- Hong Kong International Watch Forum explores regional trade trends
Nearly 15,000 buyers from 95 countries and regions attended the physical exhibitions of the 42nd HKTDC Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair and 11th Salon de TE, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association Ltd and The Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades & Industries Ltd. The physical exhibitions ended on 9 September but under the hybrid EXHIBITION+ format the online exhibitions continue until 16 September. During the fairs, the results of the 40th Hong Kong Watch Design Competition, also organised by the three organisers, were announced. Winning and finalist entries were prominently displayed to global visitors.
To provide industry professionals with the latest market trends and insights from the global watch and clock industry, the HKTDC organised the Hong Kong International Watch Forum on the first day of the fairs (5 September). Representatives from watch associations in Mainland China, France, Germany, Japan, Korea and Switzerland were invited to discuss the industry’s regional trade performance and global outlook. On 6 September, the annual Asian Watch Conference was held with the theme, Shaping the Future of Watch: The Next Design Trends. Speakers delved into sustainability in watchmaking as well as the latest trends and future directions of watch design to inspire new ideas.
Hong Kong Watch Design Competition – uncovering talent
The Hong Kong Watch Design Competition has been striving to elevate the design and quality of Hong Kong watches and clocks and encourage creative ideas, while also identifying local design talent and injecting a new impetus into the industry. The competition’s 40th edition featured an Open Group and a Student Group, with the themes The Beauty of Perspective and Game Code, respectively. The competition was enthusiastically received, with 84 high-quality entries submitted. Winners were selected by a judging panel comprising nine industry leaders and celebrity judge Jessica Hsuan.
In the Open Group, Tam Kwok Tung emerged as champion with Scroll Bar. By ingeniously manipulating perspective, the design creates a sense of depth within the confined space of the wrist, revealing the aesthetic allure of traditional mechanical watches. The first runner-up was Chan Kar Him with TRAVERSE, which features an entirely transparent case and employs a horizontal assembly method to fully highlight the exquisite craftsmanship of watch movement. Second runner-up was Heromex Watch Company Limited for its design, Mondrian. Inspired by the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, the watch uses basic shapes and primary colours to create an abstract composition. The radiating black lines on the dial are complemented by scattered colour blocks and a skeleton movement, expressing the aesthetics of perspective.
Within the Student Group, Wong Yin Yeung of the Youth College International clinched the champion title for his design, TANZZLE. The designer believed the distance between people brought by the pandemic could be bridged by games in the post-pandemic era. His watch features a foldable design and incorporates a Tangram on the watch face. Wearers can engage in exciting matches with friends anytime and anywhere by racing to form various shapes and graphics with the Tangram. The versatile game play and minimalistic design of the watch inspire limitless creativity.
The first runner-up of the Student Group was Pui Hong Yiu of the School for Higher and Professional Education (DILWL) with Over Game, which features a yellow and black square case that resembles a mini arcade game machine. The face of the watch showcases a scene from the classic game Pac-Man. Meanwhile on the back, a maze game with two steel balls represents the Pac-Man characters giving chase and eluding capture. This playful design embodies a work hard, play hard attitude towards life. The second runner-up was Kwong Wai Yin of the Hong Kong Design Institute for Target. Inspired by the ever-challenging claw machines, she created a watch case in the shape of a coin, symbolising a chance to play, as well as a catch-type clasp. The design conveys the idea of seizing every opportunity.
All the winning and finalist entries were displayed during the Watch & Clock Fair, where the Award Presentation Ceremony of the 40th Watch Design Competition cum Fashion x Watch Parade was also held.
Hong Kong International Watch Forum – profitability trends up in Mainland China
The HKTDC hosted the Hong Kong International Watch Forum on 5 September, inviting representatives from watch associations to discuss the industry’s most recent regional trade performance and global outlook.
Zhang Hong-guang, Director General of the China Horologe Association, cited statistics on 297 watch and clock enterprises in Mainland China. He pointed out that the industry’s cumulative revenue in the first half of this year reached RMB12.491 billion (US$137.5 million), down 11.3% from the previous year, while clock production was 33.6132 million pieces, a year-on-year decline of 9.05% and watch production fell 23.64% to 45.6928 million pieces .
Mr Zhang said: “In the first half of 2023, despite Mainland China’s economic development remaining generally steady, the watch and clock industry’s revenue fell 11% year-on-year. Cumulative exports rose 2.28% year on year to US$2.252 billion. Among this, exports of watch movements reached US$678 million, up 9.79% over the previous year. Cumulative imports totalled US$2.33 billion, an increase of 11.48% year-on-year. These figures suggest that market demand is recovering. With consumption momentum picking up, the watch and clock industry’s production, sales and profitability are all improving, and the market is trending upwards.”
Overseas makers’ prices and volumes grow
Mari Yamazaki, General Manager of the Japan Clock and Watch Association, reported that there were positive signs of recovery in the Japanese watch and clock markets after travel restrictions were lifted following a prolonged downturn caused by COVID-19. The momentum of recovery had decelerated but Japanese watch exports in the first half of the year still exceeded 42.4 billion yen (US$288 million), marking a 12% year on year rise. Notably mechanical watch sales experienced the most significant growth, surging 26% to reach 11.7 billion yen. This trend underscored the enduring popularity of mechanical watches among consumers over the past decade, with high-end watch prices aligning with global trends.
According to Dr Guido Grohmann, Managing Director of the German Association of Jewellery, Watches, Clocks & Supplying Industry, German watch and clock exports recorded a 10% year on year increase last year, rising from EUR1.5 billion (USD1.61 billion) to EUR1.702 billion. Imports also rebounded, escalating from EUR1.865 billion in 2020 to EUR2.195 billion in 2021. Furthermore, the import volume in the previous year reached a new high of EUR2.524 billion, up 15.1% on the year.
Dr Jean Daniel Pasche, President of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH, highlighted that Switzerland exported watches worth 13 billion Swiss francs (US$14.58 billion) in the first half of this year. Exports of electronic watches surged 18.8% year on year while mechanical watch exports showed an 11% growth. The global appeal of Swiss watches led to increased exports to several countries and regions during the first half of this year, including the United States (+9.9%), Mainland China (+25.4%), Hong Kong (+28.8%), Japan (+5.9%), and the United Kingdom (+7.8%).
Guillaume Adam, General Secretary of the France Horlogerie, said that in 2021 France emerged as the world’s fifth-largest exporter of watches and the fourth-largest exporter of watch components and straps. Based on the most recent export data, watch exports from France rose 17% between June last year and May this year, with a 21% increase in watch exports and a 4% rise in the exports of components and straps.
Dae-Boong Kim, Executive Director of the Korea Watch & Clock Industry Cooperative, observed that the consumption of watches and clocks in Korea displayed divergent trends. Consumption of high-end and luxury brand watches continued to rise as the local economy and living standards improved. In 2022, Korea’s affluent population spent more than US$16.8 billion on high-end, branded watches, highlighting the country’s market and demand for these products.
Industry experts examine industry trends and market outlook
The Asian Watch Conference on 6 September was themed Shaping the Future of Watch: The Next Design Trends. The event featured Anna Dai, Research Analyst of Euromonitor International (Hong Kong), who shared insights on how sustainability was shaping the future of watchmaking. She elaborated on how global brands were integrating ESG (environmental, social, and governance) principles into every facet of their watch manufacturing processes, starting from design to the sourcing of materials. The event also welcomed Zhang Jianmin, Founder & President of Shenzhen CIGA Design Co., Ltd., who provided an account of the success achieved by his domestically established watch brand. He highlighted the journey of Mainland Chinese watches advancing from their origins in Shenzhen to gaining global recognition and prominent in Geneva. His discussion emphasised how Mainland watches had improved in various aspects, including design, production and sales. Independent Swiss watchmaker Ollivier Savelli discussed innovative design concepts and development directions embraced by independent Swiss wristwatches, introducing fresh inspiration and ideas to the world of watch design.
– Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair: https://hkwatchfair.hktdc.com
– Salon de TE: https://hkwatchfair.hktdc.com/te
– Intelligence Hub: https://www.hktdc.com/event/hkwatchfair/en/intelligence-hub
– Photo download: https://bit.ly/3EwMJZk
Please contact the HKTDC’s Communications & Public Affairs Department:
Frankie Leung, Tel:+852 2584 4298, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Agnes Wat, Tel: +852 2584 4554, Email: email@example.com
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is a statutory body established in 1966 to promote, assist and develop Hong Kong’s trade. With 50 offices globally, including 13 in Mainland China, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a two-way global investment and business hub. The HKTDC organises international exhibitions, conferences and business missions to create business opportunities for companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in the mainland and international markets. The HKTDC also provides up-to-date market insights and product information via research reports and digital news channels. For more information, please visit: www.hktdc.com/aboutus. Follow us on Twitter @hktdc and LinkedIn