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Coach Revamps Watch Collection

In tandem with its licensing partner Movado Group, the New York-based accessories firm has doubled the collection to 200 styles and lowered the price points.

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NEW YORK — Time is the mother of invention — at least that’s what Coach Inc. is hoping.

This story first appeared in the August 5, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

As part of its quest to achieve lifestyle-brand status, the accessories maker is overhauling its watch collection, with the new styles set to hit stores for fall and holiday.

In tandem with its licensing partner Movado Group Inc., Coach has doubled the collection to 200 styles and lowered the price points to be more competitive in the fashion watch category.

The average price point for the new collection is $228, with 95 percent of the assortment priced in the $158 to $298 range. This compares with a prior average price of $300. Coach said it would still produce limited-edition styles above $298, but that it’s targeting its “sweet spot” at between $200 and $225.

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According to Javan Bunch, senior vice president of licensing at Coach, talks of repositioning the collection began six to nine months ago.

“We all recognized fashion watches as a major category and a lifestyle opportunity,” Bunch said. “We have a real mandate in the accessories world. We feel that this [collection] is an expression of our DNA.”

Although Coach has carried watches through its partnership with Movado since 1998, the revamped and expanded collection refers back to the brand’s heritage by incorporating leather straps and hardware found on its handbags. Case in point: Coach has developed a watch called Penny, which makes use of the clips it uses on its dog leashes for the bracelet. Another standout for the brand is its Tristen model, which is an evolution from Coach’s best-selling Boyfriend watch, and includes rose gold, yellow gold or two-tone bracelets with larger 36- or 42-mm. dials.

That sportier look contrasts with the Madison, which is a classic line with a smaller 32-mm. case and colorful straps made of saffiano leather, which is also used in the brand’s Madison handbag collection. Other styles use Swarovski crystals and mother-of-pearl dials.

“We’ve taken a huge investment in doing this, and we are really repositioning the whole brand and rallying our organization behind this,” Movado chairman and chief executive officer Efraim Grinberg said. “Coach has such a strong heritage and is such a strong brand from a consumer perspective. For us, entering the fashion watch category in a Coach way really represents an opportunity.”

Movado took a $4.9 million charge in the fourth quarter related to the Coach collection, but Grinberg said the investment is already paying dividends, as the collection has already picked up new points of distribution internationally.

In the U.S., Coach has increased distribution of its watch line at Macy’s Inc. from 400 doors to 600 doors, and the collection will be available at 40 Nordstrom stores by yearend.

According to Grinberg, the fashion watch market is ripe, as postrecession consumers are buying “multiple value-priced” timepieces to update their wardrobes. Rival Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. has gobbled up a large amount of share from its watch offering. Kors, which posted annual revenues of $2.18 billion, said its fourth-quarter comparable-store sales expanded 36.7 percent, driven by accessories and watches.

Sources estimated that Coach’s watch business totals about $100 million in retail sales.

Coach, which is amid an aggressive plan to become a lifestyle brand, reported annual sales of $5.08 billion Tuesday. As part of its strategy to expand and elevate the brand, Coach said it would launch men’s watches by Nov. 1.

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