Forget Switzerland. Can Tiffany Make New York Watches a Trend?

The retailer’s home city is now a selling point of its watch line

We all know Swiss watches. But at an investor presentation held on April 12, Tiffany’s senior vice president of strategy and business development, Jean-Marc Bellaiche, introduced a new concept—New York watches:

I don’t understand why people think the best luxury watches should only come from French, Swiss, and Italian brands. We are from New York, we have a great style and we can design [a] watch that have this clean, neat aesthetic and be different from all the other players.

We can also leverage the energy and aspiration from New York, what we called the New York Minutes in some of the video spots that you’ve probably seen. After all, this is probably the most known and desired city on earth.

Obviously, Switzerland is a potent brand in the watch business.   Tiffany tried to go the tradtiional Swiss route by launching a co-venture with Swatch. That didn’t work, so now Tiffany is now working on its own and hopes to make its watches’ New York City origins a selling point. (It does have a team in Switzerland working on and manufacturing the watches.)

Perhaps Tiffany has been inspired by Shinola, which often talks about making its watches in Detroit. (And, it’s safe to say, Detroit clearly does not have the same glamour or mystique of Switzerland.)

The investor day included an extensive presentation on Tiffany’s watch collection—more than any other Tiffany product category. Bellaiche thinks that, in the longer term, watches could comprise 5–10 percent of Tiffany’s sales, and may, once established, even end up in multibrand stores.

So can the Big Apple sell watches? Here is the New York Minute spot he referenced:

JCK News Director