19 Feb 2004
Hong Kong Watches & Clocks
Luckotime Industries Ltd
Luckotime Industries Ltd offers a wide range of stylish watches with stainless steel bands or leather straps
Luck has had little to do with the success of Hong Kong-based quality timepiece manufacturer Luckotime Industries Ltd, whose achievements managing director Henry Tsung ascribes to exacting manufacturing standards, creative thinking and good old-fashioned hard work.
"Today, making a watch is no longer very difficult but it is difficult to make a good watch, and more difficult to make a well-designed good watch," Tsung notes. "We are not strong in production capacity or price competitiveness, but quality and design are our niches and that is how we have survived for 19 years."
The company concentrated on manufacturing analogue quartz watches when it was first established, and has built an enviable reputation for making well designed and crafted timepieces with high quality mechanical movements, mostly sourced from Switzerland or Japan.
"It's a result of simple supply and demand," observes Tsung. "The market is overcrowded with ordinary watches, and a certain group of customers want to be different and are looking for something unique and special."
He maintains watches are no longer just a utility item and says people choose them to express character, to stand for what they want to represent - particularly if it's a second or third watch. "They want something different from the others, and that is the field we want to be in."
Unlike most Hong Kong watch manufacturers, who have moved their production to the mainland, Luckotime continues to design and assemble its watches at its original factory in Kwun Tong in Hong Kong.
"It's quite unusual, but it suits us well as we aim at providing a quality service rather than offering quantity and price," Tsung says. "This way we can provide better watches, better service and better shipping times."
Although 90-95% of the company's business is OEM, many of Luckotime's customers make good use of its design capabilities. "We have designed hundreds of watches, but are currently running about 30-50 of our own standard models," Tsung observes.
About 70% of those are gentlemen's watches, of which approximately 50% are sports models, 30% are classic and the remainder "modern classic".
"In some cases we do have complete production instructions from buyers with respect to quality, design and the smallest details, but in others we provide our own ideas," Tsung explains.
Those ideas come from a variety of sources, including studying watches produced by other manufacturers to more abstract wells of inspiration.
For example, one prototype under development, which Tsung calls "a philosopher's watch", was inspired by a traditional sundial and has only one hand rather than the normal two or three.
The face, however, is divided into 60 one-minute segments, allowing the wearer to read the time accurately within 60 seconds from the position of the single hand.
"We want to make our watches unique, which is easy to say but difficult to do," Tsung admits. "We want our customers to feel that they are getting good value, but on top of that we want to give the watch a special feeling through the look and design."
Not surprisingly, the company is keen to develop its own brands, which comprise about 5-10% of its output. Lucko is an established trademark and the company is in the final stages of registering a second trademark LETEMPS in Hong Kong.
The new marque has also been registered on the mainland, where Tsung sees great potential for Luckotime watches, although he believes it will be another year or two before the mainland market is ready to pay the right price for Luckotime's quality.
Prices range from US$7-150 FOB Hong Kong, which at the upper end of the price range would buy a watch with a stainless steel case, a mechanical automatic movement, and a very high level of water resistance.
According to Tsung, around 70% of Luckotime's watches are sold in Europe with the rest divided among Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Singapore.
"Design is the most critical aspect of the success of this company," concludes Tsung, who is himself one of the company's two principal creative minds. "My designer, Aileen Ng, and I are very passionate about watches."
WRITTEN BY ROBERT PIERCE
Luckotime Industries Ltd
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