Community Articles October 23, 2002 admin
Hong Kong – Part II
by foie gras
Chris had told me of a watch shop just down the hill from the Peak Tram terminal, at which he bought his Lange and, it turns out, Andy coincidentally purchased an AP Offshore Chronograph there as well. Glancing in the windows I saw one of the better watch and clock window displays I was to see during my visit. Carlsons, the shop in question stocks most of the higher end brands of watches as well as quite a few JLC Atmos Clocks. Both a rhodium plated and a gold plated Atmos Atlantis were visible through the window, as were several versions of JLC Baguette clocks. This is one of two dealers in HK stocking Langes, the other being the HK branch of Sincere Watches, with stores also in Singapore and Malaysia.
The better Hong Kong watch stores tend to have a very large number of watches crammed into a very small area, as space in HK is at a real premium. The store window displays, which coincidentally are emptied each night to be restocked the next morning, tend to have rather extensive displays. My impression is that many watches and clocks that would be special order items in the United States are fairly commonly seen on display in store windows in HK. As an example a couple of window displays are shown below:
Andy is seen in front of the window in the picture on the above.
I must clarify at this point that I did not actually enter any watch stores, nor did I handle any watches or discuss pricing with salespeople in Hong Kong. I had no intention of buying any timepieces and therefore I would have found this to be an exercise in being a rude tourist. I was told by both Chris and Andy that HK salespeople are relatively intolerant of tourists who look but don’t buy, and at times they can be very rude in such instances.
List prices displayed in the windows appeared to be only minimally different than list prices in the US following currency conversion. I was assured by both Andy and Chris that the list prices displayed are totally fictitious, and that following hard bargaining, discounts in the range of 25 to 35% or more off list are the norm, with the major exception being Rolex where discounts exceeding 15 to 18% would be distinctly uncommon. Using some comparative prices for watches I’m familiar with, I believe it would be a fair comment to say that net prices paid in Hong Kong would resemble those paid in Singapore, with any difference likely attributable to currency fluctuations and negotiating skills. Prices may be a bit less than those available in the USA, however after duty is paid the savings may not be substantial, particularly if you realize you can negotiate prices in the US as well.
Subsequently I made my way by subway to another shopping area, Causeway Bay, awaiting Andy’s departure from work. We met in the Sogo Department store. As an aside, don’t ever arrange to meet someone at the “Clinique” cosmetics counter in this Sogo; there are TWO of them, at opposite ends of the cosmetics department !! Andy and I made our way to a Chinese restaurant where we proceeded to have a Cantonese style meal with several courses, and were ultimately shooed out by the staff when they wanted to close up the restaurant! Andy’s work involves buying heavy construction equipment, generally in Japan (where there is a surplus) and reselling it, primarily in North America, where it is in demand. Andy now wears a two tone Daytona, but also owns an AP Offshore Chronograph he is trying to sell!
The next day I spent wandering around the Kowloon side, going into innumerable side streets and looking into store windows. Sometimes you find oddly named things in foreign cities. HK was no exception:
If you had these, would you advertise it on your building??
Perhaps my favorite discovery in Kowloon was the harbour walk looking out toward Hong Kong Island, which extends from the Star Ferry terminal complex along the coast for about a mile. I got my exercise walking here several mornings:
One thing I did not like particularly about HK were the many “Hawkers” giving out advertising circulars, trying to lure you into going to stores, and generally getting into your face. Most of the hawkers appeared to be Indian, and the majority of the stores they were advertising sold clothing. I finally became rather rude in avoiding these people who seemed to be all over the place in touristy shopping areas. The Hong Kong government tries to police this activity, even to the point of having a “Hawker Patrol,” but the hawkers seem to be one step ahead of the patrol, unfortunately!
Later, I took the “Star” ferry over to the Hong Kong side to meet Chris at a local building called “Jardine House,” known to locals as the “house of 1000 as*holes,” referring to the round windows visible in this photograph:
Chris and I wandered over to the Luk Yu Tea House, located in the Central District, for dinner, meeting Andy Tam and his girlfriend Michelle at the restaurant.
This restaurant, which has a long history of over 60 years, is frequented by politicians, television and movie personalities, millionaires, and occasionally by lowlifes such as myself. The place is famous for their tea and dim sum. We discussed watches and other things at dinner. Of interest, Andy’s girlfriend grew up in Vancouver Canada of HK born parents, and she decided to move back to HK several years ago where she met Andy. Chris’ lovely wife was not able to join us for dinner, however after dinner I went with Chris to his flat in HK where I had the great pleasure to meet her.
Chris is from Sydney, Australia, and he met his wife in Hong Kong, where she was born. One of these days they may move back to Australia. Hong Kong is very crowded and flats in the city are very tiny by North American standards (outside of places like New York, which are somewhat similarly crowded). Chris’ flat is approximately 750 square feet, huge by local standards. I’m not exaggerating by much when I say my kitchen pantry is about the same size as the ENTIRE kitchen in Chris’ flat !! And theirs is quite large for HK. Chris enjoys music in addition to watches. I was most impressed by his ultra high end vacuum tube stereo system pictured below:
Chris kindly drove me back to my hotel, and the next morning, after packing, I returned to the airport for my departure from this most interesting and vibrant city.
Next Stop: Auckland!!!