About the author: Dave I. (aka DocDave on Threads) has been a Dappered reader for several years. His interest in fashion started with shoes and expanded to encompass watches, suits, and general mens style. When not thinking about his next purchase he can be found enjoying a pint of locally brewed craft beer.
Watches are a little like music. All the notes or design elements have pretty much been used before. Sometimes a song sounds, or a watch looks, a lot like something that’s already been produced. Often this is on purpose. In the music industry, that can get you sued. Meanwhile, if a cheap watch looks quite similar to another more expensive timepiece, then those are called “homages.” And the Chinese made Rodina takes its sampling of the German Nomos Tangente’s style to Ice Ice Baby levels of replication.
Left: $2180. Right: $120. Yes really.
A couple grand for a single wristwatch is WAY out of reach for most. So cheap homages, like the Rodina, absolutely have a market. The Rodina costs almost 95% less than the Nomos, all while using an automatic movement, and replicating those simple Bauhaus looks. But is it only 5% of the watch that the Nomos is? Is it even worth $120?
The Rodina has been around for at least a few years, but the ordering process probably scares more than a few off since they aren’t carried by any well-known Western Hemisphere retailers. I was worried about ordering directly from China with no intermediary, but I did some googling and finally decided to order a Rodina direct from the Sea-Gull website. Sea-Gull claims to be the largest manufacturer of mechanical movements in the world, and the Rodina is one of their products. I opted for standard/regular mail as a). it was free and, b). I was in no hurry to get the watch.
Turns out my fear of never seeing my money or my watch was unfounded. Six days later I returned home from work to find the watch waiting for me on my doorstep. Yes. Six days. Less than a week from China to Canada, via regular post, with no additional import taxes or duties. I was impressed.
First Impressions and Movement
The first thing many will notice when taking the watch out of the box was the sound of the automatic winding mechanism. It was kind of tinny, and definitely more noticeable than my almost completely silent Seiko 5. “Oh crap,” I thought “am I going to be able to put up with this noise for an extended period of time?” However, within half an hour I was no longer noticing the winding mechanism and had completely forgotten about it. That’s not to say the winding mechanism is completely silent – if you shake your hand back and forth, or do your best imitation of Ronnie James Dio in concert, you will hear the mechanism moving around. But, for day to day normal activity, to my ear, the mechanism is silent.
Interestingly enough, the simple motion of setting the time and strapping the watch to my wrist was enough to get the watch going. By the time I went to bed, some five hours later, the watch had maintained the proper time. When I woke up it was still running with the correct time. This was a bit of a surprise, being that I don’t think my Seiko 5 would have kept the proper time with only five hours of wear under its belt.
- 38mm in diameter; 10mm thick; stainless steel case
- Sapphire crystal
- Sea-Gull Automatic ST1701
- Water resistance: 50m (although I have yet to get the watch wet. And really, it’s not something to dive in the pool with)
- Independent second hand at the 6 position
- Genuine leather band that’s flexible out of the box. Not luxurious, but not cheap either.
- Dark blue hands
The Bottom Line
I’ve been wearing the Rodina for one week straight, only taking it off at night before going to bed. The watch is maintaining accurate time and I have not done any adjustments since the initial setting. Knowing how loud the second hands on some watches can be (looking at you Timex Weekender) the Rodina/Sea-Gull just isn’t that loud. I can only hear the second hand ticking if I bring the watch up to my ear.
The feel of the watch, while not flimsy, doesn’t feel like it could take/withstand a lot of punishment. But it’s a dress watch. Not something you’d wear rock-climbing. To compare it to my Seiko 5, the Seiko 5 just feels more solid. To borrow Timex’s famous marketing phrase, I’m not so sure the Rodina could take a licking and keep on ticking.
That said, the Rodina represents good value for anyone looking to pick up a Bauhaus style watch but not wanting to spend Nomos Tangente kind of money. It does feel like a watch that cost about a hundred bucks, but the looks and (so far) performance seem to outweigh the price.