10 Dec 2008
High Time(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 01,2009)
Many trends may have come and gone during Definition Watch Industries Ltd's 28 years in the timepiece business but the company continues to explore new ideas.
The latest is radio-controlled watches, which, according to Director Kenneth Ng, the company has been manufacturing for about a year. "Radio-controlled watches are very practical timepieces for people who have to travel," he claims. "If the user goes to Europe or the US, for example, he can reset the time very accurately because the watch responds to the relevant transmitter."
Definition Watch has developed a range of these watches with either alloy cases and leather straps or plastic cases and bands, each boasting a dual analogue digital movement and water resistance to 30 metres.
"We are still establishing a market for these products," Mr Ng admits, noting that "not many factories" do this kind of watch because they are quite hard to make.
"It is a relatively new product for us," he adds. "Some components are from Japan, but it is assembled in China, and I think there is room in the market for this kind of watch to expand."
Definition Watch was established in 1980 and manufactures watches at its own factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland, which employs 50-60 people.
"We can produce about 100,000 watches per month," Mr Ng says, adding that Definition Watch buys most of its parts in China but the movements are Japanese. "We focus on OEM and OEM/ODM business, but we also have our own Definite brand, which we established two years ago."
The brand is registered in China, and the company has plans to seriously develop it in that market. "It is early days yet, however, and we expect to take some time to establish it," Mr Ng concedes.
One reason the company has taken its time in entering the own-brand business is that it is well established as a supplier to buyers for household name brands in Europe and North America, including Dunlop and Slazenger.
"Our major markets are the US and Spain, where we have many customers with whom we have built strong long-term relationships," Mr Ng explains.
One reason for these relationships, he believes, is because Definition Watch is "very flexible" in meeting customer demands. "We keep a very high level of inventory, and for that reason we can respond to orders of any size," Mr Ng claims. "If they want just five pieces or 10 pieces we can do that, because we have the stock, but of course for smaller orders the price is necessarily higher."
A normal minimum order for the company that would allow the buyer to enjoy economies of scale would be about 500 watches, which cost US$3-10 per watch FOB Hong Kong depending on the quality required and the size of the order.
"We make many different kinds of watches - there are about 100 different models in production at the moment," Mr Ng reveals. "Many of those bear the Definite brand name, but we are happy to supply watches for other brands."
The company's major product lines are analogue quartz watches, digital analogue watches, radio-controlled watches and some mechanical watches, although most models are battery- operated.
Definition Watch has long specialised in supplying gifts and premiums buyers, but has always insisted on manufacturing quality. "Our prices are not the lowest because there is a certain price point below which we can't deliver quality," Mr Ng insists. "Our plating, for example, is not cheaper plating as manufacturing quality is important."
Although the company does work with plastic and alloy, most of its watch cases are stainless steel or brass with either PNP or IP steel, gold or titanium plating.
Like most timepiece manufacturers, Definition Watch anticipates a slowdown of business in response to the global credit crunch, but the company has weathered economic downturns before and Mr Ng believes it has sufficient demand from regular customers to keep busy.
"We have always been very customer-service oriented and there are major clients in Spain and the US who have been with us for about 20 years, so loyalty has been built," Mr Ng maintains. "They are very satisfied with our service, but of course we are also always looking for new business."
TEXT BY ROBERT PIERCE