A SMALL BUT GROWING number of Hong Kong-based watch manufacturers are selling timepieces under their own labels. While the trend has picked up considerably in recent years, Jacques Farel has been doing it since 1984. 'We work with LIP, a French company, distributing their brand in Asia and they distribute our brand in Europe,' said vice-president, marketing, Joanne Froidevaux. The brand encompasses five ranges - kids, teens, boys, fashion and stainless steel - with Swiss-made movements. The brand is also marketed in South Korea, Singapore and Thailand. The kids line has been sold locally at Sebu since the beginning of this month. The advantage of operating out of Hong Kong was flexibility, said Ms Froidevaux, daughter of the company's founder. 'Being based in this part of the world allows us to be quick to respond to market trends. In our price range, we need to be creative and innovative,' she said. One of the keys to overcoming potentially negative perceptions of watches that are assembled in China is presentation. 'It's not just about the product itself anymore, but also about all the presentation materials that surround it,' Ms Froidevaux said. 'It is important to pay considerable attention to everyone else, from the displays to the packaging, bags, catalogues and posters.' Sun Tai Watch is out to conquer a different market - mainland China. To that end, it launched its label Amundsen in 1986. General manager Candy Wong said: 'OEM [original equipment manufacture] business depends on your customers and the economy. Since the competition in China is so great, we thought we needed to develop our own brand because the benefits would be longer-lasting.' Assembled in Hong Kong, the watches are sold in the SAR, Malaysia and the mainland. Sun Tai is one of 10 local brands showcasing products at the Hong Kong Watch Centre, which launched its first retail outlet in Hangzhou last month. Another 10 to 20 shops will be opened in cities throughout the country over the next one or two years. 'Styles are both sporty and elegant. Mainland consumers like one watch they can wear for work or play,' Ms Wong said.