Walter Shillington is an avid collector of mechanical watches. His reviews focus on inexpensive but often intriguing Chinese timepieces.
I purchased this timepiece from AMPM24, a subsidiary of SOWATCHES. It cost me 59 dollars, which works out to about 50 in US funds. The watch was eligible for free shipping and arrived less than a week later.
Most Chinese watches are shipped tag-less and wrapped in a layer of bubble wrap. The KS004 was packed in a proper watch box lined with foam. Included were the watch, a buffing cloth, tag, international maintenance guarantee card, and an instruction manual.
This is an automatic watch, and it doesn’t take much to get it ticking. The timepiece is big and bold; it's easily the largest watch in my collection. Even on my inordinately skinny wrist, it looks good.
The KS04 watch is identified as a Tourbillon, which infers its balance wheel and escapement are contained within a rotating cage. This type of gravity-defying mechanism is fitted into a selection of expensive watches in order to improve accuracy. What Kronen & Sohne actually did was cut a hole in the dial, exposing the balance wheel. Since this wheel and its associated hair spring are bouncing back and forth at a rate of eight times a second, it is fun to watch.
The date is displayed near the top of the dial. The month sub-dial is to the right and the day of the week sub-dial is to the left. Pushbuttons located above and below the crown control the date and month. A depressed button on the left edge of the case is used to adjust the day of the week. All of these buttons feel solid and should operate properly for years.
Tom Adelstein authored an interesting article concerning KS watches. He notes that Liaoning Watch Factory in Andong, China manufactures movements for Kronen & Sohne. I removed the back of the watch but could not confirm the manufacturer of the movement. Kronen & Sohne is engraved on the rotor, which indicates this mechanism was produced for this specific watch company.
The band is thick, well constructed, and marked genuine leather. After five weeks of constant use, some of the shiny brown coating has rubbed off the loops, but otherwise, the strap has survived well. It is composed of either leather or high-quality polyurethane. This is not a band you will need to replace right away.
If you would prefer a stainless steel strap, you might be interested in my review of the Aatos G-JzakkoSSBD. This elegant automatic is one of my favorite timepieces.
Closeup of functions
According to their website, Kronen & and Sohne is a German company established in 1992. They are run by NCN Group, a company that specializes in marketing. Other brands controlled by NCN consist of SHARK, HOTARU, AGENT.X, and TAYLOR COLE. NCN Group operates under the umbrella of SOWATCHES and appears to be based in the orient.
Kronen & Sohne is trademarked by TRILLION TOP COMPANY LIMITED, which is based in Hong Kong.
Kronen & Sohne do not actually operate a watch factory. They purchase the required components from a variety of Chinese manufacturers. These parts, in turn, are assembled into watches and packaged by other companies.
Brand: Kronen & Sohne
Condition: New with box and tags
Part number: KS004—AMUS
Model year: 2013
Place or origin: Guangdong, China (This information is unverified)
Movement: Caliber KM02T06 Automatic
Features: Open heart dial displaying balance assembly
Functions: Time, date, day of week, and month
Band material: Leather
Band width: 24 mm
Dial color: White
Dial window material type: Hardex
Case material: Stainless steel
Case diameter: 4.86 cm (including crown)
Case thickness: 1.3 cm (approx)
Weight: 83 g (Includes weight of band)
Water resistance: 3 ATM (Not suitable for swimming, diving, shower, etc.)
The KS04 is the best-looking timepiece in my collection. The crystal is flat which reduces glare and composed of a scratch-resistant material. A glass cover on the back of the watch allows a view of the watch’s rotor. The dial appears to be engraved, although the affect is muted.
The date can be clearly seen through the upper window, and below, a circular cutout provides a view of the balance assembly. Against the white background, the sub-dial markings denoting the day of week and month of year can be easily distinguished. The overall affect is big and bold without being overly ostentatious.
During the first few weeks of testing, the date function would often skip days. After the first month, however, the problem resolved itself. My automatic Seiko did not require a "work in" period, but it appears this watch does. All other functions worked perfectly over the test period and continue to do so.
I inserted the KS04 into my watch winder for three weeks to determine its accuracy. After 21 days, the watch had gained nine minutes. This works out to 26 seconds per day. I'd thought that was fairly good for an automatic watch in this price range, but, in fact, a modern non-certified watch should not gain or lose more than ten seconds per day. Eventually, I will have to dive in and adjust the regulator.
The watch survived unscratched and unharmed over five weeks of constant use. Unlike the Winner Skeleton watch which I have also reviewed, the hands responded firmly when turning the crown to adjust the time. All pushbuttons felt tight and performed well. My overall impression is of quality and sturdiness.
Automatic/mechanical watches require routine maintenance—cleaning and lubrication—every three to five years. If not properly maintained, accuracy will suffer, and eventually, the timepiece will die. It is easy to justify the cost of maintaining the $40,000 Rolex your loving wife gave you for Christmas. It is only common sense. In the case of the Kronen & Sohne watch, however, this work will probably be neglected. It is not that the maintenance costs associated with the KS04 are higher than that of the Rolex—it probably will be less—but why would you have a watch cleaned when it would be cheaper to replace the timepiece?
In my judgment, if not properly maintained, this watch should run well for the first three years. Over the next three, as dust accumulates and lubricating oils dry, accuracy will suffer, and the watch will need to be wound from time to time. The KS04 might cease to operate during this period or it could—as my neglected Seiko diver’s watch has—struggle on for many more years than expected.
The KS04 is not perfect. It required a "work in" period before the date function operated properly, and the hands—despite a thin coating of luminous paint—cannot be seen in the dark.
This watch, however, looks great and is of better quality than expected for a timepiece in this price range. If you are looking for an inexpensive automatic watch suitable for daily use, this offering from Kronen & Sohne is worthy of strong consideration. Highly recommended.
Bert on June 15, 2017:
I have one of their Breitling homage watches. I have never seen an automatic, exhibition screw down back watch with numeric day and date, 24 hour dial, running second hand and pushers for almost nothing, about 35 bucks. They scrimp with folded bracelet links, thin clasp, almost no lume and unknown metal construction. But overall, amazing value. I would like to see what they can do for $100!
Difues on September 11, 2016:
Very nice brown leather watchband
Jim on April 25, 2016:
I have a Jaragar Ho57M that ive had for a couple of months, and it has been perfect. The self winder works better than expected, keeping the watch would. If KS is as good, or better than the Jaragar, then that's something to brag about. I have a dozen or so watches, but mechanicals are my favorite.