7 March 2005
Trendy Watches(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 02,2005)
The watches of Better Time Industrial Ltd, for example, come in elegant and unusual shapes. "Our jewelled watches are set with rhinestones," explains managing director Ng Kwok Wing, who adds that Better Time has its own Expresso brand.
He claims Better Time's floral-faced watches with floral straps are unique. "We have our own R&D department to research new materials, hi-tech manufacturing technology and innovative styles," Ng says.
The company was founded in 1996 and, Ng maintains, has already established a reputation for quality and high fashion. "Our main markets are Europe, the US, Japan and Australia and we are seeking to expand, particularly to South America."
Some 80,000 watches are produced every month at the 1,000-square-metre factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland, which employs 200 workers.
They combine Japanese movements and alloy cases with either PU or metal straps into minimum orders of 300 watches in any one style delivered in 30-50 days. "We believe our prices are the most competitive for a high fashion watch," says Ng. "Our FOB Hong Kong prices range from US$3-5 per watch."
Elegance is equally prized at EC (Asia) Ltd, whose latest collection includes bracelet watches with Venetian glass and silk ribbon or leather straps.
The 10-year-old firm also specialises in super-slim watches, according to marketing manager Julie Mark. "The fashion for big bulky watches for ladies is over," she insists. "Our slim models made of alloy, brass and stainless steel are very popular in the UK."
EC's spacious, ISO 9001-certified factory in Shenzhen employs 140 skilled workers, who produce watches under the company's Marshal and DFO brand names and also manufacture customer requests.
"The US, Canada, Europe and the UK are our main markets, but we are planning to expand in Asia," says Mark, adding that EC's trendy timepieces are in the US$3-5 FOB Hong Kong unit-range.
Similarly committed to producing quality watches is Kinko (HK) Co Ltd, whose catalogue includes gold- and rhodium-plated models set with Swarovski crystals.
"Fine watches under our brand name Le Chatau are internationally known," claims director Belle Yip. "Our very unusual designs, set with Swarovski faux diamonds, are big sellers around the world."
Kinko was established on the mainland in the 1990s but moved its headquarters to Hong Kong in 2001, she explains. "We have a 1,550-square-metre factory in Guangdong Province that employs 100 workers," Yip says. "We emphasise fine workmanship and quality, and turn out 40,000 watches a month."
Kinko accepts minimum orders of 100 watches in any one style and, Yip says, can promise delivery in 45-60 days, depending on the style. "FOB unit prices ex-Hong Kong range from US$10-20 for metal watches and around US$30 for plated and jewelled watches."
Major markets include the Middle East, Europe, North America, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and India, but Kinko is planning to extend its customer base to Shanghai and Beijing. "Sales lived up to expectations in 2004," adds Yip, "and we have an expansion programme planned for 2005."
Trendy timepieces are in the blood of Swiss national Alex Luedi, who comes from a tradition of fine watchmaking in his own country and established Prador Ltd with his Chinese wife Christy Pei two years ago.
"We are a small company producing fine quality watches at very competitive prices," Luedi says. "We make use of the expertise and diligence of mainland workers to produce 100,000 watches a month."
Prador's Shenzhen plant accepts minimum orders of 500 watches that cost US$1.20-5.50 each FOB Hong Kong and can be delivered within 45 days to the US, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
"We design our own watches along classic lines with the brand namesCTNY and Prador, and also consult with our customers to create designs that will work for them," Luedi adds.
"We have an excellent relationship with customers all over the world and we have staff who speak seven languages fluently, so we can talk to clients in their own language."
He admits that as a newly-formed company Prador's CTNY and Prador brands face stiff competition from watchmakers in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland, but maintains that the future is looking "quite hopeful". "Our emphasis is on understanding the requirements of customers from many countries," Luedi insists.
Which could almost serve as the catch-word of a Hong Kong watch manufacturing industry that is determined to set and maintain fashions in trendy timepieces for many years to come.
WRITTEN BY WINSOME LANE
Artalie Co Ltd
Better Time Industrial Ltd
Variation Industrial Co