1 Sept 2002
No More Stopped Watches(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 03,2002)
Ruling The Radio Waves
|Watch-winder boxes from ERS are made of durable American oak, operate from AC adaptors and come in sizes to accommodate one, two or four timepieces.|
COLD-climate commuters frequently encounter trouble trying to start cars on chilly winter mornings after not driving for a few days. Lack of use can affect many wrist-watches too. Unless the watches are worn regularly, oil inside the automatic movements can dry up, leading to stoppage.
ERS, a maker of watch-winder boxes, watch-collector boxes and jewellery boxes, offers a practical solution to this problem.
"Even though watch-winder boxes have been manufactured in Europe for more than 100 years, we are among the pioneers in Hong Kong for this," says director Raymond Louie.
The ERS name - standing for Effective Result Synergy - is a remnant from when Louie operated the company as a management consulting enterprise.
A mark of the company's success is recent recognition from Intertek Testing Services, which has certified ERS's watch-winders as safe for timepieces worldwide.
Although watch-related products represent only 20% of ERS's total production, they provide a hefty 50% in value terms.
The company's watch-winder boxes are made of durable American oak and operate from an AC adaptor. Designed to fit Swiss and Japanese watches, they come in three sizes - for one, two or four watches.
Model WA043 is a two-watch winder with a slanting lid. Winding programmes can be set to clockwise, counter-clockwise or alternating directions with approximately 4-5 turns per minute. Other features include an LED showing operation status, a daily auto-repeat feature and a removable outer shell of cushion.
With 12 layers of polish, the high-gloss boxes appear to be lacquered. What sets them apart, Louie explains, is that the wood grain is still visible. "That kind of polish cannot be achieved by a machine. It must be done by hand," he says.
During an average 45-day production cycle, polishing consumes 24 days. Not surprisingly, staff training at the company's 300-worker factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland does stress polishing skills.
Congestion in the production department, which turns out 100,000 pieces per month, will ease in August when the factory moves to another Dongguan site that is double the existing 30,000 square feet.
A lower-priced plastic winder-box (at about half the cost of the oak version) is planned for release this summer. Louie says housing for plastic boxes is much more flexible than for wooden ones.
ERS started by making plastic boxes, progressing to wrapped boxes and then wooden models. Arguably, the plastic winder box brings ERS back full circle. All these materials and models are steps toward one of the company's fondest ambitions - achieving its own brand name.
WRITTEN BY TAMARA CHEUNG
Bright Aggregation Technology Ltd
Radio-controlled watches from Bright Aggregation Technology Ltd are not only water resistant, but also set themselves to precisely the correct time, even after insertion of new batteries.
THREE years ago, Bright Aggregation Technology Ltd, a mobile phone and radio-frequency products manufacturer, became one of the first companies in Hong Kong to recognize the lucrative potential of radio-controlled watches.
Until then, German and Japanese manufacturers had dominated the market. Now the markets of Germany and Japan, as well as those of the US and many other countries, are important targets for seven-year-old Bright Aggregation.
Its radio-controlled watches automatically synchronize with the Atomic Clock radio signal and adjust for standard and daylight saving time. Among the popular features for these mid-range sporty creations are: time-zone settings; year, month, week, day, hour, minute, second settings; EL backlighting; and two alarms.
The radio signal has a range of 2,000km from the nearest transmitter. Straps are made of PU or PVC.
Minimum order is for 1,000 watches, which come packed in transparent plastic boxes. Shipment within 30 days is guaranteed.
One important challenge for Bright Aggregation is to increase sensitivity of the watches because it hopes to switch to metal cases from ABS by the end of 2002.
Founder and managing director David Luk, who has a background in electronic engineering, says that since metal absorbs more energy, a higher sensitivity level is required. Therefore, the company looks to Germany for its receiver ICs. Other materials are sourced from Taiwan.
The company's greatest success comes in achieving the same sensitivity level in a 20mm watch antenna as that of a radio-controlled clock antenna, which is five times larger. Since the size of watch antennas is unlikely to change in the near future, "overcoming the problems of antenna size and increasing the sensitivity was a real breakthrough", Luk says.
In open spaces, Bright Aggregation's watches match the results of leading rival timepieces. Now the company is focused on improving the performance in sealed rooms. Last year, it added two sealed rooms to its 30,000-square-foot, 180-worker factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland.
Within one year, radio-controlled watches are expected to account for 20% of the firm's monthly production.
Bright Aggregation is confident of its future. "In the 21st century, we use more than one type of technology. We need to integrate different types of technology from different industries. Our company reflects this way of doing business," says Luk.
WRITTEN BY TAMARA CHEUNG
Bright Aggregation Technology Ltd
Rm 1212, 12/F, Metro Centre II,
21 Lam Hing St, Kowloon Bay,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
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