By  on February 23, 2009

After nine years in the watch business, David Yurman feels it’s time to enter a new era.

The 29-year-old fine jewelry and watch firm today will introduce its newest men’s watch, dubbed the Classic. The Classic is the brand’s first round case, a feat it has been working to accomplish for several years.

“I stayed away from round [before],” said David Yurman, chief designer and chairman, explaining the round shape is the most complex watch silhouette, even though it has been done for more than two centuries. “I felt it had to be authentic.”

To help facilitate the process, designer Yurman tapped his son, Evan, who is the firm’s design director of timepieces, to collaborate on the watch design. Evan’s mother, Sybil, is the company’s president and chief marketing officer. The younger Yurman, 27, has been spearheading the brand’s men’s jewelry line. His precious gold dog tags coated in black diamonds and modernized signet rings have been popular at retail. Evan has worked on watch designs in the past, but this was his first time starting from the ground up.

The father-son duo looked within the company’s DNA for inspiration for the Classic.

“I wanted to make this as authentic as possible,” said Evan of the watch. “It’s about heritage and classic American design…America is the world’s largest timepiece market, and we think it’s important to continue the beauty and simplicity of American design.”

To start, there are three styles in the collection: three-handed, moon phase and chronograph. Ranging in size from 43.5 to 46 millimeters, the stainless steel watchcases each feature the brand’s signature cable emblem. The dials are inspired by American automobiles from the Fifties and the guilloche work and subdials within take cues from a car’s odometer. The watches have a nostalgic air, with a modern bent. The movements range from a Swiss automatic ETA 2892-2 with a 42-hour power reserve to a Dubois-Depraz 9000 movement. Women’s styles are in the works, as are limited editions.




The Classic retails from $3,200 to $18,000 and will hit David Yurman’s 15 boutiques in the U.S. and three in Asia in May, and roll out to specialty retailers in the fall.

“With this watch, it could really go more toward men who don’t wear jewelry,” Evan said.

The timepieces are made in La Chaux-de-Fonds, in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, the center of haute horology for hundreds of years. Known to offer the cold shoulder to newcomers in the market, the Yurmans found it challenging to break in with the locals. But now, after countless trips and arduous research, they feel settled in.

“One advantage we have is having a fresh look on the timepiece industry,” said Evan. “The majority of these watch businesses are based in Switzerland, and they are consumed with it and rightfully so. We are coming at it from a different approach.”

Yurman chief executive officer Paul Blum said while the jewelry sector comprises the bulk of company sales, watches are a burgeoning category. All of the limited edition watches launched at Baselworld, the Swiss watch and jewelry show, in 2008 have been sold. The brand’s women’s watches hearken back to the jewelry, such as with the Thoroughbred watch that has a cushion-shaped case echoing the stone cut and the Waverly watch, which is an exaggerated double-helix cuff, the firm’s most identifiable piece.

The firm will unveil the Classic to a select group this afternoon and fete it with a party in the New York Public Library’s rotunda. As for advertising, a trademark for Yurman — Peter Lindbergh’s photographs of Kate Moss and Daria Werbowy wearing the jewelry and women’s watches punctuate billboards and magazines across the globe — it’s in the works. But don’t expect a celebrity spokesmodel or sponsorship of a regatta in the vein of other watch brands.

“We need to honor the design,” said David. “There are no bells and whistles. It’s about the timepiece. It’s time that we center on the product and give credence to the public, because they aren’t dumb. They see and understand the product.”

Despite the rocky retail road, the Yurmans believe that there are consumers out there looking for well-made, detail-oriented and luxury products.

“There’s a feeling in fashion now of ‘Can I own this, how long can I own this, can I pass this down to my children and grandchildren?’ ” said David.

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