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October 1999

Timepieces: News

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.



 

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