Swiss and HK companies seek synchronised approach
Competition exists naturally between watch manufacturers. However, the watch industry as a whole is also in competition with many other consumer goods.
This year's Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair, which opens next Wednesday and runs until Sunday at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, has invited the president of Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry Jean-Daniel Pasche as the keynote speaker at the fair's Asian Watch Conference to discuss how Swiss and Hong Kong watch companies could work together to defend their common interests and to face the new challenges in the industry.
The conference will also touch on the implementation of new legislation and the revision of the ISO standards for watches.
Switzerland is the top exporter of watches in the world and the Swiss and Hong Kong watch industries have a close relationship. Many companies here either manufacture or design for Swiss brands.
Anne Chick, senior exhibitions manager at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the fair organiser, said: '[Dr] Pasche's experience will provide valuable insight into the development of the industry to conference participants,' she said.
Dr Pasche said watches would remain essential lifestyle products as long as men and women wished to experience real emotions.
'It is true that people have many other ways to know the time now,' he said. 'But watches don't only give people the time. They also produce emotions, dreams and identities.'
Today's consumers seek distinctive watches to represent their lifestyles. Watch companies have to diversify their products and focus on niche markets. However, developed brands have their history and character to consider. They cannot put all styles of designs under the same brand. This provides opportunities for new watch brands.
Nevertheless, it was difficult to establish a brand in an already well-developed watch market, Dr Pasche said. 'But it is always possible, given that you have innovative designs and interesting inventions. We see new brands at every exhibition.'
This explains why there is a record-breaking number of brands participating at Brand Name Gallery this year at the Watch & Clock Fair. The gallery showcases premium labels and designer collections, in addition to licensed and original brands. A total of 113 brands from 87 companies from 15 countries and regions will display their new timepieces at the premium zone this year.
Ms Chick said: 'The Brand Name Gallery has been developing steadily year after year. It indicates that Hong Kong manufacturers have stepped up their efforts to create their own designs and brands.'
The number of mainland exhibitors has grown 6 per cent since last year's fair. Ms Chick said the fair provided an international platform to mainland exhibitors.
Last year, buyers came from 96 countries and regions. This year, 59 buying missions from 49 countries and regions have registered for the fair.