10 Dec 2008
Looking Ahead(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 01,2009)
Times may be challenging, but Teddy Tech Int'l Ltd Director Kenny Leung places his faith for the future in the excellence of design and manufacturing embodied in the company's high-quality timepieces.
Teddy Tech was established only two years ago, but has already made its mark as an ultra high-end OEM/ODM manufacturer that consistently produces strikingly designed, superlatively engineered watches and displays them at major international trade shows.
"We have our own three-person, in-house design team and also two China-based product designers," Mr Leung explains. "Every year we introduce more than 100 models over two seasons - one for the BaselWorld Fair around March/April and another for the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair in September."
Some 40-50 "brand-new" models are introduced each time. "By brand-new, I mean that a new mechanical movement has been designed and that the case is also new," Mr Leung adds.
Although Asian manufacturers of high-quality watches have traditionally relied on Swiss or Japanese movements, Teddy Tech sources all of its movements in China, mostly from Shanghai and Hangzhou.
Mr Leung insists that this not only gives the company increased creative control over the expression of its original designs, but also provides a solid assurance of quality.
"China movements only started about 15 years ago, but now the quality is high and the standards are up to those of Swiss-made movements," he claims. "We have very good relationships with the movement makers on an OEM basis and they will work to our designs."
Teddy Tech manufactures its own cases, as well as handling all assembly functions at its factory on the Chinese mainland. "We have a factory in Dongguan with a steel case manufacturing facility, together with the assembly operation," Mr Leung says. "Our case-plant capacity is about 30,000-40,000 per month because our designs are complicated and sometimes involve several pieces."
Teddy Tech focuses on the watch business and fashion accessories; namely stainless steel jewellery. "Our main watch products are mechanical watches and high-quality tourbillon timepieces," Mr Leung reveals. "We are also now 20% engaged in making quartz analogue watches."
The minimum order for each model is 300 pieces, but the minimum order goes up to 500 units for models involving the design of a new movement and/or case.
New-product samples can be produced in about 30-35 days. "After that it takes around 60 days to manufacture and deliver," Mr Leung explains. "Sometimes obtaining the movements makes the lead time a little longer."
The FOB unit-price range for automatic mechanical watches is about US$40-100 while tourbillon watches cost US$5,000-20,000, though there is no minimum order quantity for the high-end tourbillon designs.
Europe is the main market for Teddy Tech's watches, Mr Leung says.
"China is a great potential market and it is also our company strategy to develop the Japan market," he explains, adding that the company is also making "some OEM products" and looking to work for more international brands.
At present, he says, European customers have a preference for stainless steel cases with high-quality plating, and Teddy Tech designs with that in mind.
"The trend now is towards cheaper products in the US market, but in Europe they are looking for new multifunction watches," Mr Leung explains.
Some European customers like stainless steel cases with IP plating such as IP gold and IP rose gold, while some designs use stainless steel cases with carbon fibre matching the PU band, and others come with leather straps.
"Because of the big movement size, we make watches mostly in men's sizes," Mr Leung says. "Around 20% are ladies' sizes, and there are also some unisex models."
Some customers want exclusive rights to particular designs originated by Teddy Tech. "Such arrangements can be made," Mr Leung affirms, noting that the company already manufactures for several European brand names and also plans to court fashion houses. "Ultimately we will probably also introduce our own brand," he adds.
The high-end nature of Teddy Tech's products will, Mr Leung hopes, absorb some of the impact of the "financial tsunami" but he is more optimistic over the longer term. "I think 2009 will be quite difficult, but we are confident about the future," Mr Leung concludes.
TEXT BY ROBERT PIERCE