JCK Show: The trend toward big watches

One watch trend was hard to miss at the 2002 JCK Las Vegas Show: the growing popularity of large-sized watches (usually 40 mm-46 mm in diameter) in the U.S. market. Among many mid- and upscale brands showing new or additional large-sized watches were Glycine (Swiss maker of large watches for almost a century), with its new Airman 7 (the largest, at 53mm), Anonimo, Gevril, and Mondia.

There are a number of factors behind the big-watch trend, several watch vendors told JCK. One is fashion. Once intended for the men’s market (military, pilots, etc.), oversized watches are becoming more upscale in price, often colorful and with diamonds. In addition, they are becoming a popular fashion-forward accessory for more U.S. women, as seen in new extra-large models by brands such as Jorg Hysek (Kalida), Locman, Alfex, Charriol, Grimoldi, and TeNo. Even brands not known for women’s watches-such as Wenger Fortis (B-42) and Krieger-have added over-sized fashion timepieces.

Another reason for the growing popularity-and why some watch vendors expect the trend to continue-is demand for larger watches by the affluent but aging “Baby Boomer” generation. Not only can they afford the more expensive timepieces; as several vendors noted, Baby Boomers also find the larger numerals, hands, and day/dates easier to read.

Whether fashion-forward or “Boomers,” buyers of large-sized watches enjoy another benefit: The higher-priced big watches tend to use pocket watch movements, which are tougher and more resilient than typical wristwatch movements.