JCK Las Vegas 2008 Watch Trends

As always, JCK Las Vegas is a valuable source for retailers looking for quality watch brands that they can sell exclusively in their markets.

A number of foreign brands, some specializing in mechanical watches, officially launched themselves into the U.S. watch market, the world’s largest and most lucrative, at the JCK show this year. They include Obaku (Danish, minimalist styling), Orient (Japan’s largest mechanical watchmaker), Kadloo (German, Swiss movements), Montroa (Korean, Swiss-made), D.Factory (Korean, a casual lifestyle brand from Samsung Watch Co.), Meyers (French, Swiss-made), Azimuth (Singapore-owned, Swiss-made), Morellato, Bello & Preciso and Brosway (three of a number of Italian watch brands, new to the U.S. market).

It wasn’t all foreign brands. New U.S. brands at the JCK Las Vegas show include Dunamis, large Swiss-made couture diamond watches (by jeweler Jason of Beverly Hills), and Bathys Hawaii, whose Swiss-made watches include Lunar Wahine (a women’s line) and a new 47mm titanium diver’s watch. E. Gluck (parent of Armitron) introduced two new fashion watch brands, the stylistically-innovative Lucky Brand and the very dressy Badgley Mischka watches.

Jewelry designers are also adding their same-named luxury watch brands, designed by themselves, including Christian Tse’s innovative gem set digital watches and Gert Hellmuth’s eye-catching timepieces.

The expansion of mechanical watches in the U.S. market continues, including by popularly-priced brands. Among the new timepieces were those debuted by leading private label watchmaker Belair, Bulova, Armitron, AK Anne Klein, IWC, Orient, Meyers, Bertolucci, Android, Giantto (including new Jimi Hendrix limited editions), IWC (father and son pilot’s watches), Montblanc and Wyler.

Miss France 2008, Valérie Bègue, shown with Philippe Belais, president and CEO of Bertolucci watches,
 appeared at the Swiss luxury watch’s booth at JCK Las Vegas in her new role as Bertolucci’s first-ever brand ambassador. 
(Photo by William G. Shuster)

Swiss-made Swatch Group-owned mid-priced Mido watches, offering mainly mechanical watches (70 percent), has re-launched in the U.S. market, after a long hiatus, targeting initially the Hispanic market.

A number of brands at the show also said they are expanding their markets or upgrading in quality and price, going after higher income consumers. They include Casio (aiming at jewelers, high-end department stores, with its Premiere G-Shock and thinner Oceanus), Vabene (including its $600 acrylic “Gold Dust” chronograph with interchangeable straps) Swiss Army (moving into the $600 to $1,000 range with “practical luxury,” more sophisticated case treatments and movements), Techno-Marine (moving upward with limited edition $11,000 analog-digital timepiece), Briel (with Swiss quartz Milano, $700 to $2,000, including 47mm unisex models) and restructured EganaGoldfpeil USA, which is promoting its Puma “sports lifestyle” watch brand and Cerruti 1881, aimed at jewelers, both Swiss-made.

“Green” watches were offered by IWC (with a percentage of proceeds donated to “Green” causes) and Wyler (whose newest chronograph is ‘carbon-neutral,’ i.e. the carbon dioxide produced in its manufacture is offset by donations to energy-saving projects).

“Chocolate’-color watches remain popular, too. Tasty eye-catchers at Las Vegas included those of Le Vian, AK Anne Klein and Hellmuth.

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