Watches: ’Tis the Season for New Timepieces

A sleek newcomer joins two oldies but goodies that have recently returned to the United States in new guises:

After nearly a decade of absence from the Baselworld fair, DeLaneau, the Geneva watch brand beloved by fans of enameled and gem-set timepieces, returned to the show in 2012 as part of a reboot that carried on during market week in Las Vegas, where CEO David Gouten showed off the new Cerisier collection of seasonally inspired timepieces rendered in champlevé enamel and diamonds. The brand, founded in 1949 “as a producer of bespoke watches for the elite,” still produces only about 200 watches a year. While its strongest market is Russia, America lies squarely in ­DeLaneau’s sights (a now-closed ­Madison Avenue boutique notwithstanding): “We’re looking at a few retailers,” Gouten says, “but not many.”

Heritage Presidents’ Watch in limited series in steel and 18k rose gold; $9,600; Vulcain, Elmsford, N.Y.; 914-347-4200;

Nearly a century after its founding in 1858, Vulcain struck a note of resonance in American history when its most famous invention, the 1947 mechanical alarm watch, piqued the interest of President Truman. Presidents Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, even Obama all have owned a model, dubbed the Presidents’ Watch. Like many Swiss heritage brands, Vulcain spent a couple of decades in stagnancy before it was reintroduced to the world in 2002 by CEO Bernard Fleury. Brought back to America in mid-2011 by North American president and distributor Mark Wasserman, the brand has added a slew of new Presidents’ models, with and without alarms, to its mix, which includes a number of upscale enamel timepieces equipped with hand-wound and automatic in-house movements.

PVD Tyndall model with black PVD finish on case, buckle, and rotor; $1,495; Xetum, San Francisco; 800-385-6238;

In 2009, when Jeff Kuo was considering names for his new watch brand, the made-up Xetum had the right ring. “We wanted it to have a modern look and sound and for it not to be too parochial,” he says. Founded as a direct-to-consumer brand dedicated to accessible, modern design, Xetum timepieces are made in Switzerland, but designed in California, thus explaining the names of two signature models, the $995 Stinson and the $1,495 PVD Tyndall: Both memorialize two legendary “NorCal” locations: Stinson Beach and Mount Tyndall. “We have begun reaching out to retailers to wholesale our pieces starting in late 2012 and 2013,” Kuo says. “Direct-to-customer will still be an important part of our business, but we’re looking to complement that with wholesale relationships.”

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