30 Aug 2007
Tempting Timepieces(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 03,2007)
Imitation Jewellery Watches
|Legend Silver Jewellery & Watch Mfy Ltd manufactures these eye-catching ladies' watches decorated with multicoloured gemstones|
Today's watches are more than simply instruments by which to tell the time - they are fashion accessories that serve the same function as jewellery
Everyone wants a jewelled watch, but the sad fact is that most consumers simply cannot afford timepieces adorned with real diamonds, rubies and emeralds.
Enter the ever-resourceful watch manufacturing industry in Hong Kong, a section of which specialises in jewellery watches at prices that consumers can both afford and treat as fashion accessories.
These manufacturers use imitation jewellery and innovative production methods such as crystals, glass and particular plating finishes to achieve an effect that is dazzling on the eye but not on the purse.
Leader Smart Int'l Ltd is one such company, having shifted its focus to jewellery watches in 2005. "We used to produce traditional designs in the lower price range, but as opportunities were limited we decided to introduce new elements so the products were not just watches but also pieces of jewellery," explains sales manager Samuel Choi. "We've had a good response from the market following this move."
Among the highlights of the Leader Smart collection is a design in plated rose gold, with an oblong case and bracelet composed of chains. "The case is zinc alloy with rose-gold plate, the chains are brass and the end links are also alloy," says Choi.
The nine-year-old company offers other designs that use plated platinum, he adds. "Some feature Swarovski crystals from Austria, while most use the Seiko PC21 movement from Japan," he notes. "The platinum, rose gold, PNP gun-metal, antique bronze plating, stainless steel and brass crown are all sourced from the Chinese mainland."
Leader Smart recently introduced its own brands. "Pastel & Roner has been developed for the jewellery styles, as its image is elegant and classy; but we also have Gandar for younger, energetic styles."
Thanks to the success of the imitation jewellery watches, Leader Smart is planning to introduce new collections incorporating semiprecious stones in the near future.
Prices are available on request. "We ask for a minimum order of 1,000 pieces, and delivery is between 30-45 days after order confirmation," says Choi.
All Leader Smart's watches are produced at its 4,000-square-metre, 250-worker plant in Dongguan on the mainland and exported around the world, including Australia, Europe and South America. "We are about to make a push into the mainland market," Choi confirms.
But while Leader Smart has been in business for almost a decade, New Mind Co is only in its second year. "We have our own designers - they came up with the butterfly watch, which is very different from others in the market," maintains marketing manager Janet Yan.
She says the company decided to test the market by offering small minimum quantities at the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair 2006 - just 300 pieces per model. "Customers were very interested, so we are maintaining that policy this year."
Designs come in jewellery and non-jewellery versions - for example, a standard large or small butterfly watch is made of 316L stainless steel while the jewellery version is decorated with CZ.
"The face comes in a choice of black, silver, white or mother-of-pearl, while the genuine leather strap comes in red, black or gold," Yan says. "We also have other jewellery designs."
The timepieces, which incorporate Swiss-made movements, are produced at New Mind's own factory on the Chinese mainland, which is staffed by a workforce of around 50.
Major export markets currently comprise Italy, Germany and Switzerland, but in the coming year New Mind will begin exporting to Japan and Korea.
Designs either carry the house brand - Jarc - or are open items. "The FOB Hong Kong price for the small jewellery butterfly watch is US$50, and approximately US$90 for the larger model," she says. "Delivery is 90 days after order confirmation."
Similarly committed to the imitation jewellery watch sector is Kinko (HK) Co Ltd, which was founded more than a decade ago and produces between 20,000 and 40,000 jewellery watches a month. "All our watches have solid brass cases," says marketing manager Belle Yip. The company carries a wide range of designs, thanks to its in-house design department that is constantly coming up with new ideas that closely follow international fashion trends.
The current line-up includes a very feminine "double-heart" model. "The two heart shapes are outlined in Swarovski crystals, while the face is of grade-A, mother-of-pearl, and the blue strap is genuine leather," says Yip, noting that other designs feature brass bangles or bracelets and all the movements come from Japan.
She puts the company's success down to its trendy designs and the quality of the production. "It's important with jewellery watches that they are of good quality because of the image - for example, plating must not change colour and the crystals must stay in place."
This attention to detail has brought Kinko a wealth of customers, mainly in Saudi Arabia, Russia, Germany, Japan and Korea, who are supplied by a 100-worker mainland factory, Yip notes.
"We are able to offer buyers a small minimum quantity of just 100 pieces per style delivered 45-60 days after order confirmation," Yip says, adding that Kinko's watches are unit-priced between US$10-30 FOB Hong Kong.
It's time to be fun, fashionable and affordable - that's the message that Hong Kong's imitation jewellery watch manufacturers are telling the world loud and clear.
TEXT BY ANN WILLIAMS
Legend Silver Jewellery & Watch Mfy Ltd
Unit 1015, Blk A
Focal Ind Centre
21 Man Lok St
Hung Hom, Kowloon