NOTHING BUT NET

TIME ONLINE: AOL Time Warner has teamed up with The Swatch Group in an agreement that could result in new product lines that make Internet access easier for consumers.
While many other Internet collaborations focus solely on mutual marketing strategies, this partnership looks set to be more proactive. AOL plans to create programs and promotional initiatives for the 18 Swatch brands, which include Breguet, Blancpain, Omega, Calvin Klein and Hamilton. In exchange, Swatch intends to develop Internet enabling technologies in the watches, as well as incorporating AOL entertainment content in some of the products. For example, consumers — using Swatch technologies available on Syncro.beat and Net.Invader product lines — could easily access AOL screen names or favorite AOL Web site addresses by storing them in ‘Net-enabled versions of the watches.

WHOSE BLUES? In a rare case of vintage denim synergy, a pair of Levi’s jeans dating from 1880 will be placed on the auction block beginning on May 18, through a joint Web-and-TV venture involving The History Channel, Butterfields Auctioneers and eBay. The waist coveralls, crafted from nine-ounce denim produced by the Amoskeag Mill in Manchester, N.H., have an estimated value of between $25,000 and $35,000. Although that might seem an eye-popping sum for a pair of really, really worn jeans discovered in a Nevada mining town in 1998, vintage denim aficionados have been known to fork over substantial sums for such esoteric denim items. Recently on eBay, a pair of J.C. Penney jeans sold for over $1,100 with 21 bids, while a pair of Levi’s 501’s sold for more than $750 with three bids.
“There is a rich history behind the denim industry in America,” said Catherine Williamson, director and appraiser for Butterfields Auctioneers, an auction house founded in 1865 that is now an eBay company. “The changes in denim and jeans tell a story about our country.”
The seven-day auction will run through May 25 on both eBay and the History Channel Web site, at historychannel.com. In addition, the jeans will be featured briefly in the segment “Auction Block,” on the History Channel series “History’s Lost & Found.”