Did you hear the one about the Frenchman and The Chinese Timekeeper?
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  1. #1
    Watchuseek Editor
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    Mar 2011

    Did you hear the one about the Frenchman and The Chinese Timekeeper?

    Attachment 616938

    t’s no joke. 31 year old Frenchman Adrien Choux has successfully turned an obsession into a profession. 14 months ago he launched his own line of luxury Chinese watches in Hong Kong – The Chinese Timekeeper.

    From Panerai Marketing Manager

    Based in the Far East for 11 years, the past six of them in Hong Kong, Adrien worked for five years as a Marketing Manager for Panerai, launching boutiques and new watches in Hong Kong, Macau and Taipei.

    But selling watches for someone else, even as illustrious and iconic a brand as Panerai, simply wasn’t enough. Adrien wanted to sell his own line of watches, and explore a route to market that steeps itself in China’s rich cultural heritage and ancient timekeeping prowess.

    With spells in Shanghai and Taipei, Adrien mastered the not at all easy to learn language of Mandarin. Working for Panerai – or more accurately Richemont in Hong Kong, gave him his passion for watches.

    To Chinese Timekeeper

    Combining the two, he has created The Chinese Timekeeper – or CTK for short, his own watch brand with a uniquely Chinese heritage.
    As Adrien observes, China is already manufacturing parts for the likes of Omega, Dior and Franck Muller. And he passionately believes that The Chinese Timekeeper can become a successful international luxury watch brand with the watches wholly manufactured in China.

    “China has the largest and fastest growing market for luxury watch brands. It also has an incredible history of timekeeping development. As I started to dig deeper into China’s long heritage of timekeeping, I discovered that a Chinese monk created the first water driven escapement mechanism. The Chinese invented a water powered clock tower five or six centuries before Europe.”
    Adrien Choux, owner The Chinese Timekeeper

    In 2009, the Chinese luxury watch market was worth RMB15.5 billion and is growing at 35% annually, according to a Bain & Co. report. It is dominated by five brands: Cartier, Longines, Omega, Rolex and Tudor.

    To set himself apart from the crowded foreign brands, Adrien's CTK brand is embracing China’s history in a watch collection which consists of six models simply known as CTK01 - 06.

    A 100% Chinese made luxury watch brand

    Attachment 616949

    While China’s horological history may be ancient Adrien’s watch brand CTK: “Is brand new, I don’t claim that my great, great grandfather was a Chinese watchmaker, but my watches are inspired by centuries of Chinese heritage.”

    Attachment 616954

    The watches are made from brushed and polished stainless steel, with or without PVD coating. Each watch is a limited edition, either of 38/28 or just 18 pieces. Each watch shares the same 44mm casing, styled on the architecture of a Chinese pagoda. Each step of the design is meticulously recreated based on the clock tower and is highly symbolic. It’s a sandwich case made of four layers and held together with structural screws.

    Attachment 616960

    The dial of each watch features the signature Chinese symbol for ten, appropriately at ten o’ clock, while the noted Chinese statesman, astronomer, cartographer, horologist, pharmacologist, mineralogist, zoologist, botanist, engineer, poet, antiquarian and all round good egg Su Song at 12 o’ clock is the brand’s logo. It’s a tribute to the man who developed the Chinese water clock in Kaifend in the 11th century.

    The movements are sourced from the Hangzhou Watch factory and the Tianjin Watch Company, “They are really good watch movements" explains Adrien, "they are accurate, reliable and with 30 hours of power reserve."

    Attachment 616950

    The watches range in price from US$2,294 in stainless steel to US$2,680 for the black PVD models.

    However, Adrien acknowledges, the more demanding complications such as the tourbillion and moon phase are still a work in progress with regards to Chinese movements and are not yet at the same rarefied levels of a Vacheron Constantin or a Patek Philippe.

    Auspicious beginnings

    Monsieur Choux launched The Chinese Timekeeper on a suitably auspicious day: 10/10/10 – a perfect and complete number in Chinese beliefs. And he did so with only a tenth of the budget of a typical Swiss brand. His plan is to explore further China’s rich heritage and reflect it in the DNA of his watches with the use of materials such as jade and enamel.

    The CTK Limited Edition Year of the Dragon watch

    Attachment 616952

    CTK’s special edition Year of the Dragon watch, with the case made of 24k yellow gold and the dragon and hands with gold plate, is limited to just 18 pieces with a price tag of US$8,096. But while Adrien’s brand is entirely Chinese in its DNA, he feels some brands are merely jumping on the Chinese bandwagon: “All brands are suddenly Chinese enough to have a dragon watch” he observes.

    Basel and a boutique

    The next major steps for the fledgling brand is a boutique opening in Hong Kong just off Queen’s Road East in February and a stand at Basel, the watch world's premier exhibition in Switzerland in March, where the second collection will be presented with a view to international distribution deals. No sneak previews available for the new collection just yet, but we will show them as soon as they are available.

    “Producing the second collection is taking ALL my money” explains Adrien “but the feedback I get from customers makes it all worthwhile. They tell me what a great talking point their watch is – and when all is said and done, that’s the reaction you really long for from the watch you wear.”

    The Chinese Timekeeper watches are available online at Adrien’s site www.thechinesetimekeeper.com and exclusively through Ace Jewelers in Europe.
    Attached Images Attached Images

    Last edited by Ernie Romers; February 1st, 2012 at 21:41.

  2. #2
    Member Otto Phan's Avatar
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    May 2008

    Re: Did you hear the one about the Frenchman and The Chinese Timekeeper?

    Good story. Good luck to him. I hope it works out!

  3. #3
    Member Baron Of Cats's Avatar
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    Jan 2012
    Anywhere there's wine, women, and no warrants for my arrest

    Re: Did you hear the one about the Frenchman and The Chinese Timekeeper?

    It's no coincidence that he was a marketing manager. This brand is a stroke of marketing genius. Take something that could normally be perceived as a negative - Chinese manufacture - and broadcast it right up front as a mark of luxury.

    Very sly, the way he's made the Chinese-ness of these watches part of their allure. Other brands may "admit" to using Chinese parts, movements, or manufacture. But his brand wears it proudly like a blue ribbon, right in the name.

    The watches themselves are not my personal cuppa, but I admire the business acumen this guy has.
    recently graduated from quartz fashion watches to this:
    Christiaan van der Klaauw Ariadne

    Martin Braun Selene (meteorite face), Jochen Benzinger 3/4 Skeleton

    van der Klaauw Planetarium, Patek Phillipe Sky Moon Tourbillon, Ulysse Nardin Tellurium, IWC Portuguese Siderale Scafusia

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  5. #4
    Member drunken monkey's Avatar
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    Jun 2011

    Re: Did you hear the one about the Frenchman and The Chinese Timekeeper?


    I find the design of the watches a bit crude and hackneyed, in fact, it is very reminiscent of what I see coming from first year design students.
    Chinese doesn't have to be all dragons, Chinese scripts, twee brush pen dawn figure and a totally irrelevant comparison of the case to a pagoda.

    Thoughts for the day:
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    DM's Ghetto Watch Polishing Guide

  6. #5
    Member Bud001's Avatar
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    Dec 2008

    Re: Did you hear the one about the Frenchman and The Chinese Timekeeper?

    I am not really impressed by the design. I find it a bit forced and the graphics is not that nice. I just saw what they want to charge for it too and at more than 2K there are better options out there.
    Monocrom likes this.

  7. #6
    Member CADstraps's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    between the lugs

    Re: Did you hear the one about the Frenchman and The Chinese Timekeeper?

    Love the story, but thats about it. The designs look pretty contrived, the logo is a disaster, and I'm paying at least $2,300 for an uncomplicated watch powered by a Chinese movement. I have no doubt it's a good movement, but I bet you could find the same grade movement in a $200 watch, and it would work just as well. Also, I must be an idiot, because I see absolutely zero shared design between this watch case and a traditional pagoda.

    Why is he bringing in some pseudo-comparison to Patek and VC? There are certainly Chinese movements that exist with real moonphases (not AM/PM phase-a-likes) and tourbillons. I'm not sophisticated enough to know if they are Hangzhou or Sea-Gull or whatever, but I know they exist.

    I certainly do not wish him failure, but I'm not opening my wallet for these either.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    San Jose, CA

    Re: Did you hear the one about the Frenchman and The Chinese Timekeeper?

    I was honestly expecting to see an elegant sort of dress watch when I started reading the article, only to find a ghastly looking Invicta Akula type watch. The logo is terrible, I couldnt figure out what it was until I saw the larger print at the bottom, what kind of a logo is that? Pricing is absurd as well, I understand the need to position this as a luxury watch, but you cant really start at this level for such a fashion watch type design. Dont like the marking for 10 either, it doesnt fit the theme and looks completely out of place, the hands are odd looking , I dont see any lume being a more sporty looking watch rather than a dressy watch, honestly I would be amazed if this succeeds. Its a bold move no doubt, but I think a bit more effort on design and pricing and he actually maybe onto something.

  9. #8
    Member LouS's Avatar
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    Oct 2009

    Re: Did you hear the one about the Frenchman and The Chinese Timekeeper?

    Pure puffery applied to watches that look like they were designed by a plumber or a steamfitter. Flash in the pan.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Middle of Hurricane Alley

    Re: Did you hear the one about the Frenchman and The Chinese Timekeeper?

    Clumsy design, not for me.

  11. #10
    Member RuffRydas's Avatar
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    Mar 2011

    Re: Did you hear the one about the Frenchman and The Chinese Timekeeper?

    Hmmmm... so Seagull makes a watch and charges $300-$600 while this guy uses the same movement and charges over $2000? I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder but who does this guy think he is charging $1500+ for his design?

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