1 Sept 2001
Expert Timekeepers(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 03,2001)
Vol 3, 2001
WHEN it comes to choosing the right timepiece, both quality and design are important considerations - and a manufacturer's expertise and experience can make all the difference.
Along with 22 years of industry experience, Silcon Electronics Co Ltd commands special status as a founding member of the Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Quality Club and one of the first Hong Kong clock makers to achieve ISO 9001 certification.
"We started with only 10 people in 1979, and now we employ 500. We have an 80,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland, while our Hong Kong office handles logistics," says managing director Kenneth Ng.
The company has a 14-member research and design team based in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland. "We come out with about 20 designs a month. Most are our own, but we also do OEM projects," says Ng. Monthly production is about 90,000 pieces, with minimum orders of 500-1,000 pieces.
Half the company's sales go to the US, 25% to Europe and the rest to Japan and the Middle East. "Our products are very high end. We manufacture for a lot of brand-name customers," says Ng. The average FOB Hong Kong price is US$12 for a clock and US$20 for a watch.
"What makes our products and our company good is a combination of things. Our marketing people are always on the lookout for new ideas for customers, and they try to help develop these ideas. In addition, our engineers excel when it comes to OEM. They advise customers on what can, or cannot, be done," says Ng.
Since Silcon manufactures most of its own components, the company can control quality and production time. "We have the capability to work with wood, glass, metal and electronics, so we can make numerous designs and shapes. This is very rare for a manufacturer," Ng adds.
Silcon has gained wide acclaim, including two Hong Kong Awards For Industry in the Consumer Product Design category.
While most of its timepieces are traditional, the company is developing more electronic and IT products. "Because electronics are more innovative, we can make more hi-tech timepieces, such as radio-controlled watches that set themselves to radio time signals from government transmitters in countries like the US, the UK and Germany," says Ng.
Silcon is working on software for small and medium-sized manufacturers in Hong Kong and China. "We are doing mobile-office software so business travellers can access Web sites, an address book and calendar, and this can be shared with a secretary, so it's up to date. There is also a project-control feature so a manufacturer and client can check a project's progress at any time," says Ng.
"We had to develop our own software because no one could serve all our software needs as a watch manufacturer. Now we can sell this software to others."
The firm's name in Chinese translates as "time" and "glory", and with such a solid business strategy, Silcon should continue enjoying a "glorious" time in business.
Silcon Electronics Co Ltd
Hong Kong Industrial Centre,
489-491 Castle Peak Rd,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Bondman Time Ltd
FUN and fashionable timepieces for trendsetting, but money-conscious, watch consumers in overseas markets are arguably what Bondman Time Ltd does best.
The company has been on the scene for only one year, but already counts customers in Europe and the US among its biggest clients, with the US market absorbing most of its fashion watch exports. Monthly production is about 800,000 timepieces.
"We come out with 30-50 designs a month. Some are our own designs, and some are OEM products," says sales manager Sylvia Ki.
The firm has a 300-worker factory in Shenzhen, on the Chinese mainland, and employs about 20 staff in its Hong Kong office.
Its watches are targeted at the low-to-medium end of the market and are priced at US$2-10 FOB Hong Kong. Minimum order is 300 items, with delivery after 35-40 days.
Various materials are used, including rubber, fur, water, plastic, leather, brass and alloy. Components come from Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland and Japan.
"Our products are very affordable, with good quality for the price," says Ki. She points to some bright watches with water-filled, bubble faces, which are among the latest models proving popular.
More classic designs, such as bracelet watches and models with leather bands, sell well in Europe.
"We also make sporty-looking watches that are water resistant up to 30 metres," Ki says. The models in question resemble divers' watches, featuring black and silver rubber with distinctive faces.
"We have also developed a series of gift sets, each including a watch, some imitation jewellery, pens and letter-openers or a key-chain, so we can offer more variety in the market. Gift sets are a new way to sell our watches. We think pairing them with other items might create a more attractive product."
Aside from competitive prices, Bondman offers strong customer service. "We always make an effort to follow up with customers, and we are always trying to come up with new ideas," says Ki. Potential customers can scan designs on the firm's Web site and make enquiries by e-mail.
Bondman is also a trading company, sourcing an eclectic range of products, such as calculators, children's electronic games, fun gadgets and toys. "Many customers want more than merely watches, so we provide this kind of service," says Ki.
The company does not manufacture under its own brand, but plans to develop one by September this year. "We are in the process of registration, so it should be done in a few months," says Ki.
With Bondman's affordable, fun timepieces, the company offers options that are easy on the pocketbook, while keeping consumers in pace with changing fashion trends.
Bondman Time Ltd
Rm 3, 2/F,
Shun Fat Industrial Bldg,
17 Wang Hoi Rd,
Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong
WRITTEN BY MELISSA G. WESTCOTT
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