Battery-free quartz and new materials lead the way for many new models
Many jewelers expect the same trends that fueled strong watch sales in
1998 to continue this year, fanned by interesting introductions at the major
watch fairs in Basel and Geneva this month and next.
Steel continues its triumph in all price and product ranges and has even
helped to boost sales of other white metal watches: platinum, silver and
white gold. But there's much more to look for this year in addition to steel:
- Big: Larger sizes for men.
- Women's watches: Look for the number of women's watches to grow,
notably with mini and sport models.
- Titanium: For men and women, this metal remains very hot, traditionally
with sport models but now with fashion too. Boccia, for example, introduced
an all-titanium cuff watch for women.
- In-touch: Also make note of the watch-sized paging and communications
devices rushing to market. Some are made by watch companies (or their related
electronics divisions), including Swatch, Citizen, Seiko, Timex and Casio.
Most of these will be sold by electronics retailers, but your customers
may ask you about them. With additional training, your staff may set up
a good business in the high-tech realm.
Four more trends are likely to become very important this year: battery-free
quartz watches, diamond watches, pocket watches and the use of man-made
or unusual materials. Here's a closer look at each of these trends.
|Seiko's Kinetic Arctura chronograph is an example of several continuing
trends. It's battery-free, has a unique look and uses metal injection molding
with an unusual material (urethane). Also the deployant clasp is in demand
at many retail watch counters. Retail, $1,995.
Seiko Corp. of America, Mahwah, NJ; (201) 529-5730, www.SeikoUSA.com.
|Titanium is no longer limited to sports. Boccia's successful all-titanium
design line points to a bright future for the metal in timepieces.|
Boccia, Framingham, MA; (508) 620-8755, www.boccia.com.
Quartz No Batteries
With a kick-start by Seiko's Kinetic and Citizen's Eco-Drive several years
ago and ETA's subsequent introduction of the Autoquartz, battery-free quartz
watches are rapidly becoming a big category for retailers. The category
now extends from dress to sport and includes diver watches and chronographs.
Many familiar companies have models that use battery-free technology
in one form or another. These include Bulova, Festina, Movado, Ventura,
Belair, Gruen, Oakley and most Swatch Group brands. "With the major
companies placing so many consumer ads, people are more knowledgeable than
ever about battery-free watches," says Chad Schreibman, co-owner of
Alson's Jewelers, Cleveland, OH. "The features also appeal to our salesforce,
which makes them easier to sell."
Primarily, the technology allows you to offer alternatives to standard
quartz watches and to tout the hassle-free aspect of no battery replacements.
It's true this will reduce the traffic generated by watch owners needing
new batteries. But the category is still small compared with standard quartz
or automatic watches, which still require service visits. "Plus the
goodwill and satisfaction generated when we sell these watches creates a
stronger customer bond than the need for a battery," says Schreibman.
Movado's Viziomatic was among the first outside the Swatch
Group to use ETA's 100-day "autoquartz" movement. Retail, $1,195
for the strap model, $1,795 for the bracelet model.
Movado, Lyndhurst, NJ; (201) 460-4800, www.vizio.com.
New to Citizen's Eco-Drive line are chronographs with 80-day
power reserve, including a titanium model shown at the bottom. Price range,
Citizen Watch Co. of America, Lyndhurst, NJ; (201) 438-8150, www.citizenwatch.com.
|Mido places the Autoquartz movement from its sister firm ETA (both part
of the Swatch Group) into this Multifort model. Retail, $350.|
Mido, Redondo Beach, CA; (310) 212-6436.
|Festina adds chronographs to its Mecaquartz line this year. These are available
with nylon and leather straps or steel with Graflex bracelet. Retail, $395-$495.|
Festina, Nanuet, NY; (914) 623- 8525, www.festinausa.com.
Diamond watches saw a very strong upturn in 1998 thanks to new models, new
design directions and lower prices. The trend should continue this year.
"With diamonds, there is more flash and an added dimension that
women appreciate very much," says Uwe Koenigsberger, president of Brokoe
Mfg. Co., a gold watch- and jewelrymaker. The company's primary watch brand,
Cristian Geneve, has diamonds on nearly every model in its karat gold collection
for women. "Retailers can sell these quickly because the diamonds add
a huge value without necessarily a substantial cost increase," says
Luxury brands such as Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin have known
this for years and have added even more diamonds. Meanwhile, Omega's new
line of Constellation Jewelry watches hit stores with a splash last year,
along with handmade diamond-intensive designs, such as those manufactured
by Christopher Designs, New York City. Fashion-forward watches also reach
new consumers when diamonds are placed in the bezel or dial, say many suppliers
and retailers. Examples include Cyma, Baume & Mercier's Catwalk, Gucci's
"G," Delance, several Cartier styles and Bertolucci's Serena collection.
Here are Bulova's new women's models, two of which feature diamonds.
Retail (from left), $225, $325 and $299.
Bulova Corp., Woodside, NY; (800) A-BULOVA.
Cover watches are hot, and this women's handwoven mesh 14k model is even
hotter with diamonds. Suggested retail, $2,200.
Brokoe Mfg. Co., Glen Head, NY; (516) 759-5353.
With one understated diamond at 12 o'clock, this Accurate Watch for women
outsells a similar piece without a diamond. Retail, $550.
Accurate Watches, Houston, TX; (800) 889-0952, www.accuratewatch.com.
For many retailers, pocket watches are a secret weapon. They sell primarily
as gifts, feature keystone-plus margins, require little showcase space and
appeal to men and women in all age groups. "A pocket watch sale also
takes nothing away from a wrist watch sale," says Tissot U.S. President
Jack Carpenter. "The consumer comes in looking specifically for a gift
Perhaps this explains the boom year for pockets. Import figures show
a substantial increase from Switzerland last year; another increase is expected
this year. "Fine retailers can sell fine pocket watches easily,"
says Michael Shapiro, whose company, Exclusive Time, sells Aero Swiss Pocket
watches in the U.S. "We have seen very strong increases in the past
Pocket watches that sell for under $100 are a hot fashion trend for girls
and boys, say larger retailers. Ken Genender, president of Genender Inc.,
agrees. His company's Levi's and Silver Tab brand pocket watches have sold
tens of thousands of units since their introduction last spring. Students
of all ages clip them to their belts and backpacks.
Starting from the left:
This classic two-time-zone, goldplated pocket watch from Tissot is $695
Tissot, Weehawken, NJ; (800) 284-7768, www.tissot.ch.
This is from a collection of pocket watches and gift sets from Jules
Jules Jurgensen, Bala Cynwyd, PA; (800) 220-1233.
Hot items with students, these SilverTab pocket watches come with clasps
and in varying styles. Retail, $55.
Genender International, Wheeling, IL; (847) 279-2080.
Expect more new materials to become part of the watch vocabulary. Like titanium
just a few years ago, materials now entering the watch world may soon become
common in straps, bracelets, faces, crowns, crystals and movements. Influences
range from the automotive industry to sporting equipment to eyewear.
As with titanium, many new materials improve durability or are antiallergenic.
Others provide a unique look or design. Natural rubber or nylon, for example,
are being added to or combined with leather in new watchbands. In addition,
Dupont Kevlar is being used as part of a sporty bracelet, and faces polished
from carbon fiber are shining in a few new models.
Starting from the left:
With its tough black Dupont Kevlar band, Baume & Mercier's Hampton K
draws strong responses and sales.
Baume & Mercier, New York; (212) 593-0444, www.baume-et-mercier.com.
Maurice Lacroix's Tiago series features this model with a hand-polished
carbon fiber face.
Maurice Lacroix, Encino, CA; (800) 794-7736, www.mauricelacroix.com.
Zuccolo Rochet & Cie offers these sporty bracelets made with natural
rubber and nylon in several colors.
Montres USA, Holbrook, NY; (888) 694-1333, www.montresstraps.com.
by Michael Thompson
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.