SURFING THE WRIST: Fossil Inc. is taking timepieces to the next level with the introduction this week of watches incorporating Microsoft’s smart personal objects technology (SPOT). The watches provide wearers with personalized Internet information, including news, weather and stock quotes. The timepieces will be available this fall under three brands: the core Fossil brand; Abacus, a new tech brand targeting the electronics channel, and Philippe Starck with Fossil, a collection of watches designed jointly by Starck and Fossil. Pricing is still being determined, Fossil said Thursday. Watch manufacturers Citizen and Suunto are also planning to introduce watches with SPOT technology.

EXPRESS TO STARDOM: Express, a division of Limited Brands, will become the exclusive fashion sponsor of Project Greenlight, which gives aspiring screenwriters and directors an opportunity to win a $1 million production budget and the chance to see their movie made, as well as be the subject of an HBO documentary series chronicling the challenges of first-time filmmakers. The winning screenwriter and director will work with executive producers Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Chris Moore and Miramax Films. More than 100,000 aspiring writers and directors have entered the contest. Express will host a party Jan. 18 announcing the winners during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, at Harry O’s. The company will provide a wardrobe for the winners and costumes for their screenplay. Project Greenlight is presented by Blockbuster Inc.

A RELATIVE YAWN: Consumers intend to buy less apparel in 2003 than at any point since December 2001, according to data released Thursday by Cambridge, Mass.-based STS Market Research. Only 56 percent of women and 33 percent of men polled this month, in a panel of 10,000 consumers, ages 13 and up, said they plan to buy clothes in the next 30 days. That response compares with previous lows, reached in January 2002, when 59 percent of women and 46 percent of men said they would do so. Women’s intent to buy apparel in a 30-day period sank to 59 percent last July as well, STS found. While acknowledging that some of the weakness is seasonal, Art Spar, chairman and chief executive of STS, said the downdraft primarily reflects an "ongoing deterioration" of consumer spending on apparel. Last month, for instance, 71 percent of women surveyed said they aimed to buy apparel in the next 30 days, down from 80 percent in December 2001, while 58 percent of men expressed plans to buy clothing in that period, down from 69 percent.

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