23 Sept 2004
Hong Kong Watches & Clocks
Legend Silver Jewellery & Watch Mfy Ltd uses different stones such as (from left) topaz and garnets, amethysts and crystals to highlight its sterling silver watches
No wardrobe is complete without a fine dress watch that combines effortless elegance with perfect timekeeping. As usual, Hong Kong watchmakers are streets ahead of the competition when it comes to developing high quality, competitively priced timepieces that look good on any wrist.
Stylish sterling silver watches are created by Legend Silver Jewellery & Watch Mfy Ltd, which was founded in 1972 as the Kam Yuen Gems Co but renamed in 2001 as a separate company making watches.
"We re-positioned to focus on gemstone watches in 1986," explains marketing manager Yvonne Lai. "In 1995 we added a new product line in sterling silver watches to further expand our markets."
Gemstones, semiprecious stones and jade are all incorporated into the watches. "Sterling silver watches represent 70% of production these days," says Lai. "The remainder is brass and alloy watches, which we added to cater to the needs of different target markets."
The firm's in-house designers keep abreast of international trends and produce 10 new designs a month. "We always have a wide range of designs to show customers, but of course we can also make customers' designs," adds Lai.
Legend manufactures approximately 30,000 watches a month at a four-floor factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland that employs 250 workers.
"FOB Hong Kong prices range from US$15-35 per sterling silver watch and US$10-18 for brass or alloy," adds Lai. A minimum order for sterling silver watches is 100 units, brass 500 and alloy 1,000 for delivery in 35-45 days to major markets like the US, Germany and Canada.
Equally creative is Manlei Precision Ltd, which prides itself on its fashion watches, that reflect international trends and the firm's own innovations.
"We are always willing to carry out customers' designs, but we like them to look at our range first," says development manager Amanda Chan. "We use mainly metal alloy, but plate it with gold and silver, and also use faux gemstones."
The watches, which sell under Manlei's own Prim brand or bear customers' own labels, are sold in key markets such as Europe and the US. "Europeans like very simple styles, but the Americans like fussier watches with a lot of ornamentation," Chan observes.
The 10-year-old company produces 200,000 watches a month at a 3,500-square-metre, 160-worker factory in Shenzhen on the mainland. FOB Hong Kong unit prices range from US$9-17 for minimum orders of 500 watches delivered in 45-75 days depending on the design.
Artificial gemstones are also fashionable decorative motifs at Bondman Time Ltd, whose small, delicate watches studded with faux stones are its most popular product.
"Our designs look as good as the world's most expensive timepieces but the prices are strictly budget," claims sales and marketing manager Sylvia Ki, who describes the watch bracelets as "pieces of jewellery in themselves". "We also produce gift sets of watches with alternative bracelets or straps, bangle and pendant watches."
The four-year-old company uses brass or alloy, usually plated, from Australia to produce 800,000 timepieces a month at its 20,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen, which employs 250 workers.
A minimum order of 300 items costs US$2.50-6.00 FOB Hong Kong for each watch and is delivered in 30-40 days. "Our main markets are the US, Europe and South Africa, but our watches also sell well in Japan and Singapore," adds Ki.
Career women are the target audience of fellow four-year-old company Saga Watch Hong Kong Ltd. "They are busy, connected and widely involved," notes assistant sales manager Carly Ng. "Watch design today must be sensitive to the needs of the current generation, so focusing on a clearly defined market means we can concentrate all our efforts on current trends and future development."
Ng claims Saga is one of the largest makers of fine jewellery and watches in Asia, offering products that are carefully developed to fit precise markets such as France and the Middle East.
The company's watches, which are set with semiprecious stones and cubic zirconium, are gold-, silver- or rhodium-plated. "Our own designs reflect the top of the fashion market plus the innovation of our designers," Ng maintains.
Saga's factory in Guangdong Province on the mainland covers 5,000 square metres and employs 550 workers. FOB Hong Kong prices range from US$15-100 each for minimum orders of 100 watches delivered six weeks after order confirmation.
Confirming that as time goes by, Hong Kong watchmakers will continue to embellish their fine reputation for producing dress watches that look as good as they perform.
WRITTEN BY WINSOME LANE
Legend Silver Jewellery & Watch Mfy Ltd
Unit 15, 10/F, Blk A
Focal Ind Centre
21 Man Lok St
Hung Hom, Kowloon
Manlei Precision Ltd
Units A-D, 15/F
Chinabest Int'l Centre
8 Kwai On Rd
Kwai Chung, New Territories
Nicole Electronics Ltd
Well Fung Ind Centre
68 Ta Chuen Ping St
Kwai Chung, New Territories
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