In the mid 1970s, Seiko became the world’s top watch brand on the power of its innovative quartz technology, its New York advertising agency created a wonderful campaign for it. Its tagline was a simple sentence: “Someday all watches will be made this way.”
This advertisement portrayed Seiko’s triumph as the world’s quartz watch leader. But it also put a finger to an issue that Seiko would ultimately had to face. What would happen to the fashion market race winner once all watches went from automatic to quartz technology?
In the 1980s, the quartz watch innovation took an unforeseen shift that robbed Seiko of its basic message. Some American newcomers to the market launched an innovation of their own. The fashion watch revolution of the 1980s and 1990s came to a new era of the quartz watch revolution of the 1970s. and this time, the leader of this revolution was the Swatch, Fossil and Guess. This revolution created a new wrist watch category: the fashion watch. It was not what was inside the watch, these brands decided to give a revolution and innovation to the exterior of the watch. The all new quartz technology was now not a new one and was common among everyone. These new fashion watch makers shifted their attention from new technology to a new watch artisan. What makes watches look good, they claimed, is not electronic accuracy but original design and art. It created a new thinking: “watch wardrobing,” i.e., buying different wrist watches for different dressings or events.
The fashion watch revolution not only redefined fashion of the wrist watches across the globe as well as in Pakistan but watch function: It changed the way of thinking of the watch from its core timekeeping feature, something that was (and still is) unthinkable to the Japanese quartz innovators. The watch became a “fashion statement” that happens to show time. That shift took the revolution to the next level in watch marketing and branding and a sales growth that brought the fashion-industry labels into the watch world looking for a piece of the fashion statement. Over the time, fashion brands would transfer from the “affordable cheaper” segment of the watch market to mid and upper range and luxury products.
It took a start with Swatch. There were fashion watch brands before Swatch, like Gucci and Anne Klein, which had made a strong impacts in the market in the 1970s. But Swatch did something others didn’t.
Swatch, a plastic quartz analog watch produced by ETA to be retailed in the market as a fashion product. According to Swatch’s own history of the 10 years of its start, the “S” in Swatch stood for “second,” i.e., second watch. Different slogans expressed Swatch’s watches goal to expand a fashion oriented product line that would be so fashion-forward and so affordable that it would lead to impulse and repeated purchasing. “A Swatch for a quarter, not a watch for all seasons” was one. “Fashion that clicks” was another one. “We thought we would position the Swatch as a fashion product,” Max Imgrüth, the man who led Swatch’s victory in the U.S. market as well as in Asia,Middle East and Europe, told the Los Angeles Times in 1986. “What we’re marketing is much more a fashion, an art, instead of something that just ticks.”
Nicolas G. Hayek, Sr., CEO of SMH, as the Swatch Group was known then, had his own point of view for the Swatch psychology: “Innovation, provocation, fun, forever to be young.” It strongly described the Swatch approach to product development,innovation and marketing.
Swatch wrist watches were launched in 1983 and targeted mainly at fashionable young generation. Swatch dials were full of colors, cheerful, cheeky designs. For Swatch, the dial (and sometimes the case) was a blank palette on which designers could put whatever they felt was good for it. There were no limits and rules. Swatch’s anything-goes artistic allowed photographs, printing, painting, cartoons, designs and art works– whatever – to go on the dial and case. Design stole the show. That time, in the form of three (sometimes just two) hands was there, if you wanted it according to your choice. Swatch quickly collaborated with mainstream artists to do limited editions of collector pieces. The first was Kiki Picasso in 1984 and over the time included many of the artists. Some of their models, like Alfred Hofkunst’s 1991 “One More Time” collection, took wrist watches to a place they had never been ever before. It consisted of multiple watches designed to resemble a cucumber, a chili pepper, and bacon and eggs. They were kept by high end food stores and sold out in three hours.
The marketing was as innovative as its designs and art. Swatch specialized in event marketing, sponsoring and creating special watches for events like the World Breakdance Championship at the Roxy Theater in New York City. It held street performances of the paintings in Paris and London and sponsored up coming new sports like snowboarding, freestyle skiing and mountain biking. It created a “Swatch Collectors of Swatch” club that had more than 70000 members in less than a day.
The U.S. was the location of Swatch’s first victory but Swatch fashion went global. On April 7, 1992, ETA produced its 100 millionth Swatch, a “Frische, Frische” model (every Swatch model had a name). Hayek Sr. was there for the event and autographed it.
Unfortunately Swatch did not go well in Pakistan but still a big number of customers wish to buy Swatch every time they go to buy a watch in Pakistan.
For all of its success, there were a couple of focused things about Swatch that brought the attention of some Americans with connection to the markets of Hong Kong and departmental stores. One was that Swatches only came in plastic cases. The other was that, while Swatch was sold as a fashion accessory, it was advertised like a watch with just two new collections in a year. Fashion products were advertised five times a year at market events. Two brands, Fossil and Guess, came, saw and conquered quickly.
Guess was first. In 1984, Mickey Callanen, a vendor of costume and jewelry to departmental stores, was contacted by the skintight-jeans manufacturer to produce a costume jewelry line. Forget jewelry, Callanen told them, get into wrist watches. Callanen had no connection to the watch trade, but he saw what Swatch watch was doing in department stores and observed a climax in the near future. Guess said yes. Callanen borrowed $25,000 and rushed off to Hong Kong to put a collective range in time for Christmas. He shipped the first order out of his garage. His product strategy was simple: no disposable plastic cases. That was Swatch like thing. He went with the aluminum cases and fashionable retro looks with rubber or fabric straps, priced at $40 and $45, A bit more than Swatch. He treated Guess watches as a fashion items, introducing five collections a year. In 1985, his first full year, Guess sales hit $18 million and kept rising by time. In 1991, Timex, willing access to this new big market category, bought Callanen’s business and kept him in ontrol of it. By 1996, Guess watch sales raised to $165 million.
Fossil was founded in Texas in 1984 by Tom Kartsotis and friends who had been importing multiple goods such as toys and watch from Hong Kong. They sold Fossil watches, priced below $100, to department stores as a fashion produt with five new models every year. They kept in mind what wrong they saw in a Swatch product such as plastic cases. For not a lot more money, a buyer could get a more fine finished metal Fossil watch instead. Fossil watches were an above standard Hong Kong watch which gave a tough time to Swatch later on: stainless steel pins in straps took place instead of brass pins, polished case backs, and soft leather runners on the backs of leather straps.
What really set Fossil apart, though, was its marketing agression. In the late 1980s, it developed the unique 1950s Americana marketing strategy that came to describe the brand. They got an idea, ironically, from the world growing markets. “Retail companies in France and Italy has also shown interest in these brands. The consumers over there were giving it a very good response, Fossil’s then vice president of imaging, Tim Hale, told in 1998. So, Fossil began using different images and iconography of the culture of the 1950s in is packaging, advertising and promotional leaflets. The idea was to invest the Fossil brand with a relatively simpler, positive, optimistic, values and ideas of the 1950s. This marketing plank proved wildly successful with Fossil retailers and consumers all across the world.
The symbol of the power of Fossil marketing was its packages made of tin. In 1989 Fossil began selling watches in tin boxes decorated with old style images. Consumers loved them and started collecting them to fill their collectors hunger. Fossil eventually posted a “History of Famous Fossil Tins” on its website, where it noted “The tin is almost as important as the watch we put inside.”
In 1994, the sales of Fossil watches jumped by 54% to $162 million. In 1997, Fossil entered a license deal with Giorgio Armani to make, market and distribute Emporio Armani watches across the globe. Today Fossil is the world’s leading fashion-watch firm. It has 18 watch brands, one third of its own and 12 licenses from the other companies. Watches accounted for 77% of its total revenue of $3.04 billion in 2016.
Fossil and Guess killed Swatch’s share of the department store business across the world. Ultimately, Swatch switched from department stores theory and opened its own stores in the United States. In 1993, Swatch introduced its first metal cases in the steel Irony collection.
It is considered that sometimes the watch company pursued the fashion brand, sometimes the brand pursued the watch company. The leather goods company, Coach, asked the Movado Group in 1996 to make watches for it. Coach would make the leather straps. “The Coach consumer has been requesting watches for years,” Coach CEO Lew Frankfort told us. He got several thousand requests per year. In December 1996, the two firms signed a 10-year licensing agreement to produce an all new fashion watch line . Coach watches retailing from $195 to $795 started after a year. (Movado added another license, Tommy Hilfiger, in 2001. Today it has eight licensed top class brands, which accounted for 48% of its total sales last year.)
Later on in 1996, in Grenchen, Switzerland, ETA produced the 200 millionth Swatch watch. (It produced the 333 millionth Swatch in 2006, the last year for which the data was revealed.) That same year in Japan, the formerly high-flying Seiko reported its fifth consecutive year of downfall. Losses a huge amount of millions of dollars over the five years. Seiko’s claims this drop was a cause of high yen-to-dollar exchange rate, increased competition from Citizen and Bulova in the U.S., and a gray-market.
Two decades into the 21st century, the fashion watch remains an industry crown and a huge business. It’s one reason that watch production exceeds 1 billion watches per year. Fossil estimates that in 2014 the size of the fashion-watch market was $35 billion. In the last two years as the circumstances changed, it has declined by low-to- middle single digits, Fossil says, due to reduced department store traffic and the competition from the Apple Watch. Still, it’s big and it will revive again.
In the luxury range, one sign of the importance is that the top fashion firms now place on watches is that the world’s four most valuable luxury fashion brands – Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Gucci and Chanel – they make their own watches in their own Swiss factories and clearly indicated that if you produce a product according to the need of the market, the market will surely respond you.
in the struggling economy of Pakistan, many fashion watch brands a striving high to gain space in the watch market. when we compare the digit volume of the brands in comparison, we claim Daniel klein as the market leader as it is a low end fashion brand. Otherwise Guess is still maintaining its position which will not remain sustained as the new competitors are coming to market. Another important fact is that by the time, the purchasing power of the people of Pakistan is decreasing and they want top of the line fashion at a low cost. High exchange rates and unfavorable import policies also effect the sales of middle order fashion brands such as Micheal Kors, Gucci, Armani etc. Out of these fashion brands, 7-Star watches Faisalabad deals in Guess, MK, Armani, Kenneth Cole, DK,Ck, Fossil, Dkny and the lit goes on.