Shanghai Brand Watch

If you ran things in sixties China, only one watch came along for the ride. Sported by Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai, The Shanghai Watch Company was the brand that told elite Communist Party officials what time it was. Men would check your wrists as they shook your hands. Women would glance to decide if you were worth talking to. Because of the limited supply, a Shanghai watch meant power. There was a well known saying that no girl would marry you if you didn’t have a Shanghai watch.

I came across Shanghai brand watch when I was doing research on China state run factories, I was fascinated by the story that one day sitting my friend MC Tang King down in my desk, who is looking for his ideal watch… we sat down in the geekiest way and we found this model that we both really like, Tang King was so stoned by the time he saw this and determines to get hold of it, but the factory stop producing this model since 1980. We got on Taobao ( Chinese Ebay ), and that’s how my whole obsession started…

Set up in 1955, the Shanghai Watch factory has produced over 120 million watches. Still in its original location, it has remained constant as the world moved on. Nothing digital is allowed in. It’s a place of pipes, valves, dials, rubber tubing, heavy machinery. And human precision. These days it’s a little run down, a bit shabby, but the workers continue to craft these legendary watches with pride.

I visited the factory four times, every time I learned something new. The last time Sammy and I took our friends Nick, Weiwei and Melvin from Weiden + Kennedy Shanghai office to meet Mr Zhang Xin Dong, who is in charged of product development. Along with the best planing director, art directors and photographer, I guess that time Mr Zhang finally gave up persuading me not to bother him…with my very short shorts…

One more week… one more week to go you will see our Shanghai Watch x W+K Shanghai x JELLYMON watches… 5 designes… 5 stories…. something I know if I don’t make it happen I will definitly slap my wrinkly face when I’m 50!

Knowing my shaky hands… Melvin’s pictures finally does my story justice!

Thank you thank you thank you …