17 June 2004
Bracelet Watches(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 03,2004)
Vol 3, 2004
Doing Double Duty
Koon-Tai Watches (HK) Ltd recreates the elegance of a bygone era with its antique-style marcasite bangle watches
Why shouldn't a watch be both a reliable timepiece and an attractive bracelet? This exceedingly simple and increasingly popular combination has found its own distinct market niche and Hong Kong's watch manufacturers are, as usual, at the forefront of the trend.
The C's Enterprises Co Ltd, for example, uses dried flowers and seeds sealed in epoxy on painted backgrounds to give antique-style bracelet watches unusual flair. Set with cubic zirconia and Swarovski crystals, the quartz analogue watches are made with alloy cases and bracelets.
"They're unique," notes marketing executive Caroline Li. "We've been making them for 2-3 years and they're our best-selling items because they're such fun to wear."
The 11-year-old firm produces 10,000 of the watches per month, about half of them under its own C's brand name with OEM and ODM orders accounting for the rest.
Minimum order is 300 watches per model at prices ranging from US$10 per piece FOB Hong Kong for orders of 500 units or more to US$15 per piece for smaller quantities. Delivery is 60-75 days after order confirmation to such major markets as the US, Europe, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan.
"We also have some bands made of seashells in different patterns and colours, which are glued to a backing, and bands made of Chinese freshwater pearls," adds Li.
Koon-Tai Watches (HK) Ltd is another firm that produces antique-style timepieces, in this case marcasite watches set with brightly coloured cubic zirconia that are just the thing for today's fashion-oriented youngsters.
The 11-year-old company has more than 20 models of the bangle-style watches with brass alloy cases and sells them for US$5 FOB Hong Kong per piece. "We've used red cubic zirconia in some models," explains Ray Cheng, a director of the company that also manufactures finger, pendant, bracelet and fashion watches at prices ranging from US$1-10 per piece. "Marcasite is fashionable now in the US, Japan and Southeast Asia."
Koon-Tai's minimum order requirement is 300 pieces per model, which is usually shipped 30-45 days after order confirmation, although rush orders can be expedited.
The ODM/OEM manufacturer has two brand names of its own, Lecornad and KTW, which are carried on 20-30% of the 40,000-50,000 watches it manufactures monthly.
Hansberg Times Products Co Ltd also manufactures antique-style watches, but it is the warm look of rosewood or maple that stands out in its wooden watches.
"There is something special about wood - it is such a traditional material and it has a nice feel," says director Timmy Chow, whose firm also manufactures jewellery watches. "People see it and they love it."
The company, which began making wooden watches in 1988, has an inventory of more than 1,000 models for men and women and produces about 50,000 units per month, many in antique styles.
Hansberg's watches have zinc alloy or brass cases and are available in quartz, mechanical or automatic models, while cubic zirconia or Swarovski crystals can be added for a more decorative effect.
The bracelet and case can also be purchased as mix n' match separates. "The wooden beads are removable and interchangeable," Chow adds. "Consumers can buy different beads and change the design."
Prices range from US$2.50-15.00 per piece FOB Hong Kong for minimum orders of 200 pieces per model delivered 30-35 days after order confirmation. The watches sell well in the US, Germany, Italy, France, Australia, Korea and Japan.
Thirteen-year-old Art Style Enterprises Ltd, meanwhile, specialises in sterling silver watches that range in price from US$15-40 FOB Hong Kong.
Sterling silver watches make up about 80% of the 50,000 timepieces Art Style produces a month at its factory in Panyu on the Chinese mainland, with 9-, 14- or 18-karat gold watches making up the balance.
The company's quartz analogue watches typically feature mother-of-pearl dials and cubic zirconia accents. "One new trend is using cubic zirconia with amethyst or garnets," explains marketing executive Michelle Kong.
She adds that Art Style can also substitute diamonds for cubic zirconia and plain sterling silver watches, without stones, can be ordered as well. Both dressy and casual styles are available, with antique styles the current favourite in the US and the UK.
Art Style designs its watches to appeal to a broad consumer base. "We have some models for younger women and others for those who are mature," says Kong, adding that the company also carries a few men's models.
Eighty per cent of the company's production is divided between ODM and OEM work, while the remaining 20% carries its own Asmigo brand. Minimum orders of 100 pieces per model are delivered 30 days after order confirmation.
They may be doing double duty, but Hong Kong manufacturers are obviously determined to stay abreast of trends and ahead of the competition when it comes to ever-popular bracelet watches.
WRITTEN BY ANDREA PAWLYNA
Art Style Enterprises Ltd
Unit 305, 3/F
3 Hok Yuen St East
Hung Hom, Kowloon
Firmode (Int'l) Co Ltd
Wing Hing Ind Bldg
499 Castle Peak Rd
Koon-Tai Watches (HK) Ltd
Lee Wai Commercial Bldg
1-3 Hart Ave
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
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