29 Nov 2005
Stainless Steel Watches(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 01,2006)
Stainless Steel Watches
Nicole Electronics Ltd's his-and-hers stainless steel watches in simple and traditional designs are always popular
More and more Hong Kong companies such as Nicole Electronics Ltd are designing and producing stainless steel watches that are timeless in their appeal to buyers of all ages and tastes.
"The demand for all types of watches is increasing - especially solid stainless steel watches compared with plated timepieces," manager Jerome Kwok observes, adding that his firm's classic and traditional styles are most popular with buyers.
The 22-year-old company uses mostly Japanese movements in its watches, and sources cases, dials and both stainless steel and leather bands from Hong Kong.
Nicole's 1,000-square-metre, 100-worker factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland produces 500-unit minimum orders for delivery 60 days after order confirmation.
"We believe that our major advantages are providing good service and quality products at a reasonable price," Kwok says, adding that Nicole's major market is Europe.
Acme Watch Industries, however, counts Japan, Germany, Sweden, the US and Portugal as its main markets. "Demand has been steady for both men's and ladies' stainless steel watches," marketing manager Michael Lui notes. "Men's watches with sporty designs and ladies' watches in elegant styles have been more popular recently."
The 17-year-old company sources movements from Japan while procuring cases, dials and bands from the mainland. "Our selling advantage is our quality, as we use Japanese movements and top-grade stainless steel alloy," Lui claims.
Acme's 3,000-square-metre factory in Shenzhen produces 70,000-80,000 watches per month, which are available in 500-unit minimum quantities 45-50 days after order confirmation.
Men's watches have proved most popular for Wah Tai (Far East) Development Ltd, with both traditional and sporty styles in strong demand.
Sales manager Michael Yeung explains the popularity of stainless steel watches. "They are durable and available at a relatively low price and thus offer excellent value."
The 20-year-old company, which also has its own Jinmibo brand, uses Swiss movements, dials from the mainland, bands from Korea and cases from Korea and Australia.
Wah Tai Development's 15,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen employs about 1,000 workers and exports to the US, Europe, South America and Asia. "Minimum order is 500 pieces for each model with delivery 35-45 days after order confirmation," Leung adds.
Europe is also a major destination for the OEM, ODM and licensed watches produced by A-Must Group Ltd. "We have experienced a decline in demand for our stainless steel watches, but watches with a stainless steel band and a brass case have proved more popular in the Asian market than those with leather bands," says marketing manager Oscar Chow.
The 10-year-old company sources movements, dials, bands and cases from Hong Kong and the mainland for processing in a 300-worker mainland factory.
Delivery is 90 days after confirmation of 500-unit minimum OEM orders, but there is no minimum quantity for watches manufactured under licence.
Although a relative newcomer to the stainless steel watch sector, Sun Life Development (Int'l) Co Ltd has more than 20 years' experience in watch manufacturing, particularly quartz analogue timepieces and premium items.
"We only began manufacturing stainless steel watches this year because the profit margins are better in this sector," admits export manager Tony Chan. "To date, we have found men's sporting and multifunctional watches most popular."
He says movements are sourced from Citizen in Japan, while dials, bands and cases are procured from Hong Kong or the mainland, depending on the customer's preference.
"Our key advantages are design and quality," Chan maintains, noting that the company's most important market is Europe, followed by the US and Taiwan.
Sun Life's 5,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen has 100 employees and produces 100-unit minimum orders of stainless steel watches delivered 45 days after order confirmation.
Elegant stainless steel watches are a specialty of Wing Fung Metal Works Mfy, whose principal markets are the US, Europe and the Middle East.
Wing Fung's 200-workers in its mainland factory use stainless steel from Hong Kong and the mainland to manufacture 30,000-50,000 watches a month.
They are available in minimum order quantities of 1,000 watches, delivered 35 days after order confirmation. "As testimony to our quality, Seiko has inspected and approved our factory," adds chairman Yip Sau Wing.
Given this wide choice of manufacturers and styles, buyers from all time zones will continue to rely on Hong Kong manufacturers to produce just the right stainless steel watch to meet consumers' demands for ageless attractive styles.
WRITTEN BY CHRIS DAVIS
Nicole Electronics Ltd
Rm 1625, Well Fung Ind Centre
68 Ta Chuen Ping St, Kwai Chung
New Territories, Hong Kong
Wah Tai (Far East) Development Ltd
3/F, Blks M & N, Phase 4
Kwun Tong Ind Centre
472-484 Kwun Tong Rd, Kowloon
Wing Fung Metal Works Mfy
Rm 32, 11/F, Shing Yip Ind Bldg
19-21 Shing Yip St, Kwun Tong
Kowloon, Hong Kong
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