By and  on July 6, 2005

PARIS — Leave it to John Galliano, friends with the likes of Gwen Stefani, to create an eye-catching watch especially designed for "rock chicks."

"I wanted to create a watch that looked like it was sculpted in diamonds," Galliano said of the Christal, the latest watch he designed for Christian Dior.

Although slated for a fall debut at retail, expect a sneak preview today on the wrists of a few celebrity guests at Dior's couture show here.

Galliano said his starting point for the design was the "chunky, cool look" of a stainless steel diving watch, which he spiked with sparkling sapphire crystals and diamonds. Although it has the weight and feel of a man's watch, its high polish and bling factor aim it squarely at women.

"It's that mix of masculine lines with feminine touches that makes it so sexy," Galliano said.

Galliano was particularly excited about this project, according to Lisa Lagarde, vice president of Christian Dior Watches, North America.

"Galliano is about fashion," she said. "He's now combined fashion and function — it's totally fresh."

The Christal's sapphire crystal is typically used as the crystal of a watch, but Galliano's design employs it as a decorative treatment on both the bezel and at the bracelet.

"Sapphire is the second-hardest material to diamonds on the Mohs hardness scale used in the jewelry industry; it's far less brittle [than other materials]," said Lagarde.

The bracelet of the watch features a cut crystal motif in either pink, gray or white representing the pink roses of the late Christian Dior's garden, the company's signature dove gray furniture or the white lacquer of the company's stores, respectively.

The watches range in price from $1,495 for the smallest ladies' style with crystal details on the bracelet and face to $4,250 for the men's watch, replete with a diamond bezel, chronograph and bracelet with full-on crystal treatments.

Lagarde estimates the Dior Christal will account for between 30 and 50 percent of the company's watch business this fall.

A print advertising campaign will bow in October magazines, although none of the titles could be confirmed at press time.The watches ship to Dior boutiques worldwide in mid-September and will roll out to U.S. stores such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bailey Banks & Biddle in October.

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