Mechanicals Tell More Than Time

Fine mechanical timepieces continue to capture the imagination of U.S. consumers. The number of gold, silver and platinum automatic (self-winding) mechanical watches imported into the U.S. last year jumped more than 16% to 28,000. This increase came even though the average retail price rose to $3,593 and overall watch imports fell 9%. These numbers indicate a strong market already, and the news may be getting even better. The audience for such timepieces seems to be widening, say many retailers. The collectors who helped to boost U.S. interest in fine mechanical watches in the late 1980s have continued spending into the 1990s. Now they're joined by consumers interested in these high-end watches for their technical wizardry or as status symbols. Advertising in general-interest and male-targeted media have heightened the prestige of automatics, particularly multifunction models. Also

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