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Hong Kong Watch Fair continues to thrive

The Hong Kong watch and clock fair (HKW&CF) opened on 4 September with dazzling glitz and strong exhibitor and buyer optimism springing from a resurgent market. MARTIN FOSTER reports.

Held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on the edge of Victoria Harbour, the 37th edition showcased a full range of quality and price-point watch categories of mechanicals, quartz and smart watches together.

A comprehensive range of tools, parts, crystals, testing equipment, machinery, display stands and presentation materials made it a one-stop sourcing platform for international buyers.

The 2018 Fair attracted 21,000 buyers, up 2 per cent on last year, with 830 exhibitors from 25 countries and regions. Newcomers from Denmark, Poland, Saudi Arabia and South Africa also made their debut.

Organiser, Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) deputy executive director Benjamin Chau said: “To help local enterprises expand into new markets, the HKTDC organised 78 buying missions representing more than 4,400 buyers from 3,200 companies from 58 countries and regions.”

“The Fair continued to feature the [original equipment manufacturer] OEM smart watch zones for Hong Kong companies to showcase results of their research and development in smart watches, helping the industry move up the value chain and develop further,” Chau said.

The event was not just about the latest wearable technology on the market; the diversity of Asian manufacture, inventive ideas and sensitive reaction to buyer demands for luxury and quality goods were recognised for having steadily risen year-on-year across its wide range of products.

Chinese watchmakers are always moving to close the gap with its Swiss counterparts in terms of market image, aesthetics and quality, and contrarily the Swiss are already recognising the broader opportunities of proximity to China – the HKW&CF is an ideal crossroad of these cultures.

Vincent Calabrese, one of Switzerland’s most innovative and creative watchmakers exhibited at the HKW&CF. Calabrese boasts 62 years’ experience in the trade and made his Salon de TE debut this year.

“[The Salon] provides a good platform for me to connect with retailers and consumers. I am keen to develop the Chinese mainland’s watch market because it is the best market for Swiss watches … I hope to come back next year,” Calabrese said.

Stylistically, last year there was a seismic shift to minimalism that was evident again in almost every maker’s range. This year it would be impossible to miss the adoption of wood for bracelets and cases and even some with genuine leather dials.

The HKW&CF presented a wide range of classy eye-catching wristwatches, including Piaget’s Altiplano, the world’s slimmest mechanical jewellery wristwatch which was expected to fetch around £140,000 (AU$260,500).

Boegli’s Grand Opera series musical watches,– equipped with a musical module and mechanical movement, capable of playing 17 musical notes – were also displayed.

Memorigin’s Marco Fu watch series was also a highlight, and was themed around snooker with three black diamonds set at the 1, 4 and 7 dial markers, for snooker player Fu’s 147-point scoring record. Memorigin brand represents what is most refreshing about the Asian sector of watch design.

There are no inhibitions or untouchable traditions and this is nowhere more evident than in its model SpongeBob Gold Tourbillon SquarePants, based on the animated TV series. Consider the entertaining contradiction of combining the high technology of the tourbillon, the famous invention of AL Breguet, with SpongeBob SquarePants and pay more than £5,000 (AU$9,300) for the privilege? Irony indeed!

PTS Resources is a Hong Kong-based supplier of watch movements and although PTS does offer movements of its own design, most notably its fine tourbillons, the actual manufacturing is done by the Hangzhou Watch Company and four other partnering factories.

This year, PTS Resources exhibited new calibres including a quite striking rectangular movement where the movement itself is subject to the PVD coating and is available in quite vividly attractive colours.

Others such as Sea-Gull and Shanghai Watch are quietly producing serious new brand complications at a time when its Swiss counterparts are marking time or producing simpler, more affordable mid-range watches.

An annual feature of the HKW&CF is the small orders zone featuring around 130 showcases, targeting buyers looking to place orders for 500-1,000 watches, clocks, leather straps, bracelets or accessories.

The award-winning and finalist entries of the 35th Hong Kong Watch & Clock Design Competition were also on display at Hall 1B concourse to showcase local creativity to international buyers.

As part of the HKW&CF, a design competition for up-and-coming watch designers provides an opportunity to showcase skills and get some exposure to the wider community.

The theme for this year was, “Time & Space Breakthrough” for the open competition and “Colourful World” for the student competition.

Celebrating a successful year, the HKTDC, together with the Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association and the Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades and Industries, organised an event that thrived ahead of other international trade fairs this year. The event will return in 2019 on 3 September.




Martin Foster

Martin Foster is a freelance journalist and Jeweller’s resident watch ‘guru’. Based in Sydney, Martin attends major international exhibitions covering the watch and timepieces categories.

SAMS Group Australia

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