As 2011 arrives Nicely Made in China (NMiC) is happy to give centre stage to a very young company – Chinese Timekeeper (CTK). Adrien Choux recently opened CTK, selling its first watches in early December. In Asia-Pacific for 10 years, Adrien got interested in the way Chinese relate to time and the history of time while working for a prestigious Swiss watchmaker. In an interview with NMiC he discussed the ancient watch tower of Kaifeng and Chinese craftmanship.
Adrien, Chinese Timekeeper is a new company – can you tell us how you got the idea for the company?
It’s a project I have been nursing for almost 2 years -since mid-2009. While I was working for a well-known watch brand I became interested in how Chinese people relate to the passing of time. I was intrigued by facts such as during the Song dynasty a day was divided into 100 quarters of an hour or into 12 double hours in different parts of China. Our watches tell that story.
What kind of watches do you sell?
Chinese Timekeeper watches come in two types: first a 3 central hands with date at 3 O’clock and a 2 central hands and a small second dial at 5 O’clock. Both types are animated by a mechanic automatic movement with a 36 hour reserve – referred to as a movement with a simple complication.
I understand there are about 300 elements in an CTK watch – where are they made?
Chinese Time Keeper buy all the movements for our watches from a famous Chinese watch company called Seagull. The parts are made in Dongguan and assembled by a watchmaker in Hong Kong. We are very demanding of the people we work with. Each watch is carefully and individually inspected. But before all this happens, each of our samples is tested for water resistance, power reserve and impact test by the Hong Kong Productivity Council.
Who designs CTK watches?
I design the watches with a HK-based team. I bring my ideas to the team (designer, engineers, watchmaker) and together we created a brand new watch – from the movement selection, the size of the case, the design of the hands, the engineering of the buckle. Following my research, I based the design of the CTK watches on the Kaifeng clock tower, hence the 4 layers of stainless steel which remind of the shape of a Chinese pagoda. I wanted to make a watch that was distinctive and easy to recognize.
Did you find the expertise you needed among the artisans you worked with?
I believe I have found the right people – the watchmakers, engineers and designers. The team in Hong Kong is very involved in the project as it is the first completely Chinese project they have worked on.
Which type of clientele are you targeting?
The clientele I am aiming at are primarily watch collectors, people who have lived in China, as well as the young Chinese who will discover a bit of their own history.
How many watches has CTK produced so far?
Our first collection consists of 168 pieces!
Aren’t you afraid that your watches will be copied very quickly?
The day I will find a fake CTK watch for sale on the streets will mean that Chinese Time Keeper is ‘up there’ with the worlds best brands! So it’s not something I worry about yet.
Chinese Timekeeper website: