28 Sept 2007
Timely Trends(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 10,2007)
|This series of metallic brown bangle watches with enamelled striped patterns, alloy cases and ion-plated bangles are hot-selling items for Hong Kong-based Well Max Co|
As manufacturers vie for demand in an increasingly competitive market, fashion watches THAT WERE once viewed as accessories now takE on serious timekeeper functions
The Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair is obviously the place to get up to date on industry trends, and in the ubiquitous fashion watch genre there is plenty to see.
For example, Time Industrial Mfy Ltd, which cheerfully asserts that variety is the spice of life, offers a comprehensive array of timepieces ranging from sporty to classic lines.
Models use LCD, quartz and mechanical movements, and prices vary from US$2-2,000 each FOB Hong Kong. "We have more than 3,000 models in our catalogue, and we put a lot of emphasis on design," says Managing Director Enders Lam. "We bring out 50 new models each month."
The company recently launched TimeIn, its own brand of LCD and quartz fashion watches that come in trendy, colourful designs and sell for US$20-30 each. One model with brightly coloured PU straps features a sliding cover that can hide the LCD, except for a small window showing the date.
Founded in 1993, the company produces 200,000 watches per month at its factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland. Half of its exports are destined for the US, with remaining markets in Japan, South Africa, the UK, France and Germany. A minimum order of 500 pieces is required, and delivery is 60-120 days after order confirmation.
Meanwhile, German luxury brand Insignum from 52 Orange GmbH takes size to the extreme. The firm's quartz and automatic watches - made of solid, hand-polished stainless steel and waterproof from 20-50ATM - weigh up to 300 grams each and measure up to 55-56mm in diameter.
The hefty timepieces include sporty chronographs and classic watch designs. Cases feature splashes of colour such as orange, yellow or black on the dial, the bezel or the watch hands. Dials feature fluorescent numerals and hands. Leather, with contrasting colour stitching, rubber or silicone straps can be substituted for stainless steel bracelets.
"Each individually-numbered model is part of a limited edition of just 499 pieces," says Managing Director Peter Biller, adding that watches are priced from $100-200 each FOB Germany.
Minimum order is 200 pieces, for delivery to major markets in Europe and the US 60 days after order confirmation.
The company produces 3,000-4,000 Insignum watches per month, plus another 8,000 jewellery watches in classic European styles priced from $50-100 each. Watches feature Swiss or Japanese movements and are assembled in Germany.
In a world where black or silver watches are practically de rigueur, Well Max Co's metallic brown bangle watch stands out. "We think this is going to be a hot item because the colour is so different," says Manager Fion Yuen.
The enamelled abstract design on the bezel carries over seamlessly onto the dial, and the watch features an alloy case and an ion-plated bangle. The price is US$3-4 each FOB Hong Kong.
Noting that fashion watches can employ a variety of materials, including wood, bone and natural or synthetic gemstones, Ms Yuen advises that "basic watches are priced from US$2.00-2.30 each".
Another new model is a square, plastic or wooden case design with a silver-coloured alloy chain bracelet and jewellery buckle priced at US$2.00-3.50 each. Both models have Japanese quartz movements.
Minimum order amount is 500 pieces and shipments are on their way 35 days after order confirmation. The company targets the mature 25-45-year-old market, and closely monitors buying trends in its main export markets of the US, Germany and Japan.
Dividing its production into fashion watches and basic lines, 10-year-old Well Max assembles 150,000 watches monthly at its factory in Dongguan on the mainland. About 70% are women's watches and 30% men's.
Ornate jewellery watches that come with Japanese quartz movements and brass or alloy cases, which sell for US$7-10 each FOB the mainland, are the main specialty of J S Jewelry & Watch Co Ltd. Best-selling models include a hand-carved, antique-style set with rhinestones or Swarovski crystals.
The 18-year-old Seoul, Korea-based company's newest collection of slip-on, casual-style cuff watches with brass cases and thick brass bands are priced at US$5 each. "We try to make something different so that there is less competition," says President Park Je Sang.
A minimum order of 500 pieces is required, and the company ships one month after order confirmation to export markets in the US and Europe.
On the other hand, Guangzhou Binli Watch Co Ltd offers a streamlined, cyber-style quartz watch in tungsten steel that sells for US$24 each FOB Guangzhou. The black-and-silver or coffee-coloured model comes with PU, leather, stainless steel or ceramic bands, and is water-resistant to 3ATM.
Another popular model made by the six-year-old family-owned firm is its Citole brand men's stainless steel chronograph. This is also rated at 3ATM, and priced at US$27 each.
The OEM/ODM firm produces 30,000 watches monthly at its factory in Shenzhen, and delivers minimum orders of 1,000-2,000 pieces 45 days after order confirmation.
"Our designs and quality are good, and our prices are reasonable," maintains Sales Manager Zhu Xiao Hua, adding that major markets include the US, Europe, the Middle East and the mainland.
At Besco Watch & Clock Ltd, a 20-member design team emphasises European styling. The firm's popular stainless steel, brass or alloy unisex quartz and LCD watches range in price from US$30-70 each FOB Guangzhou.
This watchmaker's 'thix' brand is instantly recognisable by its understated designs, while a new 'thix' LCD collection, the T3, features three distinctive horizontal bars on the front.
The 100,000 watches the company produces monthly are exported to Europe in minimum order quantities of 500 pieces. Delivery is 45 days after order confirmation.
"Presently, 'thix' represents about 10% of our output," says Export Manager Kitty Xiao. "We want to grow our brand business to 20%."
These manufacturers offer exciting previews of watches that may catch the consumer eye in the months ahead and, given keen buyer interest in their products, success may be just a tick away.
TEXT BY ANDREA PAWLYNA
52 Orange GmbH
Besco Watch & Clock Ltd
25/F, Construction Bank Bldg
509 Dong Fong Zhong Rd
Time Industrial Mfy Ltd
Rm 1, 22/F, Well Fung Ind Centre
58-76 Ta Chuen Ping St
Kwai Chung, New Territories