11 March 2008
Quality Counts(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 02,2008)
Modern man may be bombarded with time displayed on computer screens and mobile phones, but elegant desk clocks reflect quality time
They may make up a small proportion of the total number of timepieces produced every year, but desk clocks still retain a discreet charm all their own.
Traditionally used in offices worldwide to reflect status or achievement or simply to add a touch of gravitas to the executive suite, they also provide the perfect finishing touch to a living room, den or lounge.
The world's second-largest exporter of complete watches and complete clocks in terms of both value and quantity in 2005, Hong Kong is uniquely placed to provide a superb selection of desk clocks for all tastes and budgets.
Hong Kong's desk clock manufacturers have made their contribution to the development of an industry that saw the value of total exports of watches and clocks climb 5% last year to top the HK$45bn mark from January-November 2007.
They have long had a reputation for price-competitiveness that is now being matched by market-aware adaptations of designs, quality of production and efficient delivery of orders to customer requirements.
Nowadays, the desk clock sector's creations range from eye-catching space-age metallic designs to translucent offerings that hark back to a slower, simpler time.
One company that sees evolution rather than revolution as the order of the day is International Electrical Ltd, which offers a range of metal and wooden analogue clocks.
An 8-10 member, in-house design team will produce 20 new designs this year with changes to materials and colours reflecting seasonal moods, says Sales Manager Jady Wong.
"Our analogue clocks change with the seasons," she explains. "For example, winter might see more reds and golds to tie in with Christmas while spring will feature more pinks and light blues."
This approach certainly seems to work for the US market, where International Electrical's customers include Wal-Mart, Kmart, Disney and Bratz.
The classic-looking, twin-bell quartz alarm clock, Model IQ9010, exemplifies the company's philosophy. "Our customers love the traditional style of this clock but have also come to expect more functions," Ms Wong notes. "So over time we have added a light, snooze function and touch sensitivity and as a result it has become a very popular model."
She maintains that the fact that International Electrical makes its own clock movements rather than buying in parts and assembling them gives the company a competitive advantage. "Making our own clock movements helps us to maintain quality and control prices," Ms Wong insists.
A blend of tradition and innovation is also the favoured formula for Century Way Industrial Ltd, which welcomes enquiries for both ODM and OEM products and also offers its own original designs to enhance home and office environments.
"Since there is little we can do to improve the mechanics of our analogue clocks, the main variations tend to be in case materials and colours," says Marketing Manager Hera Wong.
The company's new desk clock range includes a model that incorporates a photo imprinted onto the metal dial. "This is a distinctive design," Ms Wong claims. "If the customer provides us with a high-resolution jpeg file or similar, we can customise the clock to carry any image."
Production time for this model depends on the quantity ordered and complexity of the design, but Ms Wong advises Century Way can take orders for as few as 500 pieces "if the design is simple".
Century Way's customer base includes promotional gift, own-brand and retail buyers in Europe, the Middle East and the US. "We are able to satisfy customers in Europe who are more quality-focused, and those in the Middle East and the US who are more price-conscious," Ms Wong adds.
Creating a sparkling impression has never been a problem for ICE Concepts Co Ltd, whose shimmering range of clocks reflects a renewed interest and demand for stones set in timepieces.
The company's years of experience in jewellery casting and stone setting, garnered manufacturing cufflinks and opulent gifts, have now been applied to the desk clock to target a niche in the luxury clock market.
"Our consumers, especially women, are increasingly opting for accessories like jewellery desk clocks that express their lifestyle," observes Sales Manager Fiona Lai.
ICE Concepts prides itself on design and craftsmanship, with one designer located in Hong Kong and four based on the Chinese mainland providing customers with innovative products at competitive prices.
They can take just 2-3 days to create an innovative, high-quality design for customers who want something bespoke, depending on complexity, Ms Lai says. "We aim to transform a gift into a precious, surprising and unexpected treasure," she adds.
Buyers for whom time is of the essence should take a serious look at Hong Kong, where quality counts when it comes to distinctive desk clocks at highly competitive prices.
TEXT BY CHRIS WHITE
|Century Way Industrial Ltd
Rm 21, 10/F, Blk A
Hi-Tech Ind Centre
5-21 Pak Tin Par St
Tsuen Wan, New Territories
Year Established: 2003
Year Established: 2006
Year Established: 1994
Year Established: 1978
Year Established: 1989