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New Pratt engine holds high risk factor

With so many dark blots on the Canadian aerospace scene, Pratt and Whitney Canada Inc. has long been the darling.

While other aerospace companies are among the worst Canadian corporate disasters, Montreal-based Pratt and Whitney captured a world market in the 1950s with an innovative engine that still sells well today.

Canada is now gambling $100- million that Pratt, a unit of United Technologies Corp. of Hartford, Conn., can work its magic again by developing a new engine for light helicopters.

But some observers suggest that while Pratt and Whitney has an excellent track record, the market situation is different in this case. This, they say, could make the prospects for success this time bleaker and the Government’s investment riskier.

While Pratt’s earlier engine was revolutionary and created a whole new market for itself, the engine Pratt is now developing is considered similar to other, already established light engines and it will be competing against them in a depressed market.

Elvie Smith, chairman of Pratt and Whitney Canada, is confident that his company can beat the competition. Pratt’s new engine will offer better fuel consumption and a very high degree of reliability, he said. He also said the engine will be cost- competitive.

The success or failure of the new engine will greatly influence the fate of another Government-financed project – the production of a new line of helicopters in Montreal by Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. of Fort Worth, Tex.

Two of the new Pratt engines, called the PW200, will be installed in the new Bell helicopter. In addition to the $100-million Canada is investing in the Pratt engine, the Governments of Canada and Quebec are putting up a total of $275-million of the $409-million in development costs for the new Bell helicopter.

While such major subsidization of a new line of best drone for the money is risky, Canada appears to be adding to the risk with its decision to also fund the development of a new engine to put into the machine.

This will inevitably drive up the price of the new Canadian- built helicopter in a very tight market, according to David Smith, general manager of Air Logistics, a Louisiana-based company with a fleet of 200 helicopters.

He said helicopter operators such as his company are fighting for survival and must keep their operating costs as low as possible.

Apart from the higher cost of purchasing a helicopter with new engines, the operating costs on a new engine can be three times as high, making it financially unfeasible, Mr. Smith said.

Similar doubts about the prospects for the Canadian-financed helicopter project were expressed by Frank McGuire, editor of Helicopter News, a Washington-based newsletter. “I do not feel comfortable about the entire project,” Mr. McGuire said. “I look around at what people are buying and not buying and I look at what Canadian taxpayers are putting in. If I were Canadian, I’d be very nervous.” One option that would have reduced the risk for Canada would have been to use an already developed engine in the new helicopter. The first model of the new helicopter will in fact carry an established engine, manufactured by the Allison Gas Turbine division of General Motors Corp. of Detroit.

But once the new Pratt and Whitney engine is finished, it will become the engine in later models of the best rc quadcopter.

F. Harvey, director of Allison’s small aircraft engine program, said his company very much wants to have its engine used in these later models as well and it is willing to offer Canada an attractive deal. But he said his company was never given an opportunity to bid on the engine contract.

He said Allison heard about the project through helicopter manufacturers that were bidding on the airframe part of the deal. Allison knew that Canada would want an engine manufacturer to create jobs in Canada, so it approached Canadian officials to find out if its plans for creating Canadian jobs were in line with what Canada was seeking.

Mr. Harvey said his company is considering building a plant in Canada and expanding its relationship with Standard Aero Ltd. of Winnipeg, which services Allison engines.

He also said that, unlike Pratt and Whitney, his company would not have had to seek development funds from the Canadian Government since the development work has already been done on the Allison engine.

But Mr. Harvey said that when he met with Canadian officials in the fall of 1983, they told him that it was already decided that Pratt and Whitney’s new engine would be used in later models of the newhelicopter. He said the project was announced about 10 days later, in October, 1983.

Clifford Mackay, director-general of the federal Government’s electronics and aerospace branch, said there has been a change in department staff since October, 1983, and he is not aware of what transpired between Allison and Government officials of that time.

The decision to use the Pratt and Whtiney engine was a commercial one made between Pratt and Bell, he said.

An official at Bell in Fort Worth refused to comment on that.

But an internal federal Government document indicates that Canada had already decided on using the Pratt engine in the new helicopter before it chose Bell as the helicopter manufacturer. Indeed, Bell’s willingness to accept the new Canadian-financed engine was advanced as an argument for choosing Bell, the document shows.

The French manufacturer Aerospatiale was willing to use the new Pratt engine in some of the helicopters that it proposed to produce in Canada, but it did not want to commit itself to use the new engine exclusively.

Philippe Orsetti, executive vice-president of Aerospatiale, said that although he has a high regard for Pratt and Whitney engines, his company wanted to wait and see how the new engine turned out before committing itself.

Mr. Orsetti said it might have been wiser for Canada to opt for the already established Allison engine, if Allison was willing to move some of its operations to Canada.

Mr. Orsetti, who has looked at drawings for the new Pratt engine, said he does not believe it will offer any significant technological breakthrough. Unlike the earlier Pratt engine, the PT6, which was a revolutionary step in engine manufacturing, the new Pratt engine will not offer much more than existing engines, he said. “It’s going to be more modern of course, but it’s not revolutionary,” Mr. Orsetti said. “It’s not the engine of tomorrow. It’s the engine of today.” Mr. Smith of Pratt and Whitney Canada said his company also hopes to sell the new engine to manufacturers other than Bell.

Canada’s $100-million contribution will cover 30 to 40 per cent of the engine’s development costs, Mr. Smith said. The company will pay Canada a royalty averaging 2 to 3 per cent on sales.

Mr. Smith said that he is confident that the depressed helicopter market will pick up and that the project will create about 1,000 new jobs in Montreal.

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Consider the Invicta watches review to buy the best watches

When it comes to the watch making firms the Invicta Watch group has long been one of the most popular and reputed firm to designing and making the top quality time pieces. This respected watch making firm is based out of Florida, however all the movements of the firm is featured in Swiss. The firm was firstly started in Switzerland as it is established by the finder Raphael Picard in La Chaux de fonds that is way back in the year 1837.

Since then this firm has launched a number of luxurious watch brands such as Porger-Pietri, S. Coifman, and Technica and so on. This is the history behind the Invicta watch group.

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So it is very difficult to find the one that best suits with your needs and desires. In such situation you can make use of the online websites that will offer the reliable and trustworthy invicta watch review. Before buying the invicta watches it is very essential to consider some factors such as prices, designs, features, colors and also sizes of the watches. To any watch collection the Invicta time pieces are the fantastic additions and it should be considered by the people those who are looking for the nice and attractive time pieces to wear on regular basis and also occasionally.

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The invicta time pieces for Men is the ideal gifts options for those coming age anal do looking for the best time pieces. The cast variety of models of the Invicta time pieces collections can make finding the perfect one would be adventure, so you need to do some thorough research via the online web sites, before making your final decisions on choosing the Invicta watch’s models for men.

You can also read the invicta watches review to know more info about the various models available in this particular brand. So many men’s accessories provides either quality, taste or functionality, but only few offers all the three in one package that are fits with a wide variety of preferences. Luckily the most attractive and impressive quality of the Invicta time pieces are their universal appeals.

 So many online reviews of the Invicta watch of stylish composition includes the ideas that are look might appear trendy, however still it will appears as the stylish and fashionable in another decades. This is because the Invicta watch group produces the men’s time pieces that are specifically designed for the life styles of man.

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The offerings are becoming sweeter in fashion watches

Everywhere Dina Crisco goes, she is reminded of how challenging her job can be.

Everything has a clock on it these days – even your microwave,” says Crisco, vice president of brand management for the designer timepiece category at Geneva Watch Co. in Long Island City, N.Y. “So you have to be realistic that few people have to have a watch. The main reasons most people are still wearing watches is either because they’re a status symbol or because they’re a fashion accessory.”

The former reason has led to an unprecedented surge in the prestige watch category. Women’s fine watch sales spiked 10 percent last year to $2 billion, while sales of luxury watches that retail for more than $25,000 jumped 25 percent to $150 million, according to The LGI Network, a Randolph, N.J.-based independent audit firm that measures the sales performance of watch and jewelry brands at retail.

The news has been different for the fashion watch category. It has experienced lackluster returns in the U.S. in recent years, according to many industry executives.

In its 2005 annual report, for example, Fossil Inc. stated that its domestic watch sales decreased 2.1 percent, principally as a result of a 10 percent decline in its Fossil brand watch sales and a 17.6 percent decline in its Relic brand watch sales. The Richardson, Tex.-based firm attributed the losses to a cyclical shift in consumer discretionary spending patterns away from the category. It added that it believed consumer spending would cycle back to it. Fossil is not alone in its optimism.

Today there is a growing buzz in the fashion watch segment, spurred on by the influx of new, highly desirable designer names that combine status and creativity, by the addition of new innovative offerings that emulate the look of fine watches at more affordable prices as well as by the changing attitudes of American women toward investing to build a watch wardrobe.

The evolution of the watch industry in the last 20 years has changed dramatically,” says Crisco, who reported a 3 percent uptick in spring sales at retail for Geneva and who oversees brands there that include Betsey Johnson, BCBG and Kenneth Cole. “In the Eighties there were really only three categories of watches – fine, fashion and moderate – and the fashion category was pretty much dominated by Swatch. Now you have all these brands joining the category in the last few years, taking over the marketing position moderate companies once had. It’s making the competition fierce, but it’s also creating more hype.”

In 2006 four fashion brands joined the category that already includes Betsey Johnson, BCBG, Kenneth Cole, Michael Michael Kors, DKNY, Burberry, Rocawear, Coach, Just Cavalli, Moschino, Calvin Klein and Guess, among many others. The four fashion brands include Hugo Boss and Juicy Couture, which introduced timepieces in June and October, respectively, under a licensing agreement with Movado Group Inc. in Paramus, N.J.; L.A.M.B, which added watches in a deal with Costa Mesa, Calif.-based firm the Vestal Group in July, and Marc by Marc Jacobs, which launched timepieces under an agreement with Fossil in August. Prices for the watches typically come in under $750 retail, with Hugo Boss costing from $195 to $695, Juicy averaging around $275 to $350, L.A.M.B. going for $195 to $475 and Marc by Marc Jacobs selling from $125 to $300.

Spring also ushered in the rise of the plastic sport watch, the latest high-low marriage. These timepieces, which emulate details found on fine men’s sport watches in plastic designs that open at around $150, have been snapped up at retailers like Scoop, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, and based on successful sell-throughs watchmakers are preparing to continue to offer fresh interpretations heading into the next season.

New fashion brands like ToyWatch, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Juicy Couture are experiencing high weekly sell-through percentages,” says Elizabeth Kanfer, fashion market director at Saks Fifth Avenue. “Customers are looking for newness and the ability for watches to offer personal expression, fun and a status symbol. ”

Kanfer adds that it’s not just brands like ToyWatch, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Juicy that have inspired women to buy these days.

“The watch industry as a whole has begun to cater more to a woman’s fashion point of view,” says Kanfer, citing luxury brands as well, like Michele Watches with its interchangeable colorful bands, Chanel timepieces and Cartier, which launched its La Doa watch this year to complement its steady business with its Tank and Santos Demoiselles styles.

Russell Orlando, vice president fashion director for accessories and juniors at Macy’s, says he believes over recent years that customers have traded up to higher-end watches.

“The innovation in the fashion watch category was amazing a few years ago and then it began to slide off,” says Orlando. “I think because of that it lost the customer because the customer decided to upgrade in the category and spend the extra money to get an entry-level Swiss watch or even a fine watch. But the business is turning around. What’s driving it are watches that offer interpretations of high-end Swiss watches with details like black ceramic bracelets or pieces that look more like jewelry than merely a functional design, like what you see by Michael Kors and Betsey Johnson.”

Sebastiano Di Bari, managing director in the U.S. for Italy’s Sector Group, says the two trends are central to designs the firm is creating for spring for its fashion watch brands like Moschino, Benetton, Just Cavalli, Roberto Cavalli and Valentino.

“I think the general trend out there is that the customer is growing up,” says Di Bari. “Customers like the feeling of having a higher-end watch at a low price, or they are looking for a watch that goes with an outfit as an accessory, so it has to be more flashy, seasonal and fashionable, and having a designer name attached to it is very important.”

He says perceiving watches as an accessory can be a challenge because in order to create them successfully firms have to react very fast to adapt to different trends, and turn around merchandise three or four times a year, similar to the apparel business. With these challenges, however, comes opportunity, he adds.

“Where I grew up in Italy, watches are considered more of an accessory,” says Di Bari. “Italian women often own seven or eight watches. American women, on the other hand, might own two or three. But that is slowly changing as women are buying more watches and are beginning to seewatches like they see their bags or shoes. So we think there is great opportunity for growth here.”

Caroline Faivet, president of Swatch Group U.S. Inc., says she often hears concerns regarding time being available from sources other than watches.

“At the end of the day, however, it is the bottom line that speaks louder than a few observations, and our sales are up,” says Faivet. “In other parts of the world, in Europe and Asia, for example, people have a watch wardrobe. Americans are now getting a taste of what it is like to have a watch wardrobe and I think it’s because of the influx in the fashion watch category. No one has an opera cell phone or a BlackBerry they take trail riding or hiking. On the flip side, there are watches for all occasions and every lifestyle.”

Saks’ Kanfer agrees: “Women have responded to the watch industry learning to cater to their fashion point of view more by buying and wearing more than an everyday and evening watch. The fashion watch category is today more about color and trend versus price point.”

That has enabled some firms to push the price points in this category, at least according to Cindy Livingston, president and chief executive officer of Callanen International, the Norwalk, Conn.-based unit of Timex Corp., which owns the license for Guess watches.

Livingston says when Swatch watches first hit, they were around $35. When Guess came on the scene shortly after it sold its watches for around $38. Today Guess price points range from $75 to $500, with Guess Collection, a group of Swiss-made watches, retailing for up to $1,000. Upping value, while moving units, has helped contribute to expectations of double-digit increases for spring.

It has also enabled other firms to push the envelope on the definition of what a fashion watch is.

“When it comes to the fashion watch category, you can’t define it by a specific look,” says Rudy Theale, president of the licensing division at Vestal, which also produces watches for Rocawear and Paul Frank. “Some people are street chic, some are more urban and so on. You can define it by a price point, but when you look at that price point it’s become a huge spread that ranges from maybe $95 to $1,000, so with a brand like L.A.M.B. that offers a couture feel, you can get away with targeting a higher price and creating with more expensive elements like enamel detailing and Swiss manufacturing.”

Alex Cushing, vice president of Fossil development and sales in the U.S., says having that range of creativity within the category will be crucial for its turnaround.

“The shift toward other forms like PDAs and cell phones to fulfill the functional timekeeping role is certainly undeniable,” says Cushing. “However, this shift means that to maintain the watch’s relevance, fashion has become more important than ever before. As watch manufacturers, we need to focus even more on personal expression, rather than simply owning the real estate on the wrist.”

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Time to grow up: fashion watches

The fashion watch market is taking a serious direction in 1990. Coming off a decade that saw the market flooded with novelty timepieces and dramatic sales increases, the fashion watch industry has headed into the Nineties with a more mature outlook.

While executives say there is always a place for novelty watches, that market is narrowing, and quality time-pieces featuring sophisticated looks will set the pace for growth in the Nineties.

Over the past six years, retail sales of fashion watches in department stores grew from an estimated $50 million to current sales of about $500 million, according to industry sources.

Some retailers and suppliers add, however, that the pace has slowed over the past 18 months. While most attribute this more to an overall lag in retail sales, some see it as a result of too much emphasis on novelty watches.

Sales of Swatch watches, the line from Swiss conglomerate SMH that’s universally credited with igniting the fashion watch business with its popular-priced plastic numbers, have declined over the last year and a half, according to Richard Shriner, vice president of marketing and sales for Swatch Watch USA, the firm’s U.S. subsidiary.

Since the whole fashion watch business hasn’t been healthy, our decline is actually less than that of the industry as a whole,” Shriner claimed, although he declined to cite figures. Many industry sources say the line still commands about 20 percent of U.S. fashion watch business.

Shriner noted that many of its novelty watches, with such treatments as oversized plastic cases with wide fabric bands, had felt the impact of increased competition. “A few years ago, we didn’t see the number of manufacturers marketing novelty low-priced watches that we do now.” For fall, Shriner said Swatch will concentrate on more heavily promoting its metal and leather lines, which are priced above its plastic watches.

Industry executives concur that future growth in fashion watches will occur at many price levels, from timeless luxury-inspired styles to whimsical popular-priced novelty watches.

“Right now, there’s really no one look or price range that is the leader in fashion watches, and I think that will continue,” said Jane Tuma, vice president and fashion director of accessories at Saks Fifth Avenue.

“Consumers are looking for variety — from fine classically styled watches that will last forever, to fun fashion looks that you wear for a season or two,” Tuma said.

“There is still a strong demand for diversity in fashion watches,” said Ken Monroe, vice president and general merchandise manager of accessories at Marshall Field’s, Chicago.

Nevertheless, industry executives expect retailers to approach the watch business more cautiously in the Nineties. Trends can heat up and cool off in quick order.

Retailers couldn’t keep Soviet-in-spired and actual Russian-made watches in stock when they first hit the market last July, but by the Christmas selling season, the enthusiasm at some stores had ebbed. In January, for example, Macy’s Herald Square had markdowns of between 30 and 45 percent in the Paketa Soviet watch line.

However, Alan Tucker, president of Time Exchange, the U.S. firm that markets the Russian-made line, contended the popularity of the watches has not diminished and he has gotten reorders from several key retailers.

Tuma at Saks pointed out that when it comes to fads of any sort “you’ve got to run with it at the right time, and then you’ve got to bail out when it’s no longer hot.”

While diversity is key, retailers and suppliers can cite some segments of the watch business they see emerging as leaders in 1990.

Jewelry-inspired watches are one category retailers say is growing. Anne Klein has traditionally been a leader in this area, but the line is now getting competition from newer resources, such as Monet and Carolee.

Jewelry firms are finding that branching out into watches is an easy transition. “Merchandisingwatches and jewelry together makes a stronger statement,” said Carolee Friedlander, owner of Carolee Designs, Greenwich, Conn. Her firm introduced watches a year ago.

Carolee’s bracelet and pendant watches, which wholesale from $75 to $175, did close to $2 million in wholesale volume the first year, she said.

Joanne Hart, fashion director of accessories at Macy’s Northeast, said jewelry-inspired watches are a key classification. Among brands she cited were Monet, Gottex and Anne Klein.

The Anne Klein watch line, which wholesales from $45 to $90, is also a top seller at Marshall Field’s, said Monroe. “I think it’s partly due to a strong designer-name recognition on the part of the consumer.”

Mark Odenheimer, vice president of Sutton Time, New York, the firm which has held the license for Anne Klein watches for 15 years, said sales have grown fourfold since 1986.

Sources put annual sales of Anne Klein watches at around $25 million.

The firm also markets a number of whimsical styles, including its Garfield and Fido Dido watch lines, wholesaling from $12.50 to $30, and produced under licensing agreements with United Media Licensing, New York.

Some industry executives point to the Guess watch as an example of the enormous volume that a line can capture. Although the line is only five years old, current wholesale volume is in the neighborhood of “about $50 million,” according to Mickey Callanen, president of The Callanen Group, Norwalk, Conn., which holds the license for Guess as well as Monet watches.

Callanen attributed most of the growth to the strong consumer name recognition. The Guess line wholesales from $14.50 to $47.50 with most styles priced at under $30, and Monet wholesales from $25 to $47.

Gucci and Fendi are among other lines that have gained prominence. Over the past few years Gucci retail sales have increased dramatically, and the newer Fendi watch line has received a good response, retailers said.

Many sources attribute the favorable response to a growing consumer interest in designer-namewatches.

Fendi is produced under a licensing agreement with Ultima Brands, Marlboro, N.J. The line, which was launched in August of 1988, wholesales from $125 to $375. In 1989, Fendi watches did about $22.5 million wholesale, according to Thomas Venables, president of Ultima Brands.

“Our U.S. wholesale volume increased from $5 million to $75 million in less than 10 years,” said Steve Hitter, chief marketing officer for The Severin Group, a Swiss-based firm that holds the license for Gucci watches.

Hitter said current top sellers in the 15-year-old line, which is distributed from its Irvine, Calif., office, include round watches with leather straps and cuff-style bracelet watches. Wholesale prices in the line range from $95 to $450.

“Our market research shows that when people talk about buying a status watch, one of the names they cite is Gucci,” asserted Hitter. “But since many of our styles are set to retail for less than $200, it’s really an affordable luxury status symbol.” He said the firm is projecting sales to increase 13 percent over last year.

The industry’s more serious attitude is not stifling new watch lines. Set to launch this spring are Perry Ellis Watches, a licensed line from CSC Time, Rockville Centre, N.Y., and Swisstime, the newest division of SMH.

This is the first time that Perry Ellis International has licensed its name for fashion watches, according to a spokeswoman for the firm. Bernie Costelli, vice president of sales for CSC Time, said 25 Perry Ellis styles, wholesaling from $47.50 to $97.50, will be introduced at the March market. The firm is projecting a first-year wholesale volume of $2.5 million for the line, he said.

Pat Quigley, president of Swisstime, said a full product launch, which had been scheduled for January, has been delayed until May. He attributed the delay to unexpectedly high demand and to a request from retailers for advertising support.

The line of watches wholesales from $22.50 to $62.50 and features classic metal and leather styles. Quigley said the firm is now planning on shipping 200,000 watches on May 1.

He said a limited test at Marshall Field’s for holiday did well, in part because the launch was supported with newspaper advertising. He said many retailers requested that Swisstime’s national advertising campaign be timed with the launch of the watches.

Swisstime is aiming at first-year sales of $33 million, a marked increase from the firm’s initial projection last December of $5 million. “I was being cautious in the beginning because of my newness to the industry, but because the initial response has been so good, we’ve had to rework our figures,” he said.

Moreover, in addition to the rash of newcomers to the watch industry, some of the oldest U.S. watch firms are moving more aggressively into the fashion watch business.

Bulova Corp. in New York and Timex in Waterbury, Conn., are two firms with over 100 years in the watch business each who see an opportunity for growth in the fashion market.

Bulova, which last year entered the fashion watch market in a limited way with its Classic Moments collection, a joint venture between Bulova and Circle Fine Art, Chicago, Ill., is now shipping a new line of novelty watches for spring called Time Effects by Bulova, using the logo TFX on all face designs.

Rob Ryan, vice president of marketing for the firm, commented: “Retailers want to deal with people who are in the watch business, not somebody who was in handbags last year and will be in scarves next year.

“Rather than introducing new styles only during traditional market periods, we will respond to the fashion trends as they happen and introduce styles throughout the year.”

Ryan said the firm is expecting strong sales in the line’s initial offerings, which include themes such as Dynamix, featuring futuristic, high-energy designs, and Escapes, which features New Age-inspired nature scenes on the dials.

Wholesale prices in the TFX line range from $20 to $34.95.

Dave Rahilly, vice president for U.S. marketing and sales for Timex, noted the firm is going after department store business with a renewed emphasis.

“When the fashion watch business really started to take off in the early Eighties, Timex added a professional fashion design staff and tried to build a fashion watch business. But because there were so many status names on the market, it was very tough to convince consumers that Timex can stand for fashion as well as for quality,” Rahilly said.

He said the new line being introduced this spring is designed to key into current fashion and cultural trends. Called Images, the line will feature 15 styles, including such ideas as oversized bezels with either metal or black leather straps, and black matte metal dials with bright geometric accents. Thewatches will wholesale from $17.50 to $25.

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Mixed metals: across the board, metals are a hot category – but which tone do you wear?

A two-tone trend in women’s wrist watches appears to be a strong one for the upcoming 1996 holiday season. The two-tone style in watches allows the wearer greater flexibility to wear either gold or silver jewelry, according to Perry Ellis Watches Pres Charles Kriete. Kriete notes that women’swatches are slimming down their silhouettes, with smaller cases and faces. Product linesincorporating two-tone designs by several other watch manufacturers are discussed.

Metals are a white-hot category for holiday watches across the board.
 Two-tones remain strong, with women opting for them because they match with other jewelry from either tone. And while upscale stores are turning to gold, silver tones continue to grow in popularity when it comes to fashion watches. Gold seems relegated to more dressy occasions.

The two-tone trend has been going on for a while lately, because it gives you that flexibility to wear silver or gold jewelry,” said Charles Kriete, president of Perry Ellis Watches, a division of CSC Time.

“It makes it a little more understated, as well,” he noted. “All-gold is flashier.”

The line’s all-gold business has, continued to decrease, he noted. There has been a growth in the market with the company’s all-silver product, especially the silver mesh and silver sports models.

Kriete said the Perry Ellis sports looks are becoming dressier and more jewelry oriented. The two-tone metal bracelet category includes a sort watch with rotating bezels and some faceted crystals.

Silhouettes are slimming down for women, he said, with smaller faces and cases. Bracelets continue to get stronger, as well.

Leather straps are slow, Kriete said. “Far and away, two-tone is the leader in sales for both men’s and women’s.”

Metals range from $30 to $40 in the Perry Ellis line.

At Guess Watches, vice president of marketing Floy Wakuya said, “The metal category is just booming.”

Guess ventured into the metal business about three years ago, when the category was just two percent of its business, Wakuya said. Now, she said, it is about W percent.

“What we really started with was gold and two-tone, because the silver trend wasn’t there yet,” Wakuya said. “The two-tone outsells the gold, probably because when people buy it for a gift, they’re not sure if it’s for a gold person or a silver person. It has a broader appeal.”

Currently, the silver mesh is outselling the gold mesh.

For holiday, Guess has a diverse line of metals, from the very dressy to sportier looks in Waterpro.

These categories include all silhouettes. “We go from the petite to the bolder Eft and from dressy to sporty,” Wakuya said.

She noted that talk of bolder pieces would likely influence their next design evolution.

Metals start at $27.5O and go to $S57.5O with the Waterpro chronograph styles.

At Fossil, executive vice president Richard Gundy said, “We are really excited about fall holiday business. This is the time to have the right anmmunition.”

About 7O percent of its business is during this season, Gundy said, and the biggest thrust will be the Fossil Blue sport watches. These are water resistant, with about @O percent designed with metal straps and @O percent designed with leather straps.

The metal trend is strong, not only in sport but m casual and dress-up. One category Fossil plans to aggressively promote for holiday is the Adjus-o-matic, which has a metal band with removable links for sizing.

“There’s just so much excitement in metal watches light now-we’re enjoying what’s going on,” Gundy said. “Were feel really good about the third and fourth quarters, and our bookings are starting to reflect that.”

At Timex, advertising director Susie Watson said, “We see silver as the number one metal for holiday. It’s been going strong all year.”

Watson feels the trend toward silver might have stemmed from the use of the metal in accessories by designers such as Donna Karan and Calvin Keiein.

“But gold is definitely not doing as well as the other metals in department stores, she said. “It would be a different story at mass. Gold and bi-metal are bigger at mass than silver, where we have a less trendy shopper.”

While Watson said metal bands have been hotter than in years past, they still haven’t outsold the leathers. In the wake of the metal wave, she said the Timex line will include more metal styles in its ladies fashion watches than this time last year, especially under the Timex Essential slabel

The wholesale range for Timex metals is $20 to $30.

At Sutton Time, the makers of Anne Klein and Anne Klein II, Susan Binney, executive director of advertising and marketing, said the Anne Klein line supports trends in jewelry.

“The silver-tone has picked up, and it makes a lot of sense. In jewelry, platinum, white gold and sterling have been good,” Binney said.

She noted, “I don’t really think there’s a most popular metal. It depends upon the region. What’s nice is they’ve all kind of evened themselves out. What’s really grown is the all-silver.”

Binney noted that there is a sense of newness to the holiday looks. “I think dress is the area for growth now. It has to be feminine, with a sense of softness to it. It has to complement a woman’s wardrobe and sense of taste, and it has to be beautiful.”

The Anne Klein line includes examples of the dressier watches in the Eclipse collection, which has silver, two-tone and gold, some encrusted with crystal stones and others in boxed sets. The sterling silver collection is also in this vein, according to Binney.

Anne Klein watches wholesale from $45 to $105.

At Carolee Designs, sterling silver watches are being added to existing watch lines for fall/holiday, prompted by healthy sales of the company’s sterling silver jewelry collection.

President Carolee Friedlander, said, “It’s a very tasteful way to produce what we think is the luxury end of Carolee.”

Friedlander said the line will include some styles with bands of chunky, hand-made links. All the sterling silver watches will include Swiss movements and will wholesale at a higher price point than the other watches ranging from $100 to $225.

In general, she said, Carolee watches look good with her jewelry because they have similar details.

As a jewelry company, we approach watches as jewelry that tells time,” she said. “Instead of watch closings, we’ll use oversized spring rings or ornamentation on clasps. We use a blue imitation sapphire cabachon on the crown.”

Friedlander said the two-tone metals present a unique design opportunity. “On two-tones specifically, we try to make it more jewelry-like,” she said. “I think that customer is more of a professional woman who wants it to go with both her gold and silver Jewelry.”

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Watching out for novelty

Watch manufacturers are thinking positive for spring. Whether introducing more technically advanced designs or sportier styling, they’re counting on novelty as the key to success and are expecting strong increases in sales.

Seiko will focus on continued promotion of the technical advancements it introduced for fall. “We will continue promoting the analogue watch — with an automatic generator rather than batteries — and the watch with a two-handed analogue chronograph alarm for spring,” said Hal Wilensky, executive vice president of Seiko.

Wilensky also expects the bulkier, sporty watch to continue selling well. “Women are choosing both man sized watch dials and oversized women’s dials,” he noted. Estimating increases in sales of between 5 percent and 7 percent, he added, “Spring is not usually our best season, but because women are changing their watches more frequently, sales are continuing strong throughout the year.”

According to Mickey Callanen, president of the Callanen Group, “Classic is still the number one look for spring.”

Guess will update its popular round case watch with a white face by casting the Roman numerals and band in red, blue green, and it retails for $50.

Callanen expectes bright colors to sell well for the season, “Women wear watches in bright spring colors to match their outfits.” He also predicted that Guess’s multifunctional watches, with date and time zone changes on the dials, will be strong for spring.

Projecting 40 percent increases in sales for the Guess line, Callanen said he felt sales would be strong for the Monet line as well. With sales 80 percent above projected figures for fall, its first season, Monet will feature a chain style for its first spring season.

“The increased space in stores has helped boost sales. It allows us to display our watches in the best possible way,” Callanen pointed out. “Macy’s was the first to give watches the space and funding, and it has really helped to maximize sales in the watch business.”

“Sports watches always become extremely popular for spring, because people are more active then,” said Steve Hitter, president of Fila Fortron Watches. He expects the F95 to be Fila’s bestseller due to the colors and relatively inexpensive price. Made of plastic in a variety of seasonal colors (aqua, pink, red, white or blue), the watch retails under $100.

Hitter projects as much as a 250 percent increase over last spring’s sales, and citing the lines official worldwide launch this November Hitter, too, sees both classic and novelty styling as popular trends for the new season.

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Perfect timing

The novelty tide in fashion watches is subsiding, according to manufacturers, who say they see a return to traditional calssics, along with continuing strength in antique looks.

We never got into that fun look,” said Diane McGowen, vice president of production, Carol Dauplaise, New York. “All we’ve really ever done is classic, and I think that look is going to be even more important now.” McGowen said “retro looks like chronographs” featured in the Dauplaise line “are very strong.”

McGowen, who projected a 12 percent increase this year, feels the fashion watch consumer is fairly price conscious. “Prices should be kept under $100 at retail,” she said, reflecting one school of thought in the market. “People don’t go to a fashion watch counter to spend more than that. In fact, we’ve found that $65 to $75 is deal for volume.” Carol Dauplaise watches wholesale from $32 to $50.

Bud Polley, vice president of the Callanen Group in South Norwalk, Conn., agrees. “There seems to be somewhat of a softness in that Swatch look now. I think the trend is very strong toward classics now.”

Polley said that “classic looks with leather straps represent about 75 percent of our business.” In May market, he said, the Callanen Group is introducing about 15 new styles, and adding green, navy and wine to the color pallete. “We’re continuing with that retro-classic feel, with the multimovement, chronograph dials and moons. We’re also doing dressier basics.”

As for price, Polley commented: “$35 to $75 is best for volume.” He noted his firm’s watches wholesale from $24 to $32.50, and he projected a 35 percent increase in sales for 1988.

Christian Dior Watches, however, caters to a different fashion customer, according to company vice president, Jim DeMattei. “We have a fashion customer at a fine jewelry price point. We’ve been able to attract the $300 and $400 customer, who is less fickle than the trendy customer.” The Christian Dior watch line wholesales from $122.50 to $362.50.

DeMattei, who projected a 35 percent increase, said the Dior offerings for fall are tailored, whith fashion details like scalloping on tank styles.

Gucci Timepieces has a similar clientele, according to director of marketing, Steve Hitter. “Our customer will pay more for quality and a name,” he said. Hitter said Gucci watches wholesale from $97.50 to $1,000, and he projected increases of 25 percent over 1987.

Hitter, too, sees strength in classics for fall. “The variety in the business is great,” he said, “but there is definitely a trend in classics.”

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Plastic fantastic watchmakers have set aside some play time this spring

The latest craze in watches is proving that time doesn’t always have to be precious.

Cheap-chic watches that emulate details found on fine men’s sport styles in affordable plastic designs have created a buzz on the retail floor. Many industry executives say they haven’t seen this kind of buzz since Swatch premiered its Swiss-manufactured plastic Swatch watches in 1983. Swatch watches sparked a fad that evolved into a lifestyle brand. The pioneers behind today’s lightweight plastic watches are hoping they can do the same. They are gearing up to offer new models with new features for spring.

There are many imitators in the market now, but we plan to stay ahead with innovation, and by being what Kleenex is to tissues,” says Randy Gordon, chief executive officer of ToyWatchUSA, the Chicago distributor in the Americas and Japan of ToyWatch, which spearheaded the recent plastic watch trend when it was launched out of Milan last fall.

Gordon, who introduced the trend to U.S. retailers in spring at $150 to $300 retail, estimates thewatches have had more than 40 percent sell-throughs at stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, among others. ToyWatches feature acrylic link straps, oversize cases, bezels often embellished with Swarovski crystals, mother-of-pearl faces and other details like chronographs.

“Several models are back-ordered,” he says. “We can’t make them fast enough.”

To maintain the momentum, ToyWatch is offering new designs for spring. These include watcheswith automatic movements, as opposed to only battery-operated quartz movements, to mirror the inner working of fine watches more closely, as well as models in chocolate brown, a trendy color for fine watches now.

Observing the rise of plastic timepieces beginning 18 months ago in Italy, Ali Soltani, president of Ritmo Mundo watch company in Los Angeles and Milan, was inspired to create Drops, a secondary line of polycarbonate watches retailing from $120 to $200. The first shipment of chronographs and other styles with bracelet straps in red, blue or black hit Neiman Marcus this fall.

Soltani plans to add mother-of-pearl faces and crystal and diamond accents for spring’s collection of chronograph and fashion styles in black, red or silver with rubber, polycarbonate or leather straps. He hopes that a polycarbonate watch featuring a tourbillion that retails under $5,000 will create a sensation.

“We want it to be like buying a Ferrari at 1/20th of the price,” says Soltani, who adds that the watch parts for Drops are manufactured in China and assembled in Switzerland.

Ben Feigenbaum, president of Locman USA, a designer watch firm with headquarters in Italy, also jumped on the trend in 2006 with Elba Team, a collection of watches with polycarbonate and stainless steel cases, enamel dials, bold graphics and resin straps that retail from $195 to $295 at accounts like Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York and Bloomingdale’s. Three variations include round and square cases, but the chronograph styles in black, blue or pink top sales. Spring expansions will range from new colors to a round watch case with diamonds that will retail for less than $1,000 at Bloomingdale’s.

“It’s important to us to offer totally original designs,” says Feigenbaum.

After being launched in January, it took six months for Milan-based Grimoldi’s VaBene division of acrylic watches to land Stateside, according to spokeswoman Ana Martins. Its Superstar style with pink, blue or white mother-of-pearl faces and Swarovski crystals at the indicators and bezel retails from $145 to $220 at Neiman Marcus. Spring’s items are an all-white chronograph with a rose gold bezel, and a watch with a pink dial and bezel on a clear strap.

“The luxury customer understands the irony and happiness of a high-fashion plastic watch,” says Martins.

The larger scale and classic design make plastic watches cooler and more of a statement than what we have seen in the past,” she says.

According to Greg Thumm, senior vice president of product development for Fossil Inc., Richardson, Tex., women’s interest in what he calls “boyfriend” sports watches is what is driving the trend.

But this twist of combining luxury and common materials takes the another-sports-watch edge off in a sea of sameness in the fashion watch department,” he says.

In October, Fossil shipped 10 acrylic and stainless steel looks with the company’s patented Smart Link engineering and signature vintage styling.

Round cases and bracelets in clear, pink or orange, and a chronograph in silver, black and red retail for $105.

“We predict this category will do very well for fourth quarter and hopefully retailers will build up inventory for an even larger spring sell-through,” says Thumm.

Scoop co-owner Stefani Greenfield says ToyWatch’s pieces retailing between $150 and $250 have blown out on its Web site, and at each store location that carries them, from East Hampton, N.Y., to Miami. Bestsellers are masculine, oversize chronographs with mother-of-pearl faces, crystals and clear straps.

But we probably won’t carry it forever as it grows more mainstream, and because it’s not our main business,” says Greenfield.

Andrew Jassin, managing director of Jassin O’Rourke, a fashion consulting company in New York, says saturation could be the trend’s death shortly after the holidays, though plastic watches are here to stay.

“They’ve been around since post-World War II,” he says, attributing their main appeal to offering a luxurious perk at a significantly lower cost. “But strong design and branding could ensure this round’s continuation.”

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