et us set the stage first. Hong Kong, a work-hard-play-hard city that never sleeps, is the biggest watch market in the world. FHS (Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry) figures confirm it to be the leader in watch export for the past decade, and among the top 2 as far back as data shows, contributing to 13-20% of total export.
One should know that it is a tiny city with only 7 million inhabitants (I know, I was born and bred there). Apropos which, it is convenient to think the land of watches must be the land of watch lovers.
Or, is it?
Those who know, know that the money trail doesn’t end there. Watches come and go. Watches change hands. Most travel further afield. By and large, this lightning-paced society drives fast materialistic consumption. Outside of the collector groups, there are few Hong Kong natives who care to delve long and hard into watches, as in the craft of watchmaking. Not that they don’t want to.
A case in point, even if you sent a private detective to dig up collectors’ gatherings, you’d draw a blank in Hong Kong (Oh trust me, I tried!).
For all that I love about my motherland with utter pride and respect, there is something to be said about the consumer market. It’s all too easy to be seduced by the glitz and glamour, and the next coolest hottest things aplenty. In such settings, love doesn’t run deep.
Don’t judge me, I WAS one of them.
All is not lost. The story has a twist. 10 years ago, I fell into a new business to help launch an independent Swiss watch brand. Bypassing all the superficial fluff, it fast-tracked me into the heart of the Swiss watch industry, where passion, innovation, intelligence, and independence converge.
It is convenient to think the land of watches must be the land of watch lovers.
Welcome to the independent watch sector.
I started interfacing with watch buyers, some more enthusiastic than yourself, about the artistry and the people behind the creations. I also observed in recent years a budding interest to delve into the substance from the young(er) buyers in Hong Kong. The intellectual exchange between creators and patrons is one that no amount of celebrities and freebies can replace. Your soul is enriched. You fall in love.
One must understand that, those who operate in the independent sector, are a special breed. These are highly accomplished professionals (many deflected careers from the big names), who believe they can do better for themselves and the world around them.
A decade of total immersion in this calibre of industry visionaries, watch connoisseurs and enthusiasts, is a twist of fate. On top of that, I scour and survey the independent landscape as a profession. Intersecting with watchmaking innovators and business mavericks day in day out, there is a lot for me to divulge. I see the intricacies of the watch world out of the ordinary.
I’d say, caring is sharing. It’s an honour to be writing for Europa Star. In the coming months, you will find my inside stories and journey as a player in the sector. Let us peer in through the keyhole of the fascinating independent world.