We will be honest – when we see a brand advertising as offering luxury tourbillon watches for a few hundred dollars, our first thought is “shady” (and that’s being kind, folks).
With that in mind, we were more than a little hesitant to take a closer look at Sugess – one of the latest Asian watchmakers that seem to be making waves in the industry – especially amongst those hunting for good value in the micro brand sector.
In the Sugess watches review you’re about to read, we will take a closer look at the steadily growing watch brand to establish whether it’s a force to be reckoned with or just another sham we will never hear again about in a few years’ time.
We Sugges you stick with us for a short while. Let’s go!
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Sugess Background & History
The brand’s official website is normally the first place to start when researching a watchmaker. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be a brilliant idea when it comes to Sugess. The “About Us” doesn’t seem to give a lot away, with there being barely anything to go on in general.
This is a theme that unfortunately carries throughout the website as a whole. It’s not the most user-friendly site we’ve ever navigated, and it could definitely do with an overhaul from a design perspective.
With that said, we’re not here to talk about the website. We’re here to talk about the watches.
Researching the web, we’ve managed to dig out information on the manufacturer primarily responsible for the development of Sugess watches.
And there we say it, we’re pleasantly surprised.
While the Sugess brand itself is owned by the Sugess Timepiece Development Company, the watches are powered by ultra-reliable movements from one of the best Chinese manufacturers, the Tianjin Seagull Watch Group.
If you’re not really familiar with the Chinese watch market, it’s worth noting that Seagull watches are well-respected also outside of China, and we can find Seagull’s movements in other brands such as Parnis or even the popular American brand, Timex.
And it’s no wonder, Seagull’s reputation as a really solid movement manufacturer has been building steadily since its foundation in 1955 (it was first instructed to produce movements by the Chinese government so we could probably call it a semi-state company).
Coming back to Sugess, the brand was established in 2010, somewhere around the time Aliexpress started its assault on the global e-commerce industry.
In contrast to many microbrands originating from China, which often try to distance themselves from their country of origin, Sugess proudly embraces it.
The company’s mission is “to create a first-class international watch brand with Chinese elements”.
Not much else is known about the company, to be fair. We could find no information on their team, their philosophy or any of that good stuff most brands like to brag about on their website.
But we suppose that’s not really relevant when all you’re interested in is the watches themselves. And trust us, the watches are definitely interesting.
Quality Review: Are Sugess Watches Any Good?
We’ve already established that Sugess watches score high on the movement front. After all, they’re using some of the most reputable movements coming out of China (we will take a much closer look at these in a moment).
But what about the build quality and overall feel of their watches? To really evaluate whether the brand delivers good or poor quality, we need to look at all the elements contributing to that final score.
Without further ado, let’s go.
Credit where it’s due, Sugess knows how to design a nice-looking watch.
The fact that these timepieces in most cases look way above their price tags is a major incentive.
The overall style of their watches is modern and uncluttered, with most of the models sporting a 40-42mm case diameter, which should make them suitable for most wrist sizes.
While we would argue that some of their designs are on the verge of being too simple and minimalist, we do appreciate the cleanliness of their dials.
All in all, the design is elegant and would probably pass as a dress watch in most cases but the brand consistently adds new collections sporting more diverse styles, such as dive watches, pilots or the above-mentioned tourbillons (we will have a closer look at the Sugess collections further down the article).
Most enthusiasts critical of the Chinese watch market will readily point out that the durability of Chinese-made watches often leaves something to be desired.
But is this criticism really fair? We would argue that not entirely.
As we’ve already established numerous times on our site, the quality of Chinese watches has improved dramatically over the past few years and today, we can find some really well-made watches coming out of the country.
This is also true for Sugess. The brand’s watches are put together reasonably well and while we wouldn’t say they’re on the same level as brands from leading markets such as Japan, Germany or Switzerland, they’re definitely not far off.
Without an exception, all cases in Sugess watches are made from stainless steel. The exact type used here is 316L stainless steel which is the industry standard for most watch brands in this sector.
This steel is known for its corrosion resistance, making it a good choice for watches meant to be worn on a daily basis.
Many of the brand’s watches have a brushed finish, which gives them a more rugged and masculine look.
However, some of the more recent models are sporting a polished finish which gives them a more elegant and dressy appearance.
What’s more, the ever-growing dive watch and GMT watch collections sport ceramic bezels, which are known for even better scratch resistance standards.
What’s also important, the vast majority of models come with screwed-down crowns and casebacks, boosting their protection against water/moisture damage. That significantly contributes to longevity.
Speaking of which, most Sugess watches are water-resistant to at least 50m, with some models (such as dive watches) offering a much higher resistance rating.
Just like we mentioned before, the dominating style across Sugess collections is quite elegant and dressy, hence it’s no real surprise that the main bracelet/strap type is leather.
Leather straps aren’t the most durable but they do look good and they usually age nicely if taken proper care of, developing a more vintage appearance over time.
On the other hand, some of the brand’s more recent collections (such as the GMT and dive watch collection) come with stainless steel bracelets.
These are usually of decent quality and often feature a nice-looking brushed finish which goes well with the rugged look of the watches themselves.
There’s also a small portion of models, like the Chrono Heritage, that utilizes NATO straps which is always a good sign as it shows that the brand is open to diversifying its style a bit.
Another thing that really impresses us about Sugess is the quality of glass they use.
Outside the few low-budget models in the Heritage line, ALL timepieces come with sapphire crystal glass. As you may or may not know, sapphire crystal is the second hardest material on Earth and it’s virtually scratch-proof.
That means that, as long as you’re not purposely trying to damage your watch, its glass should stay spotless and pristine for a very long time. Not without a reason, it’s the go-to material amongst all the top sharks of the industry.
The fact that Segess utilizes this glass type in 90%+ of their watches is a major positive since that’s hardly a given amongst watchmakers in this price sector – not only in China but also looking globally.
What’s more, a fair portion of sapphire crystal watches come with an anti-reflective coating on the inside. While that’s not the case with ALL models, it’s still nice to see that some of them offer this premium feature since it greatly improves readability.
Fair to say, the fact that Sugess mostly uses the movements of a well-respected manufacturer, Seagull, is a major plus. This puts to bed the theory that all Chinese watch brands use cheap and inaccurate movements that are unlikely to get past the first year of use.
While Seagull takes up the majority of the share, there are still a few models that utilize movements from other brands such as Seiko or Miyota.
The most important thing is, as far as the quality-price ratio is concerned, there’s not much to point a finger at in the movement sector.
What most watch aficionados are likely to appreciate, Sugess offers only mechanical and automatic watch movements which is always a good sign.
As we all know, quartz watches are much more accurate but they’re also significantly cheaper to produce. The fact that Segess avoids them altogether is proof that the brand is interested in offering only more complicated, well-crafted timepieces.
However, it’s also worth noting that all these movements (even tourbillon) are entry-level, so if you’re looking for something truly special – a grande complication or an in-house movement, for example – then Sugess is probably not the brand for you.
Sugess’ Tourbillon movement
Sugess’ trademark is without a doubt the tourbillon movement which is, again without a shadow of a doubt, the most impressive thing about the brand.
While tourbillons are usually only seen in luxury watches that cost $10,000+, Sugess offers them at a fraction of that price which is quite unheard of.
But is the Sugess tourbillon good?
Well, the watch has 0 chance of competing with the best tourbillons such as those from A. Lange & Sohne, Vacheron Constantin or Patek Philippe (not that we expected it to at that price). However, it’s still a decent tourbillon that works as advertised and looks great to boot.
The only gripe we have is that the tourbillon cage is a bit too small which makes it hard to appreciate the inner workings of the movement. But, again, that’s a minor detail and certainly not a dealbreaker.
According to user reviews, the tourbillon watches have been seen chugging along in reasonable time for years or perhaps decades. If you decide to take a chance with your $500, you could wind up with a tourbillon that is actually dependable enough to wear every day.
A Look at Sugess Watch Collections
At the time of writing, there are 11 collections in the Sugess catalog – most of which differ in style (to some extent) and also offer different functionalities.
Let’s have a very short look at each of them now.
Consisting of 40+ models, the Chrono Heritage line is definitely one of the more affordable.
As the name suggests, the watches in this collection are chronographs – sporting between 2-3 chronograph sub-dials.
The style is fairly diversified, with a fair number of leather strap, stainless steel and NATO watches. What’s impressive about the collection is that many watches are automatic. These in general are quite expensive and finding so many automatic chronographs under $1,000 is definitely a rarity.
These watches are for fans of moonphase complications. As the name suggests, they all feature a moonphase indicator sub-dial which is definitely a very cool and rare function to have.
The collection currently has around 20 models – all of which are automatic. The style here is also quite elegant with all watches having leather straps. Adding a bit of a vintage feel are Roman numerals.
By far the most pricey collection and one that Sugess prides itself on, the Tourbillon Master line has a little over 10 models.
As the name implies, all watches in this collection feature a tourbillon complication – which is generally considered to be one of the most impressive functions a watch can have.
The style here is once again elegant and sophisticated with all watches having leather straps. The Tourbillon Master collection is available in two versions – hand-wound and automatic.
All watches come with see-through casebacks that allow you to peek at the inner workings of the movement.
The collection is basically the automatic part of the Tourbillon Master line.
The Ocean Star collection is Sugess’ attempt at creating dive watches.
With just under 10 models, it’s one of the least numerous (but growing) lines and it features both quartz and automatic watches. The style here is very rugged and masculine with all watches having stainless steel cases and bracelets.
Unidirectional bezels which help you measure elapsed time are a must for any dive watch and Sugess does not disappoint – all watches in this collection feature them.
Most models are also water resistant to at least 200 meters – making them suitable not just for swimming but also for snorkeling and even dives.
The watches are clearly inspired by iconic divers such as the Rolex Submariner. Some of the available models also include the GMT function (additional watch hands that allows you to track time in a second timezone).
This is another collection dominated by dive-inspired watches. It’s much more numerous than the Ocean Star line with over 40 different models available at present.
However, it’s also very similar in terms of style and functionality. All watches are water resistant to at least 100 meters and most of them feature unidirectional bezels.
The main difference compared to the Ocean Star line is that the Seestern watches don’t include the GMT function and are a bit cheaper on average.
Don’t get excited – the name of the collection doesn’t mean the watches are chronometers which is a very specific type of accuracy certification mostly offered by the best-of-the-best Swiss watchmakers (you can learn more about it here).
Nonetheless, the two watch models available in this line are definitely head-turning (both offer the so-called Panda dials) and have some impressive specs, such as a 50-hour power reserve and oyster bracelet.
Both are chronographs.
This line is for fans of vintage-inspired watches. As the name suggests, the style here is inspired by pilot watches from the early 20th century.
With just 4 models available, it’s one of Sugess’ smallest lines. All watches have stainless steel cases and leather straps. Characteristically for pilot watches, they come with ultra-legible dials with large Arab numerals and hands.
As you can guess from the name, this collection is dedicated to female wearers.
So far, it includes just three watch models that are, naturally, much smaller than most other timepieces. They also have more slender bezels and Roman numerals on the dials, as well as more vibrant leather straps.
Just like all other Sugess watches, they’re powered by automatic movements.
This is another Sugess’ attempt at pilot watches but, this time, the inspiration comes from a specific person.
In the 19th century, Gustav Becker was one of the most popular German watchmakers that contributed greatly to the development of the craft.
Sugess’ take on his style is very similar to what we’ve seen in the Pilot Master line with just a few subtle differences, such as Becker’s name on the dials.
Last but not least, the Slim Master line is for those who prefer their watches on the dressier side.
With just 8 models available, it’s Sugess’ smallest line. If you’re a fan of skeleton watches, you will appreciate the fact that as many as 3 models in this collection come with fully see-through dials that definitely grab the attention.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below find some of the common questions asked by the watch enthusiasts contemplating the purchase of a Sugess timepiece.
Does Sugess make good watches?
This is a difficult question to answer definitively as opinions vary greatly. However, most people who have purchased and worn a Sugess watch report being happy with their purchase.
The watches are well-made and offer good value for the price. While they may not be on the same level as some of the top brands globally, they’re definitely a pick of the bunch when it comes to the developing Chinese market.
How reliable is the Seagull 1963?
The Seagull 1963 is a highly reliable watch. It is powered by a Seagull ST1901 movement, which is known for its accuracy and durability.
The watch is very similar to the Chrono Hertiage 1963 offered by Sugess.
Where can I read a Sugess 1963 review?
While we haven’t tested the watch ourselves, you can find a decent review by one of the users on Reddit.
Where can I read a Sugess Tourbillon review?
There’s an excellent hands-on review of the Sugess Tourbillon you can find on Watchfinder.
Sugess vs Seagull – what’s the difference?
Sugess and Seagull are two completely different brands, with the first one still making its baby steps in the industry while the latter is a well-established Chinese watchmaker with over 50 years of experience.
While both brands offer automatic and mechanical watches, Sugess timepieces are, on average, much more affordable than their Seagull counterparts.
What’s worth noting, more than 90% of Sugess watch models run on Seagull calibers.
Sugess Watches Review: Conclusion
We hope that the Sugess watches review has given you a better understanding of the fairly new Chinese watch brand and its products.
With the majority of its timepieces being very affordably priced, Sugess is definitely a brand worth checking out if you’re looking for your first mechanical watch. And with the quality of its products steadily improving, we’re sure that we’ll be hearing more about Sugess in the future.
We’re happy to admit to judging Sugess a bit too harshly at first – but, in our defense, it’s not often that a new watch brand (a one from China as well) comes along and impresses us as much as Sugess did.
If you’re looking for an obscure watchmaker that’s still flying under the radar but offers great value for money, then Sugess is definitely a brand worth considering.
What do you think of Sugess? Let us know in the comments below!