Basel ’91: much interest, extreme caution

The Basel fair had fewer visitors, less design excitement and slower business than previous events. Even so, a lot was happening

The 1991 European Watch, Clock & Jewelry Show, held April 18-25 in Basel, Switzerland, was less ebullient than previous ones. Show officials cited “special circumstances”: recession in the U.S. (the major market), the Persian Gulf War’s effect on business in Europe and the Middle East, and economic slowdowns elsewhere.

The result: 90,000 visitors, down 10,000 from 1990’s record high; fewer innovations in watches or jewelry, and so-so business overall (satisfactory watch sales offset by disappointing jewelry business).

“[Show] results reflect the world economic situation,” said a report by the British Jewellers Association, “much interest but extreme caution by buyers.”

Still, there were sunny corners: High-end watch vendors and dealers in electroformed gold jewelry did well. There were more gold and gold-plated watches, more glistening yellow gold jewelry, and more use of colored gems. Breakthroughs were announced in long-life watch batteries and gem testing. And the fair was the largest it has ever been, with 2,020 exhibitors (548 watch and clock firms, 1,133 in jewelry, the rest in related industries) from 19 lands.

Indeed, though “European” in title (Germany had the most vendors), the show is now worldwide in scope. This year a third building was opened just for vendors from Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and first-time exhibitor Taiwan. (Only four years ago, Hong Kong became the first Asian group to be admitted.) Still awaiting entry is Thailand, whose government doesn’t yet meet the show’s free-trade and anti-counterfeiting requirements for admission. However, 26 Thai firms held their own mini-fair for the second year in a nearby restaurant.

TECHNICAL TIMEPIECES TIGHTEN GRIP ON MARKET

The watch and clock segment of this year’s Basel fair celebrated technology, past and present.

The Swiss continued to enjoy success with their mid- and high-end mechanical watches. While quartz watches dominate the global market and world output of mechanicals is falling, sales of Swiss mechanicals have grown steadily since 1987. Though only 7% of Swiss unit sales in 1990, they represented 42% of the value. That strong revival was evident at Basel.

More than half of all new Swiss watches shown were mechanicals, especially self-winding automatics. Indeed, there were more new developments in mechanical time — from 8-day tourbillon designs to the world’s slimmest perpetual calendar with moon phases — than ever in the show’s history. A number of firms now offer mechanical and quartz versions of their watches; a few also offer timepieces combining quartz and electronic features ( Read more: stuhrling original watches review). Even ETA, world leader in quartz movements, debuted a new mechanical perpetual calendar movement specifically designed, said a spokesman, to “help watch producers and retailers respond to the marked revival in demand for mechanical watches.”

Grip: Meanwhile, multi-function watches (sports, chronographs, divers) tightened their grip on the global watch industry. Chronographs, especially, were so prevalent at mid- and high-price levels that one overwhelmed fair official dubbed 1991 “the year of the chronograph.” That dominance, said watch and movement makers, will continue through the early ’90s.

Newcomers in the over-$1,000 chrono crowd included Breitling’s Chrono Shark, leader of a new line water resistant to 330 meters; Lucian Rochat’s Royal Sub Chrono, the only high frequency self-winding chrono resistant to 500 meters; Sector’s SGE500 quartz chrono series; TAG-Heuer’s quartz Formula 1 chrono; Cartier’s stainless steel Pasha automatic; Jaeger LeCoultre’s Herion chronograph with alarm, seconds hand and date calendar; IWC’s (International Watch Co.) Ingenieur Chrono Alarm, combining the world’s smallest mechanical chronograph movement with quartz-controlled time and an electronic alarm; Zodiac’s Gold Point automatic and Universal Geneve’s new Compax automatic model. New chronographs for women — unique in a field dominated by large-sized watches — included Baume & Mercier’s Transpacific model; Sector’s SGE 100 women’s chrono; and Cartier’s new Round Santos models. Cyma, Movado and Raymond Weil debuted under-$1,000 chronos.

Color treatments on chrono dials and subdials also were hot. Thus Seiko, which had a strong seller with a red and blue dial, plans more chronos with other color variations for fall.

Unique: The popularity of chronos and complicated watches has renewed consumer interest in other mechanical and multi-function watches:

* Chronometers (very precise watches which pass tough tests to be certified by the official Swiss chronometer agency). TAG-Heuer, a leader in high-tech sport watches, unveiled its self-winding S/el Chronometer, its first, in response to U.S. demand and will bring 500 here this year. Rolex is expanding the rating of chronometers for women in its Oyster line.

* 24-hour watches which show two time zones simultaneously. TAG-Heuer‘s new GMT has an extra hand that circles the dial every 24 hours and a rotating bezel with hour markings. Delma’s Meridian has two 24-hour displays on its dial and a rotating bezel marked with 22 world cities.

* Calendar watches. Vacheron Constantin and Movado both debuted watches which show the date (1 to 31) on the dial rim with a pointer. The Master of Business watch for businesspeople from Pointer of Switzerland and Ronda SA has a sixth hand to show the current week (on the dial rim) and month (on the bezel).

* Perpetual calendars. Newcomers in this growing niche included Seiko’s sleek mid-priced model; Cartier’s Ronde Santos chronograph with the world’s smallest perpetual calendar; Breitling’s self-winding Astromat QP moonphase chrono, and luxury watchmaker Gerald Genta’s model with open-faced engraved movement, minute repeater and 59 ct. of diamonds on bezel and bracelet.

Sports time: Sports watches rivaled chronos as the industry’s white-hot sellers. Pulsar, a top-selling U.S. mid-price brand, announced a new collection called “TechGear,” topped by a two-tone chrono. TAG-Heuer launched the 1500 series, a step up from its 1000 line of basic divers’ watches. Rolex added a new stainless steel line called Monarch. Citizen debuted Aqualand II ($695), the first professional divers’ watch with an analog depth indicator, while Casio introduced women’s versions of its Oceanus series.

However, much of the sports watch news involved major tie-ins with important international sports events by firms which serve as sponsors or official timers.

Citizen Watch Co. announced it is official timer of the 1992 America’s Cup yacht race (with Citizen Watch Co. of America sponsoring Stars & Stripes, the U.S. entry). It debuted its new America’s Cup watches, including chronographs customized for serious and amateur yachters.

Hattori Seiko, official timer of the 1992 Olympics, unveiled a multifaceted program that includes Seiko and Pulsar official Olympics watches, Seiko watches designed to follow major Olympic events, a yacht timer and a new Olympic alarm chronograph.

Sector uses renowned athletes and explorers in its new “No Limits” campaign and is sponsoring the solo trans-Pacific trip of French navigator Gerard d’Aboville. Revue Thommen is backing a transit of the North Atlantic by Swiss sailors in a replica of a Viking warship.

Golden: Gold glittered amid the technical watches as more firms boosted the opulence of their wares. Luxury price debuts in 18k included Juvenia’s Mystere (popular 50 years ago, now revived as its signature line) and Patek Philippe’s new generation of complicated, ultra-thin automatics. Limited editions included IWC’s self-winding Amalfi, with a gold-plated movement in platinum or gold case, and Jaeger LeCoultre’s 60th anniversary pink gold Reverso.

More affordable 18k lines — many combining the gold with stainless steel and priced at $500-$1,500 — came from Cyma, French watchmaker Laurence Dodane, Delma (the Brasilia) and Raymond Weil (the Parsifal series, introduced earlier in the U.S.). Gucci’s 18k stirrup link series moves into U.S. jewelry stores this year, while a 14k version of Movado’s limited edition 110 Anniversary 18k series will be available for wider distribution.

Carven, a Swiss firm owned by Hong Kong’s Asia Commercial and new to the U.S., did well with 14k plated watches for under $500. Two other Hong Kong firms, Gordon C. & Co. and Myer Jewelry, reported healthy sales for their own 18k lines. And Hattori Seiko debuted Seiko Gold; if successful in Europe, the line could get a U.S. tryout in a few years.

Ladies only: New watches exclusively for women included eye-catchers in both mid- and high-price niches. At the luxury level, Gilles Robert, an 11th-generation watchmaker, debuted a brand with his name created by Paris jewelers and made by Swiss watchmakers. The 18k line, three years in creation, comes here this year. Its spring-operated Bulgari-style bracelet fits any wrist.

Citizen Watch of America unveiled Normandie, a mid-priced art deco collection inspired by classic 1930s designs. The watches feature octagonal, circular or square dials in black crystal or mother-of-pearl; bracelets feature individual squares of inlaid black enamel and gold-tone geometric designs.

Also new were Audemars Piguet’s Audemarine jewelry models; Nina Ricci’s “Ribbon Secret” line, with variously colored interchangeable straps; and Ultima Brands’ rigid bracelet Fendi women’s watch with two time zones.

Curves & cases: White, champagne and mother-of-pearl remained popular dial treatments.  Akribos reviews for strap watches have grown in popularity with Americans, and there were more deployment clasps.

Soft, graceful curves — rounded case flanks, stepped bezels, bracelets with curved and “pebble’ links — prevailed. Curves showed up elsewhere, too. Rectangular curved-cases collections were debuted by Cyma, Gucci and Mondaine, while rounded bombe-type crystals were essential to Movado’s 110 Anniversary series and additions to Raymond Weil’s Othello line.

Non-round case shapes formed a small but growing trend. Michel Herbelin’s new Etoile watches have octagonal cases and round bezels. Corum’s Symboise combines a round red gold case with a rectangular white gold bezel. WOTrigon of Kilchberg, Switzerland, offered triangular watches under the Wot and Trigon brands. Eterna made the biggest commitment with its “1856” 18k and steel line; five different case shapes — square, oval, ellipse, rectangle, and round — will be introduced over the next couple years. This marks “a return to basics” and “a concept we can build on, instead of being tied to a new trend every year or two,” said Martin Stalder, president of Eterna U.S.A.

Clocking in: Several well-known Swiss clock names were merged. Swiza, a leading mid-price clockmaker, took over carriage clockmaker Matthew Norman. The change won’t affect product or distribution in the U.S.

Jean Roulet completed its union with Imhof; U.S. business for both luxury clockmakers has grown strongly over the past two years. The firm launched a new line called “Les Dimensionnelles” under the logo Roulet-Imhof. These spherical “time units” (crystal balls encasing the movement and dial) rest on artistic pedestals. The clocks are removable and the pedestals designed to double as desk sculpture.

Also circular is “Rolling Stone,” a first-ever table clock from Swiss watchmaker Delma made of Corian, a stone and epoxy resin by DuPont. A round flat disk “plugged” into the clock at a 90 [degrees] angle enables it to rock to and fro at the push of a finger.

Scholer SA of Rohrbach debuted the “3S System,” a silent direct-drive, low energy-consuming 60-pole electromagnetic step motor for quartz analog clocks. It allows a seconds hand to be fitted directly on the rotor, simplifying construction.

Kienzle of Germany debuted a clock whose dial lights up at night in response to body heat from a hand. Junghans, one of Germany’s best-known watch and clock firms, said its radio-controlled clocks will debut in the U.S. this year.

BASEL JEWELRY: BUILDING ON LAST YEAR’S TRENDS

For many visitors and most vendors, Basel’s 1991 jewelry show was like a beautifully-wrapped package — with last year’s gift inside.

Despite acres of beautiful creations from Europe, America and Asia, a number of U.S. retailers — who go overseas for goods their competitors won’t have and to see foreign trends before they reach here — said this year was disappointing. “Nothing unique or different,” said Robert Green, president of Lux, Bond, Green & Stevens, Hartford, Conn., who spent much less than past years, “mainly on plain gold rather than gem things.” Harold Tivol, a leading Kansas City, Mo., jeweler, noted “a lack of innovation [and] the same inventory as last year.”

For their part, many exhibitors said retailers from the U.S. and Europe were cautious due to uncertainty about national and local economies. And indeed, several U.S. jewelers told JCK they’ve reduced what they spend overseas this year.

Still, some jewelry niches did well: Those dealing in lightweight electro-formed gold jewelry, such as Breuning of Germany, Charles Garnier of France and Midas of Israel, did well. Many Hong Kong vendors in the new Far East building reported healthy sales after a slow start, thanks to retailers seeking price-competitive goods. The 12 firms in the U.S. pavilion, sponsored by the Manufacturing Jewelers & Silversmiths of America, came with low expectations and results were mixed. But some — including Steve Lagos of Philadelphia, Pa., and first-timers Kabana Jewelry of Albuequerque, N.M., and Nancy B & Co. of Culver City, Cal. — reported good business and/or contacts.

Charms and diamonds: Although the jewelry often seemed like a rerun, Basel still had plenty to see.

There were fewer floral designs (though still a number of eye-dazzling examples, like the 18k and gem Santagostino pieces of Corti & Minchiotti, Vicenza).

As in the past two years, there were charms, hearts and stars, and dangling pendants galore on bracelets in gold, silver or platinum. And there was plenty of versatile “double-duty” jewelry, such as hoop earrings with detachable charms (some with colored gems). Also drawing attention were large drop earrings; most were gold, while some showed an African influence.

Diamond tennis bracelets are starting to catch on in Europe. Cabochons abounded, princess shapes are gaining popularity and there was a bit more use of flower cuts.

Golden notes: Soft-shaped, sleek, shiny yellow gold jewelry was very evident, with pink gold less so. An Italian spokesperson privately blamed that on the entry of price-competitive Thai jewelry-makers into the pink gold market.

De Vroomen Design of London showed gold jewelry with eye-catching enamel accents, part of the enameling trend in Europe. Tri-color gold remained in many firms’ repertoires, including the jewelry division of Citizen Trading Co., best known for watches. The firm’s export manager said Citizen will show its gold for the first time in the U.S. at this month’s JA show.

Geneva jeweler Ludwig Muller debuted (and patented) “blue gold” jewelry. White and 22k when it leaves the ingot mold, its surface turns deep blue after being alloyed with a little nickel and iron, heated to a high temperature, sculpted, chased and polished. Muller is designing jewelry which combines the blue gold with other gold colors, platinum and/or gems.

Sapphire shades: In gems, the big three (ruby, sapphire, emerald) continued to reign, but there were interesting uses of sapphire shades. These included Weber & Cie’s 18k rainbow brooch and earclips, set with 102 pastel sapphires, and Mario Panelli’s three-layer pearl choker necklace with hearts of pink, blue and yellow sapphires.

Also noted: More use of topaz, citrine and tourmaline — especially by German and Swiss designers — and of transparent and opaque gems together.

Not to be overlooked were some intriguing designs in sterling silver — the other white metal. Among them were sensuous serpentine bracelets with an Oriental influence, from the Llama collection by Bayanihan S.A., Barcelona; geometric-cut bracelet and earrings by Manuel Garcia Ramiro, Barcelona; and sharp-edged pendants featuring Finnish spectrolite from the Northern Lights series by Zoltan Popovits for Lapponia, Helsinki.

Some trends knew no national boundaries. Jewelry from a number of U.S., European and Hong Kong exhibitors showed a strong Bulgari influence. And requests from customers led several jewelry designers to add watches — designed more as jewelry than timepieces.

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Meet the IMA: Bulova

Bulova introduces two unique new products … PLATINUM CERTIFICATES: Timepiece Gift Certificates and THE TRIBUTE COLLECTION: Diamond Recognition Watches

Platinum Certificates by Bulova

It doesn’t get any easier than this. Bulova’s new Platinum Certificates are timepiece gift certificates so totally turnkey that after you order and distribute them, your job is done.

They’re available in 6 award levels, ranging from $50 to $300. That means there are options to suit almost any budget. Just order exactly what you need when you need it. There are no minimum purchase requirements. Once the Platinum Certificates arrive, simply distribute them. Each Certificate is a mini product brochure from which the recipient can select a timepiece at a particular award level. Platinum Certificate choices include brand names and popular collections: Bulova, Accutron, Caravelle, Marine Star and Millennium ( For more details: read bulova precisionist chronograph review). All watches and clocks are respected national brands that your recipients know and trust. And each Certificate comes with its own reply card. Recipients choose their gifts, fill in the card and mail it directly to Bulova. Then Bulova ships them their awards directly. You don’t have to warehouse product or do program fulfillment. And the recipients get to pick their gifts when they want, where they want, from a good selection of watches and clocks.

Basically, you can relax after each Certificate is awarded. They are great for programs and wonderful to have on hand for instant recognition awards. And it’s not too early to start thinking about the December holidays. Bulova’s Platinum Certificates make lovely and memorable gifts for your staff and for your business associates.

The Tribute Collection by Bulova

Tribute watches are a special way to recognize your employees and associates, whether it’s saying “Job well done” or “Happy 5th Anniversary.”

Lovely diamonds sparkle from your choice of a white pearlized or black dial. What’s most unique about Tribute watches is that they can get more brilliant with time. These elegant men’s and women’s watches are available at any one of four diamond recognition levels to start–either one, two, four, or twelve diamonds. You can “upgrade” to any of the next diamond levels later on as the recipient attains higher achievements. For example, you can reward an employee with a single-diamond watch for an exceptional achievement this year. Next year, if that same employee attains another major goal, you can upgrade his or her watch to either two diamonds, four diamonds, or twelve diamonds. What a wonderful way to recognize and motivate your employees! And you can personalize all Tribute watches with a memorable sentiment to make them even more special. Not only is a Tribute watch a unique recognition of all their hard work, but it is something they’ll be proud to wear for years to come. And a constant reminder that they are valued employees.

Contact

Bulova Corporation Special Markets

Phone: (800) 423-3553

Fax: (718) 204-3593

E-Mail: [email protected]

Web site: www.bulova.com

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Report criticizes Bell Helicopter award

The federal Government ignored market realities when it decided to award a $275-million helicopter contract to a large U.S. aerospace company, according to the draft of a report written by an industry watcher.

The report was commissioned by the Science Council of Canada, which subsequently decided not to publish it.

Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. of Fort Worth, Tex., won the Canadian Government contract in 1983 to build a new line of the best drone in Montreal, beating a proposal by the French aircraft manufacturer Aerospatiale.

The draft report argues that the Government decision in favor of Bell was based on a Cabinet document, which presented Bell’s proposal and the market potential for the new Bell helicopters in an unrealistically positive light. “It succeeds in presenting favorably a shaky project while repeatedly turning into weaknesses what would normally be judged strong points of the competing (Aerospatiale) project,” says the report.

The report was written by Guy Charpentier, former editor of the trade publication Aeromag. It was commissioned by the Science Council last spring. The draft report is highly critical of the federal decision to sink $275- million in federal and Quebec funds into the Bell Helicopter project.

It argues that the federal Government neglected market realities when it opted for Bell’s proposal to build light twin-engine helicopters instead of an Aerospatiale proposal to manufacture single-engine helicopters in Canada.

It points out that twin- engine helicopters, which are more costly to operate and are used only when special safety measures are needed, represent a small part of the Canadian and worldwide helicopter market. Single-engine helicopters represent the bulk of the market. (In 1980, light twins represented less than 1 per cent of Canada’s helicopter fleet, according to the report.) Furthermore, the report argues that the small market for light twins is already occupied by competitors. Bell is trying to break into this limited market with its new Canadian-built best quadcopter for beginners. “One wonders why (former Industry Minister Edward) Lumley wanted to get into a narrow, highly competitive segment which would suit mainly a lagging competitor,” Mr. Charpentier writes.

Mr. Charpentier’s report also points out that, of the two competitors, Bell was asking for a larger percentage of Government financing. Bell asked the Government to subsidize 67 per cent of its $409-million cost. Aerospatiale sought a Government subsidy to cover 55 per cent of its $213- million cost.

Clifford Mackay, director-general of the federal electronics and aerospace branch, said that he had not seen the report and could not comment.

In a separate development, Bell Helicopter Textron has been put up for sale by its parent company, Textron Inc. of Providence, R.I.

Textron announced that it is seeking offers on its subsidiary in the hopes of raising $1-billion to reduce debt it has incurred in buying Avco Corp. of Greenwich, Conn.

Mr. Mackay, of the federal Government, said the sale of Bell Helicopter will not affect the Canadianhelicopter deal. He said the contract Canada signed with Bell and its parent company will require a purchaser to honor Bell’s obligations.

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Find out more about Invicta 8926 from the Invicta watches review

If you are a great fan of watches then you are going to love the new Invicta 8926 model. This is so far one among the bestselling watches that you can find in the market. You might wonder why is this watch so expensive but when you wear it, it would be the time you realize the sheer value that it offers for price it has been tagged with. You can get more information about this model from the review. The Invicta 8926 is one among the flagship models that is released by Invicta brand. This is a self-winding watch that would offer exceptional level of features and quality that can be seen only on the watches that are considered to be on a league of its own. You can compare this watch with other dive watches and you would fell that, the price quote is nothing but a fraction of it. The durable build quality, classical styles and the chronograph that is mesmerizingly accurate makes this watch one among the top watch models by Invicta.

Learn more from Invicta watches review

If you are wondering about how well it would look on the hand of a person then it would be utmost reminiscent and there is a look that can only be overtaken by another color watch of the same model. This would offer the appeal which is much more expensive than the world renowned brand Rolex submariner as well. If you give it a glace then at the first glance it would appear completely identical but the brand tag is what changes. To those untrained eyes it would be almost very difficult to know which watch would be of which brand just by looking it. Some people might even think that you are wearing a watch that is more than $1000 as well. This is a functional dive watch and can be taken into the water for about 600 feet as well. You can find some of the vital features on Invicta watch review that would be ideal for divers.

You can find this watch on Amazon for a price of $85 as well which is considered to be more than 73% reduction from the original price of $315. This would definitely a great bargain that you can get. There are only a few other brand watches that you can find in the market and mentioned in the review invicta watches would come with such automatic movement accurately and the stainless steel that is added on the watch is of superior quality considering price as a factor. It would definitely looks like a watch that has to be priced more than that is offered by the company. Moreover, there are great discounts on the online retailer portals such as Amazon making it a great deal to consider. The invicta 8926 pro diver is without a doubt a great watch that can be purchased for best value on the market. This would surely belong to a category of expensive watches being sold for very cheap rates on the market when you check for the features offered with it.

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Fashion watches: a matter of timing

While the fashion watch business is overflowing with a diverse group of players, retailers say there are currently four brands that are far and away the leaders in department stores.

The top four lines are Guess, produced under license by The Callanen Group, Norwalk, Conn.; Swatch, a division of Swiss-based SMH; Fossil, a division of Overseas Products International, Dallas, and Anne Klein, produced under license by the Sutton Time division of E. Gluck Corp., here. In total, some sources estimate, they account for more than 50 percent of the fashion watch business done in department stores.

Also, on the strength of its ring watch success this part Christmas, Timex, Waterbury, Conn., was cited by a number of retailers as a top contender. While Timex has traditionally focused on other retail outlets, such as chains, now it’s going after department store business in a big way.

The fashion watch business in department stores is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $400 million in annual sales.

While no one trend ties the four leaders together they are all in a similar price range, doing the bulk of their sales from $50 to $125.

According to retailers, each brand fills a niche: Guess is known for its classic leather strap watches; Anne Klein does best with its bracelet watches; Fossil is recognized for its novel treatment of straps and faces, and Swatch has been the leader in plastic watches.

The four vendors say the key to their success is a constant flow of newness to the stores. They all try to ship merchandise monthly.

Watches are an item-driven business, more than price,” said Marty Nealon, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for accessories at Bloomingdale’s. “The item has to be different.”

“Fossil saw tremendous growth last year,” said Nealon. She said sales with Swatch have picked up since the watch firm introduced a diver’s watch. The Anne Klein link bracelet watch is also a good performer, she noted.

Joanne Hart, fashion director for accessories at Macy’s Northeast, said the key to the fashion watch business is “newness, whimsy and creativity.”

“Fossil’s packaging is unique,” Hart pointed out. She said two-tone bracelet watches by Anne Klein have also been good performers.

Sheila Kamensky, fashion merchandising director for Rich’s, Atlanta, said Fossil and Guess watchesare the store’s strongest brands, and Swatch remains an important part of the business.

Watches are an important part of the accessories mix,” said Kamensky. “We will test anything new.”

Nicci Murphy, fashion watch buyer for the St. Louis division of Dillard Department Stores, said the store’s top watch brands are Fossil, Anne Klein, Swatch and Guess.

She said Fossil is the fastest growing line because, “it keys into a classification and follows up with lots of items.” For example, she said that following the success of Fossil’s skeleton watch — with a see-through face revealing the mechanism — the firm has added variations on it every season.

“Guess does well for us because it offers a classic look, and the name is important for our store,” said Murphy. She said Swatch’s sales have slipped, but it remains a large volume producer. And Anne Klein’s two-tone bracelet watches are strong.

Watches have good gross margin. There are few markdowns with our top four brands, because they are not too trendy,” said Murphy. She expects watch open-to-buy to be ahead about 6 percent for fall.

According to the watch firms, the three strongest watch directions for fall are sport — such as diver’swatches — multi-function chronograph watches and traditional leather strap watches.

Mickey Callanen, president of the Callanen Group, which in addition to producing Guess produces Monet watches, is banking on divers’ and chronograph watches to keep his business growing this year.

“I think the chronograph watch can be 25 percent of our business this year,” said Callanen. He said his firm’s volume is about $75 million wholesale. For fall, he forecast a 10 to 12 percent gain.

The chronograph and diver’s watches are the focus for the Guess line for fall. The chronograph style, which wholesales from $32.50 to $37.50, is designed in the same feeling as chronographwatches offered by fine watch firms. Features include the date and month, a stopwatch and moon phase.

For fall, Guess is introducing its first diver’s watch. The company is working on special in-store displays, which will feature the watch in water. It will wholesale from $20 to $22.50.

“Retailers realize sports watches are a big business,” said Mark Odenheimer, vice president of Sutton Time. “The public is sports-oriented.” In March, Anne Klein will also introduce its first diver’s watch.

The Anne Klein line will continue to add a range of bracelet watches, and the two-tone look is currently the hottest.

Odenheimer said price is a more sensitive issue this year, and the firm has lowered its average price in the Anne Klein line, from $125 retail to $110 retail this year.

Odenheimer said his firm has seen “huge” increases in business for four years, and it’s looking for small gains in 1991.

Christopher Keigel, vice president of sales and marketing for Swatch Watch USA, said two major Swatch pushes for fall are the scuba watch — its version of the diver’s — for $25 wholesale and a chronograph watch, which it will introduce in May for fall retailing, at about $45 wholesale.

“Most people do not buy the chronograph watches for function. They simply want the look,” said Keigel. Swatch’s chronograph will be the highest-price item in the line.

Keigel admitted the total market for plastic watches, which has been the mainstay of the Swatch business, has shrunk, but added: “We have pretty much been able to maintain our business.”

He predicted his business will be flat for fall, noting that even with product launches, the retail environment is difficult.

“Fossil won a big share of the market last year, and it came out of nowhere,” said Keigel. “Swatch and Guess lost some market share to Fossil.”

Kosta Kartsotis, an owner of Fossil, said no one clear direction has developed yet for fall.

“We are continuing with dressy looks that are more feminine, such as mother-of-pearl watch faces,” he said. The firm is testing products now at retail for fall, he said, including a watch with a tortoise face.

A lot of our success is because we react quickly to trends. We test watches, read selling reports and respond,” he said.

The Fossil line has some 240 styles, and prices range from $25 to $32.50 wholesale. Fossil ships merchandise every month.

“We do a lot of different crazy and unusual things,” said Kartsotis. He said he is expecting “healthy increases for fall based on current business.”

Watch executives say advertising is becoming increasingly important. Three of the top firms have increased their budgets for 1991. Swatch, which already had a large budget, will maintain it.

“The customer identifies with brand names,” said Odenheimer. “they look for names they recognize. We are planning an aggressive campaign, with a larger budget than last year.” He said the firm will be doing television and magazine advertising and is considering billboards.

Guess will expand its co-op and national ads, Callanen said. “When we run an ad with Macy’s in a Sunday supplement, the business jumps tremendously for the following weeks,” he said.

Swatch plans to shift more dollars into mass media ads such as television and print and away from in-store promotion.

To establish a stronger presence in department stores, Timex is changing its business strategy this year. It will improve markup for stores by keystoning for the first time its suggested retail prices. It did not keystone prices before, Timex reasoned, because it used the money to help create consumer demand for the Timex brand through advertising.

Timex is also emphasizing sport watches. “We feel the sports watch area has the greatest growth potential,” said Dave Rahilly, vice president of U.S. marketing and sales for Timex. He forecast increases of 10 to 15 percent for fall.

Timex has been getting a lot of attention from deparment stores because of the surprising performance of its ring watch, which was a Christmas bestseller for many stores.

Timex sold 40,000 ring watches — at $22.95 retail — through Bloomingdale’s alone for the last half of 1990, according to Rahilly and a Bloomingdale’s spokeswoman.

“We were surprised at the success of the ring watch because we felt it had limited volume potential,” said Rahilly, noting Timex is cautious about how much longer the ring watch trend will last. He admitted it will be a tough act to follow, but the firm plans to try with a pin watch for fall. It will wholesale for about $15.

Timex’s competition applauded the success of the ring watch, but most feel that type of novelty item is dangerous because it’s usually short lived.

“It’s hard to duplicate that success. People always try novelties and often get killed, as they did with the clip watch and Russian watch,” said Callanen. “Most customers want traditional watches, and when you get too far away from that you lose them.”

“The ring watch showed us the watch business doesn’t always have to be a traditional business,” said Kartsotis. “We all try to find the item in this business, but it’s dangerous. You have to be smart enough to get in and out fast.”

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Gc Watches Joins London’s Westfield Mall

Gc Watches has chosen London’s newly minted Westfield mall as the location for its first European store.

In February, the watch house, which is operated by the Swiss company Sequel AG, a division of Timex, unveiled a 340-square-foot boutique in the sprawling mall. The store is on the edge of the center’s upscale Village area and nearby stores such as Tag Heuer, Tiffany, Dior and Louis Vuitton.

“I think Westfield is the only shopping center in Europe like this, especially in the middle of the city,” said Virginie Riot-Billet, vice president of Gc Watches, which is a registered trademark of Guess Inc. “There’s the best of the high street, plus premium fashion and lifestyle. It’s the perfect fit for the Gc brand.”

Sequel holds the license for Guess and Gc watches.

The store carries Gc’s entire collection of Swiss-made watches, which range in price from 270 euros, or $364 at current exchange, for a stainless steel watch from Gc’s Diver’s Chic collection to 3,000 euros, or $4,050, for a Gc-1 Automatic 7750 watch that incorporates a Valjoux Swiss movement. The store also carries the Gc jewelry collection that includes pieces made from sterling silver, mother-of-pearl and diamonds, and retails for up to 600 euros, or $809.

Riot-Billet expects the boutique to achieve sales of 1 million pounds, or about $1.4 million, in its first year.

Gc now has seven boutiques worldwide, with stores in India, Malaysia, South Korea and Panama, alongside the new London unit. Riot-Billet said the Gc brand had been “growing,” in the U.K. over the past two years through wholesale distribution and now the company is looking at opening more British units.

“We’re looking at different locations right now,” said Riot-Billet. “Our wish list for the U.K. [are the cities] Manchester, Birmingham and probably Dublin and Glasgow.”

The company plans to open 25 more boutiques worldwide this year in places such as Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Paris, Geneva and Barcelona.

We want to offer an environment to present the full [Gc] range,” said Riot-Billet.

The brand is distributed in the U.S. through Macy’s, Torneau and Guess stores, and Riot-Billet said the company is discussing opening stand-alone stores in America. Riot-Billet added she believes Gc’s positioning as an “accessible luxury” brand has insulated it somewhat from the economic downturn.

“I think, yes, the situation is a concern, but at the same time…we are not too worried, we are in a strong position right now,” said Riot-Billet. “I think this year can be really strong, thanks to our position.”

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Calvin’s way with time

When Calvin Klein embarked on his latest endeavor –creating a collection of watches with Swiss watchmaker SMH — he drew on the wealth of products already carrying his name.

We started by looking at every aspect of how we use metals, from the hardware on handbags, shoes and eyewear to our home pieces to metal colors in the ready-to-wear,” he said, while giving WWD a first look at both Calvin Klein Collection and CK Calvin Klein watches.

Neither Klein nor SMH would say how much they expect the watches to add to the hefty annual wholesale volume racked up by the designer’s products — estimated at $2.5 billion worldwide in 1996. However, what is clear is Klein’s enthusiasm for the new venture.

“After a while, you become fixed on every edge, corner and thickness of the metal,” Klein said, adding that the process of creating something so subtle was fascinating. “I’m so into watches these days that I can’t even decide which one of mine I want.”

The debut watch lines are scheduled to land on department and jewelry store shelves just in time for holiday selling, Nov. 3. They include 20-22 sku’s in the Collection line and 47-49 sku’s in the CK Calvin Klein line, according to Arlette Emch Ducommun, senior vice president of marketing at the Calvin Klein Watch Co. Ltd., a company created for the collections. It is 95 percent owned by SMH; the remaining 5 percent is held by Calvin Klein Inc. Both lines are being manufactured in SMH factories with Swiss movements.

The Collection line is a tight series of solid stainless-steel watches, some with automatic movements. Styling is unisex.

The objective with Collection was to essentially offer two [watch styles], one bold, strong contemporary piece in a bracelet and another more refined and slim, yet still modern model with a leather strap,” Klein said.

A new metal finish, which looks almost black, is available in Collection watches. Klein said it was inspired by “our other attempts at using almost black in everything from fabric to metals.”

The CK Calvin Klein watches are made up of four groups, all quartz and water-resistant to 50 meters. Here, Klein said, he felt the need to have real categories: Dress, casual and sport make up three of the groups. The fourth is a set with three interchangeable linen bands in different colors — khaki, dark gray and black.

“CK is like the eyewear, in a sense,” Klein said. “It conveys a clean message with an attitude.”

CK is also generally unisex in feel, with mesh, rubber and stainless-steel bands and bracelets, in addition to the linen. There is one style with a square face and matching open link that is decidedly feminine, however. It is also the only style in either line that does not have a round face. All dials are black, white or gray.

Retail prices range from $700 to $1,100 for Collection and from just under $100 to about $260 in CK Calvin Klein.

New products will be offered about twice a year in Collection and roughly four times a year in CK Calvin Klein. Black wood and aluminum is used for packaging and display for the Collection line, and a mix of transparent and opaque plexiglass is used for the CK line.

Ducommun said launches in Canada, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and Switzerland will immediately follow the U.S. introduction. Both collections also will be available in Calvin Klein and CK Calvin Klein stores.

Klein said two separate advertising campaigns are being developed. They will focus on the product rather than any particular model, and will appear in print and outdoor formats.

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Yurman’s Swiss Timing

Watches are a red-hot category these days and David Yurman is seizing the moment to build up its timepiece business.

The namesake New York jewelry and watch firm today plans to cut the ribbon on the 2,100-square-foot headquarters of its new subsidiary in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, which will facilitate the development, production and distribution of David Yurman timepieces.

“When we first started watches in 1999, we initially wanted the watches to mix in with our cable jewelry collection,” designer David Yurman said in an interview with WWD. “Now, we have really evolved this part of our business and we are making a real commitment to it.”

Yurman’s watch business now racks up about $20 million in retail sales, while the company’s overall business has sales of about $450 million at retail.

The opening of the new firm, called David Yurman SA, comes at the start of the Basel World Watch & Jewellery Show, the watch industry’s largest and most important trade fair, which begins in Basel, Switzerland this Thursday. The creation of the new firm marks the first time Yurman has established a separate company outside the U.S.

David Yurman SA is headed by watch executive Jean-Marie Constantin, who had represented Yurman along with other brands. Now, Constantin is working exclusively for Yurman.

“He lives there and will work with suppliers,” Yurman said. “We believe we will be able to get a much better quality product and have better deliveries.”

At the same time, Yurman also is building its watch team in the U.S. The company has hired Michael Miarecki, the former marketing director at Michele Watches, to oversee sales and marketing forwatches, a new position in the company. The David Yurman watch line is now sold in about 250 doors, however, Yurman said the company plans to scale back its distribution to about 175 doors.

“These are not mass-market watches,” Yurman noted. “We want to take it more exclusive.”

Yurman said he doesn’t think scaling back will affect watch sales, since the company plans to build up its business in each location, and also will be doing more advertising and marketing for its timepieces to grow sales.

Prices for the company’s watches start at about $1,450 and go up to about $24,000 for styles in gold, with the bulk falling in the range of $3,000 to $5,000. Most of the watches are automatic, although some quartz styles are available. New styles being introduced in Basel include a titanium and steel chronograph and a new women’s collection called Madison, which includes an attachable case that can be paired with a cable chain or leather strap.

Yurman jewelry is now sold in about 450 doors, including Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

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Launches spark jewelers show

Several designer jewelry and watch lines were introduced at the 1992 Jewelers of America Show. Designer Judith Leiber introduced jewelry and specialty accessories inspired by the zebra and fish motifs she is noted for. Fendi expanded into the fine jewelry watch market with watches produced under license by Ultima Brands SA. Swiss-made watches are also now being offered by Giorgio Beverly Hills. The designs of Bali, Indonesia resident John Hardy are featured by Alfex of Switzerland’s new watch line.

New lines, some involving top fashion names, added zest to the Jewelers of America Show here this week. Here, a roundup of some key launches on view at the show.

Leiber’s Golden Touch

The new Judith Leiber fine jewelry collection takes its inspiration from two styles in the designer’s handbag line – her fish motif minaudiere and her zebra-theme handle bag.

As noted, the handbag designer has teamed up with Harry Winston for this jewelry venture.

Pieces feature detailing resembling the scales and fins of a fish, the print of a zebra skin and a miniature zebra head. These themes re carried throughout the entire line, which wholesales from $100 to $1,500 for sterling silver and $300 to $11,000 for gold.

Also available under the Leiber license held by Winston is a limited edition of specialty accessories,such as desk boxes inspired y her minaudieres. The boxes will be numbered and signed by Leiber. The centerpiece of the collection is an 18-karat gold evening bag with diamond trim and a 3-carat ruby clasp.

Fendi’s Fine Time

Fendi is extending its watch offerings with a collection of fine jewelry watches.

The new line is being produced under license by Ultima Brands SA, which also holds the license for Fendi fashion watches and fashion jewelry. Fendi fashion watches were launched five years ago.

Ultima is a Swiss subsidiary of Brigade International, based in Manasquan, N.J., with executive headquarters here.

The line features watches that combine stainless steel and 18-karat gold and wholesale from approximately $250 to $450. Watches of all 18-karat gold are $4,225 wholesale. All of the watches, which are handcrafted in Switzerland, are available in men’s nd women’s sizes on link bracelets.

The news line, whose distribution is limited to the U.S. and the Caribbean, is expected to generate sales of $6 million in its first year, according to Tom Venables, president of Ultima. The Fendi fashion watch line, distributed by Ultima worldwide, does about $20 million in U.S. volume.

“Construction and fine Swiss watchmaking quality is exactly the same at $495 and $8,500 retail,” said Venables. “The only difference is the metals involved.”

Giorgio’s Time

First came handbags, then eyewear, and now Giorgio Beverly Hills has added Swiss-made watches to its accessories lineup.

The timepieces – the company’s first licensed products with worldwide rights – are designed and produced by Swiss-based Camy AG and distributed by its U.S. subsidiary, Espadon Group USA, in Irvine, Calif. The line is called Giorgio Beverly Hills Time.

Donald Gavin, Espadon Group president, said that in addition to being sold in Giorgio boutiques in New York, Beverly Hills and Costa Mesa, Calif., the line will be in fine jewelry stores and fine jewelry departments of major retail chains. It will also be distributed in Canada, England, Italy and Switzerland.

The line, wholesaling from $50 to $250, carries a two-year limited warranty. Styles, many of them unisex, range from classic round-face watches with goldplated stainless steel cases and leather straps to water-resistant diver models and feminine gold bracelet numbers with mother-of-pearl dials.

In November, Giorgio will launch a national advertising campaign using the slogan “Accessories With Personality,” featuring the watches, handbags and eyewear.

Giorgio began its venture into licensing last August with bridge handbags. In November, it introduced licensed sunglasses and opthalmic eyewear.

Hardy’s Time

Alfex of Switzerland, a watch company based in Lugano, Switzerland, has introduced a watch line created by jewelry designer John Hardy.

The John Hardy for Alfex of Switzerland line, wholesaling from $298 to $398, consists of six styles n sterling silver. The watches feature handcrafted cases, faces and buckles made in Bali, Indonesia, Hardy, a Canadian, lives and works in Bali.

The John Hardy line is Alfex’s first designer line. The company produces its own brand as well as private label watches.

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