement is an in-house design made by Fiyta; a surprising development given that Fiyta have until now built their business on quartz watch production. Official photos show a movement visually similar to the ETA 7760, however the dial layout is unique in its pair of minute registers; one for 30 minutes and one for 45. The date function has been replaced by an AM/PM indicator.
Other unconfirmed reports claim that the watch movement originates from Shanghai, so it is possible that a Shanghai 3L base movement was extensively modified by Fiyta.
At this stage, the Fiyta mechanical chronograph movement is only available in the limited edition Spacemaster.
The 'Captain' chronograph
In the 1970s, the Fenglei Instruments Factory, Xian, produced chronograph watches for the military. A quantity of unused movements remained at the conclusion of the project. In recent years, Fenglei have resurrected those spare parts and assembled them into complete watches under the 'Captain' brand name. They are also selling uncased movements. The Fenglei 304 movement somewhat resembles the Valjoux 23 or 72, but with some design differences. As it is no longer being manufactured, it is to be presumed that when existing stocks are exhausted, production of the Captain chronographs will cease.