1 Dec 2006
Digital Watches(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 01,2007)
|Inno Tempo Ltd's fashionable digital watches are complemented by leather straps and contemporary face designs|
Old familiar favourites they may be, but digital watches still have a tendency to be at the leading edge of new developments in the watch industry.
As befits one of the world's leading watch manufacturing centres, Hong Kong timepiece manufacturers are particularly forward in coming up with new ideas that always reflect - and in many cases anticipate market needs.
Take, for example, Bright Aggregation Technology Ltd, which focuses on radio-controlled and hi-tech watches and has just unveiled what the company claims is an industry breakthrough.
Bright Aggregation's EL Timewatch uses an electro-luminescent (EL) light to display the time, explains director David Luk. "Not only does it show the time, but icons or even customers' logos can also be displayed - which makes it very appropriate for the premiums market or for licensed products featuring cartoon characters," he says. "In addition, the EL panel itself is bendable, so it can be used in a bangle-style watch, for example."
The eight-year-old company imports ICs from Germany and sources cases on the Chinese mainland for the EL range, which is manufactured at a 6,000-square-foot, 120-worker factory in Shenzhen on the mainland.
Luk says the EL watches, which can display the time in blue, red or green colours, is available at FOB Hong Kong unit prices ranging from US$6-8. "We ask for minimum orders of 500 pieces and delivery time is 45 days after order confirmation," Luk says, adding that Bright Aggregation's major markets are the US, Europe and Japan.
A relative newcomer to the watch world, having been established in 2005, Inno Tempo Ltd already has its fingers on the pulse of global market needs.
Assistant marketing manager Denny Tsui explains that some of Inno Tempo's digital offerings are targeted at the fashion sector, while others focus on the high-performance market.
"We carry stainless steel radio-controlled watches that these receive a time signal from a special station, and the time is automatically corrected once a day," he says.
Tsui adds that Inno Tempo's major markets are Germany and Japan because both countries have the relevant stations. "Radio-controlled watches are very popular in these markets," he insists. "We are targeting other European countries such as the UK and France, but they are still in the development phase."
Inno Tempo also produces watches that focus more on design. "Fashion watches offer a simple time-telling function," Tsui explains, "and come in stainless steel casings."
All models, which are designed in-house and are targeted at male consumers aged 20-35 years old, are manufactured at a 3,000-square-metre, 150-worker factory in Dongguan on the mainland.
"We produce about 5,000 digital watches per month, alongside 10,000 analogue models, using components sourced locally," Tsui notes.
"FOB Hong Kong prices range from US$10-18 for minimum orders of 300 pieces delivered 90 days after order confirmation."
Opting for a different approach is CW Watches Co, which is a dedicated producer of LED watches and recently introduced a big-digit matrix model called the Digibeat. "This design is perfect for senior citizens as it has a jumbo display," says general manager Willie Ho.
The dot-matrix LED features four digits, allowing users to switch between three screens displaying different data including day and date, set in a stainless steel case. "The Digibeat is very popular in the European market," Ho notes, adding that it comes with a stylish leather strap.
Another useful design for older users is the Valor4 with magnifying LED display, which is available in a choice of blue, red, orange, white or emerald green.
Both models are manufactured at CW's 1,000-square-metre, 100-plus worker plant in Guangdong Province on the mainland. "We hold patents for various display technologies," Ho explains, noting that "most" components come from Korea and Taiwan.
Unit prices range from US$20-30 FOB Hong Kong for minimum orders of 500 pieces per model delivered 40-60 days after order confirmation to major markets such as Japan and Europe. "We have our own brand CW - which stands for 'cool watch'," Ho adds.
LCD timepieces are the forte of Smart Asia Watches Ltd, which produces at least 150,000 LCD watches per month, most distributed by major chain stores in the US.
"Customers are very keen to find something different, which is why we are about to launch our Ana-Digital Scrolling watch that incorporates an EL glow light underneath the dial," director Joe Cheah reveals.
He adds that the display can be switched between five different languages - English, French, Italian, Spanish and Chinese - and two versions are available. "One is continuous fixed scrolling underneath the glass panel, while the other comes with an on/off display switch," Cheah explains.
FOB Hong Kong unit prices range from US$3.90-4.50 subject to style and quantity, while RoHS-compliant versions cost US$4.30 and above. "Our other LCD watches are from US$2, and come with all the usual functions one would expect," Cheah notes.
Smart Asia's ISO 9001-certified production facilities in Shenzhen also manufacture timepieces that appear under the Bum, Lei, Gattinoni, Athletic Works and Regina Schecker brands in North America. "We require minimum quantities of 1,000 pieces, delivered 45 days after product confirmation," Cheah adds.
With so many new ideas around - from funky fashions to highly functional - it's obvious buyers should spend time checking out dashing digital watches from Hong Kong.
WRITTEN BY ANN WILLIAMS
Artstate Technology Ltd
Unit 5, 16/F
11 On Lai St
Sha Tin, New Territories