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Welcome to /chinatime
, a huge community of over ten thousand
diverse people who share two things in common: The love of great-looking watches and being really fucking cheap. In most places those two things couldn’t co-exist together in the same place, but Chinatime isn’t most places; here those two things don’t just exist happily together, they are a way of life™.
Replica watches are a weird thing. People from /reptime
love the word "replica" and get butt-hurt when their $400 Rolex is called "fake". We can understand that, as those replica watches can truly be works of engineering themselves and can even be of the same quality as the pieces that inspired them. Here at Chinatime, though, we do not put on such airs. If our watches are fake-ass watches that cost less than some of my Uber trips, and that’s OK.
We could spend a lot more money on arguably better watches that look more like the originals, but there’s something truly rewarding about tracking down a treasure on Ali Express
or DH Gate
that looks close enough
to the genuine article for $50 that one simply can’t be found when ordering one of the master-class Reptime watches. Sure, one day I’ll have an ARF* or Noob Submariner that would fool my Rolex rep, but for now my U1 Submariner fools my Uber driver and parole officer, and for now that’s good enough for me. Oh, it keeps good time, too, which is nice.
(* There will not be a full glossary at the end of this piece explaining most of the terms we use in this sub to talk about our awesome reps, but explanations will be peppered throughout. "Arf" and "Noob" and "U1", for example, are all well-respected fake watch manufacturers in China.)
If you’re here to learn more about this world, then that’s great, because this interest in cheap rep watches that you have may turn into a hobby, which may then turn into an obsession. I’ve made friends on this subreddit because that’s what like-minded people do when they all become fans of the same thing, and we’re happy you’ve decided to learn more with us.
To get started it helps to know a bit about watches themselves, besides how they look. Most of the watches we talk about in this subreddit are what are referred to "automatic" watches. Most watches in the world are quartz, but for the most part they don’t carry much weight here, because most of the watches we’re interested in the fake-versions-of are automatics, not quartz. This is because quartz watches can literally be found in vending machines, but automatic watches have a degree of engineering and craftsmanship to them, even the cheapest of them. Also, most of the Swiss shit we can't afford are autos, as well.
An automatic watch is simply one that is wound by the person wearing the watch simply doing their shit. There’s no battery; instead there is a rotor that is connected to the mainspring of the watch. As the wearer does whatever the fuck it is they do all day, their movement moves the rotor, which acts as a pendulum, which winds the watch, and then it tells the user what time it is so they can get home in time to catch their wife in bed with their boss. These are the important matters we deal with.
Not all the watches we deal with here are autos, but the vast majority of them are. Quartz units are generally relegated to the chronograph copies (which means "watches that are also stopwatches that you’ll never actually use"), though there are a few non-chrono quartzes peppered here and there, but not many.
The rotor of an automatic watch is mounted on what’s called the movement of the watch. The movement is not the sweep of the seconds hand but rather the name for the guts of the watch itself — the gears, the springs, the cogs, and everything else that makes a watch keep time. It is arguably the most important part of a watch to consider when making buying choices, so knowing a few basics can really help you to make the right choice when it comes time to buy your first watch.
For example, a large percentage of the watches on Chinatime will be built around a fairly generic movement called the 2813. The 2813 is a Chinese clone of the Japanese Miyota 8205/8215 movement, which is to be found in a number of Citizen brand watches, as well as high-end Invicta divers and many, many more. The Miyota is a well-respected and sturdy movement, but the 2813 clones not so much. The most famous of these clones is the DG2813, though the rest are made by several factories in China. Because of this the quality varies from movement to movements and thus watch to watch, since there’s very little in the way of quality control when the Chinese factories make our watches for us. This is part of why they’re so cheap, and really part of the fun and charm.
Fun fact! There is an ETA2813 that is an actual Swiss movement, and the Chinese 2813 (often called a2813 where "a" means "Asia") may have started life as a clone of it, but it’s a Miyota clone now, so there we go.
So now you know what a movement is and why it’s important, but that’s not what you’re here to find. You’re here to find some timepiece that will act as either a panty-moistener or pants-tightener when you wear it around your town/school/cellblock/institution, and most people don’t care about the movement.
You probably instead already have a model of watch in mind that you’d like to find a cheap rep for, and there’s a really good chance that there’s at least some Chinatime-budget version out there for you. It’s just a matter of finding it, and that is where this subreddit shines, because chances are that some other cheap fuck had the exact same idea as you, and since so many of our users share their triumphs with the rest of us there’s a good chance you’re watch is linked to in one of the posts already here. I know most subreddits have a "search it first" mantra, and that’s because that shit works, so use it.
If your watch has been found and purchased before, and the users reported back here (which they should do, more on that later), then you can usually find in their post or comment a link to the watch they bought under the label of "W2C", which stands for "Want to cop", which is a weird phrase brought over from Chinatime’s big dickhead brother Reptime. Cop means to "get your hands on" and "want to" is something none of Harvey Weinstein’s victims ever said.
So you find the watch, find the W2C link, and then you’ll be taken to a place to buy the watch. Usually that place will be DHGate, (or The Gate,) a Chinese website that’s sort of a second home for us here. That’s because The Gate has about a thousand vendors selling about a couple hundred (at least) different rep watches at a variety of price points, meaning that you’ll probably be able to find your watch there at the price you want.
DHGate is hard to navigate for most of us because it’s a Chinese website in English and they do a very poor job of quality control when it comes to organization of products. This may be on purpose — selling fake versions of real watches violates international law, and by not making it easy to find a particular watch they get a bit of reasonable deniability when questioned by the authorities. But with some practice, patience, help from here, and luck, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for.
Fun fact! Buying replicas of real watches for a fraction of the price is understandably illegal in most countries, so all of us here are, technically, taking part in a huge act of fraud and/or larceny, you newly-minted criminal you. The good news is that Customs in most countries are far too busy with actual problems to really care about what we do here, so don’t sweat the whole petty felony thing too much.
So you’ve got your watch in mind, you’ve searched for the W2Cs on here and found a few, and even checked out the links on The Gate, which is awesome, because that means I’m doing a good job here. The next logical step is choosing which rep watch to get, and this is where things can get a bit tricky — not to mention sketchy.
This may surprise some of our more sensitive newcomers, but it has to be said: Not all of the vendors on sites like DHGate can be trusted! In fact, it’s best to assume that most of them are out to scam you, because it’s very easy to scam someone on the Internet from a completely different hemisphere, and it happens all the fucking time. But you don’t want it to happen to you, and neither do we, so this next part is for you: Do your fucking research.
There are a few vendors that we like to go to again and again (more on them later) because they are simply good to work with. Some of them might be a couple bucks more expensive here and there but it’s made up for with customer service and not getting your credit card charged for $2500 in the middle of the night in Hunan Province.
It’s worth noting that in Chinese culture there is (traditionally speaking) no such thing as "customer service". Our western notion of sales customs, where the vendor caters to the customer, is not universal, and certainly not the norm in parts of Asia. This is an important thing to keep in mind, as things don’t always go smooth, and acting like a total Karen will get your messages blocked and you’ll never get a resolution. Always be respectful (but not a sucker) and things will go a lot smoother.
When looking over the different offerings from the different vendors, the two most important things you can do are:
- Ask us for advice, such as "has anyone else here ever dealt with 'TittyBobbyJill20000057'?
- Check the customer reviews on the product you’re looking at!
As noted before, there are a lot of independent vendors on The Gate and the other sites, and chances are you’re not the first person looking for your particular watch, so learn from the mistakes and successes of those who came before you. Feel free to ask anyone here, and always — always! — check the customer reviews, especially if they have photos.
Fun fact! There are a few search terms you can use to find the watch you want since you generally can’t find them via their actual brand names because that just becomes blatant counterfeiting, and we can’t have that. For Omegas, search for "co-axial"; for Rolex, search for the model number; for Tag Heuer sports watches, search for "I have no taste in anything and will die alone". Try it out yourself!
This is because very often the photos of the watch you see on the DHGate listing is not a photo of the actual watch you’ll be receiving
. Often it’s the genuine (or "gen") article in the photos, presumably to help shoppers find what they want. They will often have pictures of the actual units they sell mixed in, so check those, but make sure to check for photos of received units in the reviews, as these are unfiltered and unmoderated feedback directly from and to customers like you. It’s a great tool that will save everyone a lot of grief and headache if used correctly.
In addition, reputable vendors are often happy to send you photos of the actual watches themselves if there are none in the reviews. Add to that the fact that we love doing our own reviews here, and you’ll be in good shape to buy the watch you want from a trusted seller and be very happy with it.
This, though, is where things get tricky. Since sites like DHGate and AliExpress are in China, not every bank or credit card vendor will work to place your order, so make sure that you have at least two different accounts to try from. In addition, keep in mind that there are sophisticated hacker-bros in China that would love nothing more than have access to a foreign credit card that works in their country easily. For my own purchases, I use my CapitalOne credit card via their Eno system which generates a one time "burner number" for each of my transactions. See if your cards or bank offer the same kind of thing if at all possible.
If you’ve found your watch, and you’ve found your vendor, and made your purchase, then you should have your watch — sometime in the distant future.
Cheap quality watches are cheap by skimping on a few things, and one of those things is fast shipping. Most watches include free shipping, (via China’s EMS or ePacket servieces,) but that free shipping can take a long fucking time. It’s not uncommon for watches to take a month and a half to arrive, so if you’re in a hurry to get something for a certain event, like a court date, use one of the paid services (DHL, etc.) to get it faster. But keep in mind that you still might be in for a wait, because that’s how things in China work.
Some sellers are faster than others, and your research here should tell you which are known for fast shipments, so it’s worth taking into consideration when making your choice.
Sometimes, though, things happen, and it’s far too common for things to go wrong on the shipment part.
Fun fact! Chinese people are a lot like you, only way more broke and oppressed. The average person there makes about $15k a year. The few bucks they make off of selling fake watches to the rest of the world is real money to them, so if things go wacky don’t automatically assume that you’re being scammed, just be aware that they’ll also do anything they can to not have to issue a refund, so be willing to work with them.
If your watch gets seized by customs then you’ll get a letter. Ignore it, tell your vendor, and they’ll generally send you a new one. This kind of thing is factored into their prices as the cost of doing business.
If your tracking number shows your watch going somewhere far away that’s not you, there are a few reasons why this can happen. If you’re shipping with DHL you should know that they often recycle waybill numbers (I’m not kidding, it just happened to me). It’s also possible the vendor just mixed up your tracking number with someone else’s, which is also common. Or, also too common, your vendor is trying to scam you. Do not let them off the hook.
Every case is different, so we won’t attempt to tackle a "how to" on dealing with problems like this on sites like The Gate, but enough people here have been through it that they’ll be happy to help you navigate it, since we hate when those fuckers try stuff on any of us.
So let’s say you’ve managed to not fuck up all of the above. That means that your watch has arrived and you’re stoked, and you should be! The process isn’t the easiest, but the reward is worth it.
Wear your watch. Get to know it. Maybe you’ll need to re-size the bracelet (we can help walk you through that) or something’s wrong with it (that, too), or maybe you need to brag to some people (that would be us). That is why we do ask that you share it with us. (Don’t forget the lume shot!
Take photos, videos, post a review, post a W2C link, and answer any questions others may have, because you were only successful because others pass on their knowledge to you, and it would be good to show the other newcomers how it works. It’s part of what makes this subreddit more than just a place to get links and instead a place that’s genuinely fun to waste time on.
We’re glad you’ve decided to take the morally ambiguous step towards becoming a Chinatime bro or bro-ette (for there are more rep-ladies here than one might think) and welcome you to the world of like-minded cheapskates who would still like to enjoy build quality and the classical aesthetics that go along with world class timepieces.
Let’s answer some questions that we get on here a lot! Fun! Q:
I see the watches on DHGate, but they’re missing the logos
. Will the watch I get have the logo? A:
Unless otherwise stated in the listing, you bet. The reason that they don’t show the logo in most of the photos is because by not showing them then they have plausible deniability when the authorities come knocking on their door, which happens from time to time. Without the logo, they’re selling "homages", which is fine. If a logo accidentally falls off the back of a truck and ends up on your faux Patek, then, ya know, oops and shit. Q:
I want to buy something cheap to start with to get used to things. What’s the best watch I can get for $XXX? A:
As stated above, nearly every watch has multiple grades available from different vendors. The Rolex Submariner is probably the most-replicated watch in the world
, being that it’s such an iconic status symbol all over the globe. On DHGate you can find them for as little as $12 for a half-plastic quartz shitter, all the way up to $700 clones that are almost completely identical in every way to the original. Not all watches have good cheap versions, but some do. Omega’s Planet Oceans
and Seamaster 300s
have both inspired rather cheap reps in the $26-32 range that are surprisingly good for the money and make great choices for first-time buyers. (I still wear my $28 Planet Ocean
on the regular because it’s a really great watch, period.) Q:
? Why not just merge with /Reptime
For the most part, Chinatime deals with watches in the $30-$120 area, and anything above that goes to the snobby dudes over in Reptime (JK, fellow rep-bros! Love you too!). Their focus is far more on the complete replications and 1:1 cloning of watches, and some of that shit is fascinating. Expensive, sure, but fascinating. Since most (but by no means all) Chinatime reps aren’t in that neighbourhood of sophistication this subreddit was spun off to be it’s own thing. That said, I’d be surprised if more than ten percent of the people subscribed to Chinatime aren’t also subscribed to Reptime. Q:
Am I going to go to jail? A:
Not for this, but probably for that other stuff. You need to learn how to delete your browser history. Q:
Shut the fuck up and tell me where I can find a XXX! A:
First off, fuck you. Second off, no, I won’t, but SvB78
made this fantastic set of entries
that should get you started
because he’s a great guy like that. Or girl. It’s the Internet and I don’t want to make any assumptions here. Q:
Did Epstein kill himself? A:
How long will my cheap fake watch last? A:
That’s a great question and one that could be a whole post this long on its own. In short, it depends, which I know is not a satisfying answer. There are a couple things to consider, namely "what movement is it?" and "was it put together well?"
If you’re rocking a 2813-based model, it can be a crap shoot. I’ve had three U1 Submariners. My first one broke (my fault) so I ordered a second. It froze after a week. I ordered a third and it’s sturdy like a well-trained horse and should last awhile. These all use the 2813 movement mentioned above.
I also have an Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre clone that I got on the cheap that has a Tongji (or Chinese "unified") movement, one of the most bare-bones and cheap mechanical movements out there, and it’s not missed a beat in nearly a year. (This watch is a good watch, but a bad, bad rep.
So, again, there’s no easy answer for your question. Your best bet is to ask your fellow Chinatimers here. Q:
I can’t seem to find the watch I want. What do? A:
If you have a vendor you like then feel free to message them and ask if they can find it for you. It’s not hyperbole to say that every popular luxury watch on the market right now likely has a rep available, so feel free to ask. Q:
So do I now know everything I need to know to Chinatime right? A:
You know enough to get started, and thanks for using Chinatime like a verb. That was cute.
There’s more than can be found from Reptime, though how much of it is applicable to Chinatime is up for debate. Q:
Will I be a fraud if I walk around with a fake-ass Rolex or Patek on my wrist? A:
Yeah, but you’ll be a dope-looking fraud, so who cares?
As a general tip, keep your luxury within reason. It would make sense for a person with a half-way decent job to afford an Omega Seamaster or a Longines, but if you’re attending community college and sporting an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore
then you’d best believe that you’re going to need a really fantastic explanation for how you got it, which may need to include a whole backstory that involves cocaine, hookers, a crime spree, an unfortunate night at a Thai brothel, cocaine, a stolen pickup, a Canadian gigalo that goes by "Mr. Mountie", and cocaine. Q:
Can I get a watch from China and sell it to my local pawn shop/on craiglist/to my idiot brotheanyone else? A:
You might be able to pass it off to someone else as the real thing to make money, but that would be a total dick move. We may be breaking international law here in Chinatime, but we’re not fucking assholes. Q:
WTF is a [insert unknown watch term]? A:
This Q&A isn’t exhaustive, and there is a lot to know in the world of watches. I recommend spending some time in /watches
as well as /reptime
, but if I were you I’d be careful about even speaking about /chinatime
, as I got banned for a week for doing that, because those guys are fucking touchy. Q:
I just got my first XXX! It looks great! I’m going to go to /XXX
and show it off! A:
Don’t get cute. If you have even the best Submariner you can get from the ranks of Chinatime and try to show it off on /Rolex
then you’ll be banned faster than the Astros can cheat at baseball, and you’ll also bring unwanted attention onto our own little cheap-and-shiesty corner of the internet. Don’t do that shit. Q:
Can I buy a used watch from one of you dudes who seem to know what you’re doing? A:
Sure! We offer trades and sales here often, and "I’d like to buy a used XXX" aren’t uncommon, but chances are someone will have something you want that’s maybe even been improved, so feel it out. Q:
Wait, improved? You can make these less-sucky? A:
Absolutely. Do yourself a favor and get a basic watch repair kit from Amazon for like $15. You can use the tools for basic maintenance — such as resizing the bracelet or regulating the balance wheel. You can also use it if your 2813 breaks down and you’d rather replace it than buy a new one. It's not that hard with the help of youtube
I tried to regulate it and I broke it! Fuck you! A:
It’s not my fault you’re a butterfingers. Order another $50 watch, you cheap-but-classy bastard.
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