By  on August 1, 2005

NEW YORK — Movado Group Inc. is making a move to jump-start its ESQ business.This fall, it will introduce a newly designed assortment filled with luxury touches such as diamonds to the entry-level Swiss-made watch brand. Company executives said the change is expected to double ESQ's volume.In addition to ESQ, Paramus, N.J.-based Movado Group designs, manufactures and distributes Movado, Ebel and Concord watches, and has the licenses for Coach Watches, Tommy Hilfiger Watches and timepieces by Hugo Boss. It also operates Movado boutiques and company stores in the U.S. Total revenues for the company last year were about $419 million. The ESQ and Movado brands together represent 50 percent of overall sales.Jeff Cohen, president of ESQ and Movado for the Americas, said the timing was right to upgrade the product for the 12-year-old ESQ brand. Because of the strength of the euro in relation to the dollar, he said many lower-cost, Swiss-engineered timepieces with a luxury focus have gone up in price."With the euro, things have gotten so expensive that it has created a void in the market," Cohen said. "There is room for affordable luxury."ESQ started introducing new designs for Mother's Day and Father's Day, but will roll out the full assortment to better independent jewelers, chain stores and department stores over the next few months.Women's styles eventually will account for 50 percent of the assortment and will be divided into classic, sport and fashion looks. Cohen said the latter category will reveal the strongest change in direction and will be updated seasonally based on current trends. Looks in that range for fall include multistrand bracelets of pink cultured pearls, white cultured pearls, tigereye beads or colorful semiprecious stones holding a horizontal rectangular case; wristwatches with pink, light blue or black grosgrain straps and coordinating mother-of-pearl faces accented with a diamond at the 12 o'clock position; charm bracelets with a dangling square watch case, and an evening silhouette with a black grosgrain strap and a tonneau-shaped watch case with a face blanketed in pavé diamonds. All of the pieces feature Swiss engineering, solid stainless steel construction and scratch-resistant mineral crystal casings."We want it to look like a more expensive watch than it really is," Cohen said. "We are pulling down luxury accents and putting it in a value-driven product."Retail prices will average from $195 to $395, with some more luxurious styles going as high as $1,795.ESQ hasn't stopped at the design of the watches, either. To coincide with the introduction of the new assortment, ESQ will kick off a print and TV advertising campaign. The print ads have already started to appear in select publications, but the full push starts in October. The campaign is the first in the brand's history to embrace a lifestyle focus."I think the one thing was that we really wanted to develop a personality for the brand," said Douglas Lloyd, president and owner of Lloyd + Co., the New York-based advertising firm that created the campaign. "We wanted to put a face and an attitude on the brand." The campaign features three female and three male models, sometimes alone and sometimes together, in different settings, such as at the beach, in the country and around the city. It also features the new tagline, "ESQ&U." The 15- or 30-second spots are scheduled to appear on networks such as VH1, Comedy Central and E, while the print ads will appear on the pages of magazines such as In Style, Lucky, Glamour, People and Newsweek."We want to talk to a wide audience [with this campaign]," said Lloyd. "It's based on the idea of reaching out and embracing the customer."To integrate the campaign across all the brand's channels, ESQ also will update its informational Web site and retail point-of-sale materials over the next few months.

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