Xiang Yang is a real rarity and I’m very grateful to Alf Tan for sending me these photographs of his Xiang Yang SD2 watch. The SD2 is a transistorized balance wheel movement running at 36,000 bph — in electric and electronic balance wheel watches, this beat is only equalled by the Citizen Cosmotrons! It dates from the mid 1970s.
I’m also indebted to “Chascomm” for the following information on this Chinese watch maker:
“A cool thing about the Xiang Yang is that a ballpoint pen factory was converted into a watchmaking factory in order to produce this remarkable device.
Oh yes, more trivia associated with this watch: Notice the designation ‘SD2’? This was a project-based rather than manufacturer-based designation i.e. ‘wristwatch electronic series 2’. In spite of quartz technology having already entered production in other parts of the world, the Ministry for Light Industry decided to progress through the entire evolution of the electric/electronic watch on the way towards developing quartz watches, thus the various stages (SD1, SD2, SD3) were farmed out to various manufacturers. SD3 arrived in the 1980s as a quartz watch with stepper-motor drive in the modern tradition. In parallel to SD2 was the other sort of transistor electro-mech; the tuning-fork watch; made in a small batch by the Tianjin Watch Factory.
So what happened to SD1? It was a contact-switched electromechanical prototyped by the Shanghai Clock and Watch Parts Factory. It was not a success. It had an external power supply.”