AlbertaTime in China, China
visit #3, Post #2 - covering June 10th/2014...
the flagship store of Longio (revisit from last year),
the Touch Woman cafe (a second time) for a birthday party (for me!) very
kindly hosted by Mr. Kong Lingjun,
the Chairman of the Koncise International Watch Company,
the village workshop of one of China's most eminent enamel artists (his
family enamel-work history dates back
hundreds of years to resident production at the Imperial palace),
the Beijing Watch Factory,
lakeside restaurant dinner with Mr. Miao HongBo, general manager of the
Beijing Watch factory,
catching up, and June 10th was my 63rd birthday...
I'm back in
Beijing now (it's just after 2AM, July 2nd here) for my last few days in
China this trip, and it's been a whirlwind of activity since my last
post...about 6 hours of sleep (maybe) most nights, and so much information
that I'm kinda boggled by it all.
Time to make
posts? I'm begging your understanding but it's been hard to find time to
even sit down (I am so damn fortunate...truly blessed...)
post will cover June 10th,just one day. It might give you an idea of the
pace of things on this trip for me ;-)
me to meet him at 9:00 AM outside the location of the old Beijing Watch
Factory flagship store in Beijing's Sanlitun SOHO area because (1) he knew
I could find it ;-) and (2) because both Longio and Koncise have stores
day started right on time with a re-visit to the Longio store...
about Longio's impressive line before and visited their store last year,
but the return was a friendly treat. I was introduced this time to the
store Manager, Mr. LuiZheng (instead, meeting the owner later in Shenzhen)
and I was again shown their line of very solid and modern tourbillon and
*gets* that the western market demands something more than dress watches
and they have built-like-tank divers, pilots and field watches in their
line along with dressier pieces. As I've noted before, even some of their
tourbillons are modern heavy-metal designs. They also understand the
expectations of some higher-end customers and have chosen Swiss movements
for a number of their higher-end (read: pricier) models.
shown are RMB with 1000 RMB equaling about $162 USD, so the pilots list at
about $2000.00. These aren't at all cheap Chinese watches, and they're
built to fairly compete with serious stuff from anywhere. (Note: so many
watch and jewelry display cases are lit for glitter and not cameras, so
please excuse crappy colour at times...)
of the photos taken at the Longio store...
pretty sure I have better photos taken during the Shenzhen days of the
Longio auto tourbillon in the heavy-metal case, so I'll leave it till
in these photos, apart from other people named, is Boey Mei (a very
friendly WatchuSeek contributor from Malaysia I was fortunate enough to
meet face-to-face during this trip) and Mr. Wang Kaihao, the Xinhua news
reporter who was along with us this day). It's not all about watches; the
human side of these trips is always what |I find the most rewarding.
By the way,
Boey, another store visitor, and I all tried on the very hefty curved case
Longio models with the roman numerals to see how the curve fit differing
wrists...and the result was we all found it fit well. Don't know how they
did that, but... :-)
Anyways, next stop was the Koncise (Beijing) International Watch Co., Ltd.
I understood of the story of this company and its very impressive roots:
I was met at
the store by the Koncise Watch Company Chairman, Mr. Kong Lingjun. His
family traces its history back 67 generations to Confucious.
Company's enamel dials are produced by some of the world's most
prestigious masters and by people trained by them, and the Company's
enamel is arguably the highest grade enamel available anywhere, made by
anyone. The watch case design is made to resemble old scrolls and the idea
is to produce a modern but historically respectful -- and very, very high
quality -- watch for horological connoisseurs.
some photos from the shop...and then the first great surprise of the day
I tried a
number of shots, but I couldn't even come close to capturing the subtle
but startling beauty of this dial...
Koncise case design is very inventive. All the watch dials and interior
cases double as wrist or pocket watches, beng placed securely in either
respective outer case...
very proud that its watches have been honoured with the inclusion of an
example at the Musee International D'Horlogerie in La Choux-de-Fonds...
leaving Boey and I were both asked to write something for the Koncise
records, a task we were both happy to perform. I'll say this: Boey is an
eloquent writer. Me, I think not so much.
And here's a
shot of Company Chairman Kong Lingjun watching me try my best to do his
watches at least some justice.
Then followed the day's first surprise, a trip to the very small village
outside Beijing where the dials are produced and where the Xiong family of
craftsmen holds many of its incredible treasures.
I was taken
to the village to:
1) gain an
appreciation for history behind these treasures,
2) to gain a much deeper understanding of what makes good or great as
opposed to merely pedestrian enamel,
3) to meet an enamel master whose family enamel and cloisonne production
expertise directly dates back to family enamel masters resident at the
Imperial Palace from 1644, the beginning of the Qing dynasty, to a short
time after the turn of the last century, and
4) to enjoy a meal (mostly grown in the village) at the Xiong family table
(and people sometimes still wonder why I consider my life spectacularly
No shots of
the village because...well, because I was too shell-shocked. I only
thought about photos once I was inside.
Here, have a
look: both older technique and new technique pieces (the newest technique
developed by Master Xiong)...and I can tell the difference now :-)
A couple of
examples of materials ground for colours/pigments...
you've maybe been waiting for...
from Alberta (cowboy country) it was fun checking out this
not-so-traditional belt buckle...
I am proudly with the enamel vase I was given as a most generous birthday
gift from mr. Xiong personally :-)
the day couldn't get better, but it was only early afternoon and it stayed
just as good the rest of the day.
stop, the venerable Beijing Watch Factory (BJWAF)...so, next
shot, courtesy LiWei, a photo of Boey and I outside the factory itself...
couple by me, outside...
showing off his Beijing watch inside (look close, mine's on my wrist,
of BJWAF...photos from the museum inside, after a first shot of a monster
tourbillon in the entrance...
Beijing Watch Factory museum shots...
shots of the factory floors...
Spotted on a
birthday!! And, next...a delicious dinner starting at dusk at a huge
man-made lakeside restaurant about a half-hour's drive from the factory,
with the General Manager of Beijing Watch Factory, Mr. Miao Hong Bo.
One photo I
shot of me with Mr. Miao...
good days have to end and this birthday had been perfect, but LiWei
mentioned we were going to go back for coffee at the Touch Woman Cafe,
which turned out to be the last surprise of the day...
(descendant of Confucious, remember?) and LiWei had very generously
arranged a private birthday party for me with our crew, so this is how the
day ended, complete with goofy birthday hat:
:-) :-) :-)
And that was
just. one. day.
I know I
can't can't say thanks enough for the kindnesses shown to me by everyone.
I'm hope everyone reading understands, though, that I'll be very, very
grateful every day of my life for the wonders I'm being shown and the
opportunities I've been presented. Obviously, a huge thanks goes to my
incredible friend, LiWei...but everyone mentioned has shown me invaluable
friendship and courtesy.