The 33rd HKTDC Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair, the world’s largest timepiece event, ended yesterday (7 September) with more than 19,000 buyers, up two per cent over the previous year. Buyers from a number of key and emerging markets recorded significant growth, including the United Kingdom (23%), France (14%), Germany (7%), the Chinese mainland (8%), India (37%), Korea (30%) and Thailand (28%). The fair, staged at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, is organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association Ltd and The Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades and Industries Ltd.
“The Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair is the largest show of its kind in the world, and we are attracting buyers from around the world year after year,” said HKTDC Deputy Executive Director Benjamin Chau. “Developing original designs and promoting brands are still the way to go, and Hong Kong’s excellent watch and clock products are well placed to capture the opportunities. The highly acclaimed Salon de TE returned after its debut last year and once again showcased a fine selection of exquisite watches that attracted buyer attention.”
During the fair, the HKTDC organized close to 80 buying missions with some 3,800 buyers from around the world, creating huge business opportunities. Among them were quality global buyers such as Maurice de Mauriac from Switzerland, Ur & Penn AB from Sweden, Moscow Jewelry Factory from Russia, Rivoli Group from United Arab Emirates, Synalia from France, JD.com from the Chinese mainland, and PT Gilang Agung Persada from Indonesia.
Industry optimistic about sales outlook
The HKTDC commissioned an independent research agency to conduct an on-site survey during the first three days (3-5 September) of the fair. The agency surveyed 405 exhibitors and 705 buyers, gathering their views on such issues as market prospects, product trends, e-tailing and sourcing patterns.
The majority of buyers and exhibitors interviewed were optimistic about the overall sales for the coming year, mainly because retail prices continue to rise. With the Hong Kong watch and clock industry thriving, some 40 per cent of buyers and about 40 per cent of exhibitors interviewed, plan to procure or sell products via the Hong Kong platform. A large number of buyers also considered the Chinese mainland a major source of supplies in the year ahead, with 70 per cent of buyers interviewed planning to source watch and clock products from the Chinese mainland. Traditional markets such as North America and Western Europe as well as emerging markets such as the Chinese mainland and the Middle East are expected to be the main growth markets in the coming year.
In terms of product and market trends, both buyers and exhibitors expect quartz and smart watches to lead the market, while fashion watches, smart watches and leisure style watches will have the highest market potential. As for product development, most buyers and exhibitors surveyed plan to introduce smart functions to their products, and promote timepieces by brand licensing and offering limited edition collections. Quality, pricing and functions are the main sourcing considerations for buyers, and Hong Kong’s suppliers perform fairly well in all three areas, the survey found.
The survey found that e-tailing accounts for about 20 per cent of total business in the watch and clock industry, and is expected to grow by 20 per cent in the coming year. The main products sold through e-tailing channels are mid-priced fashion, leisure style and sports watches.
The survey also looked at the buyers’ sourcing patterns, and revealed that buyers prefer shorter delivery lead-time, maintaining a lower stock level and placing smaller orders. Nearly 70 per cent of buyers surveyed said they source in quantities of 300 or less. In response to this trend, the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair set up a Small-Order Zone, comprising more than 170 showcases of products available for orders ranging from five to 1,000 pieces. The aim is to provide more business opportunities for buyers and exhibitors. Around 7,000 buyers visited the Small-Order Zone during the fair, generating over 18,000 business enquiries.
Smart watches in demand
Wearable Tech, a zone dedicated to smart watches, made its debut at this year’s fair and was a hit among buyers. Hong Kong exhibitor Add Inc. Ltd showcased its Add Me+ smart watch at the fair. With its slim body measuring just 9mm and a trendy design, users need only gently shake the watch to receive calls. Dr Felix Lor, Consultant for the company, said the product had not been officially released yet. The prototype was offered at the fair for buyers to try. It has already received orders from European, Japanese and Middle Eastern buyers. Traditional watch companies also approached the company for cooperation.
Romanian buyer Catalin Florea, who runs both physical and online stores in Romania, said Romanian consumers like high-tech products, and smart watches are very popular in the country. He said he had already found potential smart watch suppliers at the fair. He was also considering introducing Asian brands to the Romanian market.
European companies target Asia-Pacific market
The Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair provides a premium platform for the industry to trade and exchange. Thomas T. Swiderski, Director of Swiss exhibitor Adriatica PR&A Watch Sagl said this was the company’s fifth time exhibiting at the fair. He revealed that the company was working with two business partners whom they met at previous fairs to develop the markets in Hong Kong and Vietnam, with Vietnam emerging as one of their biggest markets. He hoped to find more Asian distributors through the fair, and considered the fair the best channel for finding new clients in Asia.