Socialist Movements

Revolutions in time: Production of cheap mechanical watches meant that millions of Chinese could own timepieces

European watchmakers are competing for lucrative slices of the China market, but not everyone in the world's fastest-growing economy is interested in a Chopard or a Blancpain. One small clique of collectors prefers to concentrate on homegrown brands — and they don't mean upscale makes. Their obsession is for mechanical watches produced by communist factories from the 1950s to the 1970s, and stems from a mixture of historical curiosity and opportunism. It's an area of collecting that has been barely explored, with no price barriers to entry.

Hong Kong native Joel Chan is one...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!