2 Dec 2004
Novelty Clocks(HKTDC Watch & Clock,2004)
Ever creative, Hong Kong clock designers have come up with timepieces in the shape of animals, birds, people, ships and flowers to mark passing moments.
Viewing timepieces as a serious matter whatever their shape, Sinowell Products Ltd produces clocks - set in roosters, the sun and the moon, clouds and raindrops - that also provide barometer and thermometer functions.
"The electronic module inside each of our models can also be interchanged to convert them to alarm clocks," says director, designer and inventor Fabien Dujardin, whose entire range of clocks won a Design Bronze Medal at the Concours Lepine inventors' trade fair in Paris in January this year.
"I came here from France in 1995 to establish a company to make my clocks because Hong Kong and the neighbouring Chinese mainland are such excellent manufacturing centres," Dujardin explains.
Sinowell's 3,000-square-metre factory in Dongguan on the mainland employs 950 skilled workers, who use electronic components from Taiwan and polyresin from Italy to produce 200,000 items a month.
"FOB Hong Kong unit prices start from US$3, minimum order is 1,000 pieces per item and we promise delivery 60 days after sample approval," notes Dujardin, whose unique clocks appear under the Meteo Fun brand name in major markets such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the US.
Equally lighthearted is Charmtoy Ltd, whose current bestselling range of clocks features timepieces in the shape of people with flexible arms and legs.
"These are definitely not toys - they are used mainly for promotional purposes," insists marketing executive Connie Chan.
"We include the customers' logo on the clock and they are given as corporate gifts or used in publicity functions."
Indeed, she says corporate gifts represent a major part of the 23-year-old company's production. "We provide comprehensive services, including plastic mould making, silk-screening, pad printing, hot stamping and spraying," Chan explains.
"Our main markets are Europe, Japan, the US and South Africa, but we are planning to expand further in Asia, with the mainland one of our major targets."
Charmtoy produces 100,000 units a month at a 60,000-square-foot mainland plant in Shenzhen, which employs 500 workers supported by a technical team. "We have a strict quality control system and are ISO 9001-certified," adds Chan.
The clocks, which are sold under the Flexi Time and Flexi Girl brand names, are available in minimum order quantities of 3,000 pieces in any one model and colour delivered approximately one month after order confirmation.
Similarly steady sellers are the attractive ceramic clocks with traditional nature designs produced by Heng Tong Int'l Trading And Consulting Co. "We are always willing to create new designs for our customers, but they seem to like the classic ones so we stick to those," says director Kan Ka Leung.
The clocks are made at Heng Tong's mainland factory in Fujian Province, where 500 workers use local ceramics to create the timepieces. "We follow traditional international designs for the clocks, which are more or less timeless," Kan maintains, adding that the 12-year-old company also makes ceramic figurines and promotional items.
"Minimum order value is US$3,000 and delivery takes 55 days," says Kan, adding that Heng Tong's main markets are Europe, Japan, and North and South America. "FOB prices ex-Hong Kong range from US$0.30-0.60 each."
Girls in particular also like the clocks produced by Topfair Industries Ltd, which have distinctly feminine appeal. "Our in-house designer has some innovative ideas," says marketing executive Teddy Law.
He adds that Topfair's products are mainly digital alarm clocks made under the 10-10 brand name that add interest to any home. "They are made of polyresin in a beautiful range of colours," Law explains. "We can also adapt our designs to customers' requirement or carry out their designs."
Topfair's 800-worker factory in Guangdong Province on the mainland produces minimum orders of 2,000 pieces per style for FOB Hong Kong US$3.20 per clock, delivered 35-50 days after order confirmation.
Established in 1986, Topfair has customers in the US, Europe and Japan and has big plans for the future. "We are planning to expand in Asia and have already got a foothold in Korea," says Law. "We will probably also expand on the mainland in 2-3 years."
Smart buyers will certainly have the time of their lives watching sales figures escalate when they market the ever-increasing range of novelty clocks made in Hong Kong.
WRITTEN BY WINSOME LANE
Heng Tong Int'l Trading And Consulting Co
Sinotec Int'l Co Ltd
Sinowell Products Ltd