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The Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair (HKWCF) made an eagerly anticipated return to the physical format in the opening week of September. | Source: HKTDC
The Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair (HKWCF) made an eagerly anticipated return to the physical format in the opening week of September. | Source: HKTDC

Right on time: The Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair returns

Hong Kong is back in business after a four-year hiatus. MARTIN FOSTER walks the floor of the Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair.

The Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair (HKWCF) made an eagerly anticipated return to the physical format in the opening week of September.

The 42nd edition of HKWCF took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), complimented by the backdrop of a bustling Victoria Harbour.

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association, and The Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades and Industries organised the five–day event, including the 11th edition of the Salon de TE, a showcase of luxury watch brands.

With the resumption of international travel after the pandemic, HKWCF offered a comprehensive exhibition of assembled watchmakers worldwide.

While the international jewellery and watch industry still faces many pressing issues – including China’s political situation and the ongoing Russia and Ukraine conflict- the reputation of HKWCF has emerged from the past four years in good shape.

In all circumstances, the HKTDC has maintained its official ‘stay cool - business as usual’ policies. Indeed, it was pleasing to see the largest of the watch industry footfall trade fairs set aside the boredom of online seminars.

With that said, it wasn’t a ‘perfect’ restart for the event – as storms crashed upon Hong Kong for the week of the fair, closing HKCEC for the entire Friday – leaving many disrupted appointments and prompting a flurry of diary arrangements. Rain fell upon Hong Kong at a record rate of six inches per hour!

Crunch the numbers

So, in terms of participation, how did the first HKWCF in four years fare?

After spending a few years away from public exposure, in terms of numbers, change was inevitable. The industry has changed considerably in the past four years, both in terms of exhibitors and products.

Furthermore, agents and buyers arrived at the HKCEC with new interests, and the distribution and balance of discretionary purchasing power increased for some and changed hands for others.

And last but not least, the journalists in attendance have ‘matured’ by a few years as well!

Sophia Chong, Deputy executive director of HKTDC
Sophia Chong, Deputy executive director of HKTDC
"As the world’s leading watch and clock fair, we are delighted to see more than 700 exhibitors attended our first watch and clock fair since Hong Kong reopened."
Sophia Chong, HKTDC

Organisers reported approximately 15,000 buyers attended from 95 countries. Under new ‘hybrid’ arrangements, online access continued until 16 September - providing additional opportunities for buyers to browse products and conduct business.

HKTDC organisers said it was pleasing to see a strong attendance from Asian nations.

“As the world’s leading watch and clock fair, we are delighted to see more than 700 exhibitors attended our first watch and clock fair since Hong Kong reopened,” deputy executive director Sophia Chong said.

“Many exhibitors even received orders on the spot. There has been a satisfactory increase in attendance from mainland China, the Middle East and ASEAN countries, which added to the fair's vibrancy.”

Exhibitors meanwhile came from 17 different countries and regions. The Swiss Independent Watchmaking Pavilion (SIWP) and Franceclat returned to the fair, while the International Luxury Group (ILG) debuted.

Together, they showcased a variety of Swiss and international watch brands.

ILG chief operating officer Mrutyunjaya Chavadi said Salon de TE was an excellent platform for identifying business partners and original equipment manufacturers (OEM).

"We have achieved very satisfactory results at the exhibition that far exceeded our expectations,” Chavadi said.

“We have identified Asia-Pacific retailers and distributors as potential business partners. The Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair and Salon de TE are truly international. We will return next year."



Understanding the market

The HKTDC commissioned a market study interviewing around 900 exhibitors and buyers for their views on topics such as industry outlook and product trends.

The survey found nearly 60 per cent of respondents expect overall sales to increase in the next two years.

Most respondents consider South Korea, Australia and the Pacific Islands, the US, and Japan to offer the best expansion prospects among traditional markets.

India, the Middle East, mainland China and ASEAN countries are considered the most promising emerging markets.

In terms of product trends, 26 per cent of respondents expected smartwatches to continue as the most popular watch category, followed by mechanical watches (22 per cent), automatic watches (16 per cent), and quartz analogue watches (14 per cent).

Mrutyunjaya Chavadi, ILG chief operating officer
Mrutyunjaya Chavadi, ILG chief operating officer
"We have achieved very satisfactory results at the exhibition that far exceeded our expectations."
Mrutyunjaya Chavadi, International Luxury Group

Those interviewed considered fashion watches (34 per cent), smartwatches (32 per cent), and ‘leisure-type’ watches (23 per cent) to have the highest potential for increased sales in future.

It was interesting to note that HKWCF was divided into categories to help visitors better identify their particular interests.

These categories were: complete watches, clocks, machinery and equipment, OEM smartwatches, packaging and display, trade services, and finally, parts, components and accessories.

Furthermore, watch types were categorised as follows: chic and trendy (fashion-driven brands and trendsetters), craft treasure (mechanical watches and flawless craftsmanship), renaissance moment (classic and elegant watch brands), and wearable tech (smartwatches with the latest technology).

What’s new?

The HKTDC’s Click2Match service is a new function providing a valuable tool for collections and exhibitors.

Visitors used the newly launched ‘Scan2Match’ function to scan exhibitor QR codes, bookmark their favourite exhibitors, or browse product information.

The debut ‘Guo Chao’ theme also attracted attention. Several heavyweight Chinese watchmakers showcased timepieces that blend Chinese cultural elements with exquisite craftsmanship.

These watchmakers offered a range of quality and price-point-sensitive categories of mechanicals, complications, quartz, smartwatches, tools, parts, crystals, testing equipment, machinery, display stands, packing and presentation materials.

It appeared to be a one-stop sourcing platform for international buyers, with prices ranging from high to low. Indeed, Chinese watchmakers are closing the gap with their Swiss counterparts in terms of aesthetics and quality.

It would appear that concomitantly, the Swiss are recognising the broader opportunities of China and Hong Kong – and the HKWCF is an ideal crossroads of the Eastern and Western cultures.

An important attraction of this Hong Kong fair is access to China. This event offers an avenue into China for European watchmakers and, conversely, is an entry into Western markets for Chinese manufacturers.

An example of this is PTS Resource, a Malaysian company established in 1991 that develops various mechanical movements in China.

Among the equipment exhibitors were representatives of European and Chinese manufacturers, many of which offered a wide range of hand tools and parts.

Bergeon and Witschi were among 19 exhibitors of parts, tools, testing, packaging and presentation materials.

The Watch and Clock Design Competition is a stimulating creative initiative. This year’s competition was divided into two groups – with students handed the theme of ‘game code’ while the open group was given ‘the beauty of perspective.’

The winners were announced at the fair, and the best pieces were displayed in the first hall.  The HKWCF is an industry fair; however, the final day is open to all visitors.

The annual Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair will open its doors again in September next year, with specific dates yet to be announced. 


THE 40TH HK WATCH & CLOCK DESIGN COMPETITION WINNERS

Champion | Title: Scroll Bar | Finalist: Tam Kwok Tung
Second Place | Title: Traverse | Finalist: Chan Kar Him
Third Place | Title: Mondrian | Finalist: Heromex Watch Company Limited
Finalist | Title: Chromosome | Finalist: Wong Ting Bong
Finalist | Title: Flawless | Finalist: Yip Tsz Yan 
  

EYE-CATCHING DESIGNS IN HONG KONG

 
Pierre Lannier has been a major designer and manufacturer in the watch industry since 1977. 
Memorigin was the first Hong Kong brand to specialise in the tourbillon complication, blended with cultural symbols.
From Kingwear, this attractive smartwatch offers a variety of functions.
Kieninger 'Kupola' Majestic solid brass mantel clock, 24-carat gilded, seven bevelled and partly curved crystal glasses form a dome above the precious bell chime and a silver plated calendar dial with moon phase.

More reading
What did we learn from Watches and Wonders Geneva in 2023?
The rise of Inhorgenta Munich continues unabated
Watches and Wonders Geneva foreshadows a brighter tomorrow
Watch Industry: Unification or Division?
Locked-down world of watches emerges from isolation
Watching the watch industry in a lockdown world
Watching the Clock
The Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair flies above the turmoil

 











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