Watches Remain Vital to U.S. Consumers

Watches remain important to most U.S. adults, especially women, despite some indications that use of handheld devices—like cell phones and iPods—as time tellers may be growing, says a 2006 national survey by The Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council. Most survey respondents, including young adults, own two or more watches, believe wristwatches are important as fashion accessories and for use at work, and say they’ll continue wearing watches in the future.

The survey, conducted in August 2006, examined the watch-buying habits and expectations of 7,182 JCOC consumer panelists, more than 80 percent of whom were women. JCOC charted opinions in two categories: the entire group of respondents (ages 18 to 65), and young adults (those 18 to 24 years of age, 8 percent of the total). Most of the group (61 percent) were between 25 and 50 years of age.

JCOC found that the overwhelming majority of both groups—91 percent of the total and 84 percent of young adults—own a watch. Many own more than one. About half (47 percent of all, 52 percent of young adults) own two or three watches, while 30 percent of the group and 15 percent of young adults own four or more. More than half (55 percent of all surveyed, 57 percent of young adults) own watches made of precious metals.

Compared with the group as a whole, a larger percentage of young adults had bought a watch in the previous six months (30 percent vs. 25 percent). Four-fifths of both the total and the young-adult segment said the most important watch features are accurate time-telling, followed in priority by water resistance, scratch resistance, and date display.

Seventy-five percent of respondents and 63 percent of young adults wear a watch daily or nearly every day. More than 75 percent of each group have a watch specifically for everyday use as well as (by priority) for formal/special occasions, the workplace, accessorizing, and sports. Sixty-four percent of the group and 72 percent of young adults view watches as a fashion accessory —not surprising, perhaps, considering that most respondents were women.

The JCOC study also tried to determine to what extent handheld devices are used instead of watches to get the time. It found such use small but growing.

A small percentage of consumers (9 percent of the total and 16 percent of people ages 18 to 24) told JCOC they don’t own a watch. Of those, a sizable minority (22 per-cent of the main group and 42 percent of young adults) said the reason is that they specifically use handhelds to get the time.

Of those who own a watch but don’t wear it daily, 38 percent of all respondents and 60 percent of young adults get the time from a handheld (theirs or someone else’s) when they don’t have a watch, and 46 percent of all respondents and 30 percent of young adults check a clock.

However, 70 percent of the total group and 71 percent of young adults told JCOC they believe “wearing a watch is more professional than using a cell phone or iPod to tell time.” And most—73 percent of the group and 63 percent of young adults—said they expect to continue wearing a watch daily or nearly every day in the future.

Participants in JCOC’s study, in addition to being overwhelmingly female and Caucasian, were well educated. Forty-six percent of the total group and 48 percent of young adults had some college education or an associate or bachelor’s degree. Twenty-three percent of the overall group and 27 percent of young adults were high school graduates. One point of difference between young adults and the larger group was marital status: 55 percent of the group was married but only 21 percent of young adults were.