Professional Jeweler Archive: Making a Name in Time

September 2000

Timepieces: News

Making a Name in Time

New niche brands expand sales opportunities

Swatch bought Breguet last year and Jaquet-Droz this year. Gucci acquired Boucheron. Girard-Perregaux and Daniel JeanRichard have opened a U.S. subsidiary. Bulgari plans to buy the parent company of the Daniel Roth and Gerald Genta watch brands (see page 93). And luxury goods group Richemont plans to buy International Watch Co., Jaeger-LeCoultre and A. Lange & Söhne (see page 93). It’s all part of a new round of mergermania in the timepiece industry.

For small watch companies, the mergers catapult some formerly small-budget brands into the big time. For big companies, the addition of small brands adds the cachet of creativity to their more standard lines.

For you, it means more choices, though some retailers are concerned the choice is more of a requirement as vendors “suggest” more showcase space for their newly acquired brands.

Capturing far less attention than these highly publicized mergers are many brands entering the U.S. for the first time or reentering through new distributors who want to take advantage of the vibrant timepiece market.

These brands, while lacking the consumer draw of more well-known brands, have advantages also:

  • Generally higher margin and lack of price competition because no one else in your area carries the brand.
  • The chance to sell one-of-a-kind timepieces to customers looking for something out of the ordinary.
  • When fewer retailers carry a brand, their relationship with the distributor tends to be closer.
  • Your store’s value to a brand increases when you represent a greater percentage of that brand’s sales.

It’s All About Choice

Here and in future months, we’ll look more closely at some of these brands. Let’s start with some French brands that have changed U.S. distribution:

  • Saint-Honore Paris is now part of Rabco Luxury Holding LLC, New York City. The brand will expand its line in the U.S., thanks to Rabco’s marketing and advertising resources. Saint-Honore, New York, NY; (212) 688-4500, www.saint-honore-paris.com.
  • Opex, a top French fashion watchmaker, was bought this spring by Timex. The brand has been available in Tourneau and Bloomingdale stores in the past year, but it seeks greater distribution in jewelry stores. Accordingly, Timex subsidiary Callanen International will launch a major marketing and advertising campaign for Opex this fall. Prices range from $55 to $150 retail. Opex, Callanen International, Norwalk, CT; (203) 866-3787, www.opex.fr.
  • Pequignet had limited U.S. distribution until signing a distribution arrangement with Paul Mazzocchi, a veteran watch industry distributor. Pequignet is among the leading high-end French watch brands. The company also makes matching fine jewelry. Pequignet, Beverly Hills, CA; (310) 278-8377, www.emile-pequignet.com.

– by Michael Thompson

Saint-Honore Paris is seeking more business in the U.S. Pictured is a chronograph from the brand’s top-selling Manhattan line.
Below: The Ballerine by Opex features a double-wrap strap available in several colors. Suggested retail, $80. Major advertising and marketing will commence this fall.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications