19 Feb 2004
Hong Kong Watches & Clocks
Brand Name Watches
His And Hers Watches
A Stylish Pair
Crystal Electronic Enterprises Co Ltd's huge range of watches includes solid stainless steel models with two-tone IPG plating
They are not best known for their sentimentality, but Hong Kong's watchmakers all agree that romance is definitely alive and kicking. And the proof, they say, comes in the shape of strong demand for matching "his and hers" watches.
"Pair watches are generally bought as gifts," explains Peter Lau, marketing director for Crystal Electronic Enterprises Co Ltd, adding that his and hers'-- or pair -- watches seem immune to fashion with most buyers focusing on classic, conventional styles.
Although "timeless, evergreen" models remain customers' most popular choice, he believes, "there is a move towards including stones on pair watches, especially the ladies' versions". "Customer feedback helps give us an idea of how to develop our styles," adds Lau.
Crystal's wristwatches are developed by an in-house design team and mostly feature metal bracelets, usually stainless steel or titanium, although the company can also make models with leather watchstraps.
The firm's 350 workers produce 200,000 wristwatches every month on an OEM basis for export, mainly to North America and Europe. Minimum order size is 300-500 watches per model on OEM terms and delivery is 60-90 days after order confirmation. Prices depend on the materials used and the size of the order.
Planway Ltd believes its customers are prepared to be more adventurous with his and hers' watches. "This year, we are expecting to see more demand for leather watchstraps and chunkier-looking styles," explains managing director Raymond Cheng.
"Ladies are wearing oversized watches," he notes, and this has led to demand for a mid-sized ladies' model that is somewhere between the regular men's and women's sizes.
Established in 1995, Planway is ISO 9001-certified and employs 100 workers at its factory on the Chinese mainland. The company produces 150,000 automatic and analogue wristwatches each month, mostly on an OEM basis, at prices ranging from US$4-20 FOB Hong Kong per watch.
Planway's major markets are the US, Canada and Brazil, "although we also have customers in Europe and the Middle East," says Cheng.
Most manufacturers believe pair watches make such popular gifts they will always be in demand, and Parture Co Ltd director Emily Lui, is no exception. "There is a steady demand for pair watches," she insists.
Lui describes Parture's designs as "more classic than trendy," and says the company mainly focuses on producing analogue and mechanical models.
Wristwatches appear under the Parture brand name and the firm also manufactures on an OEM basis for clients in the US, Europe and Japan.
"We use very high quality materials, including brass, stainless steel and titanium, so our 50,000 monthly production is fairly small," admits Lui, adding that Parture's mainland factory also manufactures boxes and packaging for wristwatches and thus provides buyers with the option of a full gift set.
The minimum order size for brass models is 1,000 pieces, but for stainless steel and titanium designs it falls to 500. Wristwatches are generally delivered 45 days after order confirmation and prices range from US$3.50-30.00 FOB Hong Kong each.
Similar prices are available from Vaki Ltd, which charges US$4-20 FOB Hong Kong, according to the firm's marketing manager Alex Chiu, who predicts that chunky, metallic wristwatches are on their way out and simple designs with leather straps will be the next big trend.
"Slimmer, smaller watches will become increasingly popular," believes Chui, while admitting that fans of chunkier styles are still buying pairs of identical men's watches rather than the traditional two-size set.
Vaki's creations are designed by an in-house team based at its mainland factory, which also employs 180 workers who produce 25,000 complete wristwatches and 60,000 casings every month.
The 13-year-old company's customers are mainly based in the US, Spain and Italy, but the Middle East is now emerging as a "hopeful market" for pair watches says Chiu, who is confident that demand for these watches will stay high.
"The market for pair watches will never die," he insists. "Everyone is looking for a permanent partner in life and a lot of people want a wristwatch to go with that."
Proving that, even if Hong Kong's watch manufacturers don't necessarily agree on style, they are unanimous on substance: as long as people keep on falling in love, there will always be a market for his and hers' watches.
WRITTEN BY SUZANNE MOORE
Best Top Enterprises Co
Workshop 12, 16/F, Blk B
Hi-Tech Ind Centre
491-501 Castle Peak Rd
Tsuen Wan, New Territories
Crystal Electronic Enterprises Co Ltd
Chung Shun Knitting Centre
1-3 Wing Yip St
Kwai Chung, New Territories
Flat D, 16/F
Gee Chang Hong Centre
65 Wong Chuk Hang Rd
12 Ka Hing Rd
Kwai Chung, New Territories
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