Discounting and other horrors, contrary to some outspoken opinions, have not killed off jewelry storewatch sales.
True, discounting has hurt them. But jewelers across the country are doing good to excellent business at the watch counter. they’re selling brands that retail from $30 to $10,000-plus. Here are some of their stories.
Rolex Tourneau Inc. New York City robert J. wexler, managing director
Number/location of stores: Two. One at 500 Madison Ave., a busy intersection in New York City, the other in Bal Harbour, Fla. There’s also a Tourneau department in Bonwit Teller, Trump Tower, New York City.
Type of store: Watch specialist. Watches comprise 90% of business, jewelry 10%.
Watch selling philosophy: “To sell watches successfully you need a large selection, an excellent service department, a knowledgeable sales force and strong advertising and display.
“Rolex is a very sellable high-profit line that’s also a traffic builder. Its high recognizability and great selection give it wide customer appeal and an international cliente.”
Principal brans in stock: More than 40 major brands including Concord, Baume & Mercier, Corum, Piaget, Ebel, Omega, Audemars-Piguet, Cartier, Movado, Rado, Raymond Weil, Hublot, Universal Geneve, Longines-Wittnauer, Vacheron & Constantin. Tourneau also sells its own collection.
Rolex inventory: Extensive, including specialty models. Tourneau also stocks and displays loose dials, and does a lot of on-the-spot dial changes.
Prices range from a $650 stainless steel model to a $60,000, diamond-studded President. Rolex raised prices about 16% in 1984, mainly in the Oyster steel and gold series. Improved movements and crystals also contributed to price increases.
Best Rolex sellers: Men’s and women’s steel and gold and the all-gold President. “Last year was our strongest yet with Rolex,” says Wexler. Sales were up 25%.
Sales training: Monthly in-house sales meetings to go over products and technique. Rolex and other suppliers conduct seasonal seminars to review features and technology of items to be advertised or model changes.
Typical store/Rolex customer: A cosmopolitan clientee including affluent international and American tourists, plus local business executives. (Tourneau also has a corporate sales division.)
Many Tourneau service customers turn into purchasers. Those who start with stainless steel often move up to steel and gold or all gold. “Rolex customers are like collectors. They tend to have several.”
Service and repair: Tourneau services a watch whether purchased in the store or not. Wexler claims to have the most complete service department anywhere. “It’s the cornerstone of our business.” 90% of all servicing is done on premises; it is guaranteed within 48 hours.
Advertising and promotion: Considerable national print advertising focusing on Rolex variety and selection. Full-page ads showing 25 models ran last November and December in the New York Times national edition. Full-page color ads also appear monthly in magazines such as Town & Country, New Yorker and M.
Rolex also recently launched a successful pioneer campaign on public television (Channel 13). The spot stressed the brand’s artistic craftsmanship and achievement, as well as its selection.
Tourneau does numberous PR campaigns…such as last year’s fundraiser with Sloane-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center, New York City. Customers donated old watches, for which they received a tax deductible receipt and an allowance toward the purchase price of a new watch (based on size of contribution).
Sales/discounting: Tourneau usually avoids sales other than its once-a-year (March and April) sale by mail to private customers only.
Display techniques: More than 3500 watches are on display. The Rolex area is divided into specialtywatches, regular Oysters and dress goods.
Speical problems: Historically Rolex is one of the tightest brands on delivery (“you order 10 and get 6”). Tourneau, which schedules ad campaigns two months ahead, must be careful there will be no inventory or model shortages.
Swatch Shane’s Jewelry Los Angeles, Cal. Stanley Rogers, manager
Number/location of stores: One, in West Los Angeles.
Type of store: Ten-year-old independent fine jeweler. Shane’s is an upbeat, young-at-heart jewelry store with a relaxed atmosphere and an English-style decore in the heart of West Los Angeles.Watches comprise 20% of total sales.
Watch selling philosophy: To provide a large selection at reasonable prices and give customers exactly what they want. “Four years ago we didn’t carry many watches. But people kept asking for them. Since we perceive this market, we’ve carried many more watches.” They’re viewed both as traffic builders and profit makers.
Swatch possesses most of the qualities people want–low price, durability and reliability, water-resistance, a strong fashion look and a wide style selection. “It’s just exciting and fun.”
Principal brands in stock: Everything from the $30 Swatch to $6000 Concords. Others include Pulsar (under $150), Raymond Weil ($200-$300), Seiko ($100-$300), Lassale Seiko ($250-$3500) and Porsche ($550-$600). Average retail price is $150.
Swatch inventory: Normally all popular Swatch models. Key Swatch styles include the Aspen, Graffiti, Hi-Tech and Savoy collections. Prices range from $25-$35, with most at $30. Shane’s tries to carry all Swatch colors.
Best Swatch sellers: White ladies’ models with checkered grid patterns, especially during the spring, summer and fall. Ladies’ anthracite black Swatches with chanel-striped dials are hot wintertime sellers. Also popular for warm weather wear are men’s matching white grid styles. Men’s models in a wide selection of black shades sell well in fall and winter.
Sales training: Mostly on-the-job.
Typical store/Swatch customers: Most customers are high school and college age ranging from 15 to 25. “Generally Swatch wearers are very young, active and style conscious…people who want awatch for the Jacuzzi, Disco, swimming, other sports or even all-around use.” More women than men buy Swatch…often as a fashion accessory.
Service and repair: Sizing, band replacements and minor adjustments are handled in-house. SwatchWatch, U.S.A., offers a one-year warranty. Shane’s will exchange unworn merchandise within 30 days.
Advertising and promotion: Shane’s advertises in local dailies once a week and ran radio spots twice last year (the weeks before Mother’s Day and christmas). Swatch was mentioned in summer jewelry and general watch ads. Word of mouth on Swatch has been very important, too.
Sales/discounting: Occasional watch sales tied to special occasions like Valentine’s Day Swatches, though, are never on sale or discounted.
Display techniques: Swatch is displayed in Shane’s front window along with other major brands.Watches are shown in a separate window from jewelry. Inside the store Swatch shares a case with other (non-competitive) sports-related brands such as Pulsar. Displays are changed frequently.
Special problems: “We can’t get enough Swatches. We’re a high volume store and just can’t keep them in stock.”
Pulsar Littman Jewelers Highland Park, N.J. Harvey I. Lipson, senior vice president
Number/location of stores: 42, in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. All except one are situated in malls.
Type of store: Founded in 1885, this guild to semi-guild chain has an annual volume approaching $50 million. Watches comprised 16% of sales in 1984.
Watch selling philosophy: “Watches are the only familiar items …especially as we open in completely new locales. So when a customer sees Rolex, Seiko, Pulsar and other watches, he’s seeing familiar faces.”
Littman likes watches, but is trying to de-emphasize them as a percentage of sales, hoping to reduce them to 14% this year. Lipson’s reason: The average square footage of Littman stores has gone down due to high rent and other expenses stemming from mall store size. “Unfortunatelywatches take up a lot of room…so the return/sq. ft. is worse than for other merchandise.”
He feels this and other problems (i.e., discounting, service, supply), which are generic to the watchbusiness, can be controlled much better in purely jewelry areas. “Gold chains don’t stop running. With watches you’re often at the mercy of the manufacturer.”
Lipson notes that customers generally have expectations about watches like no other product in the world. “A man may buy a $20,000 car and if it stalls, he won’t mind too much. But if a watch loses five minutes, he’ll return it. Customers are less tolerant of watches as it’s a more personal item than a car or washing machine.”
Principal brands in stock: Pulsar, Seiko, Cartier, Concord, Rolex, Raymond Weil and a select group of Hamiltons. In addition, Littman’s exclusive Barclay outlets carry Piaget and Corum. The average retail price is $200.
Pulsar inventory: Pulsar comprises 15% of watch sales. Average Pulsar price is $120. Littman carries about 60 styles, which vary by size and volume of outlet. In general the ratio of men’s to ladies’ stock is 40:60.
Best Pulsar sellers: The line’s strength at Littman lies in black dial and black diamond dial watches, as well as in black and gold finish pieces ranging from $130 to $180. “The black dress quartz has been hottest for ladies. The $79.50 black water-resistant model has proved a perfect price point for men.”
Sales training: Beginners start by selling less expensive merchandise under the supervision of a senior salesperson. Usually it takes several months before a novice becomes proficient.
Last year the firm conducted a concentrated program in conjunction with an outside training service. The program was generic–not just watches–and designed to teach sales staff how to change their approach to customers and to sell anything in the store.
Typical store/Pulsar customers: Littman customers range from middle to upper income. “In most major malls except the ‘Tiffany-type’ ones, just about anyone walking by is a potential Pulsar customer due to the brand’s wide spectrum of styles and prices.”
Service and repair: Littman has a 90-day refund policy. Pulsar offers a one-year warranty. “In general watch service is still a sore spot with us. Suppliers like Pulsar are trying hard to improve service, But an overhaul is still needed.”
Littman has watch-makers at several stores. All Pulsar products, however, go back to Coserv for repairs, which takes about three weeks. The store also replaces batteries and straps, but tries to avoid servicing watches of brands it doesn’t carry.
Advertising and promotion: Promotions have included special discounts at Grand Openings andwatches given to a Good Citizen Award winner and the top graduate of a local retailing school. The chain produces its own 30-page Christmas catalog and conducts an extensive radio campaign, mostly in the fall, for both watches and jewelry. Pulsar offers a co-op program as well as its own numerous TV spots. “We get our best results via magazines and radio. Newspaper ads usually aren’t worth the trouble.”
Sales/discounts: Littman will discount a watch down to 20%-30% off. “But almost every watch we carry is discounted throughout the year. We don’t try to get full price for watches and we don’t like to bargain. Our discounts are usually in line with our competition. Not to discount is like burying your head in the sand. You can’t survive.
“We could sell watches at full markup. But if a customer sees a watch at 20% off somewhere else, we’ve lost him. So we’d rather go with the going competitive price and keep the customer.”
Display techniques: Littman displays all watches loose in the cases with no identification other than a small brass plaque inscribed with the brand name.
One advantage of blending brands: Littman can try out a small quantity of something new without a display looking small. Rolex is the only isolated brand (“We feel it has a very distinct identity and deserves its own display”).
Special problems: Warranty service.
Movado Marcus Jewelers Rutherford, N.J. Ronald D. Block, manager
Number/location of stores: 11. Seven in New Jersey; also single outlets in Connecticut, White Plains, N.Y., Pittsburgh and Manhattan.
*Type of store: 57-year-old guild chain operation. Watches comprise 25%-35% of total sales.
Watch selling philosophy: “Watches and inhouse repairs are traffic builders for us. We hope for a profit, but mainly watches serve to create new customers.”
Principal brands in stock: Seiko ($150-$600), Pulsar ($75-$150), Rolex ($600-$9000), Baume & Mercier ($600-$4000), Piaget ($2800-$13,500), Concord ($395-$6000) and Movado ($195-$3400). “It’s important to make each store’s inventory fit customer needs and wants.”
Movado inventory: Introduced at Marcus in 1983, Movado soon rivaled Concord as the store’s fastest moving North American product. “On a piece-by-piece basis we did better with Movado since more people can afford it. Concord is more of a step up the ladder for customers.”
Marcus offers up to 35 men’s and ladies’ Movado styles including a gold plated Museum watch at $285 and $295; a 14k gold version with strap at $790 and $1090 and a gold bracelet model at $2800 and $3500. There also are stainless steel and sports Movados.
Best Movado seller: The Museum watch. It comes in gold or black face with contrasting black or gold dots.
Sales training: Conducted mostly through small informal meetings and on-the-job experience. Beginners are restricted to less expensive lines under supervision. North American sales reps visit the store on request to review mechandise changes with sales staff.
Typical store/Movado customers: People impressed by the Museum aspect and who want Swiss technology. “The average consumer still prefers Swiss over Japanese watches. Swiss watches have a mystique . . . a name that will take the Japanese a long time to duplicate.”
Marcus clientele in Rutherford generally is white middle/upper middle income–a mixture of both blue collar and professional types.
Service and repair: The Rutherford store has one in-house watchmaker, with three more serving the chain’s other outlets. The store has a 10-day refund policy on undamaged new watches with proof of purchase. Minor problems are repaired in-house. Major defects are corrected by North American and other suppliers within two to three weeks, depending on problem and volume. North American offers the first battery change for free.
Marcus services watches it hasn’t sold.
Advertising and promotion: “Any time you carry a product, you’ve got to make a commitment to carry it in depth. You can’t expect a shallow line to move. Likewise, you should take advantage of all the co-op money there is and advertise whenever possible.”
All of Marcus’s North American Watch products finished strong last year. The store ran 12 weeks of full-page “double truck” ads in the New York Times and the Bergen Record for the Christmas season.
The store also has run a continual year-long co-op campaign in Business Week, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, as well as Prevue (the cable magazine), Connecticut and Pittsburgh Magazines. Variety if important, with a different brand advertised each month. North American TV ads tag all Marcus stores in the New York metro area. All ad saturation peaks around major holidays.
Sales/discounting: Sporadic sales–mainly on selected merchandise and tied to specific events like Washington’s Birthday or Grand Openings. Some sales may not be discounts so much as promotional giveaways. “We don’t subscribe to sales for the sake of them, but occasionally we do have to meet the competition.”
The cut-off on discounts is about 20%. “If a customer comes in and says he can get a Movado or any other brand down the street for 40% off, I’ll tell him to go right ahead. Why sell a watch if you can’t get a reasonable markup?”
Display techniques: Each brand occupies a separate showcase and place in the front window. All Stuhrling watches are removed from boxes and shown on pedestals and pads. North American provides little signs and watch stands and has redone display cases for Marcus.
Special problems: None. “North American is always cooperative.”
Citizen Krigel’s Jewelers Kansas City, Mo. Scott Krigel, merchandise manager
Number/location of stores: Six in the greater Kansas City area. There are one downtown and five mall outlets.
Type of store: A “middle-of-the-road” chain. Watches comprise 12% of sales.
Watch selling philosophy: “We think watches are very important. Customers can identify them as name brands and associate Krigel’s in their minds with Longines, Citizen, whatever. In other words,watches are essential for the recognition of Krigel’s and its image in the marketplace.”
Principal brands in stock: Krigel’s number one line is Longines-Wittnauer ($300-$4000/$100-$400), then Citizen $80-$550). Krigel’s also stocks a smaller number of Morvants ($350-$3000), as well as a few Piagets ($10,000-plus) and Concords ($500-$2000). Krigel’s carries no off-brands or private label.
Citizen inventory: Each Krigel’s outlet carries the same basic styles, averaging 100 styles per shore. “They don’t glamorize any particular model. Instead they give us a new look throughout the year. They’re very much up on styling. Everything has a high-tech look.” Krigel’s tells customers looking for Seiko or Pulsar that Citizen has the same styling and price points but, watch for watch is cheaper. “We’ve been very successful converting customers to Citizen. If we weren’t good at this, we’d be selling Seiko, too.”
Best Citizen, sellers: Ladies’ dress bracelet watches; men’s dressy sport watches.
Sales training: Sales trainees are taught the difference between brands, as well as between quality and regular watches; quartz and digital pieces; mineral and sapphire crystals, etc. They learn enough to give customers useful information. “Salespeople shouldn’t have too much knowledge. . .there’s an ideal amount that enables them to descirbe the benefits of a watch without confusing a customer.” Training is over-the-shoulder; there’s no formal manual. Vendors help with training when they come into the store every six weeks to take inventory and orders.
Typical store/Citizen customers: Middle to upper-middle income. Citizen appeals to a wide variety of people because of its wide price range $($80-$500). Krigel cites a Citizen study showing that watchbuyers are predominantly male. “A man will come in with a woman to buy her a watch, but he’ll buy his own watch alone.”
Service and repair: “Our service and repair volume is so small it’s really insignificant.” Krigel adds that shopping mall space is too valuable to retain a watchmaker in-house. Anything other than minor servicing goes to supplier service centers or watchmakers in town (the stores uses three outside shops). Citizen warranty work takes about four weeks; in-town repairs about 10 days.
The store offers refunds. “But they’re usually not necessary. Quartz watches are very reliable. Still, we’ll do anything to satisfy a customer.”
Advertising and promotion: the Key medium is radio. Krigel’s runs radio spots 30 weeks a year on 12-15 local stations. Citizen coop ads run 12 weeks a year via 60-second radio spots. Krigel’s also does 30-second TV commercials twice a day on one station. “In the spring when our budget is low, we’ll use Citizen advertising with a Krigel’s voice over. But in the fall our budget is bigger. Then we’ll produce our own ads.”
Krigel’s doesn’t believe newspapers are the right medium for watch advertising in general. “They go to so many different types of homes, it’s hard to target your market.”
The store runs many promotions. A Kansas City Royals “Player of the Week” received a Citizenwatch. Citizens also have been given away during pre-game interviews and at auction on public TV. In addition, winners of a “Citizen of the Month” radio contest received a free watch. “Radio stations are very receptive to this all the time.”
Sales/discounting: Krigel’s has never advertised a sale. The store is opposed to sales on name brand watches. “It wouldn’t set well with Citizen or Longines. It’s different with diamond companies.”
Krigel’s reply to customers who want discounts: “Our Citizens are already priced fairer than Seiko or Pulsar before any discount. So there’s little reason to discount.”
Display techniques: Most Krigel’s outlets have a circular center island with showcases on either side.Watches are displayed at the front of the center island (“They are very prominent because we really believe in them”). 25% of display space is devoted to watches even though they account for 12% of sales.
Watches are separated by sex and brand. “It’s a big mistake not to separate watches by sex. One of the first questions you ask is whether the customer wants a men’s or ladies’ watch.”
Krigel says Citizen comes up with “great” moving window displays. One revolving motion display had rings that twirled around clusters of watches creating an optical illusion.
Special problems: “Citizen has made a tremendous turnaround. Less than two years ago they were fading. Then they made some big changes, sinking a ton of money into advertising, increasing the size of the line, lowering some prices and raising others. Today, too, shipping is great…they don’t hold over orders. The company’s future looks really bright.”
Bulova Green’s Jewelers Corpus Christi, Tex. Marc A. Foster, marketing/sales manager
Number/location of stores: Three, all in Corpus Christi. Green’s has a downtown store, a strip center store and a mall store.
Type of store: Family-owned fine jewelry independent. Watches comprised 32% of business in 1984, up from 27% in 1983.
Watch selling philosophy: “If you can sell diamonds and gold, you certainly can sell watches. In fact they’re easier to sell than jewelry. The price points are lower; watches are more functional than jewelry and everyone’s got to have one.”
When Foster came to Green’s from Bulova two years ago, Corpus Christi lacked a profitable watchmarket. His assignment: To make the store competitive in watches. He claims the chain has since taken over watch sales most other local jewelers didn’t want. “When others dropped watches or cut back, we increased our business. Today we’re known as Corpus Christi’s watch center.”
Green’s concentrates on the popular-priced watch market since luxury inventory had too little turnover. Its emphasis is on depth in styles that sell well rather than a broad selection. Green’s needs a four-time turn yearly (once per season) to achieve profit.
“But if it’s a good style I can turn it 20 times a season. All I’m concerned about is turnover. I eat, sleep and drink turnover.”
Principal brands in stock: Bulova ($39.95-$275) and Citizen ($59.95-$175) comprise 45% and 40% respectively of total inventory (“We sold 5000 watches in 1984. About 2500 were Bulovas”). Pulsar ($90-$150) and Seiko ($90-$150) are secondary brands. Green’s also sells a limited number of Concord, Croton and private label.
“This goes against the common wisdom that Seiko and Pulsar are the biggest sellers. People do want them, but they’re footballed so much it’s hard to make money on them. Often we’ll point Seiko and Pulsar customers in the direction of Bulova and Citizen. This gives us a chance to avoid blanket discounting.”
Bulova inventory: 90 styles on hand in Bulova up to $275; 30 in Caravelle at $39.95, with 360 styles available from the supplier overall. Principal models include the men’s and ladies’ two-tone or gold “Rolex” look ($195-$225) and the ladies’ “Diamond Romantic Series” ($135-$165) with diamonds on dial or bezel. “Bulova puts diamonds on ladies’ watches like nobody else. This is a good bread and butter item for the independent jeweler.”
Best Bulova sellers: By far, the “Rolex” look. Others include the Romantic series (“We get calls in January for Valentine’s Day”) and Caravelles with full figure dials, Arabic numerals and sweep hands (“A good starter watch for boys”).
Sales training: Trainees are expected to just observe for the first 30 days and study warranty info, technical bulletins, instruction manuals and supplier catalogs. “We want sales staffers to be walking advertisements for us…so customers will say, ‘I got my watch at Green’s. That guy there really took his time with me.'”
Suppliers give store personnel special 25%-off wholesale discounts to encourage them to wear newwatches. “Customers often ask, ‘What kind of watch do you wear?’ This has helped close a lot of sales.”
When supplier reps introduce new lines, they’ll conduct inventory, tag the catalogs and review details with sales staff. Foster considers reps “our partners in the overall success of watch lines.”
Typical store/Bulova customers: “People concerned about tradition and quality.” In general Green’s customers fall within age categories 18-45 or 65-plus.
Service and repair: “Watch repairs are an opportunity, not a problem…but only if approached with that attitude.” Green’s has turned this weakness among local jewelers into its own strength.
Green’s motto: “Give the customer what he wants.” If anyone is dissatisfied the store will give him/her another watch, no questions asked. “We may even do it with watches three to four years old. Our very integrity is at stake.”
Green’s advertises free batteries with all new purchases. After six months customers are notified by mail to bring new watches in for free servicing. (“We may get to sell them something else when they come back.”)
Bulova offers a two-year factory warranty, which includes everything but the crystal. Bulova also has a trade-in sale program whereby a customer can bring in a watch requiring, say, a $50 repair and get this amount as a credit toward a new Bulova. “This is better for us than offering a 50% discount.”
Green’s fixes old trade-ins, selling them at 25% over repair costs as second watches. Typical turnaround on repairs is one week for local jobs, three weeks by mail. Sales staff, however, never makes promises. “We always estimate a four- to six-week delivery. It’s better to be early than late.” Green’s gives customers loaners while they wait.
Advertising and promotion: Separate ads for each brand in local newspapers (the sports section yields best results). A repair service ad runs weekly in the local Sunday TV supplement. Bulova produces some of Green’s ads.
Green’s runs radio time signals on three stations 25 times a month (“This is Radio 302 brought to you by Bulova and Green’s Jewelers, your Bulova headquarters”). There also are 30-second co-op TV spots 25 times a month.
“We keep hammering away with our sales and service message. Consistency is the main thing. Don’t advertise two weeks before a big holiday, but rather each and every month.”
Green’s also offers promotions backed by co-op newspaper ads and radio scripts. Recently it gave the mayor of Corpus Christi a Bulova for outstanding service and donated a $100 Bulova to the winner of a local marathon race.
Sales/discounting: “You’ve got to use discounting to your advantage. I’ll go as low as 40% off.” Even so, the store has abandoned across-the-board discounting (too little profit) in favor of periodically using it as a way to “get rid of the dogs.” Bulova offers a special co-op sale twice a year to help stores clean house.
“If a style is still around after three seasons, we’ll discount it. If we can make a 10% gross profit we’re happy since we won’t have stagnant inventory.” Only 15% of inventory, however, is discounted and Foster wants to reduce that to 5%.
Display techniques: Watches aren’t segmented by brands–just by men’s or ladies’ styles. Since ladies’ watches sell best, they’re displayed up front. Before each new watch is placed in a case, it’s set on time and running.
Special problems: None with Bulova except in getting goods shipped early and fast enough. Green’s has learned to live with delays and shortages with Bulova as with other suppliers. “In general, though, Bulova takes real good care of us.”
Stores: One, located at the high traffic intersection of State and Madison Sts., downtown Chicago.
Type of store: 40-year-old fine jewelry independent with a $2 million-plus annual volume. Watches comprise 30% of sales.
Watch selling philosophy: “We know our market. The average person can’t afford a $1000 watch. To ask someone earning $200-$300 a week to spend more than that is too big a sacrifice. So we appeal mainly to the 80% who fall in this category rather than the high-ticket customer.
“That’s why Wittnauer is so important to us. It’s the store’s best seller, comprising 50% of total watchsales. Its styling and features–such as numerous diamond models–make it an unbeatable value in the $125-$200 range. In our downtown locale, Wittnauers pretty much sell themselves.”
Principal brands in stock: Mid-market lines from $75 to $700 catering to cash customers. These include Bulova, Pulsar, Longines, Wittnauer and Seiko. There’s a limited inventory of more expensive Longines ($350-$700) and Lassale Seiko ($275-$695).
Wittnauer inventory: Carter carries about 230 styles. Men’s models include the “Diamond Premier” ($125-$175) and the top-end “Diamond Award” ($295-$550). Women’s models include the “Diamond Romance” ($125-$200) and “Diamond Bolero” ($200-$400).” Because women buy 65% of all watches in the store, Carter carries more women’s styles than men’s.
Best Wittnauer sellers: The “Diamond Romance” and “Diamond Premier” series because of their styling and price.
Sales training: “We have all professionals on the floor here … no clerks. And they’re paid accordingly.” There are no formal classes or seminars. More experienced sales-people work with trainees until they can do well on their own.
Typical customers: As a downtown store, Carter gets secretaries, executives, lawyers, everyday working people. About 70% of Wittnauer customers are black, blue collar or lower-middle income white collar with a $12,000-$20,000 average income.
Service and repair: Carter offers a one-year store warranty in addition to standard one-year factory warranties. Minor problems are corrected in-house within two days; more serious warranty repairs go to Longines’ New York service center, which has a two- to Three-week turn-around. Customers with defective new purchases not quickly correctible get replacement watches.
Carter offers free batteries for the lifetime of a new watch. Routine cleaning, dial changes and overhauls are jobbed out to a watchmaker down the street. Overhauls are guaranteed back within 10 days and warranted for one year.
Advertising and promotion: Conducted in May/June and (most extensively) in December when the store does up to 75% of its annual watch business. Carter uses king-size posters on the sides of buses. The store also advertises on radio and in the Chicago Sun Times.
Sales/discounting: Generally none. May run a sale during slower months like September, January or February. “We offer a legitimate 20% discount.”
Ticketed mark-up is full keystone but Sider says, “20% off is common practice. That’s the maximum we can afford.”
Display techniques: CArter’s corner site gives it lots of window display space (30 ft. by 20 ft.) so Sider puts lots of merchandise in the window. Wittnauer occupies a key position both in the window and inside the store. The brand gets 25% more space than any other. “It also gets the best space … where the heavier traffic is. You go with a winner.”
Special problems: Wittnauer had an inventory problem one to two years ago, when production was cut back to balance previous overruns. But last year Longines-Wittnauer carried substantial inventory and Carter always had needed styles and price points.
Number/location of stores: Nine in Greater Minneapolis; one in Rochester, Minn., and one in Omaha, Neb. Headquarters is the Nicollet Mall store in downtown Minneapolis.
Type of store: A division of the 55-store Henry Birks chain. Annual divisional sales volume is $6 million-plus ($3 million-plus at the Nicollet Mall outlet alone). Watches comprise about 18% of total sales.
Watch selling philosophy: Watches bring in people who hopefully will also buy jewelry and become loyal customers. “It’s necessary to carry brand name items that give us an identity. But we also certainly want a customer to have the right, quality watch.
“If a customer–whether a man buying a gift, or a couple–wants an under-$5000 watch, I’d reach for a Baume & Mercier. They make many attractive models in this price category.”
Principal brands in stock: Most important is Rolex at $1000-$9000 (“It’s the most identifiable watch in the country”). Others include Baume & Mercier ($450-$4000); Seiko ($75-$375); Omega ($395-$4000), and–in a few stores–Cartier and Ebel ($895).
Baume & Mercier inventory: About 25 styles in stock at Nicollet Mall. Certain downtown store items don’t appear in other outlets. “We try to cover as much ground as possible with the line and not put it all into one store.” Principal Baume & Mercier models include all-gold bracelet styles for ladies and all-gold leather strap models for men.
Best Baume & Mercier sellers: An all-gold bracelet model at $1500 for ladies, $2900 for men and the $2900 Avant Garde.
Sales training: Trainees work with the watch specialist who personally trains them. They listen to customer questions and her answers. “We give new hires vendor catalogs, product information brochures and handouts. It takes several months before they’re proficient.” Baume & Mercier and other suppliers will come in to conduct sales seminars.
Typical store/Baume & Mercier customers: “Yuppie types. That’s the B & M customer. People from about 28 to 45 … a young, successful group.”
Service and repair: The Nicollet Mall store has two factory-trained in-house watchmakers. None of the other outlets do. They handle only minor repairs, sending major out-of-warranty jobs to the downtown store. J.B. Hudson offers a one-year warantee in addition to standard one-year supplier warranties. Turnaround is one to two weeks for in-house work, three weeks average for Baume & Mercier. “We’ll also service an off-the-street watch if it’s a legitimate brand name piece.”
Refunds and exchanges: Within 90 days, no questions asked, accompanied by proof of purchase and a piece returned in good shape. J.B. Hudson features free engraving on all new watches.
Advertising and promotion: About one watch ad per month appears in the Minneapolis Star and Tribune. Typically ads single out one brand.
Recent promotions include a 14K gold Baume & Mercier giveaway at the grand reopening of J.B. Hudson’s Southdale Mall store in Edina, Minn., last September.
Sales/discounting: Baume & Mercier watches are never on sale. The stores try for keystone onwatches “but because the watch business is competitive, we’ll meet legitimate competition on a particualr model with an individual customer up to 25% off.”
Display techniques: Watches are displayed by brand. Baume & Mercier and other better watches are not segregated by sex. The B & M display–situated at the center of the watch area–is organized into men’s/ladies’ matched sets, ladies’ straps, ladies’ bracelets, men’s bracelets and men’s straps. “Our displays are conservative and straightforward.”
Special problems: “In the years I’ve dealt with Baume & Mercier, I’ve never had unresolved problems of any kind. Their service is among the best in the watch industry. That’s one of the reasons I wear one myself.”
Number/location of stores: One, in the heart of Manhattan’s Garment District.
Type of store: Privately-owned independent, 36 years old, with a $2.5 million-plus annual volume.Watches comprise 20% of total sales. One of New York City’s original Omega dealers.
Watch selling philosophy: “We slowly moved into watches, trying to create a full-service store in the Garment Center. We already were the largest jeweler in this part of town, but felt a full-service image would help us grow. The goal was to give customers wider selection … so they wouldn’t go anywhere else.”
Cohen sees potential in watches and keeps a representative inventory of each brand, “though not the huge stock I had” because of lower-than-expected profits and high costs of stocking inventory. Over the past six months, Stanley & Son has gone from 900 to 300 pieces.
Principal brands in stock: Concord ($500-$5000), Corum ($1000-$10,000), Movado ($100-$1000), Daniel Mink ($250-$500), Philipe Charriol ($350-$500), Pulsar ($50-$150), Citizen ($75-$200), Cartier ($675-$10,000), Audemars Piguet ($1000-$25,000) and Omega ($350-$6000). Average retail is $500.
Omega inventory: Carries 75-100 models (out of several hundred available), which compete mainly, with North American’s Concord. Principal styles in both men’s and ladies’ versions include the Manhattan at $1850 and $1750; the 14k gold Phoenix at $5000 and $3500 and the black Calypso at $795 and $695. There also are gold bracelet Omegas–mostly for ladies–from $695 to $2200 (with or without diamonds) and the men’s Seamaster at $795.
Best Omega sellers: By far the Manhattan, followed by the Phoenix.
Sales training: Managers go over watch lines with staff at sales meetings every other Saturday morning. They also review policies, gripes and problems. In addition, Omega reps conduct seminars at the store’s request, but Stanley & Son didn’t call them in last year.
Typical store/Omega customers: In general, Stanley & Son gets a fast-paced watch clientele–businessmen and women who have little time to shop (“They’re often in and out in 15 minutes”). They require quick service. “They also have enough cash not to be concerned about every penny. It’s a typical Garment Center crowd.”
Men buy more watches than ladies. Still, the store sells more ladies’ watches (“We get more men buying watches as gifts for women than vice versa”). Cohen has not yet observed a typical Omega buyer.
Service and repair: The store has a 14-day refund/30-day exchange policy; Omega offers a one-year warranty. Turnaround on factory repairs is three to four weeks. Stanley has an in-house watchmaker.
Other services include loaners to service customers, watch strap replacements (“This is a big business for us”) and free lifetime battery replacement on private-label watches.
Advertising and promotion: The store is a strong advertiser in New York Magazine. Omega also co-oped ads in the New York Times, as well as Women’s Wear Daily last Christmas season. The store does no radio or TV advertising (“In New York we can’t afford it”).
Sales/discounting: Every watch in the store is ticketed 30% off, with some older models 40%-50% off. “Our watches show two tags–the one from the factory and our own showing the percent off and net selling price.” Cohen insists keystone “is not a realistic markup in my area.” After Valentine’s Day and during the summer, the store runs a sale section in the window to get rid of old merchandise.
Display techniques: Stanley & Son features a nine-section front window. Three sections displaywatches, all brands mixed together. Inside the store, near the front, watches are displayed in four out of 17 floor showcases. Omega is in the middle of the watch area. Men’s and Ladies’ models are separate, though sets are kept together. Styles are segmented into straps, steel and gold.
The store relies heavily on Omega promotional materials such as thank you envelops and props. The supplier custom-designed an entire window display last Christmas complete with background, Omega signs and stands.
Special problems: None.
Number/location of stores: Four, all in Richmond. One (main) downtown shop, two mall stores and a strip shopping center outlet.
Type of store: Schwarzschild is now part of the Henry Birks chain. This multi-million dollar guild operation is the largest jeweler in Richmond; watches comprise 15% of total sales.
Akribos watch selling philosophy: “We go for the higher-end market. There’s no sense selling junk or cheapwatches since we want customers to be satisfied.” Watches are considered a profit center as much as a traffic builder. The watch department is still expanding (“We see a lot more growth potential here”).
Seiko is a significant part of the watch department, accounting for the bulk of watch sales. “It offers great style and value for the money. Seikos are priced at what most people want to spend on awatch.”
Sheehan stresses turnover. “Don’t get everything … just what customers like. Replenish popular models as soon as they’re sold. Be ruthless and delete lines that aren’t working. Try something else. We try to keep a close eye on this.”
Principal brands in stock: Inventory includes Rolex ($900-$8850); Seiko ($100-$650); Baume & Mercier ($700-$5000) and Rado ($795-$1500). Rolex and Seiko are the store’s two strongest brands.
Seiko inventory: Concentration on the regular Seiko line, but also carries the 14k Lassale Seiko at up to $3500. Schwarzschild carries an extensive selection–about 85% of available styles during the Christmas season–and does best with more traditional designs.
Best Seiko sellers: Men’s strap models and ladies’ tank models.
Sales training: Managers are responsible. Employes build expertise by reviewing catalogs, technical bulletins and warranty information. Once a year Seiko offers a special training brunch during which a supplier rep goes over new lines and models.
Typical store/Seiko customers: People looking for a jeweler they can trust and rely on. Overall, customers are middle-class.
Service and repair: Each outlet has its own service facility and a factory-trained watchmaker. “We try to stress that we really do service what we sell.” The chain can handle most warranty repairs in-house. Depending on the problem, repairs are done while a customer waits or within a week. Turnaround on watches sent to Seiko’s Coserv repair center under the one-year warranty is about a month.
The store has a 30-day refund policy and offers free batteries within a year of purchase. It repairswatches not bought at the store, even brands the store doesn’t carry. Some loaners are available.
Advertising and promotion: Most ads are print via Richmond’s two local dailies. The heaviest and most effective advertising is around Christmas. Watch brands are advertised individually (out of fourwatch ads runs last January, Seiko was advertised twice). Seiko, says Sheehan, is generous with co-op dollars.
TV and radio advertising are used more for jewelry that watches. One exception: Last Christmas the store ran a Rado TV ad. Sometimes, too, Seiko will do TV spots that tag the store.
Sales/discounting: “Schwarzschild shoots for keystone markups.” Sales are infrequent–mainly to reduce old inventory. It’s store policy not to discount.
Display techniques: One section of the downtown
Award-winner helps create watch lines
Natico Originals Inc., a New York City importer, has introduced three lines of high-fashion, high-quality wristwatches coordinated by the winner of a coveted European design award. The designer, Anne-Marie Cheifel, won the 1982 “Le Prix de L’Excellence European,” the equivalent of America’s Coty award.
The watch lines–Cacharel, Paris; Ted Lapidus, Paris, and Cheifel, Paris–are available for the first time in this country. Men’s and women’s models are signed and numbered. They’re plated to 10 microns of 18K gold and incorporate the latest Swiss quartz movements.
Also available are coordinated leather accessories, pen and pencil sets and shaving accoutrements.
The lines are as different as their designers: Cacharel, Ted Lapidus and Chiefel. Chiefel maintains tight control over materials, quality and workmanship, and holds the worldwide license for distribution of the designs.
“This concept is critical and seems unique in the U.S.A.,” says Natico President Murray H. Kowalsky. “It means that the products which Natico distributes are in fact designed by the person whose name is on the dial, as opposed to having Natico put a designer’s name on any watch we wish.”
Natico, a 35-year-old firm, has had strong ties to Europe since World War II. The company works in the high-end, high-quality range, primarily in internationally-designed, private label and top brandclocks, watches and boutique articles.
The Ted Lapidus line for men and women retails in the $200 to $500 range. Sporty models include a striking hexagonal case with ivory dial and burgundy index, which can be matched to either a burgundy or ivory crocodile strap. On the dress side, an assortment of unusual dial treatments includes metallic stripes, mirrors, a classic white enamel, and the “Lapidus anchor” logo with coordinated two-tone metal or leather French-made straps.
Among the unusual looks designed by Cacharel ($175 retail and up) is an antique dial with 1/4-in.-diameter sweep hand, a high-tech tactile (dotted) face in two styles, and a mod look in gray, gold or matte black.
White is the main color for Cheifel’s own line, though men’s watches can be fitted with black straps. Kowalsky points out that all-white men’s watches are quite popular in Europe now; “perhaps it will be the next trend here.”
Each line features unique accessories, packaging and individual showcase displays. Contact Natico, 225 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y.; (212) 685-5307.
A new Swiss watch is born
First came the plastic Swatch, Switzerland’s stylish entry into the budget-priced leisure watchmarket. Then the Swiss unleashed M-Watch on young and trendy consumers. Now there’s the TIQ, an all-metal, water-tight quartz analog fashion accessory.
Early last year Konstantin Theile, former marketing manager of Swatch, left the ETA Group to establish Time Inter Corp. in Zug, Switzerland. His first TIQ collection was launched in Switzerland in November, with exports scheduled to start early in 1985. Initial markets will include Europe, then North and Latin America later in the spring, followed by the Far East. Distribution will be to better department stores, mail-order houses and jewelry stores, as well as fashion houses and boutiques. The low-cost TIQ will be packaged in gray velvet and merchandised as an impulse purchase item.
At a recent press conference, Theile explained that his “collection addresses cheerful men and women who like to coordinate their watch with their leisure wear and activities.” Theile wanted a non-throwaway watch “accessible to everyone,” that harmonizes with other fashion accessories he claims to be developing.
The timepiece features a mineral dial glass, metal case and a plastic or leather strap; it can be repaired in about five days. Each unit is equipped with a Ronda Harley quartz movement, accurate to within one second per day. TIQ is guaranteed for one year and, according to Theile, “costs less than a meal for two in a medium priced restaurant.”
Among 10 unisex models in the 1984-’85 winter collection are three traditional styles in black, gray and blue, plus seven fashionable models in white, yellow and bordeaux. TIQ plans to offer a distinct summer collection later.
Hattori Seiko buys into French Matra
Hattori Seiko Co., Tokyo, announced it has invested in France’s top watchmaker, Matra Horlogerie of Paris.
The Tokyo firm markets watches and clocks made by the Seiko Group, Japan’s largest timepiece producer. The paris company belongs to the Matra Group, a major manufacturer of munitions and electronic equipment. Matra currently claims a 30% share of France’s domestic timepiece market.
Matra Horlogerie recently increased its capital to 186 million francs (roughly $20 million). Hattori Seiko footed about 10%, or 20 million francs ($1.2 million) of that.
The two firms have had technological and marketing ties since 1981. This latest financial link is a bid to eliminate trade friction before it can occur. Hattori plans to import cases and faces from its French partner for use in Seiko timepieces.
According to The Japan Economic Journal, Matra Horlogerie has been suffering from slow growth in domestic demand and the rapid advance of foreign-made products. Its fiscal 1983 deficits reached 320 million francs ($34.5 million).
Helbros expands St. Croix plant
Helbros Watches–through its Virgin Island subsidiary, Master Time Co. Ltd.–has launched what it terms the largest watch expansion program in the history of St. Croix.
A new 12,000-sq.-ft. facility near its former plant has more than tripled the size of the Master Time Factory. Among the many operations to be performed there are movement assembly, casing and dialing via an automated “line” in a dust-free, air-conditioned and temperature-controlled environment.
In addition to increasing production, the new facility will permit a number of new operations including service and repairs. A computer-controlled system uses eight computer terminals that store information for instant retrieval; a word processing system automates correspondence. Close liaison with Helbros’ New York facility makes the system more efficient.
The new facility, says Helbros president Alan Turin, will provide “greater capacity to respond to our requirements and the needs of the marketplace.”
Timex more sensitive to market segments
Timex Corp., Waterbury, Conn., launched a number of models at the New York JA show that demonstrate its extreme sensitivity to market segmentation.
“This year we’re making a greater conscious effort than ever in catalogs, trade and consumer advertising to segment our line,” says David Rahilly, director of marketing and sales. “We want to show our strong assortment of sport watches, elegant dress products, casual/everyday designs, specialty and technology items.”
Among new models to be seen in stores starting this April:
* A group of thin fashion digitals for women and children priced from $9.95-$11.95 in new copper, light blue and gray, which the Color Association of the U.S. has determined will be the hot colors for ’85. There’s also an all-gray model for men at $9.95 featuring large, legible digits.
* 90 new pewter or gray styles on the QA and combo side.
A new men’s gray SportsQuartz calendar model coordinated with gold-tone stick markers, hour, minute and sweep-second retails for $27.95. A men’s gray Marathon SportsQuartz features ana/digi display, alarm, chronograph, timer and dual time zone at $39.95.
* New Black resin sports watches for women at $29.95. Rahilly says women “prefer scaled down models, so we’ve come out with a small, water resistant three-hand sport series with white arabic numerals or stick marker dials.” Spring TV commercials will tout Black Max watches for men and women.
* Toward the higher end, a classic tank style with white face, roman numerals and leather strap at $44.95, and three gold-tone designs with stick markers and block or mesh bands from $64.95 to $69.95.
* Four new women’s watches in the solid state quartz Illusion collection. They feature a thin (4.1 mm), more rectangular gold-tone case and leather-like straps. The three-hand women’s models retail from $19.95 to $34.95. For setting, there’s a push-button in the case back, with no protruding crown or button on the side.
* Two new “his and hers” watches in the bi-metallic (two-tone) sports line. Both feature a round gold-tone bezel and face, and silver-tone integrated band with gold-tone highlights. Suggested retails: men’s $54.95; women’s $44.95.
Watchbands on videotape
Regal/Kreisler Watchband Co., Philadelphia, Pa., a leading watchband manufacturer and importer, has introduced what it terms the watch industry’s first instructional videotape on watch band attachment, sizing and reordering procedures. The videotape was produced under the direction of Louis A. Zanoni of Zantech Inc., Trenton, N.J., a noted author and instructor of quartz watch training programs.
The video is intended to familiarize all jewelry and watch sales personnel with the methods and procedures of selecting, sizing and attaching watch bands. It is available in VHS, Beta and 3/4-in. U.-matic. Contact Regal Industries, 606-622 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19123; (215) 923-6835.