In a time when consumers look to brands to help define themselves, sometimes an “It” bag is not enough. Enter the latest category to attain the status stamp of approval from luxury firms — watches. Designer brands are entering the category in great numbers. Salvatore Ferragamo launched a collection with Timex Group in 2007, while Valentino, which was formerly under contract with Sector, launched a watch collection in April, also with Timex. In 2006, Versace launched a collection with Vertime, Timex Group’s luxury division. Brands such as Armani, Burberry and Michael Kors, which are all produced by Fossil, and Roberto Cavalli, which signed with Sector Group, are constantly reinvigorating their lines with new styles and trends.
“Today, every designer should be in the market with everything that can make a person feel more fancy, more special,” says designer Roberto Cavalli, who launched Roberto Cavalli The Diamond Time collection in April, with prices that run from $3,200 to $6,000. “I believe that people like to have a special watch, not the usual watch. Today, it has to be a designer watch.”
Brands such as Dior and Chanel, which have been amping up their watch divisions in the past several years, are seeing sales escalate.
“Dior has been making watches for 33 years, so it has been in the DNA of the brand for a while, but it is definitely picking up now,” says Stephane Barraque, president of Dior Watches. “We really took off when John Galliano designed the Christal watch — that was a breakout for us, and ever since that time, we’re really growing the category and understand the necessity to make the watch business a real and separate entity.”
Barraque acknowledges that, for a company like Dior, watches are an avenue for the firm’s three core designers — Galliano, Victoire de Castellane and Kris Van Assche — to express the aesthetic of the firm in a different way. And the category gives both men and women the opportunity to wear the Dior name.
“Bags are only good for women, and jewelry and clothing is limited,” says Barraque. “But with watches, everybody is inclined to buy them. Watches are products that are recognizable. Someone may look at you and isn’t going to recognize what you’re wearing, except for maybe a bag. But you’re not going to say, ‘It’s a Dior jacket.’ When you look at a watch, you know what it is. It’s an important element of recognition and status.”
Dior recently launched a tourbillon watch, which, like Chanel, places the firm into the realm of haute horology. The tourbillons, which retail at $500,000, are all painstakingly handcrafted by artisans in Switzerland.
Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard, president and chief executive officer of the $700 million Timex Group, sees the designer market as a huge opportunity for the firm. Since his arrival from high jewelry firm Georg Jensen last year, he has built upon the firm’s existing luxury offerings and raised its international profile. In addition to acquiring the licenses for Valentino and Ferragamo watches, Timex is eyeing more potential licensees to solidify its portfolio. It is building up its Vertime luxury group, which houses Versace watches, and acquired Vincent Bérard, whose watches start at $75,000 at retail, in 2006.
“The whole notion of watches has been taken way beyond timekeeping,” says Hoejsgaard. “It is a real fashion category, an accessory that happens to show time. When you define it from that perspective, it makes sense that fashion brands would move into watches and jewelry. In its own right, the watch sector has had a great run for the last seven or eight years.”
According to Hoejsgaard, Timex Group’s luxury watches encompass 7 percent of the firm’s total business and is building toward the 15 percent mark over the next two years.
Chanel’s first watch, dubbed Premiere, made its debut in 1987. Over time, Chanel timekeeping has evolved into a collection of highly stylized and expertly crafted watches that do a huge business for the storied house. The J12 model, introduced in 2000, is a top seller at Bergdorf Goodman in New York. In 2005, Chanel introduced the J12 tourbillon, which put the firm into the world of true fine jewelry watches. But the firm doesn’t see its foray into the category as an extension of its brand, but more as an homage to the brand’s core.
“The first watch for us, which launched in 1987, is still there,” says Nicolas Beau, director of watches at Chanel. “We are modernizing the line this year at 21 years old. Later we are launching another version of the Premiere watch and the J12, which, born in 2000, will soon be 10 years old. We are confident we’ll be celebrating its 10th, 20th and 30th birthday. We are not into launching watches every season, and our history proves it.”
Michael Kors has seen a huge success with his oversize watches, produced in partnership with Fossil. While retailing at between $110 and $350, the pieces are more for a whimsical fashion statement than expert timekeeping, but they are nonetheless one of Kors’ best-selling accessories.
“A lot of Michael’s success is attributed to the brand,” says Jennifer Fink, brand manager for Michael Kors watches. “But buying a watch makes people feel good. Michael’s philosophy is that people should have a wardrobe of watches.”
“What he has done at Vuitton is really exceptional,” said @gameofthrones’ actress Gwendoline Christie on @mrkimjones’ final show for @louisvuitton. “He has rebooted luxury in terms of making it commercial, viable and contemporary. And most importantly artistic. He has never compromised his artistic vision for the sake of commodity.” (📷: @zefashioninsider)
After seeing a demand for men’s wear from its customers, British contemporary women’s wear label @ariesarise has added a men’s wear component and will launch a unisex collection with @mrporterlive. The 20-piece collection includes jackets, denim, logo T-shirts and more with deconstructed ‘90s vibes. Set to launch on January 18, you can shop the pieces on Aries’ website and on mrporter.com. #wwdfashion
“And so spending so much time with a character who thinks like that, inevitability you try and analyze yourself and go back and think about your own demons and dark chapters that you had in your life,” says @thedanielbruhl of his role in TNT’s “The Alienist.” The show, set in the Gilded Age of New York, also stars Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans. Head to WWD.com to read about how 39-year-old Brühl prepared for the role and why he thinks the show is so relevant to today #wwdeye ( 📷: @Eriktanner)
Now that Celine Dion’s collection has topped $10 million in sales, the pop superstar, fashion icon and newly-minted industry player is eyeing growth in Asia. Read the full report by @tiffanyap, link in bio. #wwdnews #celinedion
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
Among the familiar faces at @off____white’s show was a surprise figure: Japanese artist @takashipom, pictured here on Wednesday morning. Other show-goers included @jerrylorenzo, who spoke about his upcoming project: a @nike collaboration for back to school, with designs inspired by his childhood on the West Coast. Sitting in the front row were Future, Don Crawley, @miguel and more. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: Stephane Feugere)
According to @laurentsai, former “Terrace House: Aloha State” cast member, she didn’t know she was auditioning for the Japanese version of “Real World.” “I was telling a couple of my friends and someone’s like, ‘That sounds a lot like Terrace House.’ I was like, ’No it can’t be.’” Turns out, it was. But Tsai isn’t just a reality star — she’s an illustrator who has worked with Starbucks Japan and most recently, she’s dipping her toes into the fashion world. Head to WWD.com to read about her time on the show, modeling and her art. #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
More changes are coming to New York Fashion Week: Beginning with the spring 2019 collection, @alexanderwangny will move his New York show to June from September, adopting a biannual schedule with collections shown in June and December. Additionally, the @cfda is planning for an official summer/winter fashion season taking place as soon as June and December 2018. Read more about the upcoming changes on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @slovekinpics)