The DG3804 GMT Movement

For those of us who like to make watches, especially custom watches, we have a lot of movements to choose from.  Good mechanical movements for ETA, ISA, Citizen and Seiko are available, but usually at a high price.

There are companies that make clones of swiss watches, and for the most part, some of these are very good copies, but most are poorly made.  It is important that you take the time to research the movements that you have available at hand.

Once of those movements, is the DG3804 GMT.    In this post, I’m going to give you my review of this movement, and what I think of this particular Chinese Automatic movement in general.

This movement is a budget GMT movement made in several flavors in China.  Some of these versions are better than others, and it is difficult, even for a good watchmaker to pick a movement that is build mostly for budget purposes, and not necessarily quality.

The GMT version of a watch movement was first developed for military purposes.  It has a hack set of gears, that allow it to show 24 hour military time around the circumference of the dial.  Depending on the dial placed on the movement, 24 hour indicators may not be printed, but sometimes are.


Watch the Video Review here

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How Cheap is this movement?

The DG3804 movement is a decent movement in that it is made with average quality, and uses nickle, steel and brass for most of its construction.  The plates are made of nickle and most of the gears are made from brass and stainless steel.

It has a balance jewel shock spring.  The spring clips on both the upper and lower set of jewels protect the balance staff from breaking from a normal three or four foot drop.

The movement it self is easy to service.  However, I’ll be honest, if I had a customer come into my shop for service of one of these movements, I would probably just replace it with a brand new movement.  Yes, we could do a service, change parts, if they are available and clean and oil every bit of the movement.  However, at the cost of just less than $50.00, it is actually easier and less time consuming to just replace the movement.

What is the DG3804 specs?

Size in Ligne


Diameter in millimeters26
Plate Hieght5.96 mm
Total Height7.96 mm
Hand Sizes152, 100, 17, 20
Movement TypeMechanical/Automatic
Stem Tap Size10

What are some of the bad features?

I seriously don’t like speaking of the negative part of anything.  However, this is a review, and I must let you know what I think of this watch movement from good to bad…

Let’s start with the machining of the movement.  If you take the DG3804 gmt movement and put it next to the equivalent ETA movement, you will see the obvious decrease in manufacturing quality in appearance of the parts.  I won’t say that just because something looks bad, that it is bad, but the quality of the finish work is not up to even the blindest of watch enthusiasts. 

The screws used on the watch to hold all its parts in place are a mixture of steel, blue steel and what looks to be some other kind of material that may resemble steel.  They all work, and hold the parts together just find however, and that in itself, is a good thing.

The one thing that worries me about the screws, I have to admit, if any moisture get into the watch case, the screws and stem will of course be the first casualties.  They will probably turn into little balls of mushy rust.

The watch has approximately 22 jewels in it.  I couldn’t find them all without taking the movement apart, and that isn’t something I want to tackle just yet.

The dial screws on the watch are located on the side of the movement.  I’m not pleased with the fact that they, when loosened, wobble a bit.  

Winding is a bit, let me come up with the right phrase, crunchy.  Although after examining the movement’s setting and winding system, I don’t see too many issues here.  We’ll call that a Pass!

Some Good Things?

So, I’ve already given you the lo-down on the bad.  There wasn’t too much to worry about.  Let me describe some of the better features about this movement….

First, as bad as I said that manufacturing was poor in appearance, let’s say, it fits perfectly and all the measurements are right on snuff.  That is a good thing for us watchmakers and repair techs when we have to deal with tight fitting parts.

I didn’t let the looks of this watch fool me at all.  The first thing I do when I get a new movement in is to take out the balance and the pallet fork and test the balance in the watch with no restrictions to its movement.  I will say, that I purchased three of these movements, and all three have perfectly free moving balances that worked very well and showed no signs of friction or indictions that there would be any short term or long term issues with normal use.

The pallet fork is made very well.  The fit and finish on the pallet jewels was good, and with movement and interaction on the escape wheel, I saw no problems.

All three movements were lightly oiled and tested on the timing machine.  To my surprise, all three movements timed under 5 seconds fast or slow from the factory.  This was impressive considering that they arrived in a small foam box, wrapped in shipping take, and made the journey from somewhere in China all the way to Florida in less than 2 weeks.

As you saw in the video, I spend a little time adjusting one of the movements, and I’m getting about 2.2 seconds a day on the fast side.  I’ve been wearing the watch that I put the movement in for a few days, and so far, so good.

Reserve time is respectable.  I have had about 36 hours of reserve time so far, and it seems to be getting a bit better.  However, I’m not going to say it won’t get worse either, or should it!  LOL  We’ll see.  I’m happy with anything over 30 hours on a consistent basis.

I was impressed that the manufacturer includes shock resistant balance jewel caps on the movement.  That is a very impressive for a watch at this price point.

Finally, lets talk price…  The prices is very nice.  For the money, the watch movement works better than some I see in Invicta’s cases.  I will admit, that I have only worked on a few of these, and this is the first time that I’ve used one in a watch that I’m assembling.  So far, so good, and the consistent running of the movement makes me happy, and impressed.

Where can I get these gems?

Ok, so these are available all over the internet.  I would prefer to purchase them myself, on Ebay.

I’m going to put some links together for you here, and you can just click on the images to take you to the search results for those categories.  

Happy Hunting, and Good luck!


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2 thoughts on “the DG3804 GMT Movement from China! Review and Opinion!”
  1. the seconds pinion is made of paper, not really but it’s pathetic how easy it is to break it, and if you do all you can do is throw it away, you do not want to take the 3804 apart, even if your good it will end up in the trash @ $30 for a replacement, i like the ease of use and if your lucky enough to complete one it works relatively well, the timegrapher will reveal it’s inner workings and it’s not real pretty, good luck have fun.

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