Watches Are Strong at Both Shows in Vegas

Watches made a strong showing at both the JCK Show ~ Las Vegas and the third Swiss Watch by JCK, an invitation-only event for high-end brands and retailers held in the Venetian Hotel simultaneously with The JCK Show.

Swiss Watch by JCK featured 29 companies, its most yet. Each averaged about 100 appointments over five days, and the brands showcased not only new watches but also in-store boutiques, store settings and displays, and new marketing campaigns.

Steven Kaiser, president of Kaiser Time, which organizes the event, said attendance was up for the third consecutive year. Exhibitors generally seemed pleased by this year’s edition. H. Stern, which has expanded both its distribution and market in the United States, reported “great interest” from retailers, while Edward Wright, president of Baume & Mercier North America, said, “We had a very successful show. The quality and number of retailers dramatically increased over last year and we look forward to participating for many years to come.”

On the main show floor, watch vendors also expressed satisfaction, although some felt the foot traffic in their pavilion was a bit light. A spokesperson for Pippo Italia, said its new “My Panse” flower bezel watches did “fantastic” business. Lancaster Italy had “an excellent show,” with its new ceramic watches doing especially well, said Stuart Kerzer, president of Lancaster USA. Terry Aliffi of Luminox watches said his brand also had a good show despite apparently lighter traffic.

“This was one of best shows ever, and certainly our best since 2000,” said Paul Sayegh, chief operating officer of Bulova Corp. “We opened new accounts, saw a lot of people. We found people seem to be more confident and looking for new things, which we have.

The show floor boasted upgraded, European-style exhibition booths such as EganaGoldpfeil’s new two-story model featuring its range of brands. Festina’s new consumer-friendly booth used long, thin, retractable cords to let lookers admire and try on the watches—but not walk off with them.

Trends. The revival of mechanical watches is complete and no longer limited to affluent consumers. Four firms unveiled affordable automatic (self-winding) watches to positive response. More brands added ceramic watches, including Anne Klein New York, Lancaster, Festina, and Hidalgo (these with interchangeable diamond bezels).

Color continues to make headlines, as did embellished straps (floral and embroidered ones in particular), pull-through and interchangeable straps, retro designs, and mother-of-pearl dials. Brands offering some or all of these trends included Honora, Color Story, Pedre, Ice Tek, Ritmo Mvndo (Oprah Winfrey bought all the preshow samples of their women’s Divina with interchangeable straps), Jean Marcel (a midpriced watch with hand-carved guilloche mother-of-pearl dial); LeVian, Lorenzo Pozzan, (whose Stratosphere Junior, a smaller version of its luxury priced Stratosphere, was reminiscent of early 20th century “driving watches”).

Gadgetry and technology also continued to captivate. Of particular note, Junghans unveiled the world’s first atomic (radio-controlled) watch able to automatically reset itself to correct time anywhere in the world, and Marcel Watch Co. had a hot seller with older technology: its new FM Radio Watch ($29.95), with a very long plug-in cord/antenna and earphone.

Among luxury brands, Meyers USA Inc. had a traffic puller in its new La Perle timepieces (dangling gray pearls encircle the bezel) and—a new look for Meyers—its fashion-edgy “Dog Tag” pendant watch (including one in black diamonds). Jacquet Droz added its first stainless-steel watch (limit: 88), and its first with a black enamel dial (also 88). Roger Dubuis presented its first skeleton watch (with tourbillon), part of its Gold Square series (limit: 28), and a new enamel-dial series for classic car races in Carmel, Calif.

Newcomers to the market included ASP, which makes law enforcement products, with its first commercial watch line; Violà, with contemporary-styled mid- and luxury-priced watches; Oceanus; and Scarfolo, a German brand of Swiss-made mechanical watches. The show was also the stage for some relaunches, including Hilton, a popular U.S. watch brand of the 1950s and ’60s, brought back by Genender International. The midpriced watch comes in new versions of its vintage models.

Cuervo y Sobrinos, a one-time Cuban brand popular in the U.S. market, was re-launched recently by owners in Spain. The Swiss-made luxury brand also features updated designs of its original timepieces. Cerrutti 1881, the revamped upscale Italian-design Swiss brand, is being distributed selectively here by Egana of Switzerland.