Professional Jeweler Archive: New Ways to View Time

September 2003


New Ways to View Time

Two brands bring offbeat designs to U.S.

While timepieces are often thought of as classic designs and gifts, every once in a while someone throws something new into the mix. Two manufacturers recently added a little fun to the timepiece category.


Stuart Kerzner never thought he’d don a cowboy hat and snakeskin boots to sell watches. But when he introduced Catena watches last year outside the traditional jewelry venues, it was time for a change.

“We were at the International Western and English Show in Las Vegas last spring and I was the only one wearing a suit,” says Kerzner. “I stuck out like a sore thumb.”

The next day, duded up cowboy style, he presented his newly acquired watch brand to retailers of western merchandise.

“Catena’s horseshoe-shaped case lends itself to western tastes,” says Kerzner. Catena, founded in Switzerland in 1950, has expanded into major Western-wear retailers and continues to fill a growing niche for unique well-made timepieces. Catena’s case shape and optional diamond bezels, mother-of-pearl dials, steel bracelets or leather straps and three sizes suit a range of tastes.

Retail prices begin at $365 for a small model with leather strap and rise to $2,350 for a 32-diamond midsize version with mother-of-pearl dial. A large-case chronograph with a steel bracelet for men is $825 retail. Kerzner also distributes Italian-designed, Swiss-made Lancaster watches in the United States.


Abacus, a fun and philosophical timepiece made in Germany by Erich Lacher, was designed by Roy Schaefer. Wearers can play with the metal ball below the crystal when time is not an issue. But simply hold the dial still for a moment and a magnetic force, guided by a high-end quartz movement, holds the ball at the correct time.

“We wanted a well-made fun item that was also interesting and priced nicely,” says Fabienne Cuisinier, marketing manager for Eric Armin Inc., the new watch’s U.S. distributor.

The ball halts at a point between the hour markers, which also serve as the holes for the fun side of the watch. The ball halfway between two hour markers means the time is half past the hour.

Each watch has a solid steel case, leather strap and engraved caseback. Also available is a thicker-cased version with a leather strap integrated into the case

  • Catena, North Miami Beach, FL; (800) 337-9845,
  • Eric Armin Fine Watch Division, Franklin Lakes, NJ; (800) 272-0272.

– by Michael Thompson

These Catena models are $465 retail (midsize steel bracelet) and $695 (eight-diamond small model on leather).
Fun and function meet in Abacus. The time shown here is 1:30. Suggested retail, $149. A thicker-bezeled version with leather strap integrated into the case is $199.

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