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Starking Watches – Can A $50 Budget Automatic Be Any Good? Full Review

Starking Watches – Can A $50 Budget Automatic Be Any Good? Full Review


Several months ago a company based in China whom I had never heard of before contacted me to review one
of their watches They mentioned that the watch in question was of their own
design and utilised an in-house movement with a 28,800 escapement When I read that the movement was in-house that got my
attention and I said “Sure, Why not” and within a couple of weeks the watch turned up Due to other video projects, it sat for a while in the to-do
pile (yes, I have a pile) but I eventually managed to make a start on the project last
week. Now I will state here that although they sent this watch to
me as a review model I stated from the outset that I would share my true
thoughts no matter what I found with their watch and I have to admit, they must have been very confident with
the quality of their offerings to be willing to send a sample to
a watch repairer who shares his findings in high definition video for all to
see. In short – this is not a paid promotion But before I share my thoughts, I will say that I checked
into the price of these watches and was stunned to see that they sell for only $50 on ali
express!!! I have to admit, when I saw that price, my expectations
about the watch hit the floor and I will also admit, I had a little chuckle and it stayed
longer on my to-do pile as a result Not that i’m a watch snob, I just thought it would be a waste of time and possibly not very good content for the channel. But eventually I did take the watch out of the box and
removed the wrapping and was actually quite amazed at the quality – actually I
was gobsmacked For the price I was expecting a Chrome plated budget feeling
watch. But this watch actually felt quality in my hands, a nice
weight to it, the bracelet was well constructed and polished with a
butterfly clasp The case was solid feeling and well finished Looking at the specs on the aliexpress website I observed that the case was indeed stainless steel. And the crystal is said to be Sapphire which, if true, helps
resist scratches The dial is not just a painted piece of brass which you
would expect from a budget offering it has raised dial chapters and quality printing Altogether, on the surface this really surprised me. For a
$50 price tag, you get a lot of watch But what do we have under the hood? I was interested to know more about the 28,800 beat
in-house movement, actually, thats what got my interest in the first place But looking at the movement I was a little disappointed to see that it was or looked like a DG2813 movement and I am not being unkind I simply know these movements to be of quite low quality however – this is a $50 watch I suspect the case, bracelet, dial and hands alone would
cost more than that if I was to purchase them individually So I wound up the movement and put it on the machine to see
what I could see. And I can see, the timekeeping is not Certified chronometer
standards but I did not expect it to be in the least. The beat was 28,800 as advertised and well – if it keeps
working I can see that it would be a nice dress watch. I decided to dig deeper and remove the movement from the
watch case. Can you see the rust starting to develop on the case opener
here? It seems that since bringing all my tools over from the UK, they don’t like the humidity too much All my tools are starting to rust, it’s a massive pain in
the ass. I have started cleaning and treating them with a rust
inhibitor which seems to be working fine. Well, I have the movement out of the case, i’m going to
continue and strip the movement down… And well now that’s a bit screwed! looks like the under side of the train bridge has some quite
heavy scoring. I can’t see any debris so it looks like this was done during manufacture or assembly, looks pretty nasty. Well that’s it stripped down, I would normally clean and put
this back together with fresh lubricant and see what performance gains I can
achieve but in this case I am not sure that I would really get any
gains due to the finish on the movement What strikes me hard with this watch is that it is actually
really good quality for the price!
But the movement let’s it down – but logically speaking, it would not be that price or even close to it without some
kind of compromise and the compromise here is of course, the movement I changed my mind, I can’t totally scrap it I’m going to clean it and put it back together with fresh
lubricant, I just want to know what we can get out of it. It’s a lovely
watch maybe it can be enjoyed for a while I have no idea why the setting lever got discolored like
that. It was nowhere near the heater in the cleaning machine and
none of the other components suffered the same fate a real mystery. If I could be bothered, I would clean and
polish it up but it’s not worth the time By the way, I sent pictures of my findings to Starking and they responded by standing by their claims that the
movement would be good for at least five years before needing replacement or
service I personally do not think so, but my thoughts are that even
if this watch lasts only 12 months for $50 it’s still a bargain But I have a cunning plan – stick with me and I will let you
in on it. But first, lets take another look at the performance now
that Ive put the movement back together. So a little boost in amplitude and the timing seems
reasonable I could put this back together and I believe this will last
quite a while and would be an enjoyable watch to wear The movement seems to be a reasonable timekeeper but for me, the value is in the case and bracelet.
Is this watch worth it? I would say, yes! Why not… It looks good, and it feels quality. And as long
as the movement holds out, it can be enjoyed. I could put this back together – or I could explore another
option! This movement is actually loosely based on a Japanese
citizen Miyota movement the Miyota 8215. I say loosely based because it does share the same diameter stem height, and dial feet placements. But it is not a hacking movement and it is a 21600 bph
movement rather than 28800. The Miyota 8215 is a much better quality movement, however, that quality comes at a price as a matter of fact, about the same price as this watch
complete I just happen to have one in stock so i’m going to explore
using it for this watch and see where we get. First I fitted the dial and all went well I then fitted the hour hand – and that went well I then tried to fit the minute hand and well – that failed. The DG2813 cannon pinion is .9mm diameter and therefore so
is the hole in the minute hand. But the 8215 requires a hand with the hole being 1mm
diameter. Well, this is not a problem, I can broach that out And so now the minute hand fits, lets try the seconds hand. And well, it’s too loose. But there is a little trick to
tighten the pipes of seconds hands… Take a pin vice and hold the seconds hand by it’s pipe in
the pin vice jaws and then just tighten the vice and the pipe will compress. And this did the trick With that done, all we have to do is remove the crown from
the existing stem and fit it to the Miyota stem, a job I have demonstrated
several times in previous videos. And well, look at that. A nice little upgrade should the original movement fail. My recommendation if you like this style of watch would be
to purchase it, get as much use and enjoyment out of it as you can. And should the movement fail, well you can purchase
replacement DG2813 movements quite easily online, OR you can upgrade to a Miyota 8215 If this watch didnt have such a nice quality case and
bracelet well it wouldnt be worth the trouble but on this basis and
for $50, it’s definitely worth it, it’s definitely a lot of watch for the money That’s just my opinion, but what do you think? Is this a watch you would buy, or would you not touch it
with a barge pole? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. But that’s it for now, I hope you enjoyed this video if you did and you have not done so already, then please
consider subscribing it’s free and if you click the bell you will be notified
whenever I publish new content and I do have a few nice projects on the go If you’re interested in knowing more about watch repair check out www.watchrepairlessons.com where I offer a full
watch repair course and plenty of extra content not published on youtube. This video was made possible with the support of my patrons,
whom I thank so much See you next time


Reader Comments

  1. Starking Watches – Can A $50 Budget Automatic Watch Be Any Good? I give this Starking budget watch a full stripdown and review, watch till the end for the twist!

  2. The watch community on Youtube raved about the Starking a few months ago. It is most definitely a lot of watch for the money.

  3. Nice review but how can one determine the life of a movement ? This movement is well jeweled . I think it should last longer than what's mentioned here.

  4. Have one of these with the Roman dial. Frugal dress watch that fits under a dress cuff. Not a Seagull but keeps reasonable time. Indirect seconds hand stutters like the Miyota. No rotor noise. How the heck did they increase the beat? Amongst the cheap, the Seagull movements appear to be the best. All from the middle empire assembled dry.

  5. This is so great…thanks…I had already purchased this exact watch with the support of a few reviewers. I appreciate the honest and thorough review of an expert. Thanks very much!!!!

  6. Yes I would buy this watch. It looks good and if it lasts like you suggest . can go with it…thank you Ed from Colorado

  7. Whereas I've subscribed to a range of horology / watch 'tubes, none compares to this. You do a great job. Keep it up.

  8. I wonder if they even knew you would open it and take it apart…

    I thought it was such a great watch and, naively, never considered it having a low-quality movement. So, now we know where the savings are…. in probably the worst part to skimp on.

    And, so… doesn't this make it "not" an in-house movement? And thus, a lie? Or… it's merely "based" on the DG2813?

  9. I'd spend $90-100 for a Seiko with a 7S26 and be happy with it for a decade, at least. It can be regulated to COSC in most cases.

  10. Nice work, but we would have liked to seen you do more on evaluation of the high-beat DG movement after it was COA'd, and have you mention just how it is that they were able to get the higher beat rate etc? Did they change the escape wheel to one with a correspondingly greater number of teeth as well as change the hair-spring, how? You do know that both these and the Miyota are based on the Swiss A.S. movements?

  11. My heart sank when you said it wasnt worth your time putting it back together…then you did ..i was like weeheeh..here we go…and then a movement swapout…what a rollercoaster…great vid pal..cheers love your videos..so calming..great…and where have you moved to .by the sea??

  12. I bought three of these StarKings a while back. Manual winding them seems to damage the movement. Two of the three failed within a week or so. Left the third alone as I now have a couple of watches to practice my novice disassembly and repair skills. The movements do suck sadly. Otherwise the watch is great looking. But could not enjoy. Will donate one to you if you would like to autopsy the failure and teach us how to fix.

  13. for 50$ i would rather buy a used seiko 5 or an orient. better quality, and they would stay for.life because of the history behind brand, this watch is a joke even is it looks "luxury" actualy is worth less than 50$ because no history behind, just marketing. a 10$ Casio also would be better to own than this one.

  14. Music is wrong, given the frenetic pace you throw the watch together, it needs something like Yackety Sax (!)

  15. So we are in the same country now. I hope you enjoy your stay here. I never encountered a foreign watchmaker before. Nice content by the way.

  16. Thank you I have this watch and sought have grown fond of it was curious what was going on inside thanks for talking the time ine of my favorite strip downs

  17. $100 with the Miyota upgrade, plus labour if you can’t do it yourself. May as buy an Orient Bambino. Nice video, cheers.

  18. I have a white faced model.looks classy and runs very nicely after more than a year.no scratches on the face so assuming its sapphire

  19. Got my Starking when they were £30, it's had no problems and keeps excellent time. If it blows up after a year or two, who cares!

  20. Concerning your tools rusting in the humidity. I spray my small tools in the shed with 3 in 1 oil from an aerosol can. It works a dream. Only spray them lightly, you don't want them to be sticky. I spray my lawnmower blades too after cutting the grass. Hedge trimmer as well. Anything in the shed that's capable of rusting over time. Hope this will be helpful to you. WD-40 evaporates easily so not as good.

  21. Nice watch, would look better with the leather strap in my opinion. The bracelet is good solid steel but I dont like the omegaish design on the links.
    However after the service the movement was doing very good!!

  22. Thank you, that was exceedingly interesting. I own one of these, and wound up lending it to Richard Perrett who posted a video review here – understandably he didn't do the full strip down though. My moderately well informed opinion of this watch is that it sells at a more than fair price (the bracelet in particular is improbably good); it'll probably come tolerably well regulated but don't expect the subtler adjustments to have received much attention, and that the crown is horrible. Also, it's a bit boring. These aren't really deal breakers considering how little it costs though. Mine keeps a consistent rate of +5 sec/day and I've had it for a bit under a year.

  23. Thanks, great video. I was always curious how and if is possible to reassemble back these movements, without breaking, quality of them is not very good. Great mod with the miyota, so now we know that it requires some hands and crown adjustments.
    For similar price I prefer and have the Cadisen with seiko nh36a movement, I feel just better with seiko movement. These dg2813 type movements have sometimes issues. I have a Starking skeleton watch with similar movement, from stop state I shake it some time, then I put on my wrist and it stops sometimes at the beginning. It has to be shaken more time to be sure it is wound initially. Some dg2813 type movements just random stop, others I had issues with the broken date change, others and more often – the rotor simply doesn't wind, doesn't engage the teeth. I wonder if I could swap some parts, but probably i will brake something, i don't have experience here and looks fragile. So better just a new replacement movement. Watchmakers here in Bulgaria, Sofia charge really a lot, totally not worth servicing such watches (even more expensive ones). Better ask for refund/exchange in Ali and order a new working one.

  24. Yesterday I did buy 25 mechanical watches for only 60€, some even as small as a finger nail. Most seem like crap but when I came home I selected one, did wind it to full, adjusted the time and now a day later it's still running and keeping ok time, about 2min off. Will need some work (polish case and new crystal and band) but if I can get 5 to 10 watches running again for low prices I can make a decent profit. 😀

  25. I've had an even cheaper starking for a couple of months now and despite the chrome plated brass case and the identical movement,is running well and keeping good time and all for $26.0.I now have a "winner" which beats at 21600 and so far is keeping very good time for a measly $19.0!!You'd have to buy a basic casio quartz to beat that!!

  26. The movement in the Starking was such a big let down I wouldn't consider buying one of these watches. However your "Franknwatch" is cool as can be, though not something I would ever have the skill to build.
    Absolutely great video, I really enjoyed your in depth review and seeing you upgrade the watch. Also I liked your choice of background music…very well suited.

  27. Odd kind of people these Chinese are that are experts at making copies of things that others engineered. Pragmatism on steriods.

  28. I'm beside myself with the amount of detail and production parts this watch has to offer, and the very fact that you broke it down to demonstrate what kind of quality your buying into for $50+ USD! Hats off to my friend, it was well worth watching pun intended! Oh, the soothing sounds of the acoustic guitar just made watching all the better! Truly remarkable work, but had this movement been a Rolex 4130! Well, my eyes would be glazed over! Lol

  29. I have two of these watches. One of which I've had for a year. For the money you really can't beat it. The high beat movement is great. No issues whatsoever. I've even bought others as gifts for family members. As they were so impressed when they'd seen mine. Again no of them have had any issues at all.

  30. Love your videos. I do repairs as well. I think I would catch this on sale or something at $30. At $50, it's still a meh from me. Maybe the white dial? Only because I don't have a white dial personally. But, decent for the price for sure. Wonder how it would look on various straps as well.

  31. This one is on my list! Always nice to have a decent looking beater watch in the collection. Really cool to learn about your tricky little upgrade! Great vid! Keep up the good work!

  32. Please correct me, if I'm wrong, but I wasn't paying enough attention some days ago, and wanted to fit some hands intended for an ETA 2824-2 on a DG2813 movement, and found, that the ETA has a 0.9mm minute hand, but the DG has a 1.0mm just like the Miyota. Might it be that this Starking movement has ETA sized cannon pinion? Or am I wrong alltogether?

  33. I've had mine for about one year and have seen no appreciable decrease in performance. Not perfect, by any means, but great buy.

  34. Up ur budget to 80 and u can get a watch with a seiko nh35 still SEL bracelet and 316L steel + sapphire front AND back! or go up to 100-120 and get the same with a miyota 9015!!! A great site is GearBest.com cadisen has the best cheap ones with seiko nh35 but others offer the 9015 miyota..

  35. Fantastic review! What I'd be interested in knowing is the following:
    If you were to review this watch without knowing the price in advance, what pricetag would you have put on it?
    Love the way you take the time with this movement!

  36. Starking just wanted this rebuild video so they can use it for internal training on how to put a watch together properly 😉

  37. I like the style but i would never get a watch with invisible hands. All super polished hands that look like mirror are practically invisible

  38. I have this watch. Been using it for a couple of months now. No problem at all. If it wasn't for the brand, you would think it's a more expensive watch just by looking at it. I even bragged about it to my co-worker, who was also into watches like me, how dirt cheap this watch is. Plus you get a sapphire crystal, solid links, and 28,800bph movement. The only thing I would probably change if I could would be to invert the color of date window and maybe put a window frame.

  39. I got a different Starking watch but with the same movement, the movement is very poor quality a small shock and it will cease temporarily and the hands fell off my watch – other people have had the same issue.

  40. I love to watch you work on a movement. Here you take a budget "Chinese Special" and make it interesting and tempting to own. Your suggestion of wearing it until the china movement gives out and then replacing with a Miyota is brilliant.
    I would personally replace with the Miyota and also replace the dial for something with Roman numbers or lume.

  41. Clap, clap, clap. I will never be able to do what you show us, but knowing how to do it is a source of gratification for me. Please others of these videos. I thank you for the disclosure.

  42. Looks lika Miyota 8215.
    But frankly spoken, I wouldn´t buy it. There are many other options on the market, using either Miyota- or Seiko-movements for a little more money. I don´t like the thought of throwing away a watch after 5 years.

  43. I bought Nakzen from Ali express for 93 USD.. It has same build quality as this one however it has Miyota 9015 which is amazing value at this price

  44. I wonder if the ones for sale are the same spec…could they have sent you a better quality for the review….
    None the less i like the video even if its a 50$ watch.

  45. Impressed by this. Liked and subscribed. I respect what you did here, but no. I would not buy this watch and your video did an excellent job at explaining why a regular guy like me should just go after a better movement/watch from the start.

  46. These type of watches are great when going on vacation. If you lose it, no big deal. Also, when returning home, Customs will not think you bought an expensive watch and attempt to charge custom/import fees.

  47. I bought a Seiko 5 automatic steel watch on sale for $35.00 and it has been ticking away for over 20 years.

  48. I think manufactures need to speed a little more money rather than 50 cents trying to come up with a name for their watches…….starking?….

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