AlbertaTime in China, China visit #3, Post #1 -

AlbertaTime in China, China visit #3, Post #1 -

Postby AlbertaTime » June 19th 2014, 10:32am

...covering June 8th and 9th/2014...

Hi everyone :-)

I know I've been kinda absent, but I'm not lost in the hinterland of China...I arrived on June 8th as planned and have been having an incredible, busy, fascinating and *very* hectic time.

From the 13th to the 18th, I spent time with my brother MaRong and his wife QiRan in Shijiazhaung, but before that...

...From my June 8th arrival in China, to June 13th, all with the help of my friend, host, guide and mentor, Mr. Li Wei (the group Leader of the Working Group of the Domestic Horologe Department of the China Horologe Association) I visited Beijing, Tianjin, Jinan and Yantai, including visits to (in order):

  • the offices of the China Horologe Association,
  • the Oriental Mall in Beijing (Tianjin Sea-Gull's Beijing store and the Beijing Watch Factory relocated flagship store),
  • the very first commercial restaurant in Beijing following the re-introduction of private businesses in China,
  • the Touch Woman Cafe for a tea-tasting session that included some of China's very finest teas,
  • the flagship store of China's Koncise watches,
  • the flagship store of Longio (revisit from last year),
  • the Touch Woman cafe (a second time) for a birthday party (for me!) very kindly hosted by Mr. Kong Lingjun, the Chairman of the Koncise International Watch Company,
  • the village workshop of one of China's most eminent enamel artists (his family enamel-work history dates back hundreds of years to resident production at the Imperial palace),
  • the Beijing Watch Factory,
  • a lakeside restaurant dinner with Mr. Miao HongBo, general manager of the Beijing Watch factory,
  • the Tianjin workshop of one of the Tianjin Edwin Clock Company
  • a restaurant housed in the former Tianjin residence of a past President of China,
  • a beautiful coffee shop in Jinan (wait till you hear what I drank...)
  • the Golden Gulf Hotel in Yantai,
  • the Yantai Horologe Culture Museum
  • the Yantai Polaris (Beijixing) Watch and clock factory, and a second Yantai Polaris production facility
  • Lishida Clock of Yantai, and
  • the Yantai Messica Timepiece Company

So, this post of the 2014 China visit series covers the first evening and the next day, the 8th and 9th of June...(I've got some catching up to do...)

First photo: back in my Beijing 'hood: the beautiful Lishi Hutong, and my favourite digs, the Xiao Yuan Alley Courtyard Hotel, with a typical comfortable and very affordable room:


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Shortly after arrival, I was met by Li Wei...

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...and Mr. Zheng Qi Baishi, a noted timepiece collector and one of China's most highly recognized calligraphers/instructors. He very kindly presented me with this beautiful hand-done parchment, which reads something like "a picture is worth a thousand words" or "seeing is believing" (photo courtesy Li Wei).

We headed out into the night with, first, a 2014 visit to Mr. Liu Shuli's Dongsi Bei Da Jie shop (Beijing Wangfujing Jingshi Watch-Clock Shop) to meet up with Liu Shuli and some new-to-me great folks...

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First to arrive at Liu Shuli's shop was the very cordial and gracious Mr. Wang Mengjin, the Vice-Chairman of the China Horologe Association...

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...soon followed by Mr. Liu Shuli himself (who I introduced last year),

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So we headed out into the night...

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...and made our way to a cool restaurant, where we met with Mr. Wang Kaiho, a reporter from China Daily News.

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Following dinner, back to the Lishi Hutong, and Li Wei and I scheduled a meeting fo0r the next day.

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The early morning weather was wonderful, so I wandered around the hutong a bit, meeting with Li Wei a little later that morning...

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...and together we arrived across the street from the building that houses the China Horologe Association, where I was to re-meet Mr. Wang Mengjin and was to be introduced to...

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...Mr. Tian Munyu, Chairman of the China Horologe Association...(again, photo courtesy Li Wei)

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...who, along with Mr. Wang Mengjin and Li Wei, presented me with this honourary membership in the Association. I was told that it was difficult to arrange as I am not Chinese and I'm the only non-Chinese person to be provided the membership. I happily admit, I was deeply touched and became a bit overwhelmed. It's getting framed and will have a place of prominence in my home. I'm more than very grateful.

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(I understand the overall meaning, but perhaps someone here could kindly provide a more literal translation). I then met others in the Association (Peng Zhao Xia, Liu Shu Hong and Tian Zhen, but my addled memory prevents me from being sure who is who. My sincere apologies.)

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Following this to-me-spectacular start to the day, Mr. Wang and Li Wie and I headed across the street to the Oriental Plaza, a very upscale shopping centre...

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...the marquees should indicate the type of neighbourhood...

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Li Wei and Mr. Wang at the entrance to the Malls at Oriental Plaza, where we...

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...visted the Beijing store of Tianjin Sea-Gull...

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(double tourbillons with additional complications)

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(an 18k gold micro-rotor piece to entertain Chascomm and others...)

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and Sea-Gull's own design for a double-axle tourbillon (recognized as Sea-Gull's independent design by adjudicators at Basel)...note the difference in tourbillon attitude in the two photos...

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...and, yup, there are still some D304's left, in case anyone wondered. (I still have this on my gonna-get list...)

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The a jaunt almost right mext door, to the newly relocated flagship store for Beijing Watch Factory.

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The dials on these are extremely fine needle-work...

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Then various styles of enamel dial (prices in RMB)...

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Then some pieces more familiar to some forum folks, I think...

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...and various additional BWAF eye-candy...

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...including Beijing's "build-it-yerself" kit...

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...and a familiar face from last year's visit...

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A quick glance back at the home of the China Horologe Association home...

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Before Li Wei and I headed down Wangfujing for an afternoon stroll...during which we found this blood donor bus taking donations for a recent trouble...

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...and jsut shoppers and stores...

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Li Wei did tell me what this meant but do you blame me for finding it a little hard to remember everything I was encountering? Any explanations for this beautiful plate?

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Li We told me this was Beijing's oldest Christian church...

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Then Li Wei took me down this alley...

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...to the very first for-profit commercial restaurant following the Cultural Revolution. It was very crowded and busy inside and the food was wonderful, but in such very close quarters I didn't think photo-taking would be appropriate. So go yourself; it's worth it ;-)

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Later that evening, Li Wei took me down another alley...

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To the "Touch Woman Cafe" which I was told was named that only because the owner wanted to convey the idea of a place with a gentle atmosphere...

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We were joined by Mr. Wang Hanlin of China's Xinhua News Agency. Mr. Fan Zicong (pink t-shirt) guided us through an entire evening, tea-tasting of some of China's finest teas.

Also: I've been given a nickname in China because I'm a somewhat aged Canadian guy: "Bethune" (if you don't get it, look it up). But during our time at this tasting, I was provided a Chinese name I could wrap my head around. I am now 罗-古德, and I know how to pronounce it :-). Now I have to learn to write it in script that is more sophisticated than the scrawlings of a child ;-)

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the "Touch Woman cafe" is well worth the visit. The decor is wonderful...

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...including a second floor that...

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...houses a section made to recreate a tun of the century railway dining car...

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...and an open air balcony area with a view of the alley...

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...and from which you can view the "railway car" from outside.

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I'll ask for help with the details but I was told that if you buy this tea, rather than just taste some, it's prohibitively expensive. Zheng Shan Tang brand's Jin Jun Mei tea, maybe??? I don't know, but I loved it, and I get the difference between this tea and even a decent red/black.

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So, to end the night, Li Wei acompanied me back to the scenic Lishi Hutong, and I got some rest for the busy next day to come...

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Next post? As soon as possible.
Last edited by AlbertaTime on June 20th 2014, 1:21am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: AlbertaTime in China, China visit #3, Post #1 -

Postby conjurer » June 19th 2014, 10:38am

Thanks for the wonderful travelogue, A-T! As usual, I enjoy living vicariously through your wanderings. Great pics, and the joint at the end was really creepy!
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Re: AlbertaTime in China, China visit #3, Post #1 -

Postby biglove » June 19th 2014, 11:31am

Thanks so much for sharing!

I wonder do they know of your museum? What are their thoughts of your adventures?

I think it takes a great deal of confidence to travel so far away and to take such an extended adventure!

You may well be THE most passionate watch enthusiast/collector/expert I have encountered!

Look forward to more photos and stories!
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Re: AlbertaTime in China, China visit #3, Post #1 -

Postby abduksion » June 19th 2014, 12:55pm

I can't wait for part 2. Here's a video of the (Seagull Axis Tourbillion) My apologize different watch but similar function.



[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvBg-uk-TTA[/youtube]
Last edited by abduksion on June 19th 2014, 3:32pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: AlbertaTime in China, China visit #3, Post #1 -

Postby kevco » June 19th 2014, 1:52pm

Man that open air balcony view of the alley is so surreal. Just a fantastic report.
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Re: AlbertaTime in China, China visit #3, Post #1 -

Postby Airframer » June 19th 2014, 5:58pm

Always a joy to hear of your travels to China, AT!
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Re: AlbertaTime in China, China visit #3, Post #1 -

Postby jason_recliner » June 19th 2014, 7:27pm

AlbertaTime wrote:...and a familiar face from last year's visit...

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She'd get it.
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Re: AlbertaTime in China, China visit #3, Post #1 -

Postby AlbertaTime » June 19th 2014, 7:28pm

biglove wrote:Thanks so much for sharing! I wonder do they know of your museum? What are their thoughts of your adventures? I think it takes a great deal of confidence to travel so far away and to take such an extended adventure!


Hi, and thanks to you, and everyone, for your kind words.

Yes, at least a number in the Chinese watch and clock community are quite aware of my "museum", and have been for a few years. For example, a couple of years ago, I was asked for a quote regarding one of China's very first watches (the 1950s Shanghai 581 series) to be used in a high-quality glossy quarterly put out by China's largest circulation monthly horology magazine, China Watch and Clock. Here's a link to the online version of the article and the mention is down in the sort-of last paragraph. Just look for some English ;-) (the quote itself is in Chinese). At a later date, I was introduced to the author, face-to-face :-).

As for confidence, I have never looked at it in those terms. I just wanted to see things first hand and went about getting there to do so. If you're thinking about safety, well, I think the same rules for common sense apply in China as anywhere, but I have always been treated with kindness and friendliness.

I do know that the access I have been given to company and collector society owners, chairmen and directors is not at all common even for Chinese collectors in China. I've also been made aware by the higher-level folks I just mentioned that my efforts have resulted in increased awareness around the world for their efforts. If you search out these threads, there's additional evidence of the astonishing-to-me reception my efforts have been given.

For handy access without wading through other types of posts I've made, I've collected my travel articles here at my website, but they're also available in the section of Watchlords that Alain very graciously set for me: AlbertaTime Museum and Travels.

kevco wrote:Man that open air balcony view of the alley is so surreal. Just a fantastic report.


Thanks. I love the hutongs (alleys) of Beijing and, especially in the dark of evening, I find them among the most beautiful, calming and feel-at-home places I've ever been. If you ever go there and walk around after 10PM or so, you might get to understand what I mean. It is kinda surreal in at least that way, and I never find it anything even close to unsettling. You can see more day and night hutong photos if you go to the travel articles i linked above. Look for references in the titles to "hutong" or, really, any of the Beijing articles.
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