Watch Company Expands its Horizons Thanks to HKTDC

Hong Kong businesses are known for their flexibility and adaptability. A family-owned factory, now in its second generation, has faced constant challenges since the current owner took over the operation, so it took the decision to actively diversify.

The SwissTech Group, a four-decade-old Hong Kong business, has since broken new ground, adding new product lines in addition to its core business, and now intends to enter new markets such as Indonesia and Malaysia in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The company was helped greatly by a dual promotion platform offered by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC). This enabled the company to set up a physical showcase at the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair and establish its own page on the Sourcing platform to expand its global business online and offline.

Successful connections have already been made with buyers from the United States, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Korea.

The team at SwissTech has worked together for more than 40 years, building operations in Switzerland, Hong Kong and Mainland China. The firm specialises in the production of high-quality watch movements and mechanical parts, mainly sold in mature markets such as Europe, the US, Japan and Korea. The company also provides consultancy and other services for internationally renowned watch brands.

SwissTech’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jims Liu, returned to Hong Kong after graduating overseas more than 10 years ago to help handle the company’s business. He has always understood the importance of flexibility and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances.

So when the Swiss government raised the threshold for watch products to be labelled “Swiss-made”, regardless of whether the production, assembly and testing of major components must be completed locally, SwissTech cooperated by transferring its research and development (R&D), design and engineering processes to Switzerland. Its facilities in Mainland China and Hong Kong now produce mid-price watches and other products such as precision parts, automatic optical inspection systems and medical supplies. 

SwissTech's CMO Jims Liu is proactive in facing market challenges.

Making Use of HKTDC Platforms to Build Global Connections

SwissTech never loses sight of its original business while developing new products such as masks and disinfectants. The company launches more than 100 watch designs every year – ranging from mechanical winding watches and automatic mechanical watches to smart digital wearable devices – to meet the needs of different customers.

“Recently, skeletonised mechanical sports watches are among the most popular types, with a retail price of about HK$20,000 to HK$30,000,” said Mr. Liu.

SwissTech set up a cubic showcase at the HKTDC’s Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair and established a dedicated page at Sourcing to reach potential buyers from all over the world. “This online-to-offline promotion model is cost-effective, increasing brand exposure and attracting quality buyers. Most of them are interested in sourcing Swiss-made mechanical watches for high-end customers,” he said.

SwissTech makes good use of both online and offline promotional channels of HKTDC.

European Buyers Value ESG Attributes

Mr. Liu said business has begun to gradually return to normal as the pandemic eased. “However, the price and efficiency of logistics have not yet completely returned to the pre-pandemic level and other production costs have also risen, putting certain pressure on price increases.”

Despite watches being durable consumer goods, buyers in Europe, especially Germany and Northern Europe, want suppliers to meet environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirements. “This accounts for about 10% of buyers. For example, to reduce carbon footprint, packaging materials used must be environmentally friendly or degradable,” Mr. Liu added.

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