If you’ve ever wondered where the middle- to low-end of the watch world came from, here you go. Most “brand name” watches like Calvin Klein, Burberry, and the like come from Chinese OEMs who, for the most part, run their companies as well or better than Swiss manufacturers.

For example, I got this email today offering me OEM services from a company in Shenzhen, China, the heart of world manufacturing. Shenzhen is where they make almost all Apple products as well as huge range of precision equipment.

Happy new year to you and your family.

Glad to know that your products is in our manufacturing scope. Just brief introduction. This is vita from ____ watch Co.,Ltd. Our factory is involving in watch manufacturing for 17years with 350 workers. We are located in Shenzhen city, China.

The company has extensive production lines, adopting Switzerland, CNC control line. . The water resistant of our watches are up to 20ATM.

Our MOQ is 300pcs for our exsting models. OEM and ODM are welcome.

Why am I mentioning this? Because China is a very real threat to Swiss hegemony. The average frou-frou watch retailer would tsk tsk that suggestion, but remember: people manufacture watches and people are people wherever they are. Do Chinese manufacturers cut corners and create absolute abortions sometimes? Yes, they do. But can they build the pyramidal base of the watch market by producing acceptable timepieces for the average person? Absolutely.

Switzerland would do well to heed this simple warning: they’ve been burned by ignoring the East once before, during the quartz crisis. Take China seriously. There are no second chances.

7 thoughts on “Where Cheaper Watches Come From”
  1. Your high and mighty Swiss watch may have it’s movement assembled in Switzerland, but where do all the components come from…? Don’t be surprised if many come the land of the rising sun. You are buying marketing, that’s all…

    1. You know that “land of the rising sun” means Japan, right? Asian countries are not interchangeable 😉

  2. The problem that China has to overcome is that there is a lot of garbage that is made in China. Even if they do produce the best watch in the world, people will look at it and wonder if it’s just another piece of junk. The Swiss, to some extent, are selling trust. You can look at the “Swiss Made” logo and, for the most part, know that you are getting decent quality. At least that’s my perception, AND that’s my point. When I think of Switzerland, I think quality, when I think of China, I think of junk. I know China makes a lot of quality items, but they will need to overcome this perception of low quality to compete with the Swiss.

  3. Swiss watchmaking has to take this China threat seriously not because China will beat them in quality and craftsmanship like the Japanese did. China will beat them at this new age where the majority of the people no longer can afford or care as much about quality, but more on the lower price point. Everyday low prices == everyday low quality == everyday low quality jobs. China and Japan are vastly different in terms of culture and mindset; Japanese is very obsess with precision engineering and quality control (if you ever lived in Japan you will understand this), but Chinese is obsess with making the quick buck in anyway possible (if you ever had business dealings in China you will also understand this).

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