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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