Feice Bauhaus – Budget or Bargain?

A name synonymous with the German art of structure, form and function, so persuasive that way back in 1919 to 1933 in Germany, the School of Fine Arts, espoused that form should follow function, without the unnecessary – in other words, a sort of minimalism.  But importantly “without stifling design” – and that phrase so important in the world of truly Bauhaus described watches.

True Bauhaus – the Nomos Tangente Automatic Date watch

The Brand that for sometime now has one of the best of Bauhaus tradition is Nomos – specifically the Glashutte Tangente. And it’s well known as a high quality model that manages to command quite a price too.  With it’s in-house mechanical Automatic movement, something of a rarity these days, it also manages to be of a nice size at 39mm diameter.  Sapphire crystal, neatly cased in high polished steel, I show it here as the standard to which a new contender has to aspire.

Now the Bauhaus philosophy is quite well catered for in the watch business – rivals to Nomos such as – Stowa, Sternglas, Junghans, Junkers and Seagull come to mind and there are others such as Panzera, Nordgreen or Aristo and so on.  Most are not as expensive, though the cheaper are often Quartz powered, which for me doesn’t quite gel with the ideal of Bauhaus – I feel the concepts of Form, Function and Structure without the unnecessary, seems to get lost in the static world of electronics – but maybe that’s just me.

Feice FM201 Bauhaus Automatic – more than a copy?

The Bauhaus concept for me is alive in a way that the solid state world just isn’t. Some, for example interpret the Bauhaus movement as a sort of Danish minimalist design, which (I have some myself) and I always end up personally disappointed, because they are so- minimal – and if I’m honest, a little bit barren, dare I say, like furniture – not that Danish furniture is uncomfortable, but I like to see the comfort too, with comfortable surroundings – but again, is that just me?

And this is where the Bauhaus concept is so interesting, by design and in the feelings it gives the wearer.  There’s something both comfortable and comforting – and invariably mine end up on my wrist more than most.

I like them, specifically the automatics.  Firstly, as they are alive and secondly, you simply wear them and they are part of you. No batteries, no winding and no fiddling around.

So, although I had heard of them, still a bit of a surprise when I came across the FIECE FM201 – in person, as it were.  Bauhaus style, Automatic, with understated Date indication and owing to the derisory price I assumed Quartz.  I mean – the Fiece is around £150 – and the Nomos near £2000! Now that! is a hell of a difference!

I can understand some of the price differential, as the Fiece sports a Chinese modified movement. Those clever Sea-Gull people at Tianjin in China managing the tricky business of combining mass market methods with increasingly decent movement quality – not easy.

So, as it often happens, it all comes down to Quality v Price.

Of course, much depends on your definition of quality.  To some – if it ticks and keeps decent time – then that might be good enough. To others, it’s about “look” and finish and detail and what’s inside and so on – very subjective indeed.  And in this particular instance we dare not forget that it’s all about the Bauhaus philosophy too – which is about Form and Function and Structure, and no unnecessary bits – Gets tricky doesn’t it?

My Junkers ‘100yr’ Bauhaus, with Miyota Auto 9132 calibre, 28,800 A/h – a favourite classic for me.

Feice FM201 with Sea-Gull Auto movement

As to Sea-Gull movements, I used to have reservations, in the past, when their assembly procedures were not so good. In those days you might get a good one, or a not so good one, though ironically the movements were very good.  I do remember they benefitted from a good clean and service, which instantly elevated them right up there with the Swiss ETA calibres.

However, changed days now and their movements are well respected indeed and have come a long way from the Citizen/Miyota origins – incidentally my own Junkers Bauhaus, shown here features a very good Miyota 9132, 28,800A/h Calibre.

Both Miyota and Sea-Gull have become synonymous with mass availability of excellent automatic movements and can really challenge the ubiquitous Swiss ETA2824-2 automatics.

I applaud them both, as Quality, Quantity and Price are a tricky balance to manage, so no mean feat.

BUT, that’s not the topic for here – suffice to say that “Made in China” doesn’t always mean cheap and cheerful.  What it can show is that very decent watches are now widely available to everyone – and that’s a good thing.

But for Fiece, the idea of using the Bauhaus concept and promoting globally and espousing – Form, Function and a certain marketing seriousness, hasn’t hindered them in their mass market approach and by increasing quality is a real bonus.  They have carefully followed others with this trend and with some success.

Their Bauhaus ‘homage’ models are attractive enough for me to check them out – and so, I bought the Fiece FM201, and it’s definitely better than expected.

My Feice FM201 Bauhaus 38mm on wrist – Budget or Bargain?

In comparison to the Nomos, the dial text/font clarity and detail is good, as is the Date aperture (though smaller than my Junkers).  The hands maybe not quite as delicate, but also good and maybe overall, the dial isn’t quite as – shall I say – ‘fine’, but it’s still very good.

But as always, my observations are subjective.  As to the movement – well OK Nomos is certainly highly regarded, but the Fiece FM201 Sea-Gull is pretty decent and with no internal traces of fingers or dust or skin flakes.  It also has some evidence of oil (that’s good), so it appears the old Sea-Gull shortcomings of the past, may well be long gone.

Or have I just been lucky?  No, I suspect today, they have definitely raised their game.

And as to how it looks on the wrist and for timekeeping – it looks pretty darned good – and it certainly does look ‘Bauhaus’.

So – Budget or bargain?

Well, I would have to say – bargain.  It has the Bauhaus look, it’s nice to look at, it works well, suits the wrist and it wasn’t expensive – so what’s not to like!

Of course, there will be detractors who will accuse yet another Brand of producing another “homage” or even a “copy” (and let’s face it, there are many models out there that are close copies of others – right from the top down).  Some are near fake category, but that’s taking it too far and such an accusation only valid if their offering was “made to deceive”.

Personally, I like some of those listed here and there are some good Bauhaus styles around. However, with each trying to have that “look”, the result shows that their options are somewhat limited in how they look in reality, so copy accusations are easy to assume, rightly or wrongly.

Me? I’m just a punter, a guy who likes to buy and wear pleasing watches and I like Bauhaus style.  So, from my point of view it’s all academic.  Selfishly, it simply means I have a greater choice of models and Brands to choose from and in a wide price range too – and it is just that – personal choice.

The Bauhaus concept has no doubt spawned an attractive range of similar styled watches (you either like ’em or you don’t) – and there are bargains to be had.

Addendum

It should be noted that Tianjin Sea-Gull watches also make their own Bauhaus watch – which is shown here – and it is very well priced too – this is the Automatic D819.612 without date.  Nice size at 39mm and 9mm depth with Sapphire crystal – slightly slimmer than the Feice but I like them both.

Latest – However – I do have another Bauhaus, not shown here, which I will feature in another Post quite soon, that for me, has a certain ‘something’ to it, that really appeals – so watch this space!

Sea-Gull Automatic Bauhaus Watch – D819.612



Categories: Commentary, Quick looks, Retro, Watch reviews

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