Professional Jeweler Archive: Selling Time Tech

July 2000

Timepieces/News


Selling Time Tech

Though mechanical brilliance abounds in 2000, a flurry of quartz watch innovations is on the way to your showcase


Tissot’s appropriately named Touch watch was probably the most touched timepiece of this year’s World Watch, Clock and Jewel-lery Fair in Basel, Switzerland. Thanks to technological advances, you can activate various functions by tapping the watch’s crystal. It’s one example of the renewed importance of a watchmaker’s research and development department.

As noted in our May issue (p. 118) and June issue (pp. 103 and 118), years of development preceded the launch this year of mechanical and automatic watches with long-lasting power reserves and with unusual or new material. The innovations extended to quartz watches also.

Quartz Innovations

If you sell battery-free quartz watches, you can expect continued focus on their ease of use and maintenance. Now some battery-free quartz brands have added perpetual calendars, which correctly change the date according to the month and leap year. Also look for longer reserve times for the Autoquartz (the battery-free movement made by the Swatch Group’s ETA division) and for Citizen Eco-Drive light-powered models. Five years is the new threshold for both.

Also note the adaptation of a “sleep” mode by ETA’s Autoquartz, a concept first seen last year in Seiko’s Auto Relay line. The new ETA movement “retains” power after inactivity for three to five years. Ventura has adapted it into a digital watch with liquid crystal display. To do so, the company had to create its own internal computer chip.

ETA also developed a quartz split-second timer with a flyback function, two technologies rarely seen together, even among mechanical movements. Wenger used it first, though expect others to follow.

Nina Ricci entered the realm of technical watchmaking by commissioning a new quartz movement for its digital watch. The unique liquid crystal display boasts greater clarity than is standard among timepieces.

Internet-friendly watches and those with audio and video capability are emerging at the electronics fringe of the watch industry, notably from Swatch and Casio. If you have younger or electronics-influenced customers, watch as these technologies adapt into the traditional watch market.

Quartz watches powered by temperature changes, now sold in Japan by Citizen and Seiko, continue to evolve. Sales in the U.S. are pending – we’ll keep you informed.

– by Michael Thompson

By touching the correct area of the crystal of Tissot’s Touch watch, you can activate a compass, altimeter, barometer, alarm, thermometer and full chronograph. Tissot, Weehawken, NJ; (800) 284-7768, www.tissot.ch.
The Wenger GST Aerograph chronograph features a new ETA split-second quartz movement with a flyback function. The flyback allows the sweep timer hands to be reset to zero and resumes counting from zero without losing time. The split-second hand permits timing several events. The watch is $795 for a titanium bracelet and case or $695 for a leather strap and titanium case. Wenger North America, Orangeburg, NY; (800) 431-2996, www.wengerna.com.
With the help of Swiss electronics company Roventa Henex, Nina Ricci spent 14 months developing its own quartz movement with a liquid crystal display for this elegant fashion watch. The numerals are finer, longer and lighter than is standard for such displays. Nina Ricci, Vaumarcus, Switzerland, (41-32) 836-3700, fax (41-32) 836-3701, info@ninaricci.ch.
Ventura’s Futura combines a digital LCD display and an ETA Autoquartz battery-free movement that also features a “sleep” mode. If the watch is not moved for one hour, the display “sleeps.” When picked up again, it resumes activity with the correct time and date. The watch also can be switched off entirely and resume running five years later with the correct time. The case is titanium, the strap is rubber. Suggested retail, $1,800. Ventura, Wilkes-Barre, PA; (570) 822-1900, www.ventura.ch.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications