The name Pagrne Design is an oddity because it could also be Benyar, Pagani Design, Haiqin and presumably a whole host of other brands which all appear to make the same watches under different names in China.
They are almost always homage watches which mimic expensive luxury models such as the Rolex Submariner, Omega Seamaster and the shady name changing and strange practices are likely a nod to the fact that they are sailing very close to the wind. The thing is that homage watches that closely mimic luxury models are not actually illegal, or so I believe, because a watch is classed as a tool and thus it is hard to fight those who copy a ‘tool’ because it is protected. When you see fake watches that use the same branding as a real watch that is then definitely illegal and it supports all kinds of murky businesses that lurk beneath the pretence of luxury.
So, a watch like the PG 1670 is difficult to evaluate. I was asked if I would like to see one and review it, and I took up the offer with no mention of how I should review it. For me it was just a ‘try and decide’ exercise where I did not expect to write anything, but it surprised me greatly.
The watch itself does not sit right with me. The complete lack of originality is grating and the photocopier approach of just making a clone of a real watch is a low way of doing business in my view. It is closer to being a fake watch factory than you may believe, but there is another side to this. Take a look at Rotary, Accurist, Sekonda, Bulova. They all have a selection of watches in their catalogues that ape more expensive luxury models and they are supposedly ‘proper’ watch brands. The more you look into this, the more confusing it gets and at least Pagrne Design is offering a lot for a low price whereas the likes of Rotary is offering not much for a high price.
There are elements of the Omega Seamaster to the PG 1670, a watch that is cloned more closely by this brand in another model, but at least this particular watch cannot be classed as a direct clone because its design does not exactly mimic any other model.
Every single aspect of the watch can be found, in terms of design, on a luxury watch. The bezel, dial, hour markers, hands, case etc are close to identical to other models, but put them all together and you have a new(ish) watch design.
The NH35 movement is a mainstay of the watch world and has been installed on thousands of watches over the past decade. It is seen on many budget models, but not on the lowest priced options and is considered by many to be the best you can get at an affordable price. It has a quoted accuracy range of -20~+40 seconds per day under normal conditions which doesn’t sound good, but in reality most should come in around or even below +/- 10 seconds per day. This particular watch is running at approximately +8 seconds per day for me which is acceptable.
The bracelet is a bit of a surprise. Screw links, the screwdriver is included, a decent clasp and a diver’s extension for good measure make for a better than expected offering. Throw in solid end links, a sharp taper and a brushed finish, and the end result is much better than I expected.
It is, however, the watch itself that matters and in that regard I have been just as surprised. It sits extremely well on my 7.25 inch wrist and is not top heavy at all. The lug to lug is less than I expected which results in a watch with presence that does not dominate in any way. The brushed cased with polished sides and the stainless steel reflective bezel come together well to create a watch that is noticed rather than one which tries too hard to stand out.
Legibility is excellent and the blue lume is an unusual bonus with a soft tone to the dial markers that contrast with the harshness of the bezel numbers. You will see in the photos that it was hard to focus on the dial and it looks softer when snapped than in real life, but the reality is that it is an extremely legible watch that requires a mere glance to catch the time.
Finally, the bezel is crisp when turned, if a little hard to grasp due to the smooth outer edge, and on this particular watch it lined up perfectly. I have seen others mention an issue with alignment which is not unusual at this price, but it happens to be OK on this one.
As I wrote earlier I have many reservations regarding how and why these watches are made, but if I consider this watch from a quality vs price vs functionality perspective it is very easy to like. It outperforms many budget watches that cost twice as much and if you can overlook the suspect heritage you will be getting an everyday watch that looks good and which works well for little outlay.
I am left with three thoughts-
The quality is on par with many watches I have worn that cost above £500 and some that are even higher.
Why oh why does this brand not create their own designs? They have the setup to make excellent quality at a low price and should be a bit more ambitious.
It has made me realise that a white dial watch could be the way forward for me. The more I wear it, the more I like this watch despite the suspect heritage.
You can pick this watch up from approximately £75 at AliExpress or £100 at Amazon and at either price it does stand up in terms of quality.
It reminds me of my current grail watch which is below.
But then again, this is Pagrne Design and so they also offer the following.
See what I mean about a lack of creative ideas married to a technically excellent setup?