1 June 2002
Wrist Art(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 02,2002)
Effort Reaps Reward
Nelson Dials Fty Ltd
|Conscious of aesthetic and technical considerations, the designers and other staff at Nelson Dials Fty Ltd strive to "bring products to life".|
OUTSTANDING works of art are great because they can reflect a lifelike quality. Nelson Dials Fty Ltd marketing manager Patrick Foo says the company understands this principle and is dedicated to "making designs come to life".
A 27-year-old company, Nelson Dials uses its considerable expertise to gain a competitive edge. Three hundred workers at its 40,000-square-foot factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland are subject to an intense, seven-step, two-year training process "for those who prove themselves adaptable". Before assembly workers can reach leadership roles, they must understand the "spirit of a dial".
Designers, too, are rigorously trained to understand the interaction between aesthetic and technical aspects of watch dials. Nelson Dials' three Hong Kong-based designers are encouraged to do everything possible to "bring their designs to life".
Launched in 1975 making simple watch dials, the company switched its focus to high-end dials in 1998. The result is lower monthly production (400,000 pieces compared to the previous 1.5 million), yet Foo says advantages of the switch far outweigh any perceived disadvantages. Among the significant results are longer product lifespans and less competition.
One new model, SS-7325, is a chrono dial with a plated background. It has chrono-dial "eyes" at 6, 9 and 12 o'clock, a luminous index at all hour positions and a brass ring. The unit price is US$14.50 FOB Hong Kong.
Transition to high-end production required a substantial investment in hi-tech machinery. Hence, the ISO 9002-certified company increased its machinery value to HK$30m (US$3.8m) from HK$1m (US$128,000). Technicians from Germany visit the factory twice per year to help with production and machinery operation.
Nelson Dials plans to focus on enamel, stamp-pattern and index-type dials. With its primary export markets in North America and Europe, the company closely monitors designs emerging from France, Italy and the US.
Its minimum order is 1,000 pieces per model for shipment after 28 days. The raw materials include brass sourced from Japan through suppliers, as well as PC carbon plastic. Use of the latter is expected to reach 15% of production.
One notable innovation is the pending introduction of glass-bezel models this June.
"Glass is stronger than plastic and the dials reflect better through glass," says Foo.
Even while innovating, Nelson Dials is careful not to disrupt its established strength.
"We don't push in new products or materials too quickly - only 2-3% of production in the beginning. If they do well, we then increase to a maximum of 10%," Foo says.
Nelson Dials Fty Ltd
6/F, Units A-D,
Wing Cheung Ind Bldg,
109 How Ming St, Kwun Tong,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Ninkin Watch Co
|Ninkin Watch Co's new series dedicated to the World Cup 2002 features soccer balls, players, shirts and flags.|
GOING the extra mile helps to win almost any race. Not surprisingly, Ninkin Watch Co attributes its success in the fast-track industry of fashion watches to extra effort on services.
Marketing manager Mei Dang recalls an occasion when a customer from Istanbul needed plastic cases for his Ninkin watches. "At the time, we did not manufacture such cases, but we sourced them for him," says Dang.
Ninkin began making plastic watches two years ago and has expanded to include alloy and brass models. Plastic and alloy watches each comprise 40% of the 20,000 pieces produced monthly. The remaining 20% is brass.
The company's staff members initiate design ideas and then work with Hong Kong-based design houses on such details as colour. "Every design change is approved by us, and because we work so closely together, there is no need for us right now to have an in-house design department," says Dang.
Design and services both rank among Ninkin's strongest selling points. Inspiration for new designs often strikes Dang and her colleagues as they engage in a leading Hong Kong activity: shopping. They stress the importance of seeing first-hand what people consider desirable.
Ninkin's series of World Cup 2002 watches is novel because the company does not usually focus on theme-related designs. The series features six plastic watches with colourful soccer-related items like balls, players, shirts and flags on the straps. Three models have soccer-ball designs framing the dials. This series now accounts for 30% of sales, a figure likely to increase later this year.
Quality control is a source of pride at the company's 200-worker factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland. Quality checks are standard at each production stage, and division managers in the production areas randomly check watches.
Minimum order is 1,000 pieces. Shipments (after 35-40 days to the main markets in Asia, the US and Europe) "are never late from here," says Dang.
The company sources raw materials directly from the Chinese mainland. "It is really only for new materials that we work with suppliers," says Dang.
Company founder Jimmy Chan is full of expansion plans. For example, buyers will soon see new brass fashion models.
Yet whatever the future brings, Ninkin is determined to maintain its foothold in the mid-range category where 60-65% of its production goes.
Ninkin Watch Co
4/F, Rm 415,
Wing Hing Ind Bldg,
83-93 Chai Wan Kok St,
Tsuen Wan, New Territories,
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