The Yue Fei is Maison Celadon’s recent take on a luxury dive watch. Unlike most other microbrand dive offerings however, the Yue Fei isn’t a Submariner homage – it’s something else entirely, a design that pays respect to the Chinese culture the brand is built upon.
Without further ado, let’s dive (no pun intended) into this review!
Maison Celadon – the Brand
Maison Celadon was founded by Singaporean Benjamin Chee back in 2012 with the aim of “designing and bringing to fruition the very finest Chinese luxury watches”. Although he now based in Singapore, Benjamin actually resided in Shanghai after university, where he fell in love with Chinese culture. Having already developed an affection for watches then, he wanted to change the perception of Chinese watches being of low quality, and sought to develop a made-in-China brand that not only pays homage to Chinese culture and Chinese watchmaking, but is also respected by the horological world.
As Wei Koh (founder of Revolution, one of my horological idols) said in his recent interview to The Hour Glass, most watch buyers around the world are actually Asian, and in particular, Chinese. However, there is a distinct lack of quality Chinese watch brands in the market – when one think of Chinese watches, cheap homage brands such as Seagull or FiftyFour often comes into mind. Maison Celadon flips that perception on its head with intricate dials, detailed applied indices, heat-blued hands, and even movements adorned with Chinese calligraphy! In terms of brand story, the story of Maison Celadon is definitely one of the more intriguing ones for sure.
Alright, let’s now see if the Yue Fei is any good!
Maison Celadon Yue Fei – Build Quality
I’m pleased to report that the Maison Celadon Yue Fei – unlike most Chinese watches – boasts outstanding build quality.
Firstly, the Maison Celadon Yue Fei utilises a domed sapphire crystal. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to their inherent scratch-resisting properties. Personally, I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches as it adds greatly to the durability of the watch. However, I wish there was AR coating on the crystal – I often get unwanted reflections when I’m trying to take a photo of the watch, which can sometimes be annoying. In addition, the WR rating for the Yue Fei is stated at 200M, which renders the watch safe for a trip to the sea or the pool.
The Maison Celadon Yue Fei is powered by the Celadon-Grade B15 movement, which is essentially a Beijing B15 movement that’s regulated to a higher standard set by the brand. As aforementioned in the earlier video, Beijing Watch Factory was set up in 1958 with a focus on producing high-end watch movements. It is a Chinese factory, but it’s no Seagull! The B15 movement features 42 hours of power reserve, beats at 21,600 bph, and hacks. In my experience with the watch, the movement is very accurate, and easily stays within 10 seconds per day. Given that the brand was established to pay homage to Chinese culture and watchmaking, it make sense for the Yue Fei to utilise a Chinese movement, instead of the conventional ETA 2824/Sellita SW-200 that you often see in watches at this price point.
The Maison Celadon Yue Fei comes default on a leather/rubber hybrid strap, which I found quite interesting. It features leather (top-grain leather, I’m told) on the outside, but uses rubber for its inner portion. According to the brand, the unique hybrid strap is designed so that the watch looks refined and sophisticated with the strap’s leather exterior, whilst the rubber interior provides comfort for the wearer during more sporty activities. The strap is also stated as water resistant, but I definitely wouldn’t be wearing it in the pool or the sea due to the leather exterior!
There’s also BGW9 lume on the Maison Celadon Yue Fei, but it isn’t very strong. It’s decent enough for you to tell the time at night, but by dive watch standards it’s certainly below par.
All in all, the Maison Celadon Yue Fei boasts solid specifications. It utilises sapphire crystal, has 200m of WR rating, a Celadon-grade B15 movement at its heart, and a unique hybrid strap. The lume is weak, but unless you’re planning on actually diving with this watch, it shouldn’t make a real-life difference.
Maison Celadon Yue Fei – Design
What puts the Maison Celadon Yue Fei a league apart is in its details – the watch is chock-full of references to Chinese culture.
Let’s start by talking about the dial. The Yue Fei comes in 2 dial variants, Obsidian (pictured above) and Azure. Whilst the Azure’s blue is more striking, I personally prefer the restraint of the Yue Fei in Obsidian, whereby one can see the sunburst texture beautifully. It has a nice graduated dial too, and together the sunburst and graduated (some call it fume) textures plays wonderfully with each other under different lighting conditions. Secondly, the hands of the Yue Fei are actually modeled after mystical swords of Chinese lore! The primary hands are inspired by the Sword of King Goujian (496-465 BC), which was uncovered in Hubei in 1965 pretty much intact and in great condition – a testament to Chinese workmanship. Similarly, the seconds hand of the Yue Fei is based upon the Green Dragon Crescent Blade wielded by General Guan Yu, who is venerated by the Chinese today as a symbol of righteousness and comradeship. The hands of the Yue Fei are certainly immensely striking, with the intricacy of the seconds hand capturing my heart. If you’re a lover of Chinese culture and history, the hands will certainly speak to you!
The difference between a three and four figure watch lies in its details, and the details really sing in the Yue Fei. The Yue Fei utilises applied indices – which creates more depth – on the dial, and the indices are faceted and nicely finished. It’s not Grand Seiko level, but there’s a visible difference as compared to the indices on cheaper watches, such as the Klein Otus which I reviewed yesterday. The applied Maison Celadon seal (the brand’s logo) at 12 o’clock is a nice touch too, as are the Chinese characters for China inscribed at 6 o’clock. These are subtle details, but they really do make a world of difference.
Whilst the dial of the Yue Fei is refined and elegant, my favourite aspect of the watch is actually its striking case design. Look at it – it’s definitely unlike any dive watch I’ve handled before! The shape angular form and its multiple facets makes the watch stand out on the wrist, whilst the contrasting brushed and polished finishing captivates the eyes. It’s a really handsome case, and in terms of finishing and form, definitely one of the most stunning I’ve reviewed thus far.
The Yue Fei also possesses a 120 click uni-rotational bezel, which is actually quite robust – the bezel rotates easily, though there is slight play to it. Aesthetically speaking, I like the use of geometric shapes (circles and rectangles) on the bezels, which contrasts nicely with the angular indices of the dial.
Elsewhere, the octagonal crown of the Yue Fei is one of the most detailed I’ve seen. It features alternating brushed and mirror-polished surfaces, and is signed with a debossed Maison Celadon seal. The crown is a screw-down one as well – an important detail given the watch’s billing as a diver. In addition, the case sides also feature continuous line brushing that runs along the entire case. According to Maison Celadon, this is an artisanal process that requires a single artisan to apply an uninterrupted brushing across both sides of the watch.
The caseback is a wonder too, depicting the Great Wall of China – perhaps the most iconic landmark of China. Maison Celadon shared that a combination of embossing, debossing and laser-etching is applied to create the detailed artwork, and it shows. The caseback is one of the most striking I’ve seen, and conjures to mind the equally stunning caseback of the Atelier Wen Hao I reviewed last year. Casebacks are often the most neglected aspect of watches, but that’s not the case here with the Maison Celadon Yue Fei!
In terms of wearability, the Yue Fei wears great on my 7 inch wrist. It’s 39mm case size (excluding the crown) is modest by today’s dive watch standards, and is a breath of fresh air on the wrist. It does however wear larger than its dimensions indicate due to the watch’s elongated lugs. On the other hand, the Yue Fei feels slimmer than its 14mm thickness imply, with a svelte feel all around. I really enjoyed wearing the Yue Fei on the wrist – it conforms to my wrist much better than most of the chunky dive watches out therein the market today.
Overall, I really enjoyed the design of the Maison Celadon Yue Fei. All aspects of the Yue Fei are filled with gorgeous details, such as the sunburst graduated dial, hands inspired by legendary Chinese swords, striking case design, ornate crown, and a lovely caseback artwork. One can tell that a lot of thought has went into the engineering and designing of the watch – it shows.
Shootout: Maison Celadon Yue Fei vs Unimatic U1-DZN
I really racked my brains on a suitable dive watch to compare the Maison Celadon Yue Fei with. Unfortunately, I don’t know of another luxury Chinese dive watch out in the market currently. I eventually settled on the Unimatic U1 – like the Yue Fei, the U1 is a breath of fresh air in its design, substantially different from the Submariner homages out there.
In terms of specifications, both watches are similar. Both uses sapphire crystal, boast 200M of WR, and come with lume. However, the Unimatic U1 utilises the workhorse Seiko NH35 movement, while the Maison Celadon Yue Fei features the B15 (Celadon-grade) movement from Beijing Watch Factory. Between the two, I would definitely opt for the B15 movement – not only is it much more unique than the Seiko NH35 (which is a dime a dozen these days), it’s also regulated to a higher standard by Maison Celadon themselves. As such, I would say that the Yue Fei edges the U1 from a specifications viewpoint.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the Yue Fei triumphs over the U1 for me. As mentioned earlier, the Yue Fei is an incredibly detailed watch – as compared to the U1, the finishing of the case/crown is better, with the dial more intricate as well. Of course, there’s also the homage to Chinese culture found in the Yue Fei’s dial and caseback, which in my opinion makes the Yue Fei a more meaningful watch than the U1. The U1 does boast Unimatic’s iconic styling, but in this match-up, I have to declare the Yue Fei the winner.
Where the Unimatic U1 has the advantage is in its price – it’s 1/3 cheaper than the Maison Celadon Yue Fei. If you’re after an unconventional dive watch on a budget, the U1 is a great pick. However, if you have a little more to spend, I think the details present in the Yue Fei warrants the additional money.
Conclusion – so the Maison Celadon Yue Fei “shiok” or not?
Definitely so – the Maison Celadon Yue Fei is probably my favourite dive watch that I’ve reviewed till date. Perhaps that’s because the Yue Fei doesn’t feel like a dive watch, but more of a sports watch with dive watch styling. In any case, the Yue Fei is a wonderful watch, filled to the brim with delightful details at every turn. If you’re Chinese, or a fan of Chinese culture, this watch is a no brainer, but even if you’re not, the Yue Fei is a great watch nonetheless. My only critiques are the lack of AR coating, as well as the price – whilst I think the S$1249 price is justified, it’s not exactly a steal. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the Yue Fei – more than I thought I initially would – and if you’re looking for an unconventional dive watch, do consider the Maison Celadon Yue Fei!
For those interested, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” would grant you 10% off all Maison Celadon watches! After the promo code, the Maison Celadon Yue Fei costs just $898 USD/ ~S$1249, which I think is a fair price for the watch given the amount of detail it possesses.
View Maison Celadon’s full range of watches here.
Case: 316L Stainless Steel, alternating Mirror-polished and Continuous-Line Brushed surfaces. Hand-finished.
Water Resistance: 200m
Bezel: 120-click mono-directional, Super-LumiNova on 12 o’clock, circular-brushed.
Dial: Smoked Sunburst, Obsidian grey or Azure blue. Applied polished indices and Maison Celadon Seal. Blue Super-LumiNova on hour marker tips.
Hour and Minute Hands: Sword of King Goujian hands, proprietary design. Blue Super-LumiNova.
Seconds Hand: Green Dragon Crescent Blade hand, proprietary design. Blue Super-LumiNova.
Crown: Alternating finish, octagonal crown with debossed Maison Celadon Seal. CNC-milled and hand-finished.
Strap: Navy leather-rubber hybrid strap. Stingray straps in navy, brown and grey available as options.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!