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TSAR BOMBA: Best inexpensive tonneau watches?

Desiring a Richard Mille watch but can’t yet afford its steep price tag? You’re not alone. Thankfully, Tsar Bomba offers a tempting alternative. These watches, priced between $150 and $500, might just be the interim solution you’re looking for.

What are Tsar Bomba watches worth? Is it really a good choice between $150 and $500? I had the opportunity to discover some of them and I will give you my opinion.

Where does the name Tsar Bomba come from

The Tsar Bomba watches borrow their name from the mightiest Russian nuclear bomb. The exact reasoning behind this naming choice remains somewhat enigmatic, but a glimpse at the company’s website hints at a reminder of history. Interestingly, Tsar Bomba melds German and Chinese heritage, operating factories out of Hong Kong. Launched in 2021, their watches echo the designs of Richard Mille, the esteemed Swiss watchmaker.

Presentation of Tsar Bomba watches

This is the brand’s introductory watch, priced between $170 to $200. Its affordable tag can be attributed to the mecha-quartz movement, which means it’s battery-driven. Powered by a Japanese Seiko VK67 mechanism, the quality remains commendable, although it may not last as long as its mechanical counterparts.

The construction quality stands out. It boasts a barrel case crafted from 316L steel, coupled with a 5 ATM water resistance. The watch has a bold, masculine appearance with significant measurements. The case spans 43.5 mm in width, 50.5 mm in length, and a notable 15.5 mm in thickness, making it a fitting choice for those with larger wrists.

The design is obviously close to that of Richard Mille watches with the tonneau shape, the visible screws on the bezel and the equally voluminous buttons. The Tsar Bomba TB-8204 has a date window between 4 and 5 o’clock, a stopwatch, a 12 o’clock subdial, another for the minutes and a last one for the hours. It is available in many colors.

For me, it is the little jewel of the brand, equipped with a very precise automatic Seiko caliber, with a 48-hour power reserve. It’s still an entry-level automatic movement, but it’s good material, reliable and durable. It obviously costs a few hundred euros more, but we have the satisfaction of having a mechanical caliber inside.

For the rest, it generally resembles its little quartz sister, still with its tonneau case. It is available with a 316 L steel case but my favorite version is the carbon fiber version which in my opinion offers a better look and saves a few grams on the wrist. The skeleton dial reveals the movement of the watch, it’s always great for watchmaking neophytes who like to see the cogs moving.

The Tsar Bomba TB-8208 has large buttons to activate the stopwatch and the screw-down crown is also quite imposing, but that’s what gives the watch its style. Its dimensions are almost the same as those of the quartz model. Again, it is found in a dozen colors, so there is something for everyone.

It is a slightly more classic model, round in shape with an octagonal bezel. The case is made of steel, still with fairly large dimensions: 46 mm wide, 52 mm long and 15 mm thick. Like all watches from the Sino-German manufacturer, it is intended for men and has a very masculine look.

It is water resistant to 10 ATM, protected by a sapphire crystal, so it’s a sports watch that you won’t be afraid to wear on any occasion. The Mijota J520 ​​quartz movement is one of the safe bets. It ensures impeccable precision and we know its durability. It is therefore a robust and reliable watch that should be kept without any problem for many years.

I find its design rather interesting, a little more versatile than the models presented above. On the dial, we discover 3 hands, a date window at 6, inlaid in a seconds sub-dial. There is also a 24 hour subdial at 12 o’clock. The large buttons activate the stopwatch and the screw-down crown allows you to set the time and date. The Tsar Bomba TB-8801 is available in several colors.

Tribute watch or pale copy?

How many of our readers have the luxury to own a Richard Mille? I suspect not many… Tsar Bomba has thus chosen to adopt the renowned style of the Swiss watchmaker, offering watches at far more attainable prices. I believe this is a wise move.

Certainly, the build quality isn’t identical; the use of plastic buttons on several models stands out, when perhaps a higher-end material might have been used. However, in the grand scheme, Tsar Bomba likely provides better value for money than a Richard Mille with its hefty price tag.

Overall I find the look nice, they don’t look too cheap as I have read on certain forums, on the contrary, I had a good impression of solidity. The calibers used come from Seiko / Mijota, it’s good stuff, both reliable and durable.

So we are very probably in a pale copy of Richard Mille, but these are ultimately the most beautiful tribute watches that I have had the opportunity to test for Richard Mille. I find the level of design well above Thomas Earnshaw watches .

User reviews

Overall, and even overwhelmingly, the reviews are positive. Users are often amazed when they receive the watch. We often read that it is a very nice surprise, that it is clearly not a toy and that the manufacturing quality is very serious.

Some people talk about the weight of the watches, which are indeed a little heavy, but this is ultimately one of the only negative arguments that we encounter on commercial sites. In addition, many also appreciate heavy watches, which feel good on the wrist.

For the rest, everyone is rather amazed by the designs, really close to those of Richard Mille, with generally good quality materials. RAS, Tsar Bomba customers are delighted with their purchases!

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