An email recently arrived at the Europa Star office asking if we could recommend a fun, colourful ladies watch for a couple of hundred dollars. It was a good question, a question that millions of people ask themselves and retailers each year. But to be honest, we had been so wrapped up in mechanical watches, complications and the art of watchmaking, that an answer didn’t immediately come to mind. So for this issue, we have delved into the world of the fashion watch and have discovered a market bursting with colour and innovation.
The end of the copy cats
Once you have admired and handled high-end watches, it is easy to become a bit of a snob when it comes to fashion watches. In the past, many of the lower-end brands shamelessly copied the styles and designs of the luxury brands. However, all this seems to be changing as more and more fashion brands are developing their own design DNA and flair, much like costume jewellery designers have done in the jewellery industry.
One company that has always been at the forefront of the fashion watch industry is Swatch and the company has maintained an enormous following for almost 30 years now thanks to its fun and bright designs. Inspirations come from all kinds of sources, such as art, sports, animals, flowers, flags, graffiti and even James Bond. With hundreds, if not thousands, of different designs, customers can find a timepiece that appeals to their particular sense of style. Like with most fashion brands, Swatch is constantly introducing new models throughout the year to keep consumers interested and spending.
Another company that has its very own unique style is the Hong Kong based O.D.M. The company’s name stands for ‘original, dynamic and minimalist’ and its signature large digital display Daze watches are instantly recognisable. The brand was founded in 1999 and is now distributed in over 30 countries worldwide and has won several international design awards.
The brand is very focused on young people and is constantly inspired by what interests them. The Rainbow collection was prompted by the social media phenomenon and the fact that people love to share their thoughts and ideas with friends. The Rainbow watch allows each owner to input his or her own message so that it flashes up on the dial. It could be a reminder to call Grandma on her birthday or an inspirational quote.
Europa Star visited O.D.M recently at the Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair – see our report in this issue.
O.D.M, MICHELE WATCHES
A rainbow of colours
Colour is definitely the key word this year in the fashion watch segment with everything from primary and fluorescent colours to daring multicoloured timepieces. Bright colours are the perfect remedy for fighting the recession blues and a wonderful way to make a fashion statement. More and more watch collections are now available in a whole spectrum of hues and tones so there is plenty to choose from. For those who can’t decide which colour to chose (which is honestly quite difficult when faced with more than 20 colours) multicoloured, rainbow watches are also hugely popular and will certainly get noticed, and if that isn’t bold enough, fluorescent colours (that glow day and night) are also making a come back. Check out Michele Watches, Nixon, Rumba Time, Too Late, Lambretta and O.D.M.
If colour isn’t enough to excite watch consumers, many fashion brands are also including positive slogans to their collections to stimulate and inspire their clients. The Californian-based watch company Nixon is focused on giving a little extra to its brand with a philosophy that aims to create products that make you ‘feel like you’ve got a leg up on the rest of the world’ – a great mission statement to connect with young people in search of their very own style. Combine this with a vast palette of colours, bold shapes, interesting materials and different ways of telling the time and how could anyone not feel energized!
Seiko’s Appetime combines colour with a fun concept of elevator symbols - floor numbers, open doors, close doors, alarm telephone sign etc. – which are on the dial of each watch. The aim is to give each owner the delightful feeling of reaching his or her destination. The company’s slogan is ‘Are you going up or down? Or somewhere else?? Life is a choice’. Appetime also has a host of other collections that are equally fun and colourful to improve ones mood.
Combining time and art
A number of watch companies are joining forces with artists to create watches displaying an artist’s work across the dial and/or the strap. The concept is a great way for brands to benefit from the creativity and notoriety of an artist to enhance a timepiece.
Swatch was one of the first to introduce an artist/watch joint venture and now this concept is being reproduced by other brands in the creation of their collections too. This year Swatch’s ‘Special Artist’ collection includes watches by British artists: Gary Card and Carri Munden and Swatch Snowboard Pro Team member and designer David Benedek; Too Late is collaborating with the Italian artists Tony Ranidro and Andy; Nooka is working with a number of artists, including Undrcrwn and Matthew Waldman; and O.D.M has joined forces with the famous Parisian designer JCDC.
Interesting ways of reading the time
To create a unique way of displaying the time mechanically can be an expensive undertaking, but quartz movements allow a lot more freedom for watch companies to play around with different systems of showing the time. Binary readings have been quite popular for the last few years, and now new time displays are in vogue with the time being read on discs with coloured dots (Nixon), in round and rectangular windows that light up (Nooka) and also in semi-circle dials with different length hands (Levis Watches).
Pile it on
One craze that has been sweeping the jewellery industry is to wear several bracelets or bangles as the same time, mixing colours and metals. Previously, the only person who was able to afford to do this with watches was the late Nicolas G. Hayek, but with some fashion watches being as affordable as US$20 a piece, anyone can start piling on timepieces. Brands that have been seen in multiples on customers wrists are RumbaTime with its VanDam line and Swatch’s Colour Codes. Mixing metallic watches with bracelets and bangles is also very much in vogue.
So don’t be a watch snob, enjoy all the fun and fabulous things that are happening in the fashion watch segment. If you are a retailer, there has never been a better time to add some colour to your window displays. Bold new fashion watches will entice new and younger customers into your store and hopefully cheer up all your regular customers. And for consumers, and in particular our reader who asked us for some fun and colourful watch suggestions, we hope you find something you like in these pages to keep you cheerful through the winter months.
Source: Europa Star October - November 2010 Magazine Issue