11 March 2008
Eye-Catching Accuracy(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 02,2008)
|Fullswing Industrial Co Ltd's latest Japanese-movement chronographs with stainless steel cases and bracelets are water-resistant to 300 metres|
A necessary timepiece for adventurous professionals, sportsmen and the military, the chronograph is fast becoming a major fashion statement for both men and women
Once the extremely practical choice of daredevils like astronauts, racing car drivers, pilots and divers, the chronograph is now taking the watch world by storm.
Today's watch designers are crafting chronographs in many shapes and sizes in order to meet the demands of all sectors of the market, be they fashionistas or adrenaline junkies.
The world's second-largest timepiece exporter and re-exporter, Hong Kong naturally offers many choices and styles of chronograph, including analogue, digital or ana-digital versions.
One watch manufacturer at the forefront of this lucrative industry is Fullswing Industrial Co Ltd, which offers an extensive array of competitively priced chronographs.
Director Donny Lau explains that his company's middle- to high-end models use aluminium, stainless steel and titanium, while the low-end products utilise plastic, alloy and brass.
"Our customers in Europe, the US and Japan prefer the solid stainless steel versions with the classic round face design as they are the most popular with their end buyers," he observes.
A typical example is SG7089K74A, which is water-resistant to 300 metres and features a case and band of stainless steel as well as screw-down crown.
Fullswing's SG6042R09A model is black PVD-plated, features a screw-down crown and pushers, and like most of the company's watches comes with Japanese-made automatic movements.
"Our watches range in price from US$50-70 FOB Hong Kong each, largely depending on the design," Mr Lau explains. "We are always open to new ideas and also produce new designs from time to time."
Relative industry newcomer Star Union Watch Industrial Co Ltd has already made significant inroads as a timepiece producer and distributor for such leading licensed brands as Astroboy, Snoopy and Lego.
"We produce mainly middle- to high-end watches using top-notch materials like stainless steel and ceramic for the cases, and Japanese chronograph movements," Managing Director Man Chi Lai says.
The company's newest 5ATM water-resistant models come in a variety of designs, including the stainless steel AAAA0069 version with its pusher and crown situated on the top of the watch case rather than the traditional side location.
Star Union's other popular designs include the CCCC0142 stainless steel case and band model with Iron Plating Black (IPB), screw crown and pusher with a screw lock.
"This range is competitively unit-priced from US$18-21 FOB Hong Kong," Mr Man observes, adding that the price depends on the plating used and the design.
He notes that Hong Kong is still the main destination for watch buyers despite increasing competition from other countries. "This is largely due to our advanced design concept and tight quality control," Mr Man maintains.
Indeed, more and more Hong Kong companies are applying techniques like computer-aided design (CAD) to speed creation of complete watches and clocks, dials, watch cases and related components, while also cutting costs.
Applications such as three-dimensional, computer-aided industrial design and rapid prototyping are also helping Hong Kong companies enhance their design capabilities.
In addition, modern production technology like metal injection moulding, which is especially suitable for production of stainless steel cases, bands and buckles with complex shapes, increases production capability for the sophisticated designs that fetch higher prices.
One company moving towards the value-added end of the chronograph market is Pak Time Industries (HK) Ltd. "We used to make low-end watches but have now changed to the middle- to high-end range," explains spokeswoman Connie Fung.
For example, she says, men's chronograph cases are made of solid stainless steel and come with either stainless steel bands, such as model PT302SS5, or genuine leather straps in a variety of colours like model PT768SL27.
"Our PT216SS3 model also has a two time-zone function," Ms Fung adds, noting that extra functions are reflected in the prices. "Prices vary from US$27-32 FOB Hong Kong each, depending on the number of functions in the watch."
Pak Time has three in-house designers who are able to cater to clients' specific requirements. "We are always open to new trends - looking at new materials and new designs depending on what the market wants," Ms Fung says.
She adds that Pak Time's main market was initially the Middle East. "We are now expanding into the European market, particularly in France with these new gents' chronographs," Ms Fung advises.
Industry veteran Pengelly Co Ltd also employs the latest technology, including CAD and an in-house design team, to keep pace with a fast-changing market.
The firm's collection of unisex chronographs comes in stainless steel cases with plastic or genuine leather straps in an assortment of colours.
Selling under Pengelly's own Pocalla brand name, models 8132GS-SS-028, 8133GS-SS-028 and 8148GS-SS-006A feature dials ranging from rectangular to octagonal.
"We use mainly Japanese movements with some Swiss parts in our watches," explains spokeswoman Abby Wong, who believes this collection is "ideal" for today's market as some women prefer larger dials.
With Hong Kong watch manufacturers always open to new ideas and innovative designs, buyers are certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to pleasing customers around the world with chronographs that exemplify eye-catching accuracy.
Year Established: 1992
Year Established: 2002
Year Established: 1996
Year Established: 1981
|Star Union Watch Industrial Co Ltd
Int'l Trade Centre
11-19 Sha Tsui Rd
Tsuen Wan, New Territories
Year Established: 2004
Year Established: 1993