Behold! The cheapest automatic watch sold on Amazon! The photoshopped magnificence that is the MASTOP Automatic Mechanical Watch Full Steel Waterproof Mens Watch with Calendar (hereafter Winner automatic watch, per dial markings). Yours for $22.99. Full disclosure: the blue dial version is actually Amazon’s cheapest auto timekeeper ($21.99). It’s another buck for any of the other seven available color schemes. St. Patrick’s day is coming up, so a buck of green went to buying green . . .
The Winner automatic watch is clearly a Rolex Submariner homage, copy, knockoff. A word on IP ethics. IP, UP, we all P. I don’t care. The original design’s owners aren’t losing anything here. Market overlap is zero. If the Rolex brand is suffering, this isn’t the reason. Besides, they’ve had sixty-some years to capitalize off the former innovation.
I’ve seen the $8.88 Walmart George wrist watches in person, even bought a pocket watch. They’re not terrible, but the low quality is readily apparent to a marginally discerning eye. The Winner automatic is more convincing as it shines evenly and everything is respectably detailed and finished.
The dial’s sunburst is a winner, but don’t stare too hard at the applied indices. The 12 o’clock triangle is horizontally off center and the lume pips are both inconsistently sized and imperfectly centered. The pip on the bezel is not centered on the triangle. Keep your wrist moving and don’t let anyone get too close and it looks fine.
Well the crown knurling may not be the crispest. The clasp is made entirely of sheet metal. The date magnifier appears straight and properly positioned though. The decision to have polished outer and brushed inner links defies tradition and common sense. It does add spizzarkle.
Pulling the crown requires a bit of extra effort. Like the late Princess Diana, there’s no screwing around with this crown. The feel between the time and date setting positions is surprisingly crisp. The Winner automatic watch doesn’t hack. But adjust time counterclockwise and the second hand can go backward. That’s a new, if unintentional, trick.
Time for the obligatory mention of my 6.5″ left wrist. I haven’t measured the right one. The unadjusted watch bracelet slid past my wrist. There are people who live with that. I am not an animal. I am a human being! So I went off I went to the local watchmaker/jeweler to get some links missing.
Nah, I fired up a youtube instructional video. My maiden journey in sizing a watch bracelet took about an hour. Tools used: a couple blocks of wood, pin pushers wire-cut from a jumbo paper clip and a regular claw hammer. Shockingly, no cosmetic damage was incurred so a winner was me.
Three of the folded links, each 10mm wide, were ultimately removed. The bracelet clasp has three adjustment holes allowing about 3/16″ of total micro-adjustment. Thus it should suit wrists up to 7-3/4″ and there is no information on where to purchase more links. Three more are removable to fit women and children down to a 5-1/4″ wrist.
The dual pushers on the clasp are edges of sheet metal. Yes they do hurt fingertips but any fears of insecure clasping can be dismissed. You have to push hard and pull hard before any release happens. There was some initial brief panic that removal would not be achievable. Things loosened up a bit, or perhaps my technique got better.
The bezel is functional with 60 unidirectional clicks. Unlike the clasp, it put up no resistance and got consistently knocked off center throughout the day. The alleged 30m water resistance – not marked on the watch – means no diving anyway. Most people don’t trust that rating, and not in the underrated way.
Also don’t trust the Winner automatic to make it through the night. It’s all right, you can hand wind it. You could shake it (the watch, that is) before bed, but that was more effort for dicier results. I suspect the date changeover exhausted the movement, as it was typically showing at around 2:30 when I awoke hours later.
Beyond that, the Japanese engine seems accurate to within a minute a day. Without hacking, and being narcoleptic if not hand wound, I found this unobjectionable.
Back in the day time, I finally understood all this “catches the light” and “pop of color” talk. It reflects like crazy, and not just the polished stainless steel. The metallic green of the bezel and dial is somewhere between Kermit the Frog and lime green, and it shimmers too. You can’t not look at it.
The legibility of the shiny Lite Brite green dial is as light sensitive as an albino. If ambient light is too high or two low, it all glares back like a signal mirror. This overpowers and washes out what you seek. It’s an effort as vain as looking for sunspots with the naked eye.
The Winner logo is winged. What the winged thing is remains uncertain. It could be a stylized airscrew or propeller, like the BMW Roundel. Instead of four alternating slices of pie, Winner has six. This lends a hopefully unintentional resemblance to the radiation hazard trefoil (☢).
There is surely no tritium here. In typical cheap lume fashion, the Winner automatic watch must be blinded by the light before activating and then doesn’t last long. The dial glare persists in any partial darkness, so cupping a hand to block the light actually helps.
But I loved the wearing of the grin. Perhaps the Rolex equals success marketing has penetrated my subconscious. I told coworkers that it was a Rolex, but my reputation preceded me and none took the claim seriously. Never was into watches as jewelry, but perhaps I just never tried.
I was also never a bracelet person. Out of the box, I worried about the relatively sharp edges. I really want to be princess and the pea here. Sorry, it fit great and posed no comfort issues at all. I slept in it. Unlike our man Racer88, I’m not hirsute enough to comment on hair pulling, but no pinching, no chaffing. The lugs aren’t drilled, and I couldn’t get a spring bar tool in position, so that’s all for the best. I’m stuck with the bracelet.
I’ve had unkind words to larger watches, but the matching bracelet obscured the “wrist wide watch” look I hate. Somehow it slid under cuffs with ease. That may be thanks to the female end link with a functionally good/aesthetically bad ‘broken’ half-link coming center next. The Winner automatic watch stayed solidly positioned despite weighing several times as much as I’m used to.
It has an exhibitionist case back, if you’re into that sort of thing. The movement is unadorned, but tidy enough. You can watch the rotor move. I’m sorry, I can’t get all poetic about mechanical watches. I just don’t care.
I wanted to hate the Winner automatic watch, and not out of elitism or Sinophobia, but because I don’t see magic in mechanical watches and this review would have been funnier in the standard template. This is The Truth About Watches and the truth is that this watch is unoriginal, quirky, flawed, stunning and fun. And it pretty much works. Worth the money!
Model: MASTOP Automatic Mechanical Watches Full Steel Waterproof Mens Watches with Calendar part number W123
Case diameter: 40mm
Case thickness: 13mm
Lug to lug: 47mm
Case metal: Stainless steel
Band: Stainless steel
Lug width: 20mm
Weight: 100g (3.5 oz)
Crystal: Mineral glass
Lume: Hands and indices, bezel pip
Movement: Japanese automatic
Water Resistance: 30 ATM, allegedly
Design * * *
Can’t fault the ode to Submariner, but no points for originality here.
Legibility * *
The sun truly bursts from the dial; you’ll need those BluBlocker sunglasses to supply necessary contrast for hand finding. Lume not so hot, but the date magnifier made me love the cyclops.
Comfort * * * *
I failed to find any complaints beyond the initial clasp stiffness. Sorry about that. I tried.
Overall * * * *
A costume jewelry watch for a Casio digital price, the Winner automatic watch exceeds low expectations. I’d recommend the black dial for legibility at the cost of bling.
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