1 Sept 2006
Digital Clocks(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 03,2006)
|Neviah Investment Holdings Ltd's free-standing series of metallic silver digital clocks features large screens|
Cheaper electronics, the liberal availability of quartz and smaller LEDs have made one of the watch world's most recent inventions also one of its most popular products.
Invented just five decades ago, digital clocks are now universally accepted and used in a variety of situations, including automobiles, as standalone mini-clocks and even on transport systems such as airport buses and trains.
Not surprisingly, Hong Kong watch and clock manufacturers such as Neviah Investment Holdings Ltd have been quick to exploit the enormous potential of digital timepieces.
Neviah, which is just one year old but has more than 10 years' experience in digital clock and thermometer manufacturing, produces 1.3 million items a year.
Typical of Neviah's output is the free-standing TX series of digital clocks, which come in striking tones such as silver, black, grey and white and feature large screens for easy time-telling.
They are manufactured at three factories in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland that employ more than 400 workers, are RoHS compliant and have CE certification.
Manager Louis Zhou notes that while Neviah has its own Neviah Digital brand, it is mostly an OEM company. "We produced digital clocks and watches for many years, but realised in the late 1980s that we needed a special niche to compete as the price war between manufacturers led to profits dropping considerably," he recalls. "So we entered the weather sensor field with amazing success and we now incorporate these features into many of our watch and clock products."
Zhou says that the majority of the company's buyers from Europe, Canada or Japan snap up minimum orders of 1,000 units of a standard design or 5,000 of a custom product; both delivered 30 days after order confirmation.
"Europeans and the Japanese appreciate beautiful, reliable and high-quality products," he believes. "Over the past 10 years, we have seen volume orders from purchasers in these countries increase 10-20 times."
Similarly prolific is Lee Handerson (HK) Ltd, which produces a wide range of digital timepieces including a radio-controlled clock and a transparent LCD calendar clock.
"Our main business is calculators, body-mass-index calculators and cardio-risk monitors, but clocks are still a significant part of the business," director Homer Lee explains.
He says the 31-year-old company has a number of new items available, including model AC264 which is a "sunrise natural sound" alarm clock.
"This responds to touch and slowly lights up, just like a morning sunrise," Lee maintains. "There is also a choice of nine programmable natural sounds, such as waves lapping, the sound of distant seagulls, dusk with insects or frogs croaking, or a dawn chorus with birds singing."
Lee says that Lee Handerson's biggest markets are the US and Japan, while currently the company is endeavouring to penetrate Eastern Europe and Russia. "We have been reasonably successful so far in Russia, but there is a lot to discover in these new markets," Lee admits.
Regardless of destination or whether they bear the company's Vedex brand, the 500,000 items Lee Handerson produces every month are available in minimum order quantities of 2,000 units delivered 30 days after order confirmation.
Taking a more focused approach is King's Mfg Co Ltd, which produces clock radios, multifunction clocks, radios and book lights for customers in Spain, Germany, the UK and the US.
"Our most successful markets are Europe and the US," senior manager Julie Leung reveals, adding that while the company would like to penetrate the Middle East it is a difficult market because customers focus on different quality standards.
Founded in 1967, King's manufactures a number of novelty clocks, including a projection clock with an FM autoscan radio and a multifunction timepiece.
Other popular products include a handy traveller's FM scanner, alarm clock and flashlight that is ideal for adventurers exploring unknown lands or businessmen on an overnight trip.
All King's products, which often carry the firm's Nexa brand, are manufactured at a 600-worker factory in Shenzhen on the mainland. "The minimum order quantity is 3,000 pieces with delivery 60 days after order confirmation," Leung adds.
European markets such as the UK and Germany figure prominently in Garbo Clock Industrial Ltd's export manifest, together with other key areas such as Japan and Korea.
The 18-year-old company's two factories in Dongguan on the mainland cover 20,000 square metres and employ 1,000 workers, who produce one million wall, alarm, travelling alarm clock, radio-controlled and luminous clocks a month.
Foremost among the company's extensive range are the radio-controlled digital clocks with light and snooze functions that often bear Garbo's Timemark brand.
"Our factories are capable of producing 20 million complete clocks and 25 million movements every year," assistant marketing manager Joe Ng explains. "We specialise in OEM/ODM projects with customers around the world."
Garbo uses quartz from Japan and ICs from Taiwan in its products, which are available in 2,000-unit minimum orders and delivered 40 days after order confirmation.
Clearly there is strong demand for digital timepieces and it is equally clear that Hong Kong manufacturers are committed to keeping buyers counting down to big profits.
WRITTEN BY JEFF HESELWOOD
King's Mfg Co Ltd
18 Sung On St
Hung Hom, Kowloon
Lee Handerson (HK) Ltd
Roxy Ind Centre
58-66 Tai Lin Pai Rd
Kwai Chung, New Territories
Man Nin Shing Co Ltd
Unit C, 2/F
15 Cheung Shun St
Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon
Neviah Investment Holdings Ltd
Unit 102, Winning Centre
Pat Tat St
San Po Kong, Kowloon