23 Sept 2004
Hong Kong Watches & Clocks
Ausbon Industrial Ltd's latest digital timepieces include key chain projector alarm clocks (front) and thermo projector alarm clocks with radios
A seemingly endless and ever-changing array of essential features has long made digital clocks irresistible to consumers worldwide. Time and again Hong Kong manufacturers such as Hiromori Int'l Ltd have proven their ability to produce digital clocks with precisely the functions global customers demand.
Hiromori has been operating in the territory since 1986, but its Japan-based parent has been designing and making premiums, including clocks, for more than 50 years.
According to general manager Samuel Ling, Hiromori has a keen eye for developing digital clocks that appeal to the premiums sector. "We are confident of continuing our current strong sales on the back of innovative and useful designs," he says.
Hiromori has more than 20 in-house designers in Japan and holds a number of original designs and worldwide patents, while manufacturing is subcontracted to a number of factories in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland.
"We own the designs and moulds used to make our products," explains Ling, adding that the company's on-site representatives enforce strict quality control at all its production lines.
Hiromori's digital clocks, for instance, are made using electronic components, plastics and wood sourced from dependable suppliers on the mainland and Taiwan.
The company recently introduced several multifunction digital models, including a pop-up clock with calculator, a matrix clock (which shifts the display matrix from calendar to clock mode when the unit is rotated 90û, a sliding radio clock and a weather station. "FOB Hong Kong prices for our products and minimum order sizes depend on the order," Ling says.
Hiromori's clocks, which are shipped about 45 days after order confirmation, are sold under its Design Factory brand name or client names in the US, Europe and Japan.
One company that specialises in designing and manufacturing digital clocks is Hideki Electronics Ltd, a unit of Hong Kong-listed K&P Int'l Holdings Ltd.
Hideki's digital clocks include weather stations, projection clocks, quartz alarm clocks and radio-controlled alarm clocks, which are mainly sold in Europe, Japan and the US under its Hideki brand name or on an OEM basis.
The company's in-house product designer and two graphic designers have already produced more than 20 new items this year, including a series of radio-controlled clocks with features like 12/24-hour weather forecasts, temperature, calendar, time projection onto a ceiling or wall, dual time and dual alarms.
"Silver has been a popular colour in our European markets, along with features like radio-controlled time setting, calendar, temperature display and weather forecasts," notes senior marketing officer Carol Ng.
She sees strong growth in Hideki's major markets, despite heavy competition. "This growth will come from the launch of a series of improved designs and models that will differentiate our products with better quality, competitive pricing and excellent customer care," Ng claims.
Hideki sources electronic parts, LCDs and plastics from suppliers in Japan, Taiwan and the Chinese mainland for processing into about one million digital clocks a month at a 10,000-square-metre, ISO 9001-certified mainland factory in Guan Lan.
Fierce competition has prompted 23-year industry veteran Chows Industrial (China) Ltd to focus on cost cuts while also pursuing a diversification strategy, with the result that the company now also produces computer accessories like USB flash disks, USB hub mouse pads and optical mouse devices.
Marketing director Thomas Wang believes a surfeit of virtually identical digital clocks has seen pricing emerge as the most important factor. "Of course, quality and a combination of useful functions still appeal to buyers," he adds.
One of Chows' most popular products is the Flipper, a multifunction alarm clock that switches between different functions like time and date, temperature, stopwatch and countdown.
Chows, which manufactures at a 300-worker, 5,000-square-foot factory in Bao'an on the mainland, plans to launch its own brand by the end of this year.
The company's minimum order requirement is 3,000 pieces, which are available at an FOB Hong Kong unit price of about US$2. Delivery to major markets like the US, Europe and Japan takes 15-20 days.
Developing innovative designs at affordable prices has enabled Garbo Clock Industrial Ltd to emerge as one of Hong Kong's leading clock manufacturers.
Established 16 years ago, Garbo recently introduced model RC008, a multifunction radio-controlled clock. "It has already proved to be a good seller in our main markets of Japan and Europe," says assistant marketing manager Eric Leung.
Garbo, which sells under its Timemark brand and on OEM basis, manufactures at a 1,000-worker, 48,000-square-metre mainland factory in Dongguan, using ABS and electronic parts sourced from Taiwan and the mainland.
The factory produces more than one million clocks a month, available in minimum orders of 1,000 pieces worth at least US$3,000 per shipment for delivery in 35-45 days.
Showing that Hong Kong remains without peer when it comes to the timely delivery of well-designed, high quality, attractively priced digital clocks.
WRITTEN BY ARAVIND VIDYADHARAN
Garbo Clock Industrial Ltd
Unit 6, 7/F
Yan Hing Centre
9-13 Wong Chuk Yeung St
Fo Tan, New Territories
Hideki Electronics Ltd
Rms 2304-06, 23/F
88 Lei Muk Rd
Kwai Chung, New Territories
Worldpole Electronics Ltd
Rm 1405, West Tower
Shun Tak Centre
200 Connaught Rd Central
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