Time to Watch out

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Local watchmaker Leung Yau-saint promotes mechanical watches through his workshops

By Valerie Wan

Shabby stalls in forgotten corners of a street often spring to mind when it comes to watch repairing and crafting. Few can relate the profession to people in white lab coats working in a studio in a fancy commercial building in Sheung Wan. But that describes exactly Leung Yau-saint, one of the few independent watchmakers in Hong Kong who crafts original mechanical watches.

Leung’s passion for watches started in his childhood when he received his first watch from his mother. He was fascinated by the ticking sound of watches and developed a hobby taking apart and reassembling watches. In 2003, he entered the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE) to study horological science and technology. After graduation, he was involved in research and development projects related to mechanical watch movement.

In June 2017, Leung founded S3 Workshop with two watch enthusiast friends. S3 stands for “self, space and sense”, indicating that he hopes the workshop will serve as a gathering place for people who want to take a break from tedious urban life. Here, he offers a range of watchmaking workshops, including watch jamming, mechanical watch assembling and watch-surface crafting.

Although Hong Kong has one of the world’s largest watch markets, the local watchmaking industry is relatively undeveloped compared to countries with a long tradition of watchmaking like Switzerland. Leung says while many Hongkongers purchase watches as symbols of status, few can appreciate the artistic value of watches. “Many Hong Kong people put an equal sign between ‘mechanical watch’ and ‘Rolex’,” he says. “They
are unaware of other brands besides the mainstream ones.”

Every handcrafted timepiece is unique and takes months of dedication and patience to finish. To watchmakers, the most challenging process is the pursuit of precision – using their knowledge and skills to find a subtle balance between different components. Even a minor error can lead to a watch malfunctioning. “Sometimes you fail in your first attempt, so you have to start over again,” Leung says. “It can take days and weeks to create a single component.”

Unlike electrical watches, which have components that are usually mass produced, mechanical watches are one of a kind. They can continue to function as long as watchmakers can replace the worn components. Leung thinks a mechanical watch is
something a family can cherish for generations.

Want to make your own watch or learn about the mechanism behind it? Pay a visit to the S3 Workshop at Room 202A, 2/F, Kai Wong Commercial Building, 222 Queen’s Road Central or go to their website for more details.

Edited by Crystal Wu