• Thu
  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 1:34am
Wealth Blog
PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 February, 2013, 2:51pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 February, 2013, 2:51pm

Horological stories

BIO

Anna is a business writer. During her 20-year Hong Kong career, she’s written everything from stock market reports and luxury goods sector analysis to speeches for the HKSAR Chief Executive and served as president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club for two years.
 

I’m learning a new vocabulary. It’s all to do with horology. That’s pronounced ‘hor-ol-ogy’ and it’s both the study and measurement of time and the art of making clocks and watches.  Then you have ‘haute horology’ which is like haute couture or haute cuisine, presumably. Then, oh dear, you have ‘horophiles’, not sure any explanation of that is required. Suffice to say if you are a diagnosed or convicted horophile, I’m sure you can get treatment. Just buy an extremely expensive piece of haute horologie – an over priced watch to you and me - and you’ll be fine. Then Genera, beating heart of the Swiss h-word industry, has a ‘Grand Prix de: L’Horlogerie’ – now we are now getting very specialised indeed. If you want to be really uber snooty about the subject, you refer to them as horological machines’, rather than watches, this is the affectation of one…Maximillian Busser, maker of the horophile’s watch of choice, the MB&F. 

But first of all, if you thought all things horological originated in Helvetica, you’d be wrong. England, where the trains rarely run on time, has a rich horological heritage and claims many timepiece firsts. These include Robert Hooks, who conceived the balance spring, Thomas Prest, who perfected keyless winding, Thomas Mudge, who developed the lever escapement and John Harwood, who was the first to make a self winding movement work in a wristwatch. And recently, the late George Daniels perfected the Co-Axial Escapement, now used by Omega and considered the most accurate mechanical watch movement ever to have been made on an industrial scale.

Ok, too much information, but you get the point, the Swiss get too much credit where watches are concerned.

Hong Kong Hogs Horological Market

CHF396 million is a hefty sum and it represents the value of watches exported from Switzerland to Hong Kong last October. That’s 18.7 per cent of the 2.7 million units shipped out of Switzerland that month, putting us way ahead of the US at 9.8 per cent. For some reason, sales to mainland China dropped by 12.3 per cent, or CHF152.9 million, putting it at third place on the table.

Never Be Left Bare-Wristed
It seems watches have taken over from cars in space-strapped Hong Kong as the new status symbol, when it comes to vocabulary and bragging rights. Patronisers of Hublot’s Century Square watch boutique don’t have to worry about being bare-wristed when they take their prized ticker in for a service. - (as if they don’t have 10 more at home).  The boutique offers ‘courtesy watches’ so the poor wearer will never be without. “With this the customer will remain both physically and emotionally connected to Hublot until his personal timepiece is returned,’ CEO Ricardo Guadalupe told the FT. Well we can’t have them getting watch withdrawal symptoms after all, poor lambs. Haven’t they noticed there’s a clock on their diamond-studded cellphone?

Anna.fenton@scmp.com 
   

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