It’s always the time to collect timepieces

Unlike many antique dealers in the city, who sell timepieces that have great esthetic appeal but no longer work, Mr. Thornton offers only clocks that “are running and ticking and keeping time.” All come with a guarantee, and if something goes wrong he can restore and repair both clock movements and cases.

Like many of his fellow dealers, Mr. Thornton is a passionate collector of clocks, which he said have personalities “just like people.” In his store are three examples with which he said he will never part. One is a rare regulator (a weight-driven clock that does not strike) made in the United States about 1900 and bought in Petworth, England.

Another favorite is a lantern type, a weight-driven French clock with a large exposed enamel dial surrounded by brass fretwork illustrations of a rooster and two ducks. Made around 1740, this clock has only one hand “because,” as Mr. Thornton said, “people weren’t all that fussy about being totally time accurate in those days.”

The third not-for-sale collector’s item in the store is a large three- weight Vienna regulator, made in Austria about 1860 and set in a case with exceptional carving. This rare clock has an unusual strike pattern, and its ornate brass weights and pendulum are hand- engraved with scroll patterns.

Mr. Thornton’s sale inventory ranges from tall grandfather clocks suitable for living rooms to tiny, highly decorated boudoir pieces. In between are numerous clocks – made in Europe, England and the United States – which can be used as decorative collectibles on mantels or tables.

An example of the latter is an American mahogany veneer, eight-day strike piece with what is known in the trade as an O.G., or S-curved case design. Made in 1865 and priced at $425, it is decorated with a gold and blue reverse painting depicting an eagle and 13 stars (symbolizing the 13 original American states).

Collectors can find timepieces of interest in other antique shops scattered throughout Toronto. Ronald Windebank Antiques Ltd., at 21 Avenue Rd., offers a handsome $1,295 French Empire-style clock made about 1830 of yellow Sienna marble with a black casing and a bronze figure of time.

Michel Taschereau Antiques, at 176 Cumberland St., is selling a charming little rococo 1830s French clock made by Bourquin Le Jeune. Decorated with golden swirls from which spring five tiny porcelain flowers, complete with stamens, this boudoir piece is priced at $550.

Collectors who are more interested in wearable timepieces should go to such dealers as Louis Wine Ltd., 848-A Yonge St., or Ronald Fraleigh Jewellers Gemologists, 1977 Yonge St. Both are members of the Canadian Antique Dealers Association, and offer impressive and intriguing older watches for both men and women.

Fraleigh’s current stock includes a $475 ball watch pendant made of sterling silver and enamelled in yellow with a matching chain. The store also offers a $3,250 pendant watch made in the early 1900s by Patek Philippe, one of the premiere Swiss watchmakers. This watch has an open face of white porcelain with black Roman numerals; its back is enamelled in powder blue with a rose-cut diamond in the centre.

Mr. Fraleigh said the pocket- watch business in Toronto is very slow. “In the early 1980s, we sold more men’s pocket watches than we do now because fewer people are wearing vests today,” he said. “The hot items right now are wrist watches from the twenties, thirties and forties.” Suchwatches, he said, are “the in thing in Europe and the U.S. but are much rarer in Canada.”

Ronald Dupuis, director of Sotheby’s jewelry department, said watches – particularly from the 1930s – have nearly doubled in value at auction in the last few years. Many people, he said, are buying new battery-run, quartz- movement watches. As a consequence, older mechanical watches are being sold off and collectors are snapping them up.

Allan Cohen, proprietor of Grant’s Jewellers and Pawn Brokers, 135 Church St., is a respected collector and dealer who owns a rare and expensive Mickey Mouse watch – issued in 1929 – complete with its original box. Summing up why he and others get hooked on collecting antique timepieces, Mr. Cohen said it is a reaction to the technology that today produces time-perfect, micro-circuit modules and quartz watches.

“The older pieces didn’t keep perfect time,” he said, “but they had a unique personality and a hand-made beauty which just isn’t a characteristic of today’s mass- produced products.”

German helicopter unit rises from its Ontario pad

MBB Canada’s new 85,000-square- foot complex, built at a cost of $7.1- million, of which $1.1-million was contributed by the federal and Ontario governments, marks the the official beginning of helicopter production in Canada.

At present, the company has 22 machines on its shop floor in various stages of completion, enough work to keep the company going for the rest of this year and all of 1987. Employment is now 147 and an increase to 270 is planned.

The volume “was a well-kept secret, and we deliberately kept it that way,” said James Grant, vice- president of marketing. “We wanted to keep a low profile, until we were ready to go.”

Included in the total are 12 helicopters ordered by the Canadian Coast Guard, at a cost of $24-million – an order that was announced at the plant’s opening in June.

MBB Canada is a subsidiary of Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm GmbH of West Germany, a company with annual sales of more than $3.5-billion, engaged in aircraft construction, aerospace and defence systems.

MBB has given its Canadian unit a world product mandate to assemble and build the five- to six-passenger MBB B0 105LS twin-engine helicopter designed to operate in hot and high regions of the world.

The LS (Lift and Stretch) model is part of the successful BO 105 light utility helicopter series that MBB has been building for commercial and military customers since the late 1960s. It is the BO 105CBS version, slightly larger than the standard 105, which the Coast Guard has ordered, and which will be outfitted and completed by MBB Canada.

Currently, the parts for the LS are shipped from West Germany for assembly in Fort Erie. The move to full production will be done in stages, as the company builds its Canadian supplier base.

The plant has the capacity to make 36 machines a year. For sales outside Canada, the company has a captive buyer in its parent that will take all its production and market the machines worldwide.

MBB Canada is the West German company’s first production operation in North America. Its purpose is to break into the Canadian helicopter market (see what is the best drone), the second largest in the Western World.

In 1981, MBB began to look at the potential of the Canadian helicopter flying industry and ways to increase its presence there. Oil exploration was in full swing, promising opportunity for helicopter sales.

About the same time, Ottawa was considering establishing a helicopter industry in Canada. It sent out letters to the major helicopter makers, soliciting interest. The result was contracts in late 1983 with the Bell Helicopter unit of Textron Inc. in Fort Worth, Tex., to build a helicopter plant in Mirabel, Que., and with MBB to build a smaller plant at Fort Erie in which Fleet Aerospace would have a 5 per cent interest.

MBB Canada was incorporated in the spring of 1984, moved into the Fleet plant and began the learning and training process of building best quadcopter drones.

The company is committed to spending $70-million on helicopter development, of which it will pay half, and the federal and Ontario governments will pay the other $35- million in a 60-40 split.

The company is also committed to increasing Canadian content to 70 per cent, now 30 per cent, in the B0 105LS machines. “But we won’t be able to reach that level until a new helicopter engine being developed by Pratt & Whitney Canada Inc. of Montreal is ready,” Mr. Grant said.

The West German company recognizes that its Canadian presence puts it in a strong position to bid on impending multi-million-dollar contracts to replace helicopters used by the Canadian Forces, work that could total more than 150 machines.

“MBB Canada intends to bid on these replacements,” Mr. Grant said. “But, on the replacement of the larger Sea King helicopters we will need a partner, because we do not have a machine big enough. But with plant expansion, we could build all the replacements right here.”

Canadian ground forces operate 74 Bell 206 Kiowa light military helicopters, 12 Jetrangers and 50 twin- engine Bell 212s, while Canadian naval forces operate 39 of the Sea Kings, anti-submarine warfare helicopters built in the 1960s. All are scheduled for replacement.

MBB Canada will have its own flight testing ability, with one helicopter dedicated as a test vehicle, and its own research and development capability. This is enhanced by the opportunity to draw on the technical expertise of its parent through computer links with West Germany.

The Canadian company has already developed a complex, five- bladed titanium rotor head for the B0 105LS, which was built by West Heights Manufacturing Ltd. of Waterloo, Ont.

The new rotor head is undergoing ground tests in West Germany and will later be brought back to Fort Erie for flight tests. The five-bladed device is an advance for light helicopters, which usually have two to four rotor blades. The extra blade will increase lift by 25 per cent, increasing performance of the B0 105LS for its hot-and-high role.

When MBB started considering a Canadian venture, there were 1,500 helicopters registered in the country. However, with the cutback in oil exploration and drop in oil prices, the number has declined to about 1,200.

“There were were only five new helicopters sold in Canada last year, but we sold four of them,” Mr. Grant said.

Read this Invicta watches review and find the perfect chronograph watch

How would you like to define elegance? It is a tough question. But you can say this. It is a well balanced combination of grace, style, precision and ingenious simplicity. The luxury watches which are available at hefty prices are the products which come packed with all these features. But Invicta watch collections have redefined it. The technical design and world class craftsmanship which was the founding principle of Piccard has been kept intact even by the descendants. Even with an impressive design, quality and durability, you can buy the Invicta watches for sale at a fair price. So, read on this Invicta watch review to find more about the company and its products.

Choosing the right chronograph watch

You will discover the many varieties of watches for women by Invicta. It’s like a sea with each product offering a unique and stunning setting to last many years. The diamond studded watches launched by the company are splendid looking, unlike many other products which look gaudy or become overbearing. These watches give a touch of class and luxury to the wearer. They are a well proportioned blend of all essentials which a woman can expect from a watch with long durability.

Discerning over the quality of a particular watch while making online purchases for your beloved daughter, mom or best friend is very difficult. The easiest and the best guidance anyone can give is to take guidance from the Invicta watches review of the previous buyers, to read the entire product description and to separate fantasy from facts. You will realize that will many buyers and they offer very helpful reviews. If you have questions, you can just it in the comment section and wait for number helpful answers. The watches are designed to fit the fashion of every woman, so the comments from customers will be of a single kind.

Invicta pro diver 8926 automatic makes a great choice whether you are gifting it to your new love or to your beloved wife of decades. They perfectly suit the taste of all women, no matter what the age or the fashion sense. Women who work and those women who only use the best of products all the time are equally stunned by the beauty and quality of these wrist watches.

Grand looking women watches

The important aspect a woman expect in watches is for the diamond to be studded intentionally (not a manufacturing fault) and balanced perfectly for a chic appearance rather than being showy. But still, it should easily grab the attention of anyone who might pass by. The unspoken appreciation of the watch is what she will expect. Invicta chronograph watches deliver on these features or you could say promises, splendidly. The stud work and the patterns are so beautiful that you can see a twinkle in her eyes accompanying your gift.

The Invicta chronograph watches are high on every fashionista’s list. Remember that internet shopping is not easy. When you are searching for your desired watch, read the reviews and search the internet until you are satisfied.

Anne Klein II: heading for a big time

E. Gluck Corp., the fashion watch firm that holds the license for Anne Klein watches, expects to generate sales of about $15 million in 1992 with its new Anne Klein II watch line.

Mark Odenheimer, vice president of the Anne Klein and Anne Klein II divisions, said the new line has the potential to rack up much greater sales than Gluck’s established Anne Klein watches.

Gluck has been producing Anne Klein watches for nearly 18 years, and is a leading name in the bracelet watch category for department stores. According to industry sources, the Anne Klein watch volume is about $30 million.

Gluck, based in Long Island City, N.Y., has an annual volume of almost $150 million.

The Anne Klein II watch line is being launched in January market for spring delivery and will retail for about half the price of the Anne Klein line.

Price is a big factor in today’s economy,” said Odenheimer. “With Anne Klein II, we were able to come with lower prices without jeopardizing the Anne Klein business for us or the stores.

The firm expects to reach some retailers that it has not been able to sell with the higher-price Anne Klein line. Also, in many department stores, the Anne Klein watches are sold in leased fine jewelrydepartments. Odenheimer said the new line will be merchandised in the bridge fashion watch area.

He said since that the Anne Klein II apparel is more widely distributed than Anne Klein, there is already a broad consumer audience that will recognize the name.

The $55 to $85 retail price range Anne Klein II is targeting is already a crowded market. The top players are Guess, Swatch Watch and Fossil, each of which do more than $50 million at wholesale.

Odenheimer said Anne Klein II is taking a different direction.

A lot of fashion watches at these prices connote trendy, young and unisex. Few people think of classic at these price points. We felt there was a gap in the fashion watch market for femininewatches at these prices.”

“Another positive thing,” Odenheimer pointed out, “is that in these tough economic times, fashionwatches are seeing a lot of action at retail and sales are ahead of last year.”

The Anne Klein II watch line, wholesaling from about $27 to $42, features all strap watches and about 150 different styles. The established Anne Klein line offers primarily bracelet watches at $95 to $195 retail. Both lines are made of Swiss and Japanese movements and other components from around the world.

The new line has been in the works for nearly a year. The Anne Klein II design studio designed some styles and had input on the entire collection.

Odenheimer said a lot of attention was paid to details. Several bands feature padding, quilting and unique stitching detail, and the crowns and hands also come in different styles. A lot of cases hage different finishes, such as brushed and matte metal, and many are two-tone metals. In the sport group, some styles have calendars and remote sweeps. One group features cut color crystals, which is a novel idea in the watch market.

Small time: a look at some of the fashion watch field’s lesser known up-and-comers

Small companies in the fashion watch industry include jewelry maker Maximal Art Inc., which assembles watch components from foreign and domestic makers. Anni & Co., based in New Mexico, makes watches bearing the same designs as its silver jewelry. DeJuno Corp., which has expanded its markets from Asia to the US, sells fashion wrist watches in the $35 to $50 category.

Just about everyone in and out of the fashion industry knows the big names in fashion watches, the brands such as Timex, Fossil, Guess and Anne Klein that can be found in stores around the country and even around the world.

But beneath that layer of industry giants is a group of diverse for that may not have the advertising budgets or distribution levels of the major players but have managed to carve out comfortable niches for themselves nonetheless.

Here, a look at three such companies that are making their names known.

Maximal Art

This Philadelphia company got started in 1986 and originally specialized in Victorian-look “collage” jewelry that incorporated watch parts.

“Some of the bracelets we did actually looked like watches, but of course they weren’t,” said John Wind, designer and chief executive officer. “Finally, we got so many requests to make real workingwatches that we started to do them, and the business just took off.”

Initially, Wind noted, the watches were purchased from the Far East and then reworked into pieces that bore Maximal Art’s trademark romantic look. Now, however, the company buys the watch parts and movements from various domestic and foreign sources and assembles everything itself.

Though he still makes jewelry, Wind said watches have become the biggest part of his business. Surprisingly, the company has been able to grow steadily without doing any department store business.

“We sell mainly to boutiques, galleries, museum shops and catalogs,” Wind said. “We’ve found those types of accounts to be very loyal to our brand.”

Anni & Co.

“I actually consider myself a designer who just happens to do watches — more than a watchmaker,” said Juan Geyer, designer and owner of Anni & Co., a New Mexico-based accessories company that produces watches, jewelry and other products such as home accessories.

Geyer has always produced sterling silver jewelry but introduced a line of watches three years ago,watches that incorporated many of the same motifs used in the jewelry.

“In Japanese, the word ‘Anni’ means good feeling, and that’s what I try to work into all my designs,” he noted. The watch cases, for instance, depict smiling dogs, cats or children made of sterling silver.

Geyer sells the watches mostly to upscale specialty stores and catalogs. While his sterling silver pieces retail for around $200 each, this year he will be introducing a line of silverplated watches that will sell in the $75 to $100 range.

“The thing I like about doing watches is that the technology in the watch field has become so advanced that designers Eke myself can make them look like pieces of jewelry without worrying about the movements being bulky and ruining the look of the piece,” Geyer noted.

DeJuno Corp.

Breaking into the department store ranks is a big goal for this company, which has been operating in the Far East for many years and opened a U.S. division several years ago.

“As a company, we had been doing manufacturing for other watch firms for years, but then we decided that it would be well worth our while to develop our own brand,” said Bruce Rose, vice president of sales and marketing for the company, which has its U.S. headquarters in New York. “And since the U.S. is the biggest market in the world for fashion watches, we have decided to focus our efforts here.”

While 75 percent of DeJuno’s business is done outside the U.S., Rose said the firm is making studies here. It has already begun selling to some major department stores and is seeking to develop more.

“Our watches retail for $35 to $55, which is to our advantage because there aren’t really any other fashion watch companies filling that price niche in department stores,” he said.

In addition, the company is also rolling out its first licensed line, the Wilhwear watch brand that it will introduce at retail this spring, Rose said.

“We feel that this particular designer brand has a lot of potential in terms of appealing to a wide audience,” he noted. “With this kind of name, we think we can establish an even bigger piece of the department store pie.”

Those wacky watches: makers are riding the cartoon train to big sales this year

Consumers of all ages are discovering their inner children with character watches and watch manufacturers intend to capitalize on that trend in 1998.

Pick your favorite — Snoopy, Garfield, Pooh, Marvin the Martian — and there’s a watch for it.

At Timex, Disney’s Winnie the Pooh is it. The cuddly yellow bear is making cash stick to the firm’s bottom line like bees to a honey pot.

Sean Gildea, manager of youth and character marketing, said that as a result of high sales, the firm is doubling its sku count for the Winnie the Pooh business in April and is introducing higher-priced items.

“Winnie the Pooh has been the hottest license for the past two years, and we see the trend continuing,” he said.

For spring, the firm is introducing unique figures incorporating a 3-D effect, in which the character’s face is printed on the crystal and its body is on the face.

Other new additions include date features and the Indiglo glow-in-the-dark feature, as well as expansion bands, bimetal bracelets, pocket watches and melody watches.

Timex is also working on the 100 Acre Pooh line, to be introduced in the fourth quarter this year. It will be higher-priced and more fashionably designed than the Disney Pooh line, which is aimed at the mass market.

The Disney Pooh line retails for $25 to $55. The 100 Acre Pooh is tentatively scheduled to be $35 to $65 at retail. There is also a Classic Pooh line for department stores, retailing for $35 to $75.

Ken Genender, owner of Genender International, said his firm is launching its Kermit collection, which he calls “adult collectibles,” for March market, to hit stores this summer and fall.

The fuzzy frog character was acquired through a licensing deal with Jim Henson Productions, as were others, including Miss Piggy, Animal, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and Rizzo, in women’s and men’swatches.

The firm is also developing a Kermit golf theme collection for March market, tentatively called “Green on Green.”

The line will include a range of styles from leather to metal bracelets and will retail for $35 to $65. Genender hopes it will appeal to “the kid in all of us.”

Beyond character watches, the firm’s unisex Perry Ellis collection, pocket watches are expected to continue growing in popularity, in addition to uniquely shaped cases in men’s and women’s, such as horseshoe-shaped tanks, ovals and the “TV shape,” a rectangle with rounded corners.

Genender believes silver-colored dials and light copper-colored dials will also be strong. And he expressed interest in expanding the women’s collections, as sales have been better than originally anticipated. The line was launched in December.

Fossil is also talking about ‘toons.

Roshnie Muscarello, the firm’s licensing manager, said it is coming out with a Fossil Blue version, water resistant to 165 feet, for its Mickey Mouse line. Fossil Blue accounts for the company’s top-five-selling watches overall.

To highlight the aquarian nature of the watch, Mickey will be floating around on one of the watch hands, wearing diving gear.

The watch is limited to 5,000 pieces. There is also a 23-karat gold version, which will be offered in 1,000 pieces. Muscarello said limited edition watches are doing well for the firm right now.

“People love it when you tie into a movie, TV show or character,” he said.

Fossil is also coming out with a Dilbert watch for May, a Snoopy watch for June and a Pink Panther watch for August.

Character watches usually retail from $70 to $85, he said, with the special limited-edition gold styles retailing at $120.

At Armitron, Jerry Dikowitz, vice president of advertising and marketing, said his firm has had its licensed Looney Tunes character watches for about 15 years.

“It has been a building situation every year,” he said.

Rotating discs, which show various cartoon elements floating around the watch face, have been a hot category, he said. New designs include a Snoopy with a Woodstock floating on a clear disk and a Garfield with Odie doing a similar feat.

The firm has new styles with plastic “jelly” cases and straps and also metal cases and leather straps and is also including 3-D designs and musical elements in the watches.

Swatch is carrying on with a character tradition — not with licensed characters, but with exclusivecartoon characters designed by cartoonists.

Carlo Giordanetti, vice president of marketing and design director for Swatch U.S., said two of these plastic, cartoon-strip watches will hit stores this February at $40. One features a comic strip about time in chaos, called “Furto” and the other features a cartoon strip about the character called the “Queen of Time.”

“Queen of Time” is designed by Dutch cartoonist Joost Swarte, and “Furto,” which means “steal” in Spanish, is by Jose Munoz.

Swatch has been commissioning these character watches since 1991.

“We always have enormous success when we bring a little story with characters in watches,” he said. “I guess people relate to them as a little friend or a story that they carry around.”

The time is right for chronographs

Led by chronographs and sport styles, fashion watch firms are turning functional fashion into increased sales.

The forecast for spring is bright, manufacturers say, following two years of lackluster results. They project increases ranging from slightly ahead to as much as 25 percent ahead of last spring.

Makers expect chronographs and sport watches, which started to take off at retail for fall, to on an upward movement for spring.

The renewed interest in watches began in June, and since then the category has really come into its own,” said Susan Toffanetti, senior buyer for bridge jewelry and fashion watches at the Department Store Division of Dayton Hudson Corp., Minneapolis. “Anything that is novel, from color or mirrored faces to dual-time dials, has done well.” She cited the Swatch chronograph and Guess Chronosport watches as the leaders.

Diane Mahood, general merchandise manager for accessories at Rich’s, Atlanta, said sport watches have sold the best for fall, with Guess and Fossil the top performers.

We think the functional fashion watches are going to bery strong for spring,” Mahood said. “The active styles are in tune with the lifestyle of today’s customer.”

The chronograph push started in June, when Swatch Watch USA, Inc., introduced a chronograph style that sold out in most stores across the country. Now other makers are following suit. Guess is set to launch a chronograph for spring, Anne Klein is launching a signature sport watch for spring, and Timex is working on a chronograph to be introduced within a year.

Chris Keigel, vice president of sales for Swatch, a division of SMH(US), Inc., here, said the chronograph took off in the U.S. for fall after a year of strong sales in Europe.

“Both vendors and retailers are benefitting from the popularity of the chronograph,” Keigel said. “It’s created a lot of consumer excitement and improved space and location for watches at retail.”

Mickey Callanen, president and principal of the Callanen Group, here, which holds the license for Guess and Monet watches, said Guess’s Chronosport group is the “biggest, hottest look” right now for his firm.

The Chronosport, introduced for fall, includes features such as a digital display, moon dial, day and date mini-dial and a dial with numbered seconds. It sells for $28 to $38 wholesale.

The Guess division will have a volume of about $54 million in 1991, Callanen said, with the Chronosport line representing about 35 percent of overall volume.

Guess will launch a chronograph watch for spring that includes a stopwatch function, which the Chronosport collection does not have.

Another new style for spring is a goldplated stretch-band group with color faces and a Roman numeral hand display, inspired from popular men’s watches of the 1960s, for $27.50 wholesale.

At Callanen’s Monet division, which offers classic day and evening looks, a group of watches with pearl and scarab stone bands has been the best seller for fall and is expected to continue that pace for spring.

The Monet division will have a volume of about $5 million in 1991, which is about 25 percent ahead of last year, Callanen said. He projected the same rate of increase for 1992.

Keigel of Swatch is not as optimistic, however, despite the success of the chronograph. He feels the resurgence of fashion watches has been curtailed by a weak economy.

Swatch is expecting only a slight increase in spring volume over last year, Keigel said.

“Sport watches will continue to grow at the expense of more fashion-oriented watches,” he said. “The chronographs and sport watches are the hottest thing we’ve seen for a long time.”

Swatch will introduce a new product for spring, Keigel said, which will be “similar in concept to the chronograph.” He declined to reveal any further information except to say the new product will be introduced in December for spring retailing.

Mark Odenheimer, vice president of the Anne Klein for Sutton Time division of E. Gluck Corp., here, agreed the sportwatch classification has sparked a turnaround in the watch market.

Odenheimer said sales for the first half of 1991 ran slightly behind, but since then there has been a dramatic improvement. He said sales increases are about 12 percent ahead for the third quarter, with projections of a 20 percent increase for the fourth quarter.

“We expect our new sport watch to put us at least 25 percent ahead for spring,” said Odenheimer.

The resurgence has been led by the idea of functional fashion,” he said. “Sport watches and bracelet watches with larger dials are both growing categories.” The Anne Klein collection wholesales for $50 to $100.

At E. Gluck’s Armitron division, chronograph and sport watches are expected to continue the strength they’ve shown for fall, said Mark Shell, vice president of the division. He projects increases of at least 10 percent. Armitron watches sell for $5 to $35 wholesale.

“The market was void of an exciting product and credit should be given to Swatch for introducing the chronograph watch,” Shell said. “The chronograph has opened the door for the whole fashion-watch category. Anything that has some special feature has a perceived value. I’m not sure the consumer is actually using a lot of the new features, but they want one that works.”

The renewed interest in watches has spurred Timex Corp., Waterbury, Conn., to add a new collection of fashion watches for spring called Carriage By Times, featuring 80 styles that wholesale from $19.95 to $34.95.

Justine Jennings, who heads the new division, said the line will feature several groups, including classic gold-tone watches with color leather straps, gold metal bracelet watches and natural leather straps with cream color dials.”

As for Timex’s core watch business, the firm’s Action Sport collection, which sells for $13 to $23 wholesale, is the strongest, according to Susie Watson, trend analyst for Timex. She said a basic black resin sport watch with functional accents is expected to be a top spring seller.

Philip Shaw, vice president of marketing for Bulova Corp., here, also said the forecast for spring is strong. He expects fall’s bestsellers, ranging from dressy sport watches to athletic chronographs from the division’s Accutron line, to continue to perform well for spring. The Bulova line wholesales for $15 to $65.

Chronograph watches are also expected to lead spring selling at the Tissot division of SMH.

“Chronos and anything with a technical look is what’s hot right now,” said Janet Cerruti, advertising and promotions manager for SMH. “We’re doing them in quartz and automatic styles.”

Tissot is also introducing a dressier collection for spring called PRX, featuring two-tone metal bands or leather straps in classic, sport and chronograph styles.

At SHM’s Omega division, more expensive chronographs from the firm’s Conzstellation and Speedmaster series have helped the firm reach “double-digit” increases in 1991.

Gerald Batt, president of the division, agrees that “chronographs combine function and fashion that is the right statement for today’s active lifestyle.”

Time marches on

As the fashion watch market continues to expand to include an ever-widening category of refreshing, directional looks, the face of fashion watches changes with the wind. Increasingly, consumers are looking for timepieces with flair, and generally, they are willing to spend a little more to get the looks that you don’t see on a wrist every day. Manufacturers are sensing the importance of new concepts in fashion watches, and, by way of response, many are taking the initiative to challenge the looks of recent years with fresh, inventive design.

I would like to see the computer as functional in design, not just as a data collector,” says Lawrence Gartel, founder of Artwatch. For thirteen years, Gartel has been exploring the design capacities of computers, using them to create the graphic images that may one day–if Gartel and his compatriots in computer design have their way–constitute an entirely new realm of visual art. Most recently, however, Gartel’s computer-generated images have been finding their way onto men’s and women’s watch faces.

“We started about six months ago and basically, our whole purpose was to create a watch that was fun, sophisticated and classy, all at the same time,” he says. Although the faces of Artwatch timepieces range from abstract compositions of multicolor cubes to doll faces and faux marble, Gartel conceives of each design very much as an artistic exercise. As he puts it, “These are not throwaway watches.”

“There is so much plastic in the market,” Gartel asserts, “and our society has become accustomed to throwaway everything, from pens and razors to watches. I felt that the market needed something for business people to wear that was art as well as fashion. I wanted to bring an upscale element into a watch that isn’t the $9000 Rolex and wouldn’t be something stuffy. With a watch that has an artistic element, people see it as something to collect, something one holds onto.”

To be sure, there are certain advantages to computer-aided design. Gartel points out that however quickly fashions may change, he has the capacity to update the Artwatch lines. “In a matter of hours, I can do color changes that would normally take weeks; or if the trend is toward flowers, we can have a line ready in no time.” At the same time, Gartel is quick to assert that the design work is painstaking and whatever advantages a computer may offer, “the artist remains an artist.”

Artwatch timepieces retail at Fortunoff, and wholesale prices vary depending on the leather used in the band: $59 for smooth leather to $90 for crocodile.

Kirk’s Folly, a fashion jewelry firm here introduced watches into their line three years ago with a collection comprised of six styles; today, each new fashion jewelry collection includes sixty or more watch styles. “We do each watch collection to match the jewelry that we are putting out,” says Craig Chorney, one of its heads. To Chorney, that consistency between the jewelry and watch lines is particularly important, with consumers now preferring their own jewelry ensemoles to set looks.

Chorney also believes that buyers are leaning in similar directions. “Buyers,” he says, “want to enhance their departments, not with the everyday Timex and Seiko looks, but with different, unusual merchandise that can be worn every day.

“That’s what gets the customer excited,” he adds, “and that’s what generates sales.”

Chorney sees the trend in fashion watches as favoring what he calls an upscale look. “People have gone to low points in the watch market and now they are looking not only for a unique fashion look, but for quality and durability as well.” Among several recent additions to the Kirk’s Folly collection that have proven to be strong, charm watches have done particularly well. Either as a charm on a bracelet or as a bracelet watch with a few charms, these styles offer something Chorney feels strongly about in today’s fashion watch market: new concepts. “Everyone has fashion watches but this is something new to the market–it’s fun, unique and different.”

With wholesale price points ranging from $38 to $100, the watch lines at Kirk’s Folly have consistently been reasonable enough not only to account for 20% of Kirk’s Folly’s business, but also to attract buyers from Macy’s Herald Square; Bloomingdale’s, New York; Sake, New York; Burdine’s; Bullock’s; Spiegel and Fortunoff.

Barely a year ago, Lisa Jenks burst onto the fashion jewelry market with her elegant premier collection of sterling jewelry and watches. Today, Jenks continues to sell Barneys New York, and herwatches–wholesaling for $265 to $295–consistently account for 15 to 20% of her business. For Jenks, the early decision to include watches in the collection was important. “I saw watches as a way to make the line distinctive,” she says.

Jenks’s consistency of design, as well as her decision to design jewelry and watches and to show them together, has turned out to be a particularly strong selling point for her merchandise. Though Jenks began her watch line with four bracelet styles reminiscent of the bracelets in her line, she has since added watches of various sizes on crocodile straps.

“Buyers,” says Jenks, “always buy watches together with bracelets, as a set. Consumers then respond to buying two looks: They can dress up the watch with a bracelet or wear it alone.” Jenks agrees that, today, consumers are going less for basics and more for that certain flair, what she terms a “difference.”

“If you can afford it,” Jenks surmises, “the natural movement is toward upscale merchandise. People are willing to spend higher for something that is more than functional, something decorative but something with permanence.”

JLO by Jennifer Lopez adds footwear, watches

Lopez’s Sweetface Fashion Company LLC is adding watches and footwear to its growing assortment, which already includes apparel, lingerie, handbags, swimwear and fragrance.

For watches, Sweetface signed a licensing deal with E. Gluck Corp., which makes lines such as Armitron, Anne Klein New York, AK Anne Klein and Nine West. Footwear is licensed to Titan Industries, which also markets shoe collections for Bebe and Laundry by Shelli Segal.

Shoes and watches will be two very important additions to the JLo lifestyle brand,” said Lopez in an e-mailed statement. “Our watches will be more fashion-driven, incorporating cutting-edge and timeless style. E. Gluck Corp. is a powerful player in the watch industry and I know we both feel very passionate about this new venture. Shoes have been long awaited and will be a great way to extend our vision behind our lifestyle brand. I feel very confident in the partnership we have with Titan to carry out our sensibility with great quality.”

Denise Seegal, chief executive officer of Sweetface Fashion, said, “We wanted to really develop a full lifestyle brand, and these are almost the last two categories that will complete our brand strategy. We have not done hosiery and socks, for instance. The shoes are a very important ingredient in a woman’s wardrobe. Jennifer loves shoes, so doing our shoe license really completes the head-to-toe dressing of our female consumer, and the watch is such a key category to develop.”

The watches will launch in better department and specialty stores in October for holiday selling, and looks are inspired by Lopez’s glittering stage style, with designs honing in on bright colors and crystal adornments.

“I would describe the look as feminine with a touch of street edge,” Sidney Gluck, executive vice president of E. Gluck, said. “It’s sexy and chic. There is some Hollywood-inspired drama and glitziness. It’s romantic and feminine but it makes a statement, too — what you would expect from a line inspired by a superstar.”

Gluck did not give sales projections, but said he expects the watches to be in at least 750 stores initially. He declined to give wholesale prices, but the line will range from $70 to $195 at retail. At those price points, JLo watches will compete with Anne Klein New York and Guess watches.

The shoes are expected to hit better department and specialty stores in February. The collection will retail from $59 for shoes and sandals to $150 for boots. The lion’s share will retail from about $69 to $79, or $25 to $35 wholesale. Those prices would put JLo shoes directly in competition with Nine West.

“It’s obviously young fashion,” said Joe Ouaknine, president of Titan Industries. “You look at Jennifer and how she dresses, and we wanted to take what she likes and interpret it into shoes.

Ouaknine added that the footwear collection could be a $50 million business in two years.

JLo by Jennifer Lopez has licensed categories such as swimwear, girls’ apparel, fragrance, jewelry, outerwear, lingerie, handbags, belts and small leather goods and hats, gloves and scarves.

Both [new] categories will noticeably reflect Jennifer’s vision, and her input as the creative director of brand will be instrumental to the product,” noted Chip Rosen, vice president of licensing and international operations for Sweetface.

Coke, Benetton and Gitano set watch lines

Coca-Cola, Benetton and Gitano are joining the burgeoning fashion watch competition, licensing their brand names for lines to be introduced for the back-to-school market.

Swatch watch USA is manufacturing the Coca-Cola watches under a sublicensing arrangement with Murjani International, which holds the licensing rights for Coca-Cola apparel and accessories.

We chose Swatch to manufacture the watches because it has the same marketing and product philosophy we have with the Coca-Cola apparel line. It understands a quality item at a reasonable price point,” said Hugh Docker, design manager for licensing at Murjani. The watches wholesale for $17.50, and will be available this summer.

Max Imgruth, president of Swatch, admits that Coca-Cola watches will be competition for Swatch brand watches, but says, “Coca-Cola will add to the overall sales potential of the company without overexposing the Swatch brand. There are certain limits with one brand.”

According to Imgruth, the Coca-Cola watches will be displayed at Coca-Cola shops in department stores and at fashion watch counters. Swatch plans a back-to-school marketing and advertising campaign for the Coca-Cola watches similar to that of Swatch Watch.

The Benetton watches are part of an expansion of the accessories area at Benetton. The company also is adding a much more extensive line of belts, bags, hats, scarves, Benetton patches and “B” pins. According to Claire Watson, marketing manager, Benetton will triple its volume in accessories this year.

The watches are manufactured by the Bulova watch company and will be distributed this fall in selected stores in the United States, Canada and Italy. Worldwide distribution will follow this limited introduction. “The watches are of bright fashion colors and reflect the Benetton image,” said an executive at Bulova. The watches will retail for $39.95. The first collection offers 24 styles in four sizes.

Hot Sox is the primary manufacturer of Benetton accessories. According to Gary Wolkowitz, president of Hot Sox, the firm will do over $2 million with Benetton accessories this year. It offers a 30-piece collection of accessories that retail between $6 and $25.

The accessories were in the Benetton spring catalog, and did $25,000 in sales, according to Annick Cooper, director of the U.S. catalog division. For the winter catalog, Benetton is adding the watchesand expanding its assortment of accessories. “For our winter catalog we could do as much as $100,000 in accessories. They are the right price point and many of our customers see the merchandise together in an outfit and purchase the entire outfit,” said Cooper.

The Gitano watches are being introduced this fall through a licensing arrangement with AKS Timewear. Haim Dabah, executive vice president of Gitano, predicts the company will do approximately $4 million with the watches the first year.

The company also is expanding its assortment of accessories for fall, adding belts, shoes and a much wider selection of scarves and gloves. “All our accessories are licensed. We receive a 5 percent royalty fee, plus a 3 percent advertising fee. This year, our accessories should do between $15 million and $20 million,” said Dabah.

The watches wholesale from $12.50 to $17.50, and the distribution will mirror the Gitano sportswearline, which is sold primarily through mass merchandisers.

The watches will be displayed in the fashion watch areas of the stores. In some stores, the accessories will be displayed with the Gitano sportswear, but Dabah believes the accessories sell better if they are positioned in the stores in their parent classifications.

“I think there is a place for Gitano watches in the market. They are substantially lower priced than most of the other fashion watch lines, and there is a Gitano customer who will buy them to coordinate with the Gitano sportswear,” said Dabah.