Tom Ford International is getting into the luxury timepiece sector, as first reported in WWD in December. Ford has revealed a collaboration with Bedrock Manufacturing Co., founded by Tom Kartsotis, to design, manufacture and distribute a collection of Swiss-made watches. Details about the designs and launch dates and strategy were not disclosed.
“Watches have long been an obsession of mine and I have been waiting for the perfect moment in our brand development to introduce this category and have also waited for the perfect partner,” said Ford. “We have found that in Tom Kartsotis and Bedrock Manufacturing Co.”
Kartsotis has a long history in watches, having founded Fossil in 1984 and grown it into a billion-dollar public company. Kartsotis was chairman and chief executive officer of Fossil until 2000, remaining chairman until 2010. In 2003 he launched Texas-based private equity firm Bedrock, named for the hometown of Fred Flintstone. Under the Bedrock umbrella are Shinola, the Detroit-based watch brand Kartsotis launched in 2011, and Filson, a heritage hunter and fisherman’s clothing brand.
“We have a deep appreciation for the craft, detail, quality and of course taste, that Tom Ford stands for,” said Kartsotis. “These values are relevant now more than ever. We are [pleased] about this collaboration and look forward to helping Tom express his vision.”
Bedrock’s brands are focused on American heritage with marketing programs centered around a Made in USA theme. For the Tom Ford timepieces, it will establish a presence in Switzerland, marking its first entry into Swiss-made watches and also its first tie up with a designer label for watches.
It’s not the brightest moment for luxury watches. The high-end sector has wilted due to a crackdown on gifting in China, changing tourist patterns, caution in Asia, and cyclical market movements — many high-fliers have already purchased their multithousand-dollar timepieces, and are sated.
According to the latest statistics from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, exports of Swiss watches declined 16 percent in October, the steepest fall of the year. Only two markets showed improvement: the U.K., rising 9 percent because of the sterling depreciation in the wake of the Brexit referendum, and China, improving 2.8 percent and marking a gradual recovery since July.