Today we are taking a journey into China. A journey that takes us to one of the youngest watchmakers you can find, and one that does not have a fancy location to work in or a big-budget atelier to perform his craft. Instead, we go directly to Boyu Tang’s home, as he works where he lives. Nevertheless, presenting your first mechanical watch is always a monumental occasion, so we felt the urge to share his story with you. And even though the first watch looks very simple, it’s already showing signs of things to come further down the line!
Robin, MONOCHROME Watches – Boyu Tang, can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello everyone, I am a watchmaker from China, 17 years old, and my name is Boyu Tang. I was originally a high school student, but I dropped out. You may want to ask me why I dropped out of school because I didn’t like school life, so I decided to become a watchmaker. One year after I dropped out of school, I stayed at home for a year because of COVID-19, but I didn’t have to do my homework. I was very happy.
How did you get into watchmaking? What started your interest for you?
This is because of a friend of mine who runs an independent watchmaking salon in Beijing, named Yishi(以时). Around 2020, he held an event, and I went to attend it for the first time. It was my first time participating in an event about watches. I will never forget my mood when I participated in the event because I saw many watches such as Nord Zeitmaschine, Rolex, Behrens, David Rutten, and Genus. I can’t afford these, but I saw them and he gave me his watch to play with. He also represents many brands.
After the event, he even gave me a watch and said I was his youngest friend. The watch he gave me is Behrens. We became close friends, and he gave me this watch, which inspired me to become a watchmaker. I will give him a Boyu Watch BW01 watch as a gift in return!
You live in Ningxia, China. How is the watchmaking culture there?
I was born in Ningxia, China, in 2005. This is a very common province in China, and there is basically no Watchmaking in my area so everything comes from different parts of China.
What are the biggest challenges as a watchmaker in China?
As a watch manufacturer in China, I feel that my biggest challenge is to find the money needed to fund my watches because I don’t have to worry about the issue of watch parts and supplies. There are really many places in Shenzhen, China that sell parts. But they are quite expensive, so I need to find ways to source the funds for cases, dials, movements, hands etc.
You have just finished your first commercial watch, the BW01. What can you tell us about it?
The BW01 is my first creation, and it is a very simple watch as I am still learning more and more every day. The case is in stainless steel and is 42mm in diameter with 11mm in height. Everything is made in China, even the movement, which is similar to the ETA/Unitas 6498. The price of the watch is USD 800. The dial has Roman numerals with blued Breguet-style hands.
Where did you find the idea for this specific watch?
I am very much inspired by people like Philippe Dufour and you can kind of see it in the dial, right? I am always very impressed by his work and it motivates me to do the best I can.
Checking your Instagram account, you do a lot of work yourself. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I try to do as much as I can myself. I work from home and have a very small workshop set up in my house. I try to do as much of the finishing myself, such as the decoration on the ratchet wheel, the anglage, electroplating etc. I also do the testing, the assembly and everything. And I’ve reshaped some of the bridges too. I am alone, so I do everything I can by myself.
How has the watch been received so far?
Currently, I have sold three of them and people are very happy with them. I received good feedback from clients and I’m very happy with that! It really motivates me to work even harder to improve my skill and develop my next watch.
What are your plans for the future, with your own brand and watches?
That’s a difficult question, as I have just finished the BW01. The next step would be the BW02, where I want to improve my craftsmanship even more. Right now there’s no real idea yet but I am thinking of a few things. First I want to produce the BW01 for people.
How can people get in touch with you for more details, or perhaps order a watch?