Commercially viable, trendy, luxurious and often iconic, fine watches have become a fast-paced growth avenue for many fashion houses, boosting their sales and image.
And a string of brands, including Ferragamo and Moschino Cheap & Chic, are launching watch collections at the Baselworld fair, while others such as Versace, Dior, Cavalli, Guess and Armani are replenishing their offerings with new styles.
Proving the point that designers take this brand extension seriously, John Galliano postponed the launch of his first namesake watch collection, licensed to Morellato and initially scheduled for Baselworld, claiming he needed more time to fine-tune the prototypes and study more styles.
Designer watches are usually ingrained with the brand's design signatures and offer innovative elements combined with sophisticated Swiss movements. The mixture offers an alternative to traditional watches, especially for those consumers who view watches as a fashion accessory.
Ferragamo's launch watch, for example, was inspired by its storied Vara pump, with a stainless steel case that is slightly undulated to reproduce the shoe's distinctive grosgrain ribbon buckle.
The watch comes with interchangeable lizard, crocodile or grosgrain straps in colors such as ruby red, silver, orange and black. The models are in stainless steel or solid yellow gold with plain cases or ones embellished with 44 diamonds, while the dial is in mother-of-pearl or full pavé. The watch features a quartz movement.
The Vara watch is the fruit of a 13-year agreement with Timex Group, a license projected to rake in retail sales of 150 million euros, or $219 million at current exchange rates, in five years.
"This is a very important business, with great potential," said Michele Norsa, Ferragamo's chief executive officer. "Watches are an iconic category for most luxury markets and even more so in Asia."
Ferragamo will target 500 stores in 60 countries, including 200 Ferragamo boutiques, for its watches.
Celebrating the color blue, Dior will premiere Dior Christal Rubber Blue, an extension of its sporty chic and high-tech Rubber watch, a navy blue chronograph with a nautical feel highlighted by 76 white diamonds. Interspersed between the diamonds on the bezel are sapphires, also applied onto the deep sea blue rubber strap.Also at Baselworld, Gucci will unveil Chiodo, a watch inspired by the iconic square nail head employed by the luxury goods house since the Sixties. Like the horse bit, the nail motif hails from the equestrian world and is modeled on the pyramidal nails used to hold the shoe against the horse's hoof.
Further referencing Gucci's past, designer Frida Giannini crafted a sterling silver variation of Chiodo. Other variations include diamond-studded versions, square or round faces and a mother-of-pearl dial.
"At Gucci, we have more than 35 years of experience in fine timepieces and they represent a powerful growth opportunity," said Gucci ceo Mark Lee. "Watches, like jewelry, is a long-lasting category, different from seasonal fashion, so we are increasingly building the collections on iconic signs that have potential for a long life span."
In 2007, watches accounted for 6.6 percent, or 144 million euros ($210million), of Gucci's 2.18 billion euro sales, or $3.2 billion. Dollar figures were converted at current exchange rates.
Moschino's Cheap & Chic is another brand to have hopped on the watch bandwagon thanks to a five-year license with Gruppo Binda, a $400 million watch and costume jewelry maker.
Versace, a forerunner in the use of ceramic in watches, will unveil Era, a women's watch with a clean and contemporary design shaped as a bracelet. The gold-plated strap features ceramic insets, the face is white enamel and the bezel is embedded with 34 white diamonds.
Roberto Cavalli also has raised the glamour bar with Roberto Cavalli The Diamond Time collection that he claims was a natural evolution for his watches.
"As the clothes evolve in an extremely sophisticated manner with a couturelike approach, I felt the need to offer my customers an item which represents the highest level in the watch segment," Cavalli said. "This watch is Swiss made, with a sleek design enriched by the use of diamonds and rock crystal that is an absolute novelty for watches."
The case is sculptured from rock crystal, its milky whiteness a sharp contrast against the black face and same color alligator strap. There also are a stainless steel case version, a chronograph and a three-hand-movement model. Retail prices span from $3,200 to $6,000.Jeweled watches are also a priority at Guess, with a new lineup produced by recently founded Swiss watchmaker Sequel AG, which includes the Arm Candy collection. The watch is set in a sexy and colorful bangle bracelet bedazzled with 300 Swarovski crystals in sapphire blue, amethyst purple and emerald green. The alternative version has a translucent resin and steel bracelet and no crystal.
The Gc line includes the Diver Chic Ceramic chronograph in either white or black ceramic, adorned with either pink sapphires or diamonds.
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)