Despite the title and what you will read in any other plot summaries, a watch has little to nothing to do with this film. Let’s gloss over the pointless and useless parts of the film and get to the point. It’s about a poor kid on the streets of Shanghai who after being drafted into the army is lured to the city by the bright lights. He turns to a life of crime and after stealing a watch for one reason or another he is sent to a place for kids like him. They don’t know he has the watch and in fact somebody else has been arrested for the crime. When he gets to the place he soon finds out that the man backing the place financially is embezzling. The bad man blackmails him because he knows about the watch. Of course he eventually comes forward with the backing of the other kids and a guy who sees through economics to the bunch of little kids who can perform miracles simply by working together. Since this is communist propaganda they oust the bad man and his cronies and build what they need and feed the kids seemingly without the use of money.
Now that might sound ok because some of the greatest films ever made are communist propaganda like The Battleship Potemkin. However, I told you at the start that I was glossing over the rest of the film. The rest doesn’t serve any purpose except to confuse you and make the movie feel even more forced and ridiculous than it already is so I can’t recommend it.