WWD.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/prada-gets-ticking-with-watch-launch-746241/

MILAN — Although Prada does not market products under the Luna Rossa label, the company’s chief executive officer, Patrizio Bertelli, decided he wanted to mark the America’s Cup with the launch of a Prada watch, although neither his sailing boat’s name nor the prestigious sailing competition is inscribed on the watch.

This story first appeared in the October 30, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“We’ve wanted [a watch collection] for a long time,” said Bertelli at a press conference, after flying in from New Zealand, where he was following Luna Rossa’s races for the Cup. “This is the right product for its prestige and quality, which reflect the Prada image. We believe it will be successful because of its quality and exclusiveness.”

The conference was held at Prada’s first Milan boutique, which opened in 1913. Produced by high-end Swiss timepiece manufacturer International Watch Co., the IWC for Prada watch is a 2,000-piece limited-edition style. The watch will be launched in the U.S. with a party Nov. 6 at the Prada boutique on Prince Street in Manhattan.

IWC, based in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, is known for its GST Automatic Chronographs and the Prada watch is an evolution of the concept. The GST Chrono-Automatic Prada, the official name of the watch, was created to weather extreme sports activities and can be worn up to about 400 feet under water.

“During our first informal discussion [about the watch project], Mr. Bertelli had it very clear in his mind what he wanted,” Georges Kern, ceo of IWC, which is owned by Richemont, said at the press conference. “With his right hand, he was signing the contract, with his left he was drawing the watch.”

The steel watch, which comes with an automatic movement, has one model for women and men, and the date and day display is available in Italian or English. The automatic movement has a 44-hour backup system. The watch case is created from a single metal block and the silver gray dial plate is protected by a scratch-proof synthetic sapphire glass.

The chronographs are black and the second hand is bright red — a reference to the red stripe that often marks products from Prada’s sport division.

Bertelli said the IWC for Prada watch was also a way of testing the market.

“We will see how this watch is accepted before we think about a larger-scale project,” Bertelli said.

Bertelli said 200 watches had already been ordered. The IWC for Prada watch retails for about $4,000 and will be available at 100 sales points in the world, including Prada boutiques in Milan, Rome, Florence, London, Paris, New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong, and select IWC distributors.

Bertelli said that while it usually takes one year to design and produce a luxury watch, this project only took eight months.

“IWC produces 50,000 watches per year, so a 2,000-piece collection was a significant step for the company,” Bertelli added.