Comparison: Sea-Gull ST2130, ETA 2824-2, Peacock SL3000

IMG_8987Torsten, who is very active on the WUS Chinese watch forum, has asked me to compare three movements for him. The original, the ETA 2824-2, and the well known Sea-Gull ST2130, a Chinese clone, and the new Peacock SL3000, another Chinese clone.

I have a new Sea-Gull in stock, and Torsten sent me a Peacock. Thanks to Ron from Texas, I got hold of a used Fortis watch with an ETA2824-2, so we have to take into consideration that the ETA isn’t new, but used.

Test Plan

Before taking the movements apart, I will inspect both Chinese movements and take some microscope shots, then take all three movements apart, clean everything, take some component shots under the microscope, and then put the three movements back together. I will then test the performance of all three movements on the timegrapher.

Caveats

Lots of them! Firstly, the ETA is used, and the two other movements are new, so this isn’t quite fair on the ETA. Also, you can’t really make a conclusion on just inspecting one movement from one production run. It would take a lot more to make a conclusive statement about any one of these movements. So let’s keep that in mind…

Finishes

To start off with, lets have a look at the finish of one particular detail – the regulator. As this consists of a couple of components, it will be a good detail to compare. Let’s be clear here – the finishes only have very limited effect on the functioning of the movement. There are a few places where they are crucial – such as the balance pivots – but in most places, they are just an indication of the manufacturing process and its quality in general.

regulator-eta

This is the regulator or the ETA, and even though the movement is used, it’s pretty clean, and the finishes are lovely. Check out the screw, and the markers that are stamped on the balance cock. Not Geneva Seal stuff, but very decent indeed. No decoration, the cock has just a matte finish.

regulator-seagull

Next up, the regulator and screw of the Sea-Gull ST2130. You can already see a difference straight away – the Sea-Gull has a perlage finish on the cock, and the screw is slightly rougher than on the ETA. You can also see a little scratch next to the screw, and that is from someone slipping with their screwdriver. The movement is brand new, so that has to come from the assembly.

regulator-slThis photo is the same detail of the Peacock SL3000, and it’s the loser of this round, for obvious reasons. You can also see dirt on the regulator, which looks like skin to me.

IMG_8989Let’s take apart the Peacock SL3000 first. It comes with a set of hands, but without the ring that goes under the dial. But before getting the screwdrivers out, I want to see what the timegrapher has to say.

IMG_8988This is not bad at all! A decent amplitude, great beat error, and it’s well adjusted. Looks like a brand new movement, and it is one…

IMG_9031The top plate.

peacock-02

The top cap jewel has a little piece of dirt under it, that is swimming in the oil. Good to see oil there, as it’s often claimed that the Chinese don’t oil their movements in the factory (which is wrong), but the dirt spec shouldn’t be there, and could lead to problems later. Once some of the oil evaporates, the dirt will get in contact with the balance staff, and could damage it.

peacock-08

There is a little fibre on the sicel that locks the dial feet into place, and some specs of dead skin – look at the top of the sicel – that was definitely touched by hand.

peacock-10

Another fibre on the bottom plate next to the hour wheel.

peacock-11

Some bits of dead skin (but also oil) on one of the jewels.

IMG_9034The mainspring barrel looks pretty dry, but with these stainless steel springs, you only need a very minimal amount of lubrication. But I don’t think there is braking grease on the barrel wall, and I can’t detect mainspring grease anywhere.

IMG_9035The top plate is stripped, and you can see bits of dirt in places, and some perlage finish next to where the balance cock goes.

IMG_9042All the parts are cleaned, the pallet fork, cap jewels, and escape wheel are epilame treated, and it’s ready for reassembly.

So the Peacock has been assembled by hand, in a not so clean environment, and most parts have been touched by unprotected hands. Not unusual, and consider the price of the movement… But it’s oiled, and performing well.

Next, I’ll take the Sea-Gull ST2130 apart.

IMG_8985But first, onto the timegrapher.

IMG_8986Very decent amplitude, perfect beat error, and well enough adjusted.

IMG_8992The ST2130 also comes with a set of hands.

IMG_8995The ST2130 also has some decoration.

seagull-01There is also oil under the jewel cap – good stuff.

seagull-03

 

The jewel hole is a bit roughed up by the perlage, and there is a mark at 10 o’clock of the jewel hole…

seagull-04All sorts of dirt on the barrel. Looks like skin flakes caked in.

seagull-06A bit of fibre next to the balance jewel. This is way to small to be a hair, and has to be from some synthetic material.

seagull-07Another bit of fibre in a jewel. Not so good, as that will drain the oil away from the pivot.

seagull-08A nice chunk of brass sits in another jewel hole. Now it’s getting a bit too much even for me!

IMG_9047A pretty dry mainspring barrel as well.

IMG_9051Having taken off the pawl spring for the date wheel, I discover where that brass shaving came from. There must have been too much material on the plate there, and somebody hacked it of with a machete at the assembly plant. That’s a bit shocking, even though it won’t affect the performance of the movement, that plate should have not passed quality control, and should have ended up in the bin.

IMG_9057All parts are cleaned, and the escape wheel, pallet fork, and cap jewels are epilame treated.

IMG_9004

 

Last but not least, I turn my attention to the Fortis. We can’t really compare cleanliness and performance of this movement to the other two, as it’s from a used watch. Nevertheless, I put it on the timegrapher.

IMG_9005

This is pretty pants for movement that was allegedly serviced a year ago, but we can’t blame ETA for that. I would expect an original ETA movement to be perfectly clean, and to perform very well indeed. ETA has great quality control, and you can expect consistent assembly procedures. That’s what you pay for.

IMG_9019

Doesn’t look to me like it was serviced a year ago – or it was just a quick bath in the cleaning machine, rather than a full service. I will of course put a new mainspring in, to make the comparison a bit fairer for the ETA.

IMG_9029

The ETA parts are ready to be reassembled.

But first, let’s put some of the parts under the microscope and compare the three movements.

balance-pivot-etaThis is the balance pivot of the ETA. I can’t see any signs of wear, and it’s nicely polished, as you would expect it to be.

balance-pivot-peacockThe balance pivot of the SL3000. You can see that the tip is not as round as on the ETA, but also nicely polished.

balance-pivot-seaguallThe balance pivot of the Sea-Gull also looks very nice.

balance-spoke-etaNow a look at the balance itself. This is the ETA balance, and you can see some traces of machining on the balance spoke. This has no effect on the function of the watch, it’s just to compare finishes here.

balance-spoke-peacock

The Peacock has a slightly rougher finish here, but, as I said, this doesn’t really matter.

balance-spoke-seagull

The Sea-Gull is pretty rough, and also has a fair amount of scratches from handling with tweezers. This is a brand new movement…

cannon-pinion-etaNext up is the cannon pinion, and I’m starting off with the ETA again. This looks very nice, and everything is as it should be.

cannon-pinion-peacock

The Peacock cannon pinion must be rough on the underside, as it has scratched the wheel on which it sits. As this is the friction clutch, I’m not entirely happy with that.

cannon-pinion-seagull

The Sea-Gull is a bit better in this comparison than the Peacock.

pallet-fork-eta

The ETA pallet fork has a rough finish and isn’t polished, but the pivot of the arbor is nicely polished.

pallet-fork-peacock

The Peacock pallet fork is polished, but scratched, so I prefer the ETA finish. The pallet jewels aren’t as well cut as the ETA jewels.

pallet-fork-seagull

The Sea-Gull pallet fork is pretty comparable to the Peacock fork.

rotor-decoration-etaNow for a look at decorations – the ETA doesn’t have any, but has the Fortis logo and name on the rotor weight.

rotor-decoration-peacock

The Peacock has what I call “Cote the Shanghai” decoration on the rotor. A bit rough, but you won’t be able to see that without a loupe.

rotor-decoration-seagull

Same detail, same magnification, but this time the Sea-Gull, which wins the decoration round!

winding-pinion-etaThe ETA winding pinion. No Geneva seal stuff, but good.

winding-pinion-peacockThe Peacock winding pinion. Very good indeed.

winding-pinion-seagull

And the Sea-Gull winding pinion, also very decent.

escape-wheel-teeth-etaThe ETA escape wheel.

escape-wheel-teeth-peacockThe Peacock escape wheel.

escape-wheel-teeth-seagullAnd the Sea-Gull escape wheel teeth.

You can see that they are a bit differently constructed, and we might be able to see that later on the timegrapher.

IMG_9113All three movements are back together, and ready for the timegrapher.

IMG_9114All three movements are measured in 6 positions (Dial up, dial down, crown up, crown down, crown left and crown right), and I wait 25s in each position before taking down the measurements.

Position Sea-Gull ST2130 Peacock SL3000 ETA 2824-2
DD
beat rate amplitude beat error
-6s 329 0.0
beat rate amplitude beat error
-11s 270 0.1
beat rate amplitude beat error
-1s 201 0.1
DU
beat rate amplitude beat error
-12s 330 0.0
beat rate amplitude beat error
-9s 268 0.1
beat rate amplitude beat error
-3s 195 0.0
CU
beat rate amplitude beat error
-3s 298 0.1
beat rate amplitude beat error
-15s 261 0.0
beat rate amplitude beat error
0s 195 0.2
CL
beat rate amplitude beat error
+6s 292 0.2
beat rate amplitude beat error
-12s 245 0.3
beat rate amplitude beat error
-4s 191 0.2
CR
beat rate amplitude beat error
-3s 289 0.1
beat rate amplitude beat error
-16s 259 0.0
beat rate amplitude beat error
-13s 181 0.2
CD
beat rate amplitude beat error
+3s 309 0.2
beat rate amplitude beat error
-12s 261 0.3
beat rate amplitude beat error
-6s 182 0.2

To sum the performance up:

The ST2130 has a maximum beat rate difference between positions of 18s/day, and a maximum amplitude difference of 40 degrees.

The Peacock has a maximum beat rate difference between positions of 7s/day, and a maximum amplitude difference of 11 degrees.

The ETA has a maximum beat rate difference between positions of 13s/day, and a maximum amplitude difference of 20 degrees.

Both Sea-Gull and Peacock have healthy amplitudes, but the ETA does lack quite a bit of amplitude. We have to take into consideration here that the movement isn’t new, and that it has been taken apart before, and I would expect much better from a brand new ETA movement. I’ve said from the beginning that we can’t really compare the ETA performance to the others – I put it in here more for the comparison of execution.

Summary

We have to take the price of the movements into consideration as well – the Chinese movements will be roughly 1/5 of the price of an ETA.

Both Chinese movements suffer from assembly in an unclean environment, and have plenty of skin bits to prove that. The particular Sea-Gull that I took apart for this comparison should have been eliminated at quality control – but here lies the main problem of Chinese movements. You can get really good ones, and really shoddy ones. I’m sure Peacock lets similar stuff pass its quality control, so I don’t want to dismiss Sea-Gull movements here. I have a couple of watches with ST2130s, and they are great runners, and the finishes are quite good.

The ETA has of course much better details, and so it should, as it’s much more expensive.

The Peacock is a bit ahead of the Sea-Gull when it comes to performance, but the Sea-Gull has the better finishes (apart from the plate damage of course). If you want quality throughout, the ETA is your choice.

A last word about the dirt: Once your watch has made it past its first service, all that is forgotten, and you are on a par with any other movement. As we have seen with the ETA 😉

43 thoughts on “Comparison: Sea-Gull ST2130, ETA 2824-2, Peacock SL3000

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  2. Really nice and comprehensive comparison.

    However I would like to know more details regarding grades and material used for Escape wheel, Balance wheel and hairspring.
    Seagull sort of never reveals their “Grade” i. Elaborate, Top, Chronometer if they Have one…

    Thanks

    Phoulis a Certified Watchmaker

  3. Really love these type of comparisons/reviews. Especially with the excellent photographs! I really appreciate the time and effort you put in to this project. Thankyou very much sir, for a very interesting read. Please, keep ’em coming, as they say. 8^)

  4. Just a quick question if your still monitoring this page. Why would the amplitude of the ETA remain so low even after the whats was disassembled and then presumable reassembled using all the proper lube etc?

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  6. I would love it if you could do something like this with Japanese movements (Seiko, Orient, Miyota?)

  7. Awesome in depth review. I’m looking to buy a watch for 100$ with the st2130. I also want to buy a different case + dial that fits the 2824 (st2130 in my instance) and swap out the movement between the two cases and dials for different occasions. The only problem is that the winding stem is probably too short. Can I buy a 2824 winding stem and use it on the st2130 when I swap it the aftermarket case? Thanks.

  8. I have to say this comparison does not prove anything new. Chinese movements have similar performance but only cost one fiveth of the price of ETA 2824. Well done, Chinese! Keep it up!

  9. Thank you for this in depth assessment, much appreciated. I really enjoy opportunities to learn 🙂

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  11. Pingback: FS: Vintage sterile Diver (NOS, 1970, new movement)

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  13. Hi Christian,
    I noticed my WordPress pinged back your site, I hope you do not mind. I’ve been reading your and Mitka’s posts for a while now and found the very interesting and educational. I’ve recently moved from owning a quartz watch (I’ve had it for 23 years) to a mechanical one. Because I could now afford one and because, sadly, my old quartz watch died. Don’t worry, this is not some ploy to get you to repair a quartz watch. I am doing that myself :).

    For reasons explained in the post on my blog, I also bought a couple of replicas at the time when I bought a genuine automatic. I would like to have it waterproofed, but I am well aware of the attitude of real watchmakers to replicas so I didn’t even try to ask anyone about waterproofing them – I decided I would do it myself. I bought the tools and off I went. See, this is not even a ploy to have you service a replica. I am also doing that myself :).

    So I increase the water resistance to 10ATM, and documented the process. I mention you in the blog as having done a comprehensive comparison of Asian copies of the ETA2824-2 movement to the real deal – One of my replicas has a “Genuine” ETA2836-2 the movement which I gather is a copy of an ETA 2824. I know I probably have a clone, so I explain in my blog what the differences are and point people to your post. I did not attempt to steal your thunder or in any way misappropriate your work. I hope you don’t mind.

    I have no wish to commercialise my hobby and no plans to perform any services for anyone but myself. My day job keeps me busy enough :). I am fascinated by the psychology of the replica markets, though, and what is going on there, but that is another story. I guess what I am trying to say in a very convoluted way is that I hope you don’t mind my post about a replica links to one of your excellent posts. If it offends, I would be happy to remove the link.

    I also hasten to add that I do own a genuine Omega Planet Ocean GMT (the same model as the replica I am waterproofing in my post). Once that genuine Omega needs service (in four or five years), I would not dream of butchering it with my amateurism. I will contact you, if you will still be in business then.

    Keep on posting, I enjoy your musings immensely.
    David Modic

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  16. Hi, nice comparison.
    What engineering standard are the Eta watch gears and Chinese watch gears made to? Want to try to modify these movements.

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  23. I want to thank Christian for the review on these movements, it was the most helpful for someone like me who I just got into watches, especially into diving watches.

  24. Great indepth review ,I have the 2824 movement size theres no markings I can see with naked eye,maybe a clone cant tell . All the same the accuracy it spot on ,maximum 3 seconds a day can regulate it different positions to keep exact time daily,im impressed. Id buy a Swiss ETA on the quality control aspect otherwise the clones seem to be able to keep up. Id use my clone for work my ETA for weekends

  25. Good work and appreciate effort put in .I have a believed to be 2824 maybe a seagull or selitta sw200 ,no markings anywhere and my knowledge of movement gears limited.It loses 3 seconds a day consistently but different positions at night counters this so im not complaining.I dont handwind although have tried still no complaints IMO I got a good 1 . Its in a homage diver custom sterile dial .

  26. Many thanks for this very informative review. I know very little about mechanical movements in my watches, but I am glad someone has taken the time to do it and come to conclusions with appropriate caveats! Thanks

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  28. Great review, Christian. Thank you for spending the time and effort.

    A bit of additional info / history on the Fortis / ETA2824-2:
    the watch was purchased new in December ’98 and has seen 10+ years of cumulative wrist-time since.

  29. Great review, thanks! I really enjoyed reading it – crisp, clean and refreshing! I must admit I expected the ST2130 to look better though …

  30. Very interesting review, thank you for your time.

    I am personally surprised to learn that this piece of Sea-Gull movement suffers from QC problems, which sort of stray away from their reputation.
    This reminds me of those rumors that Sea-Gull only sells inferior (in term of QC) movements to other manufacturers.

  31. Given the amount of skin on the Peacock maybe the oil was actually sebum 🙂

    An interesting comparison… makes me wonder if the cost of bringing Chinese movements up to spec is worth the price difference.

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  33. Thanks for the review. It’s a pleasure read your comparisons. full of great photos and well explained questions.

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