Watch Watch

Coach Watches Debut

We’ve seen it over shoulders, on feet and in back pockets. In April, we’ll see it on wrists as Coach expands its premier leather goods line beyond handbags, briefcases, shoes and wallets to the watch industry.

Coach’s first signature watch line could be a juggernaut in the making. An exclusive 10-year licensing agreement with The Movado Group gives the 56-year-old company access to a multimillion-dollar advertising and marketing budget to promote its handcrafted wares. (See “Movado Strategies,” December 1977 JCK, page 28.) Movado Group president Efraim Grinberg expects the new Coach Watch division to grow into a $100 million franchise. Sales of the entire line of Coach leather goods topped $500 million in 1996.

“It will be a brand that everyone will notice,” says Jon A. Step, general manager of Movado’s Coach Watch division. “The Movado Group was interested in Coach because it’s a brand just like Movado. Coach values the same quality and marketing we do. And it has developed a loyal customer.”

A year and a half in the works, Coach Watches combine the precision of fine Swiss workmanship and materials with the classic styling – and rich aroma – of Coach leather. The line features 109 men’s and women’s quartz models in seven collections priced from $195 to $795. All come with two-year movement and three-year plating warranties. Initial distribution is targeted for Coach stores and fine jewelry departments of other select retailers.

Intended to be an integral accessory to any man’s or woman’s wardrobe, the Coach line ranges from sporty to elegant to classic. Each element – including the watch hands, buckles, crowns, straps and bracelets – is custom-made. Individual collections take their name from Coach leather goods.

The Classic collection ($195-$395 retail) reflects the understated design of Coach handbags via buckles and closures which are incorporated into the design elements of the case. One model, Legacy, features a buckle-shaped case with a Coach logo engraved on the bezel. It comes in three sizes and three colors, British tan, black and mahogany.

The Sport collection showcases style and multifunction capability with scratch-resistant sapphire crystals and screw-down crowns. These watches feature door-hinge link bracelets, textured dials, applied numerals, locking clasp and water resistance from 150 feet in the $450 Sport Classic to 330 feet in the $595 Sport Diver. A Sport Chrono ($595-$795) is also available.

Elegant Coach watches ($295-$695 retail) offer tailored styles that express understated sophistication. Standouts include the Metropolitan with its tank case and bracelet or one of five strap colors and the Gramercy with its bi-level round design that spills over onto the case. The Gramercy comes in stainless steel or goldtone, with bracelet or straps.

“Nothing about these watches is seen elsewhere,” says Step. “Coach watches will live on through the history and reputation of the Coach brand.”

Genender International Puts Illinois on the Watch Map

New York and Florida, traditionally the nation’s hotbeds in the watch industry, may soon find themselves competing against Wheeling, Ill. Moving out of the bushes, Genender International breaks into the big leagues with a newly licensed six-pack of fashion brands that could make the Chicago suburb the largest watch conglomerate outside of the New York area.

Genender International’s new portfolio runs the gamut from fashion to classic to sporty with names like Levi’s, SilverTab, Dr. Marten, Perry Ellis, Smith & Wesson and Dockers, and B.U.M. Equipment poised on the horizon.

“We felt that now is the opportunity to put together some world-class brands that didn’t conflict with each other,” says Kenneth Genender, president of the 59-year-old watch company. “The market is going through a lot of changes now and price points are opening up, especially since everyone else is shooting for bridge price points.

“We look forward to taking these brands and enhancing them nationally and internationally. We were very selective in the brands we chose.”

Despite recent corporate layoffs from bloated staffing, Levi-Strauss forges ahead with Levi-Strauss Watches, courtesy of Genender. These watches are a fitting accessory to the casual renaissance in America. The 150-year-old Levi-Strauss name, recognized and registered in more than 200 countries, combined with a $200 million advertising campaign, will be a booster rocket for its new watch line.

Designed for upscale department stores and major chains, Levi’s jeans stores and fine western stores, Levi’s Watches feature 75 denim-friendly styles retailing from $60 to $150. Genender International also will offer a pricier, premium Levi’s line, available only at selected retail locations.

SilverTab watches will be marketed to Generation Xers, but may also find an audience with their older and younger siblings. These dramatic “time machines” showcase cutting edge, high-tech styles in shiny or matte silvertone cases and bracelets with vibrantly colored dials. At $55 to $85, SilverTab watches will be merchandised with Levi’s, according to Genender.

A high-profile New York retailer, whose name Genender would not reveal, will launch the two brands in a campaign highlighted with a limited edition sterling silver Levi’s pocket watch. In tribute to Levi’s 501 blue jeans, only 501 of these numbered pocket watches will be made.

Dr. Martens is a name known throughout the United States and Europe for its trend-setting footwear. On the wrist, Dr. Martens watches extend that image with a hip, British-flavored line of 14 styles from casual to pocket watches. Despite analog dials, the sculpted cases on these watches are reminiscent of collectible digital models.

Solid stainless bracelets or neoprene straps give the line character. A highlight is the men’s bangle bracelet with black rubber-like treads and flexible links. Dr. Martens watches retail from $70 to $80.

Perry Ellis may prove to be the toughest sell in Genender’s package as the watch maker must drag the brand’s timepieces back into the good graces of retailers. This diluted department store line has suffered a declining reputation. But Genender imposed a styling U-turn. It abandoned the sporty America Perry Ellis watches in favor of a revamped line of four fashionably classic collections with a 1960s and 1970s flavor. These watches retail from $75 to $150.

Smith & Wesson is a unique and potentially controversial watch line with rugged, solid link bracelets and cases in surgical stainless steel. Designed for the sportsman or -woman at under $150, these watches will sell primarily in sporting goods stores and gun shops.

Genender International also will distribute B.U.M. Equipment watches to a mass market audience this spring.

There’s no doubt that Genender International’s licensed watches will meet great competition from such name as Calvin Klein, Emporio Armani, Guess, Anne Klein and Pierre Cardin, but Genender is confident his unconventional brands will appeal to retailers with a young, arty or avant-garde clientele.

“We’re going out there with licenses we think are right on target,” says Genender. “There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t say anything and there are others that represent something. Nothing else looks like SilverTab or Perry Ellis. Our brands have name recognition and we feel that will sell [to stores] and sell through [to consumers].”