Made in China

Martin Foster reviews the latest movements at the 27th Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair.
This year’s Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair (held from September 3-7) attracted more watch exhibitors than any other fair in the world.
The Fair was filled with 760 exhibitors from 19 countries and regions (including Hong Kong, mainland China, Switzerland, France and Germany) while its prestigious brand name gallery showcased 125 of the best international brand names including China’s own Shanghai Watch and Beijing Watch.
However as by far the largest volume of watches exported from China is in low price-point categories these dominated the Fair.
International visitors to the Fair often assume the Fair is there to sell ‘China Made’ to “us” and believe they are looking exclusively into China watchmaking through the unique window of opportunity this provides. But in an intriguing twist, Hong Kong and even mainland China itself, use this fair to aggressively sell back into the huge Chinese mainland markets. In fact some exhibitors are so focussed on this that they have no English-speakers or English promotional material at their stands.
Nonetheless despite such relatively minor communication problems, one of the highlights of the Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair, the Hong Kong Watch and Clock Design Competition, can be enjoyed by all.
Koo Wai Shan, a designer with eight years experience, took the Open Group honours this year. His winning design, ‘the Art of Face-Changing’,’ was inspired by the traditional Chinese masks of Sichuan Opera.
“I am so delighted to win this competition, which provides Hong Kong designers with an opportunity to showcase their outstanding design talent,” said Mr Koo.
Runners-up in the Open Group were Lit Wai Ching and the Silicon Watch Company Ltd.
Chan Ka Yi, a student at the Hong Kong Design Institute, won the Student Group award.
“I learned how to go from a design concept to a real product by participating in this competition,” said Ms Chan, whose winning design was inspired by the traditional Chinese art of paper-cutting. (the winning designs can be viewed at
Meanwhile The Hong Kong watch and clock industry can congratulate itself on the success of its 27th Fair– and an excellent year of trading (Hong Kong watches and clocks exports totalled £1.9 billion for the first half of this year –17 per cent more than in the same period last year. Exports to the Chinese mainland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States enjoyed double-digit increases.)
Indeed Chinese watch and clock makers are gradually replacing ‘Made in Hong Kong’ and ‘Made in China’ labels with the more aspirational ‘China Made’.
However rest assured that this new label does not threaten the ‘Swiss Made’ label which steadily built its strength on the high, up-market range of mechanical watches and a venerable reputation to entice and hold their buyers.
The Chinese are capable and dedicated but the Swiss need not lose any sleep.
The Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair is co-organised by the Hong Trade Development Corporation, the Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association and the Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades & Industries.
The next fair will be held next September 2-6 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
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