3 Sept 2008
Winning Ways(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 03,2008)
Sports Watches & Timers
Active athletes and weekend warriors alike need a stylish timepiece equally capable of handling rugged conditions
The worldwide fitness craze is driving ever-increasing demand for high-quality sports watches that not only look good but also deliver all the features sportsmen and women need.
Hong Kong provides a wide variety of watches for active people around the world - backpackers, divers, swimmers, runners, mountain bikers and more.
Matime Mfrs Ltd is one Hong Kong company that produces a range of almost 100 stainless steel sports watch models guided by an "emphasis of quality over quantity", according to Marketing Manager Derek Wong.
"Our European customers expect a high-quality product and we accommodate them with a durable design that delivers solid performance," he maintains.
The company's dedication to quality is evident in the Japanese movement and 316 stainless steel case from the Chinese mainland in its S7014 timepiece, which is modelled on a diver's watch design with large, easily visible numerals.
"By providing second, hour and 24-hour functions in a durable case and a stronger PU band, this watch offers OEM customers an opportunity to differentiate themselves in the market with a product that a consumer can really appreciate," Mr Wong states, also noting a market trend in favour of PU bands instead of leather.
Like Matime, Fat Tat Lee Watch Co Ltd also uses Japanese movements and stainless steel cases in its own Jaz-ma brand, says Business Director Angie Wong, who advises that the watches are RoHS compliant.
"Our design team is led from Hong Kong, but we also have designers on the Chinese mainland as well as contracting some design to Japan as well," Ms Wong says.
Most of Fat Tat's bands are made of stainless steel, but the company also offers lines with leather and fabric bands. "We are also seeing increasing demand for an alarm function," Ms Wong adds.
Fat Tat Lee's Jaz-ma sports watches typically include second, hour and 24-hour functions, with some models sporting 1/10 second precision stopwatch timing.
Taking a slightly different approach is Keytime Enterprises Ltd, which, while producing traditional and fashion watches, specialises in more rugged timepieces such as divers' watches, military timepieces and sport watches.
"We design our products in Hong Kong, but our movements are Swiss and our stainless steel cases are sourced on the mainland," explains Marketing Manager Nathan Lau. "A key differentiation for our watches is the Swiss-made self-luminous tritium tubes, which are found in only a few watches."
Wing On Cheong Watch Industries Int'l Ltd employs a markedly different strategy by bridging the digital-analogue divide, offering both analogue and digital watch lines as well as a multifunction ana-digi model.
Wing On's watch movements are sourced from Japan, the LCD modules come from the mainland and the plastic is from Taiwan. "We believe that our design capability is better as we can combine both digital and analogue functions in a single watch, which our customers prefer," Director Peter Li maintains. "More functions can therefore be included in a single timepiece, whether it is digital or the ana-digi version."
He says that in addition to registering seconds, minutes, hours, dates and months in the digital version, a stopwatch capability is also possible in the ana-digi version while an LCD version for kids can project an image.
Latitude Ltd is squarely in the digital camp, producing digital and analogue hybrid watches, digital watches and stop watches as well as sensor watches and heart-rate monitors that also rely on digital displays.
The company's Pro Runner timepieces are ideal for runners to monitor performance during training and competition. "We consulted runners and our design team based in Hong Kong created a user-friendly sports watch with four timer modes: linked timer, repeat timer, single timer and count-up timer," explains Marketing Manager Lobo Law.
The Pro Runner with its rugged ABS and stainless steel case and PU band can record up to 100 laps, set a target time in advance and calculate the cumulative difference between the pre-set goal and the actual performance.
Ximax Enterprise Ltd utilises a strong product design team based in Hong Kong with supporting members on the mainland to provide a wide range of features for original designs in both analogue and digital LCD and LED watches, according to Director Bravo Wong. "Our ana-digi watches, available in stainless steel and PC cases, show we can include a wide range of functions to meet the needs of our customers around the world."
Ximax sources its movements from Japan and Switzerland and cases from Hong Kong, while the leather, PU or stainless steel bands come from both Hong Kong and Japan. "Both LED and LCD watches are becoming increasingly popular with customers around the world," Mr Wong observes.
With the wide range of sports watches available from these and many other producers, it's obvious that Hong Kong-made watches will show more and more athletes around the world good - and accurate - time for many years to come.
TEXT BY JOHN CASEY