TIME MARCHES FORWARD

Byline: Melanie Kletter

Sparked by increased marketing budgets and aggressive advertising campaigns, watch companies have virtually taken over the top-10 spots among the most recognized jewelry and watch brands.
Many jewelry companies have yet to embrace branding in the way that watch companies have, and aside from Tiffany & Co. and Chanel, the latter of which is more known for its designer ready-to-wear, jewelry brands are absent from this year’s top 10.
Timex is number one on the list for the second time in a row, a testimony to its longevity and brand prowess. The Middlebury, Conn.-based company is a household name that is now sold in more than 50,000 doors. The watch that takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’ is also one of the largest advertisers in the category.
In the number-two spot is Seiko, the Japanese-owned company that is fifth on the WWD100 overall list. The watchmaker is in the midst of improving distribution methods and point-of-sale efforts to increase its profitability in the U.S.
Next up is Rolex, the name many people associate with luxury, which landed the ninth slot on the overall list. Rolex has a reputation for producing the highest-quality watch brands that withstand intense environmental pressure. Lately, the brand has benefited from aligning itself with well-known personalities such as opera star Placido Domingo and figure skater Ekaterina Gordeeva, who appear in the company’s ads.
Swiss Army, while still best known for its pocket knives, has continued to build its brand name in the watch and accessories category. The firm also recently entered the retail arena with the opening of a store in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. Swiss Army logged in at fourth on the jewelry and watch list and 28th overall.
Tiffany & Co. is another name that is synonymous with luxury, especially in the form of its signature blue gift box. The retailer, which is fifth in the category and 33rd overall, continues to expand its presence globally, with stores opening in Italy and France, and plans for units in China, a new market for the company. At its New York flagship, a major renovation spearheaded by Toronto design firm Yabu Pushelberg is currently under way as part of a plan to freshen up the selling environment there. Nonetheless, like many luxury retailers, Tiffany has fallen on some difficult times in recent months as consumers hold on tight to their purse strings.
Casio, another Japanese-owned company, lands at number six on the jewelry and watch list and 35th on the overall WWD100. Best known for its innovative technologies, Casio’s newest watches include distinctly nonwatch features, including cameras and digital music.
And Chanel, the only French firm to make the top 10, is probably best known for its rtw, and its larger-than-life creative director Karl Lagerfeld. Nonetheless, costume jewelry remains an important category for the house, which also counts fragrance, beauty products and stores among its offerings.
Bulova is a distinctly American company, but is now working to expand its brand name internationally. Still headquartered in New York, the brand weighs in at eighth on the jewelry list and 46th overall. The company also recently acquired the trademarks for the Wittnauer watch brand, giving it another avenue for growth.
Citizen, the world’s largest watchmaker, comes in ninth place for jewelry and 51st overall. The company has lately been pushing new updates on its Eco-Drive model, which is powered by light. Citizen has built its brand by sponsoring major sporting events, including the U.S. Open.
The 10th most recognized brand is Swatch, the 58th entry on the WWD100, which started a revolution in the watch market when it made its debut with inexpensive, plastic watches in the mid-Eighties. More recently, the brand has been pushing styles such as its Skin line, which has a super-thin plastic strap, as well as its new line of jewelry called Swatch Bijoux.

Watches/Jewelry Top 10
1. Timex
2. Seiko
3. Rolex
4. Swiss Army
5. Tiffany
6. Casio
7. Chanel
8. Bulova
9. Citizen
10. Swatch

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