Many Chinese watch brands set out to compete with well-established Swiss brands. That’s a lofty goal, and while it’s certainly possible for Chinese manufacturers to create a quality watch that can compete with the Swiss, it’s unlikely that the public is going to change their buying habits anytime soon.
A better move is to create a quality watch that no one will mistake for a Swiss watch. That way, if someone likes what you’re making, they can make an active choice to buy it instead.
This seems to be the approach taken by Longio Watch, a company founded in the mid-1990s in China by designer Mi Changhong. For a dozen years or so, Longio Watch made watches for other companies, but in 2009, Changhong decided that it was time to set out on his own and show the world what he could do.
The results are pretty amazing, as these watches look nothing like what you might expect when you’re looking for a luxury watch. OK, some of them do; the company makes a few chronographs that are attractive and would not attract undue attention.
Other timepieces, however, do attract attention and in a good way. The Zhuke series of watches, for instance, have cases crafted from bronze, and as far as I know, no one else is doing that. The Zhuke Auto Green, for example, has a bronze case, a date complication, and automatic movement, and a 65 hour power reserve. It’s a limited edition of 200 pieces, and sells for roughly $3000.
Like many other Chinese watchmakers, Longio Watch makes a few models with a tourbillon. These days, it seems like a rite of passage to include at least one in your product list. The Volcan Tourbillon is a striking example with a titanium case and a distinctive blue glow. Limited to 1000 pieces, the Volcan sells for $12,000 or so.
It’s the Asmara series, however, that truly stands out. Named after a city in Africa, the Asmara series is a limited edition group of watches that currently includes some 18 models. Some include a tourbillon with extreme Art Deco influences. Others have skulls or animals on their faces. Colors are odd for this series, with many using pastel pinks and blue-green hues. Others have bold yellows. As the models vary quite a bit, so does the pricing, which ranges from roughly $2500 to $20,000.
While Longio Watch produces some amazing watches, they still do OEM work; if you need a company that can design a watch from the ground up to your specifications, they’re apparently still willing to do that sort of thing. I guess good business is where you find it, and even if you’re doing well selling your own unique product, you shouldn’t turn down opportunities to pay the rent in less obvious ways.
If you’re looking for a watch that’s well built, you can find one of those just anywhere. If you’re looking for one with some truly unique looks that will catch attention anytime you wear it, then you might want to have a look at Longio Watch’s offerings. It’s pretty much a given that you will be the only one wearing one the next time you have it on at a party.