Battery Legislation Could Impact Watch Business

Industry groups are hoping to postpone three states’ ban on
mercury-added button-cell batteries, which have been used in watches.

Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut have all enacted
legislation that would bar mercury-added batteries effective July 1,
2011.  Maine, however, recently pushed back
the deadline to Jan. 1, 2012, and the American Watch Association and Jewelers of
America are hoping the other states will follow suit.

The two groups say the states need to consider batteries
that are already ”in the pipeline.”

“The concern is that retailers in these states are going to
get stuck with a bunch of perfectly harmless batteries,” said Emilio G. “Toby”
Collado, executive director of the American Watch Association. “Nobody is
saying there shouldn’t be a ban. No one
wants mercury in their batteries. Now technology has evolved so that they have
removed the mercury.”

But many retailers are already stocking
watches with the old batteries, Collado said, and with some of the high-end timepieces, it
could be difficult to remove them.

“We say let them use them up at least through the end of
December,” Collado said. “Otherwise they will be stuck with a loss.”

Collado also argued that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan
has disrupted supplies of mercury-free batteries to many watch companies.

Retailers in Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut can contact
legislators about this issue here.