3 Sept 2008
Steeling Time(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 03,2008)
Stainless Stell Watches
Popular since the Art Deco period, stainless style is even more in favour nowadays as it is recyclable
The rugged charm of stainless steel is winning new fans worldwide, thanks to an increasing awareness of climate change and the accompanying necessity to select materials that can be reused.
Chit Tat Clock & Watch Co Ltd is one of many pragmatic Hong Kong watch and clock manufacturers committed to meeting the ever-increasing demand for timepieces made of the strong yet stylish metal.
"The majority of wristwatches are made of stainless steel, and I expect this trend to carry on into the future," General Manager Philip Lau says. "Trends still favour round faces for classic, sporty watches, with rectangular options slanted more towards elegant styles."
He adds that the company only produces "higher-end" products in solid stainless steel using Japanese-made movements. "Our catalogue ranges from sportive chronometers and high-fashion watches to classic timepieces," Mr Lau advises.
Typical of Chit Tat's output is the rectangular-faced SS-720-M model that is water- resistant to 3ATM, and the 706-D and 706-OS models that feature classic round faces, are water-resistant to 10ATM and boast date and chronograph functions respectively.
The company has its own Louis Ardens brand, but is still open to discussion with customers who want to develop their own designs. "All raw materials and quality control comply with European standards and are free of hazardous elements," Mr Lau assures.
"We take part in the HKTDC Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair annually because it attracts clients from the Americas and Europe, while BaselWorld draws clients from the Middle East."
Taking a fashionable approach is Proselect Precision (HK) Co Ltd, whose inimitable style is popular with the young, trendy crowd keen to flaunt the latest fashion accessories.
Water-resistant to 3ATM, the company's stainless steel watch model LR820SL offers three alternatives: glued decorative stones, without stones, or stones set into the face.
"All have genuine leather straps, Swiss movements and a soccer ball-shaped glass face," Sales Manager Brian Tsai says, adding that Proselect offers cases, straps and complete watches in solid stainless steel.
Proselect Precision markets a number of timepieces under the GOTO brand name. "The avant-garde logo is designed to make a statement with its swathe of green, orange and red, representing an unrestrained, natural branding of bold and courageous value," Mr Tsai adds.
MGM Industries & Co, meanwhile, deals only with OEM and ODM projects, notes Sales Representative Hedy Wong. "Stainless steel watches are still very much in style among our clients, especially those from Europe," she observes. "All of our stainless steel components, including casings, watch movements and bracelets, come from Japan."
The company assembles and undertakes quality control in its factory in Shenzhen, with its newest designs including the square-face L-998 and G-998 models in solid stainless steel with 5ATM water resistance.
"Our Hong Kong-based designers come up with new ideas for innovative designs every month," Ms Wong says. "We submit these to our clients for selection or make changes according to their requirements."
MGM Industries prides itself on giving feedback within 48 hours of any request. "We provide a professional service by communicating efficiently in English, French, Spanish and German, along with Mandarin, Cantonese and some other Chinese dialects," Ms Wong advises.
Also dealing with OEM projects and tailor-made designs is Unicorn Time Mfg Ltd, which excels in stainless steel and titanium quartz chronographs and mechanical models.
The company has its own stainless steel case and solid band factory in Guangzhou that meets the latest trends in fashions and styles. "Stainless steel watches are still very popular in most markets including the US, Western Europe and Southeast Asia," Director Alan Chan notes.
"We do use other materials such as brass and titanium for the cases, and leather for the straps, but stainless steel will continue to remain fashionable for the next four to five years."
The newest 10ATM water-resistant models come in a variety of finishes from tonneau automatic imitation tourbillon model M1029MB to the bicolour automatic imitation tourbillon diver's watch (model M1027MB).
Finally, Unilux Time (HK) Ltd stands solidly behind its "Quality begins with qualified people" maxim, with R&D, clean-room facilities and strict quality control and testing criteria.
The company is a reliable OEM/ODM solutions provider and has invested heavily in CAD/CAM-related software, hardware and skilled technicians to fine-tune designs before product development decisions are reached.
"We have the ability to provide value-added features such as engraving, deep etching and serial numbering, as well as semiprecious and precious stone settings," Marketing Manager Raymond Lam proclaims.
Typical examples of Unilux Time's capabilities are the all-stainless steel model NF1116, the sapphire glass option for model NF5116, the stone setting incorporated in model NF5216 and the stainless steel and diamond model JF5116.
It is safe to say, that whichever options or styles are in vogue, stainless steel watches are here to stay and Hong Kong watch manufacturers are on the leading edge of this and every other trend.
TEXT BY THOMAS LIM