6 June 2007
Timely Momentum(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 06,2007)
Watches & Clocks
|This recent range from Better Time Industrial Ltd features watches with straps in floral prints and jean fashion styles|
For example, 10-year-old Better Time Industrial Ltd specialises in quartz analogue fashion watches, producing 100,000 units per month at its 15,000-square-foot, 250-worker joint venture factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland.
"We have at least 600 styles per year, and introduce new designs every week because of the rapidly changing fashion market," explains managing director K W Ng, adding that the company produces its own Expresso brand as well as catering to private labels and exclusive designs.
"We offer four design collections," notes Ng. "Graphic, Abstract Art, Expansion Bracelet and Colourful Casual, and customers come to us specifically for watches to match the season's fashions."
Better Time's unit prices are mostly in the US$3-6 range for minimum orders of 300 pieces per model and a US$5,000 minimum shipment value, delivered approximately 45 days after order confirmation.
"Our biggest market is Europe, with 60% of exports, followed by the US with 20%," Ng notes. "We are also looking at Eastern Europe as a new market."
Europe is also a major market for 18-year-old E-Tech Int'l Ltd, which specialises in pocket watches, manufacturing some 100,000 pieces per month at its 100-worker, 2,000-square-metre factory in Shenzhen.
"We offer more than 1,000 designs, including brass, alloy, stainless steel, sterling silver and 24K gold," reveals marketing manager Portia Lee, adding that the company produces hunter, open-face and special pocket watches, keychain, pendant and nurses' watches as well as chains and pouches.
OEM accounts for some 60% of the company's business. "For the last two years, our OEM business has been larger than our standard styles because customers want something unique, such as theme watches using coin designs that look attractive on the watch case," Lee says.
Currently, the most popular timepiece is a mid-priced pocket watch with brass case, she notes, advising that E-Tech always supplies chains with its watches.
E-Tech received "a lot of interest" from European, Russian and Eastern European buyers at the Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair in April, Lee claims. "Customers are willing to pay a higher price for tooling and their own mould."
Europe has been the company's biggest market for the past two years, taking 70% of its business, thanks to strong European currencies and a growing interest in antique-styles. "Other important markets include the US, Russia, the Middle East and Japan," she adds. "Russia is a new market for us this year."
Unit prices for the company's brass watches with chains range from US$2-30 for a minimum order of 200 pieces per model and approximately 1,000 units per shipment delivered some 50 days after order confirmation. Lee notes that 24K gold pocket watches are upwards of US$500 per piece.
Another company reaping the benefits of the European market is Charmtoy Ltd. Producing gifts and premiums, of which 80% are analogue and digital clocks, this 26-year-old company manufactures an estimated 985,000 units per month at its 60,000-square-foot, ISO 9001-certified factory in Dongguan, which has a workforce that varies from 500-800.
Marketing manager Connie Chan notes that some 40% of Charmtoy's business is OEM and 50% ODM, and adds that the company offers around 60 different designs.
"One of our latest products, the Bobble clock, attracted a lot of interest at the Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair, especially from European buyers," she says.
The 8.3x9x12cm clock is a little bucket with cute baby or animal design. "This clock also acts as a small paper clip and is available in three styles," says Chan. "Bobble Baby, Bobble Cat and Bobble Dog come in four colours: blue, green, orange or pink."
One of Charmtoy's long-term bestsellers is the fun 8.5x11.5x3cm Figure Time clock. "We offer this in four styles: a cow, bear, dog and pig," she explains. "These have been particularly popular in Japan for the last 4-5 years."
Each animal's four legs can be rotated to create different shapes, and the back of the animals' heads acts as paper clips. The clock includes alarm, stop-watch and snooze functions.
Charmtoy, which also produces a range of travel and table clocks, says that FOB Hong Kong prices are available on request for minimum orders of 3,000 pieces per model delivered around 35-40 days after order confirmation and sample approval. "Europe and Japan are our major markets," Chan remarks.
Fellow gifts and premiums manufacturer Kartell Industrial Ltd produces analogue wall, bath and table clocks. "We have more than 100 designs and introduce about 20 new ones every year," says marketing manager Winter Lam. "These are produced at our 250-worker, ISO 9000-certified subsidiary manufacturing plant in Fuzhou on the mainland."
Some 70% of Kartell's products are made of plastic, while the eight-year-old firm also sells metal, aluminium, stainless steel and wooden clocks. "About 30% of our production is OEM," Lam adds.
Unit prices range from US$0.80-10.00 for a minimum order of 3,000 pieces per model delivered 30-45 days after order confirmation.
"Japan is our biggest market, taking 40% of output, followed by Europe with 30%," Lam notes. "We are also interested in exporting to the Middle East, Russia, Poland and Eastern Europe."
With companies like this demonstrating keenness in entering new and emerging markets, Hong Kong's well-established watches and clocks industry shows no signs of slowing down.
TEXT BY SANDRA JENNER
Art Style Enterprises Ltd
Unit 305, Guardforce Centre
3 Hok Yuen St East
Hung Hom, Kowloon
Joyful Int'l Enterprise Ltd
Unit 14, 5/F, Blk A, Profit Ind Bldg
1-15 Kwai Fung Crescent
Kwai Fong, New Territories