Saturday, August 22, 2009

Watch hunting in Hong Kong

Well, Hong Kong is definitely one of the places to go for watch hunting. Although it was not my intention when I went there (it was Disneyland), I did find the hunt very very interesting. Let's start with the mall near where I stayed. Langham Place. It is a nice mall, but not many watch shops. There were a few but mostly selling local brands and some international brands with Asian links. Here you can find shop like Genesis and Autoshop that sells brands like ice-watch, eggswatch, evisu etc. Evidently shops like Genesis can be found in many Hong Kong malls. Discount aplenty there in the mall. I managed to get 50% retail for Sector watches in one of the shops. Sadly there were none for the ice-watch I got.

Then along Nathan Road at Mongkok (Nathan Road is a long road in Kowloon), we find Chow Tai Fook and Chow Sang Sang. Chow Tai Fook is a big Hong Kong chain of jewelers. They also own the Milus brand and recently bought the big chinese watch retailer Peace Mark. Chow Tai Fook also own 2 watch movement manufacturer based in China. They (Chow Tai Fook) carry the Rolex and Tudor brands. Chow Tai Fook can be found all over Hong Kong but I am not sure if all carry watches.

Chow Sang Sang is another big Hong Kong jeweler. They also carry Rolex and Tudor. They are also found all over Hong Kong but again I am not sure if all their shops carry watches. In between the 2 giants, we find other smaller watch shops. These shops carry a collection of brands from lower end Swiss brands to mid-priced Swiss brands, e.g. Tissot and Omega.

I have no experience with these shops as I had no intention to buy any watches.

Also in the same area, you have City Chain. I understand that they have been around in Hong Kong for over 20 years. They carry a lot of brands and most of the shops don't carry all the brands. At last count (yes I counted) they have 70 brands, ranging from fashion brands to Japanese brands to Swiss made watches. Some of the brands that they carry includes Solvil Et Titus (house brand), Cyma (house brand), Seiko, Casio, Citizen, Oris, Polar, Pulsar, Skagen, Movado and lots more. City Chain can be found almost everywhere in Hong Kong. City Chain offers between 10% to 40% off on the watches they carry. The retail and discounted prices are clearly labeled.

City Chain also run the Seiko boutique located at Percival Street in Causeway Bay.

Dotted along Nathan Road are more watch shops. Again no experience with these shops. These are your typical watch shops carrying Swiss, Japanese and some local brands.

Next we come to Canton Road near the Harbour City Ocean Terminal. Along Canton Road itself, we can find Louis Vuitton (one of the biggest store I have ever seen), Omega, Blancpain and Rolex. We can also find Chow Sang Sang here.

Silvercord is a mall on Canton Road. In this mall you can find the Rado boutique, a shop that sells Rolex and Tudor exclusively, the ODM boutique and Genesis (again) which sells evisu watches and ice-watches among others.

Across from Silvercord, we find the Ocean Center. Here we find lots of watch shops but my main focus is the Prince Jewelry and Watch Company. Prince has one of its biggest store here. It is over 7,000 sq. ft. in size. The area is then divided into smaller shops, each for a particular brand. They carry the following brands, Omega, IWC, JLC, Zenith and Blancpain among others. They do carry a huge selection of watches from each of the brands that they represent. The staff there are friendly. There was a nice collection of Blancpain Fifty Fathoms there.

You have to excuse the quality of the photographs as many shops in Hong Kong do not like people to take photographs of their shops.

GP also have their boutique in the Ocean Center. Got to love the tagline, 'Watches for the few since 1791'.

For Casio collectors, no visit to Hong Kong is complete without a visit to Javys. They are located at Mody Road, Tsimshatsui East, Kowloon (just off Nathan Road, Tsimshatsui side) and Lok Ku Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island. They have a huge collection of vintage G-Shocks and also current models.

On the island side, you can find many good watch shops in the following places; Pacific Place, Prince Building, Landmark and along Queen's Road in Central. In the Prince Building, we find the following boutiques; Bvlgari, Cartier, Chopard, F.P. Journe, Georg Jensen, IWC, Panerai and Piaget. I like the Panerai boutique (bias as I like the brand), however it too suffers from the shortage of stock. Sadly the staff is not very friendly.

In Landmark, we find Charriol, Gucci and Tiffany & Co. Here in Landmark we can also find Dickson Watch. They carry a number of Swiss brands which includes Chopoard, Hermes, Bvlgari and Rolex. Dickson is also located at The Peninsula.

Back to the mainland, in the Tsimshatsui area, we find the Time Watch/ Yes Watch/ Right Watch company. They are the same company only operating under 3 different names. Why? I don't really know, but I suspect it is to differentiate the product offering. They are located on the island as well at Percival Street in Causeway Bay. They carry about 33 Swiss and German brands. The shops are very unique as they are done up as some middle-age French shops.

Now comes what I believe to be a very important development in Hong Kong watch scene. The 1881 Heritage building. The 1881 Heritage building, located on Canton Road was the headquarters of the Hong Kong Marine Police (1880s to 1996). Located at the same place are the Fire Station, Stable Block and Time Bell Tower. The entire area has been redeveloped and it will feature flagship stores for a number of watch brands.

The brands that have their flagship store in 1881 Heritage are (so far) Rolex and Tudor (I believe operated by Emperor Watch), Breguet, Cartier, dunhill, IWC, Montblanc, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin, Van Cleef & Arpels and Tiffany & Co.

Emperor Watch is an old establishment in Hong Kong (over 50 years old) and represents over 30 Swiss and German brands in Hong Kong.

The Piaget Flagship Store (under construction).

The VC flagship store (under construction).

The Rolex and Tudor flagship store.

The Cartier and Tiffany & Co flagship store.

The dunhill and IWC flagship store.

The IWC flagship store.

More about the IWC flagship store. It carries the full collection from IWC. It also carries IWC accessories like sunglasses and flight jackets. The store is divided into 2 sections: the Classic Lifestyle Wing carrying the Portuguese and Da Vinci series. This wing includes a Navigator's lounge, outfitted like a cabin of a luxury yacht. The other wing is the Sports Lifestyle Wing and here is where we find the Ingenieur, the Aquatimer and the Pilot watch. Located in this wing is the Aviator's Lounge where customer can try-out a flight simulator.

Well if you missed out on all these, Hong Kong International Airport has an IWC boutique (well stocked), a Swatch shop, City Chain is there as well. Oh, there is also a David Yurman boutique.

Overall I have to say that it was an interesting experience. The popular brands in Hong Kong are Rolex and maybe Tudor (well the saying among the Chinese is to see if the man is rich or not, is a Rolex on the wrist and a Mercedes). I have to say that IWC seem to come in a close second, based on the number of shops selling IWC (just walk along Nathan Road) and how close it gets to the full offering from IWC, even the very high-end ones. If it is not IWC, it has to be Breguet. There are about 20 shops selling the brand.

As for prices, I believe they are in-line with other countries in Asia. Maybe it may be a little cheaper in Hong Kong due to FOREX, but I don't think it is by much. If you purchase in the boutiques, the prices are pretty standard world wide after FOREX. Discounts? Well, I did ask and some offered 10% and yet some offered 20%. This is brand dependent and I guess demand. Tops I could get for Rolex (sports models) were 12.5%.

Fakes. As long as you buy from reputable shops or boutiques, fakes would not be a problem. I am sure the usual mantra is be careful and if you insist on buying watches off a particular group of people that you find along Nathan Road, then you get what you pay for.


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    1. Hi Su Ho,

      Welcome to the blog. Sorry but no commercial links.

      Best regards,