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Millions of watches are assembled in China every year, primarily in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. With hundreds of watch manufacturers to choose from, it can be somewhat tricky to find one capable to manufacture your watch design.
In this article, we share our experience on China’s wristwatch industry, and explain the factors that matters when selecting a manufacturer. We also explain what importers must know about design customization, and how this has a direct impact on pricing and minimum order quantity requirements.
The role of the Watch manufacturer
The truth is that a ‘Watch manufacturer’ don’t really manufacture the watches. They assemble the watches, and procure all individual components. The Watch case, crown, hands, clock face and even the indexing are all produced by specialized subcontractors.
This also applies to movements, which are often procured directly from Miyota, Seiko or Ronda.
The Watch supplier is essentially managing these subcontractors, and assemble the final products. In general, all Watch suppliers have access to the same subcontractors. As they don’t invest much in R&D, this means that all suppliers in the industry have access to the same materials and components.
Does that mean that all suppliers are equal? Definitely not. Watch manufacturers differ on the following factors:
a. Product compliance: Most suppliers are not aware of EU and US product regulations, such as REACH and RoHS. Hence, they may supply a product with excessive amounts of lead and other restricted substances.
b. Quality management: Managing a large number of subcontractors is not an easy task. At a minimum, the supplier must have established procedures for checking incoming materials and components – and checkpoints on the assembly line.
c. Management: Some people are just better at taking care of their customers and running businesses than others. This is also how it works in China’s watch industry.
So, what about pricing? The price difference between two suppliers is normally very slim, assuming you get quoted based on the same product specification. As mentioned, the suppliers are buying materials and components from the same network of subcontractors.
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