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- 8 Mar 2011
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Introducing Henri Liu, Championing Swiss Watchmaking in China


Nathalie Omori, senior partner of Zhenji, presents journalist Henri Liu, widely credited as the first Chinese writer to specialise and promote Swiss horology.

Many of my clients decry the lack of horology knowledge affecting most Chinese editors and bloggers. Granted, the watch industry is fairly technical, and many editors are content to simply rehash a few public facts about the brands. They listen to several industry interviews, and parrot those and other articles they read in the press. One exception is a Chinese journalist who has gone out of his way to truly understand what makes a watch “tick”.

Henri Liu was the first journalist to focus on watches at a time when lifestyle press was barely emerging. Having worked many years for the Chinese State, Henri was recruited in 2001 by the Trends press group, the organisation who slowly introduced all of the Hearst media in China. Henri Liu is then assigned to the new Chinese version of Esquire Magazine as an editor for the Men section. With luxury watches suddenly appearing in China, Henri takes a particular interest in horology.

He starts attending major watch trade shows like BaselWorld and SIHH in Geneva. At the time, he is the only known Chinese journalist specializing in horology. This gets him invitations to all the great Swiss manufactures. And he scores interviews with all the greats from Swatch’s Nicolas Hayek to Philippe Stern at Patek, and Jean-Claude Biver at Blancpain at the time.

 Henri Liu was the first Chinese journalist to focus on watches at a time when lifestyle press was barely emerging 

He spends countless hours trekking throughout Switzerland and former East Germany in the manufactures learning how watches are designed and built

Then in 2004 Trends CEO Wu Hong, a brilliant man, decides to create a dedicated watch magazine from scratch. He calls it Trends Time and asks Henri to run it as its editor in chief. At that time, the male luxury watch is a growing phenomenon. Collectors start appearing left and right. Wu Wong senses this trend and capitalizes on it with a dedicated watch magazine. A first in China at the time.

Henri is then given free reign to exploit his newly minted watch knowledge. He decides to focus on craftmanship, movements and complications. He examines all the flagship models with a technical focus. Inside the magazine, priority is given to large blow-out photos of internal watch mechanisms, including tourbillons, and original design drawings. He reports from the big industry trade shows at Basel and Geneva, and by doing so feeds the passions of a burgeoning Chinese watch collectors community. As such, he is largely responsible for creating a Chinese culture of precision time pieces.

In 2007, he decides to leave the confines of the corporate editorial world to strike out on his own. After a brief stint at Harley Davidson, his favorite motorcycle brand, he takes up as watch editor at Auto Pictorial and contributes to several other publications as their horology specialist. The Harley Davidson and watch blog he creates at the time now has over 300,000 followers.


More importantly, he begins to focus on writing his own book. It will become the first Chinese manuscript about great Swiss watch classics. It is released in 2009. Now out of print, the book is remembered as a spectacular success in the publishing world.

Today, Henri Liu is a full-fledged writer. He is working on an updated edition of his best seller. His editor no longer doubts his potential. Another passion of his is helping brands communicate using writing, the internet, and with technical blogs. He comes up with Chinese versions of watch names. He also helps brands adapt their essence and concepts for the Chinese market. Henri Liu is now an established asset for all Haute Horlogerie brands.

He has met virtually everyone who is anyone in the watch world. He’s followed the development of every classic high-end piece from scratch. And he knows how to express their subtleties inside and out. Chinese watch lovers worship him throughout the world, and follow his every step either in books, online or as contributing writer in any publication he touches.

A big thanks to my friend Henri for his role in educating Chinese citizens and helping them discover the world of horology.

This article has been published courtesy of Zhenji where it first appeared here under the headline, ‘Henri Liu, A Swiss Watch Guru Made in China’.


A marketing firm devoted to Chinese HNWIs, Zhenji produces qualitative studies of the demographic, offering insights into various luxury sectors. Zhenji also offers seminars and creative workshops on Chinese luxury brands and work with luxury magazines to produce specialist issues.