TIME MARCHES ON THREE INNOVATIVE NEW BRANDS CHECK INTO THE FASHION WATCH MARKET.
Byline: AMANDA MEADUS
NEW YORK--Just as the big names in the fashion watch business have started settling down for a good, old-fashioned, market-share showdown, three new lines are moving in to test the waters. Two of them come from companies already quite experienced in timepiece making: Seiko and Citizen. However, both are moving for the first time into the $150-and-under market in a quest for bigger chunks of the overall watch business. These two firms have a few other points in common. Both are based in Japan and have spent the past two years researching the fashion watch field before breaking in themselves. By contrast, the third line comes from fashion jewelry vendor Carolee Designs. For owner Carolee Friedlander, watches represent a whole new endeavor after 20 years of making jewelry. The fashion watch market is already full of heavy hitters--Swatch, Fossil, Guess, Timex and others--duking it out for counter space at the stores. Nonetheless, the new entrants feel that with the fresh and different angles they are taking with their lines, there's room for more contenders. Here, a look at each.
JAZ TIME BY SEIKO This line, which wholesales from $25 to $40, will bow at the up-coming August accessories market. Its distinguishing characteristic is that it's geared to work with the trends for each new season. According to Gloria Macaroni, director of sales for Seiko's Jaz Time division, the watches won't be developed around a signature look, with new variations on that look appearing every season. Rather, each new Jaz Time collection will look completely different from that of the season before, and its inspiration will come from current ready-to-wear motifs. "We plan to present the watches as real fashion items, the must-haves to wear with whatever the current hot looks are," Macaroni said. "The logic is that if the ready-to-wear look is, for example, floating fabrics and soft silhouettes, a woman wants a watch that works along with it, not a sporty or dressy watch that totally clashes with it." What this means is that one season Jaz Time may feature a retro group done with rectangular cases, Art Deco dials and stamped leather bands. And if modern and high tech happens to be the thing for the following season, the watches may turn up with metal dials, brushed metal cases and metal mesh bracelet bands. Jaz Time will hit the stores accompanied by point-of-sale fixtures that explain the newest looks. The information will be presented in the form of framed blurbs of copy that catch shoppers' eyes as they stroll by. The line is being aimed at department stores, Macaroni said, though she pointed out that it will be merchandised separately from the Seiko watch line.
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