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Wyler Representative Sold His Watches In War Torn China

From The American Horologist magazine, May 1946

Wyler Representative Sold His Watches In War Torn China

Selling watches under the noses of the Japanese secret police during the war was somewhat different from peacetime selling-in fact, a lot different.

Willy Orlowitz, Far Eastern representative of the Wyler Watch factory at Bienne, Switzerland, found out how different when he was forced to live through four years of Jap terror at Hong Kong.

Paul Wyler (left) of Wyler Watch Agency. Inc.

conferring in the company's New Yark offices with Willy Orlowitz, Far Eastern Representative of the Wyler Watch Factory in Switzerland.

With the concern for 22 years and its Far Eastern representative for the past 18 years, Mr. Orlowitz said he was in Hong Kong during one of his periodic business visits' when the Japanese launched their sneak war. Hong Kong was attacked simultaneously with Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941, Far Eastern time.

Fortunately, Mr. Orlowitz had a few Wyler watches with him. For the next three years he kept body and soul together by selling those watches-one precious watch at a time. It was a hand-to-mouth existence, to be sure, but it was an existence. 

It was during those three years that he learned the immense value of a good name in merchandise. Wyler watches were greatly in demand in Hong Kong, particularly among Chinese planning to escape to unoccupied China. The Chinese, knew that Japanese currency would be worthless in Free China.

In the middle of 1943, with his meager supply of watches exhausted, Mr. Orlowitz joined the International Red Cross Committee. A few months later, he was named assistant delegate in charge of the Hong Kong delegation, much of whose work was bringing food and other relief to internees and prisoners of war and in taking care of non-interned Allied nationals, including Americans. 

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