What Is a Mushroom Watch Brand and Are They Any Good?
When you hear the term “mushroom watch”, you either think of a timepiece made of fungi, or a watch brand that just came out of nowhere, much like how a mushroom does. In this article, we’ll be discussing the latter (sorry, shroom fans).
Just in case you're skeptical though, mushroom-made watches actually exist. Source: Jakarta Post
You may have heard the term “mushroom brand” which is a fairly common term in forums and chatrooms where watch lovers discuss their hobby.
A mushroom watch brand typically refers to timepieces that appeared on online marketplaces that will come and go very quickly. They are inexpensive watches with expensive sounding names that may exist for a week, then never again.
Some mushroom brands do stick around and even become popular among the watch community, especially among bargain hunters.
So, just what is a mushroom watch brand?
A Bit of History
Before we go into these brands, first, we must look at the caliber that makes it at all possible for them to exist in the first place. The Chinese Standard Movement.
China started producing the Chinese Standard Movement (aka Tongji) in the 1970s which defined an entire era in the history of Chinese watchmaking. Today, this movement can be seen in watches whose list prices range between $10–100.
As for specs, the movement features 17 jewels, 21,600 bph, and a 40 hour power reserve with an accuracy of +/- 30 seconds a day. Not bad at all! In fact, it performs quite close to the NH35 that we all know and love, wouldn't you say?
A lot of people may not like Chinese watch brands as they often assume they will be low quality, but this is not always correct.
To be fair, although there are Chinese brands that produce low-quality items, others such as Pagani Design, Parnis, and Agelocer are known to produce quality pieces.
Characteristics of a mushroom watch brand
They Are Not Well Known
Know this one?
Outside of groups who are actively hunting for these kinds of watches, the first characteristic of a mushroom brand is that they are not well known. This makes sense because they just popped up in the market, and are often gone before enough people even know about it!
These brands tend to be sold on the internet in online marketplaces (mostly on Ebay). Therefore, you will rarely see them in a local shop or store, except maybe in a thrift shop.
We’ve mentioned it a few times already, but one of the biggest draws of a mushroom brand is its surprisingly low cost. These brands tend to sell a product at a lower-than-average price, even cheaper than your cheapest Seiko or Casio.
A tourbillon for $20+?
The quality of mushroom brands spans the gamut. For such low prices, you wouldn’t expect years of good service from a mushroom watch, although they are not to be automatically assumed as a low-quality product either.
You can find many of them make watches that look like luxury watches or homages to other well-established luxury watches for a bargain bin level price, so in that way, a mushroom watch brand could offer value.
If you take a look at forums related to watches, it’s easy to find members discussing an unusual name from the latest mushroom watch brand. These names may even just be a random string of letters!
A librarian's favorite brand.
Sometimes they could be words with certain letters missing, or replaced with a different letter. Also, you can find a name resembling a popular or well-known brand, except for minor differences.
Lacking A Back Story
A lack of detailed information surrounding the brand is another characteristic of a mushroom brand.
When you look for information about the mushroom brand on the internet, you will see that there is little to no reliable information about the brand. There is often no history or origin as to where or when the brand started, or where they even come from, though mostly they come from Chinese sellers.
In addition, there are cases when the history of the brand is completely fabricated. You may see some watches claiming to be of “Swiss” origin so they can try and sell the watches at higher prices.
Otherwise, there may also be names of founding members or other people related to the history of the watch, but they cannot be verified to have ever even existed.
Parts From the Same Pile
There may be many different brands at a single company, but these brands contain the same parts and movements. Sometimes, the only difference between two similar watches will be the brand name.
This is because many of these mushroom brands outsource their manufacturing to a Chinese warehouse and some warehouses are commonly used by a number of brands.
On the other hand, several different mushroom brands can be owned by a single entity so all of the manufacturing for these brands will also be done in the same warehouse.
Will You Try Mushrooms?
Just like any other industry, lower quality brands die out, the better ones survive and thrive. Perhaps, this strategy of basically throwing spaghetti at the wall and checking what sticks could result in something fairly successful. With so many mushroom brands appearing and disappearing from view in a span of weeks or even days, eventually, some of them manage to break out into the microbrand category.
If you’re curious to try them, we’re sure it’ll be a watch that you won’t regret too much, even if it doesn’t live up to expectations. But for the price, you can’t really complain.
If you want a watch that’s a little more longer-lasting, and much more meaningful though; try modding a Seiko. We guarantee a certain level of quality with our parts so you can have peace of mind when planning a watch that you can wear as a daily beater, or something that marks a special occasion in your life.
If you’re just starting out, have a look at our watchmaking kits which have all the parts and tools needed for a complete build. And if you want to go full custom, we have hundreds of parts to choose from, for virtually infinite combinations.