March of the Mechanicals

“The big story is mechanicals”That's how Francie Abrams, Bulova Corp. senior vice president and chief marketing officer, describes the watchmaker's major focus this fall in the mid-price U.S. watch market. Her comment was echoed by executives of other mid-range and upscale watch brands, as well as popular-price brands, at this year's trade shows.The surge in mechanical watches—mostly self-winding “automatics”—is spreading from upscale watches to more affordable brands. Armitron, for example, produced and sold some 60,000 automatic watches between October and May. Its men's versions ($78 and $98) were featured in Wal-Mart's Father's Day 2008 marketing, while AK Anne Klein has added an entire line of 29 mm women's automatic skeleton watches.Upscale Maurice Lacroix is “developing more and more into a mechanical brand,” says chief executive officer Philippe C. Merk, while Cym

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