20 March 2006
Winding Up(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 03,2008)
Taking a leap of faith and radically changing direction is winding up big sales for Eilux Int'l Ltd, which took the drastic step a little under a decade ago.
Despite 15 years' experience as a watch designer and manufacturer and a client list that included many of the best-known brands in Europe, the company began producing watch winders in 1999.
"Having specialised in horology for more than 10 years, we understood that the market needed a luxury, efficient, professional, yet affordable, watch-winding product," recalls Director Frankie Siu. "We completely switched our product line to watch winders and professional watch collector boxes, using the brand name Eilux."
The benefit of a winding device for mechanical watches that are supposed to wind themselves may not be immediately obvious, but they are essential for the connoisseur who has invested in more than one timepiece.
Self-winding watches have to be worn every day if they are to be maintained in good mechanical order - if they are not, they stop and must be reset.
Fine watches also often have a number of "complications", including day and date display and second time zones, and frequent resetting can pose a threat to their delicate movements.
Similarly, if the watch is stopped for long periods the lubricating oil can begin to "pool", reducing timekeeping accuracy and possibly wearing out components prematurely.
An Eilux watch winder overcomes all these obstacles by automatically winding the timepiece as though it were being worn on the owner's wrist.
Eilux manufactures a range of products able to wind one or more timepieces simultaneously, including cylindrical, cubic and sphere winders, single, double and triple box winders, and a winding tower for up to four watches.
The winders are battery powered, ensuring they can be continuously wound even if locked away for long periods, but can also be connected to mains electricity via an adaptor.
Eilux also recognises that fine timepieces are beautiful objects intended to be admired, and designs its winders to double as display cases.
"Eilux is successful because we have a unique design and creative product concept," Mr Siu claims. "We created multifunction watch winders which not only keep the watches healthy and efficient but also act as a piece of art and home decor."
Utilising more than 30 years' experience in luxury product manufacturing, Mr Siu designs all Eilux's winders and display boxes and has introduced a number of watch-winding technology innovations.
These innovations are incorporated in the winders assembled in the company's production plant in Shenzhen - using some parts sourced in Japan - though the company also has an associate office in Germany.
The resulting output is not the most expensive on the market but is considered by timepiece connoisseurs to be among the best, with the result that they are used by many Swiss watch makers while also selling "particularly briskly" in duty-free outlets in Japan.
"We export worldwide, concentrating on Europe, and appoint our dealers directly," says Mr Siu. "We want to provide the best quality product and after-sales service to end-users."
Thus the establishment of a sister company, Eilux Europe, in Germany is a milestone in the parent firm's worldwide after-sales service network. "All Eilux products are original designs with worldwide design patents," Mr Siu insists. "We only produce winders under the Eilux brand, but we will consider joint-logo arrangements with world-famous brands."
So far the company has sold some one million units worldwide, initially mostly single winders, although Mr Siu notes that sales of the company's premium multiple winders have steadily increased.
However, the watch-winder market is extremely competitive, especially since famous Swiss and German watch companies began to produce them as accessories to their products.
"Eilux considers watch winders as a main product and concentrates only on research and development for watch winders," Mr Siu insists. "Bearing functions, design, quality, and affordability in mind, we believe we are the pioneer in the winder manufacturing industry."
TEXT BY ROBERT PIERCE