Titanium-Mania Hits Wrists
The buying public appreciates the element's difference;
retailers have a new story to sell
No longer a novelty, titanium use among major watch companies
is nearly universal in a mere few years since its introduction.
Initially, many saw the primarily matte titanium watches as
a niche for the male sport watch buyer. But interest has expanded
quickly. Most titanium watches remain in the sport category,
where Citizen, Seiko, Bulova, IWC, Festina, Tissot and others
report growing sales. But they increasingly feature polished
accents links, crowns, cases, bezels and now
boast fashion and highly designed looks.
Boccia, the German all-titanium line, led the way, focusing
on designer looks. In the past year, Boccia sales have soared,
says Raphael Cohen, president of Universal Watch Co., U.S. distributor
of the brand.
Roven Dino, a titanium veteran, says its best-sellers include
matte titanium with polished links and accents.
Michele Watches also noticed quick acceptance of titanium
as a fashion element. "Titanium is not a stranger to consumers
anymore," says Debora Weisenseel, marketing coordinator.
"Retailers can talk with consumers about its use in golf
clubs, tennis rackets and the space shuttle."
Weighing the Appeal
Titanium is 30% lighter and 40% stronger than steel and is
hypoallergenic. These are primary selling points for golfers,
cyclists, runners and divers. The metal's high-tech image also
appeals to certain customers who know it from its use by the
aerospace and eyeglass industries.
You may hit a barrier with customers who associate heft with
a fine watch. "There's still a higher perceived value for
a heavier watch," says Laarin Lee, watch buyer for Ben Bridge
Jeweler, a chain based in Seattle, WA. Ben Bridge has seen a
limited market for titanium watches so far, but this could change
as more polished titanium models reach showcases, says Lee. "Customers
ask about them quite often so the potential is good, though it
remains to be seen," she says.
by Michael Thompson
||Roven Dino received so many requests for a titanium
watch for women, it created a smaller Talon Titanium (top, center).
Prices range from $450 to $525 for the line. Roven Dino, Pine
Brook, NJ; (800) 882-8608, www.rovendino.com.
From the Titanium collection by Michele, this screw-down
crown chronograph features a solid titanium bracelet and case
with a steel deployant buckle. Suggested retail, $325. Michele
Watches, Miami, Fla.; (305) 650-9771, www.michelewatches.com.
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.