Wednesday, March 26, 2008
more for their autos, who knew BMW had hit the cycle circuit? With five
distinct styles, plus a design made just for kids, these bicycles have
a great look to bring you into the outdoors. Just like their
fuel-driven counterparts, these bikes will cost you to bear the BMW
name -- between €246 to €4,199
-- but think of all the exercise you will get! Like most BMW's, there
is a list of optional additions to fit your ride to your
specifications, but currently these are only for sale in Germany.
Hopefully you have a friend with a private plane -- jetset for some
great beer and get your bike while you're there!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Tag Heuer president and chief executive officer Jean-Christophe Babin said they aim to root the brand in the UAE's local community and might increase the number of boutiques to four in the next five years.
The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry has ranked the UAE as the largest market for Swiss watches in the Middle East, with imports surging almost 40 per cent to Dh157 million in October, the highest in the region.
Saudi Arabia came second, with imports valued at Dh40 million in October, followed by Kuwait, with Dh24.5 million.
Tag Heuer enjoys a 12 per cent share of the luxury watch market worldwide. In the UAE, the brand claims a six per cent share and expects to triple the business in the next four or five years. "We doubled our business in the last two years. So we want to triple it in the next four. We are very much determined to make it happen," Babin told Gulf News.
Aside from cashing in on major celebrities to endorse its watches, Tag Heuer has also poured in more investments to beef up its marketing campaign in the UAE and capture the attention of local residents.
"If you drive around the city, you can see more big billboards of Tag Heuer and it is even more evident in the local media. This also helps the brand to root itself within the local community, not only among tourists flying to Dubai, stopping over for two days and then flying off again," said Babin.
"The UAE market is pretty sophisticated. It's a rather high-end market. And we've been for the last few years outperforming the market growth," he added.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Australian bowler Brett Lee unveiling a Timex
collection (file photo).
Wristwatch maker Timex is on a frenetic exercise to
shed its ‘single brand, single product’ image. And how!
Last year, this iconic US company went in for a substantial rejig in
India by adding new brands and consumer categories from its i
nternational portfolio. An organisational restructure saw Timex Watches
become Timex Group India Ltd. Three business verticals were formed
– Timex and fashion brands, luxury brands and jewellery,
“sending a signal that Timex is no longer a single brand-single
product company,” says Salil Sadanandan, President, Timex and
Fashion Brands, Timex Group India.
The restructure in India is really in response to the international
vision of being present in multiple segments, explains Sadanandan. Not
content with selling mid-priced sporty watches, US-headquartered Timex
Corp in the last few years began hobnobbing with the rich and famous.
It entered the luxury segment by bagging the global licences for
upscale brands such as Versace and Guess. It also acquired the licence
for the high-end, hand-crafted watch brand Vincent Berard.
“Internationally, for several years now, we have moved away
from just being a company marketing just the Timex brand. Timex Corp
realised that to be a significant player, we need to be present across
segments and categories. We went aggressive with our licensing
programme. We tapped into the luxury watch segment. Parallel to that in
India, we realised that having multiple brands is paramount to not only
get leverage from trade but also to handle multiple consumer segments
and we needed to restructure our company to do justice to that,”
While Timex’s ‘Time Factory’ retail showrooms sell
only mid-priced and fashion brands like Esprit, DKNY, Fossil and Pierre
Cardin, apart from its own brand Timex, Timex Group India is working
out the finer details on how best to sell the luxury brands in the
country. The company also plans to enter jewellery retailing and is
exploring various options in the Indian market, says Sadanandan.
Salil Sadanandan, President, Timex
and Fashion Brands, Timex group
But will all this help Timex as a brand gain a stronghold in a
market fed by a habit called Titan? Will the likes of Versace and Guess
bolster the fortunes of Timex? Can a foray into jewellery make a huge
difference to brand preference and imagery?
Says Harish Bijoor, strategy specialist: “I do believe Timex
will be Timex. The brand shall remain and represent what it means at
large to a set of its users and non-users alike. The brand image of
Timex is a given. As for the company managing and selling its
licensed-out brands such as Nautica, Guess and Versace, each of these
brands will enjoy their individual identities as perceived in the
market at large.”
Timex vs Titan
Timex entered India in the early Nineties through a joint venture
with Titan, now its rival. In 1998, it broke away to be on its own.
Titan still holds sway in the market, even as Timex desperately seeks
to woo the Indian consumer. How does Timex view itself vis-À-vis
traditional rival Titan? Timex differentiates itself proudly on the
technology count. Explains Sadanandan: “Our brand positioning is
completely different from Titan. We are focussed on what I might
loosely call ‘fashion technology – the marriage of fashion
Timex, he says, has made “technology accessible to a wide
audience.” Whether it be the E-tide and temperature watch that
measures temperature and tide, the heart rate monitor, or the watch
which has the provision to change volume or shuffle songs on your iPod,
the accent has been on technology.
“We began as a watch company that took time to the masses.
Somewhere down the line we realised that the DNA of the brand was
technical innovation. Someone back then had this foresight that this
brand was future proof. When everyone was obsessed with looks, we
patented the Indiglo technology which everyone is now copying,”
Titan, for its part, says it is not affected or led by competition.
Harish Bhat, COO - Watches, Titan Industries, says Titan quite welcomes
the presence of multiple brands in the market place. Bhat says this
will increase watch penetration, drive multiple ownership, and help
grow the category.
And as for technology, Titan too has plenty of technology offerings,
he says. Edge, Fast Track, Neon Disk and Octane to name a few, but the
company prefers to position its offerings based on emotions and human
insight, rather than technology alone. “Even our technology
watches are positioned as watches which offer energy and power –
as technology makes one feel in control and energetic. The best brands
in the world like Apple or Nike speak to the human insight.”
While this need to cater to the consumer insight has prompted Titan
to demarcate its consumer segments with Raga for women, Fast Track for
the youth, Sonata for the masses and Titan at the middle-end,
Timex’s offerings do not seem clearly segmented.
Well, sports watches don’t have a gender tilt to them, just
like there is nothing young or old about embracing technology, defends
Sadanandan stoutly. From a media planning point of view, we target the
18-35-year-olds, he says. But really, there is a diffusion of age in
the market today, says Sadanandan, referring to a gentleman well over
50 years of age looking for a watch that will come in handy while
Sadanandan does not agree with the popular perception that Timex is
a “male watch,” Sadanandan says the male:female ratio of
Timex watches sold is the same as the industry average of 65:45. But
this is going to go up in the times to come, as more and more women
seek sporty watches as they indulge in outdoor activities. Timex
watches can be worn by both men and women, says Sadanandan, reiterating
their unisex positioning and features. “There is nothing either
male or female about being sporty and outdoorsy,” he explains.
Looking for wrist share
In value terms, Timex has a 25 per cent market share in the
organised watch sector in India, says Sadanandan, admitting that Titan
is still the leader by a large margin (Titan says it has a market share
of 65 per cent). However, Sadanandan hastens to add: Timex is not
looking for market share but is on the prowl for “wrist
share.” “If people were to own five watches, it is unlikely
that all five are of the same brand. We are interested in getting Timex
and its house brands to be a part of the wrist show.”
Timex today has 59 Time Factory stores and it plans to cross 100 by
the end of the year. The ‘point of purchase’ will also see
a flurry of below-the-line activities, apart from discount sales and
Remember Timex’s cheeky response to Titan’s promo last
year offering a 25 per cent discount on Titan watches by exchanging old
watches? Timex simply announced a 25 per cent discount on its watches
– no old watch, no exchange, just a flat discount! They (Titan)
did all the work. We just capitalised on it, says Sadanandan candidly.
“It was a huge success. Sales during the period (August-September
2007) rose 50 per cent.”
For Timex, the India market is the third largest in terms of volume,
after the US and Canada, says Sadanandan. Given India’s
importance in the global market, Timex’s India revenues stand at
a modest Rs 115 crore for 2006-07. A lot more needs to be done
strategically, beyond technology and roping in Brett Lee as brand
ambassador, to take the market by storm. Timex is still the Goliath
seeking to upset David, says Bijoor.
While Timex is quite happy brandishing its “technical
wizardry,” whether that alone will do the trick is a moot point.
Bijoor says: “Timex needs to differentiate itself not on design,
technology or efficiency. It needs to differentiate on the count of
psychographics. In addition to it all, it needs to put together a mass
market brand for itself. Unless it does this, it shall always remain a
niche player in the large market for watches in India.”
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Once again, Vacheron Constantin has walked away with the highly coveted “Best Men’s Classic Watch” Award at the Middle East Watch of the Year Awards in Dubai.
This award, one of 12 categories in the competition, was given to Vacheron Constantin for its Patrimony Contemporaine Retrograde Day and Date, already voted Watch of the Year in Geneva, Switzerland.
Held each year by the watch and jewellery magazine Alam Assaat Wal Moujawharat, the Middle East Watch of the Year Awards selected Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony Contemporaine Collection Excellence Platine for the same category last year.
A marvel of elegance and character and a pure Vacheron Constantin creation, the Patrimony Contemporaine Retrograde Day and Date is equipped with a double complication movement that takes its rightful place in the new generation of self-winding movements manufactured from A to Z in the Vacheron Constantin workshops. Stamped with the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva, the calibre 2460R31R7 offers hour and minute as well as retrograde date and day functions. The 18K pink Gold case is a generous 42.5 mm in diameter. Its convex sapphire back reveals the exceptional finishing and the decoration on the movement that has met Vacheron Constantin’s most stringent quality criteria.
"If you look at the global numbers we are not suffering," he says. "The consolidated sales are good and the company continues to grow significantly." Rome-based Bulgari is one of the few well-known names in jewellery, alongside Tiffany and Cartier, and Mr Trapani thinks it is not going to be hit badly by the coming downturn.
Many in the market disagree, and will be watching today's announcement of 2007 results with interest. Standard & Poor's has a sell recommendation on the shares. Goldman Sachs recently downgraded the company from a buy recommendation to neutral. The shares have fallen almost 30 per cent in six months, as other luxury-goods manufacturers such as Luxottica, Tod's, Richemont and Coach have been hit to varying degrees by a slack Christmas period and a wider slowdown in sales.
Almost everyone in the industry is expecting the credit crisis to hurt sales in the US in particular, but views luxury goods as a cyclical industry that will bounce back in time.
Actually, Mr Trapani does not agree with that assessment either. He told the Financial Times that the building of brand names, which takes a long time, makes luxury goods companies fairly impervious to downturns. "I don't see [the business] as very cyclical. . . I see it as pretty resilient."
He says even great shocks such as the terrorist attacks of 2001 had short-lived effects on the company. "After September 11, this company was down 3-4 per cent for three or four quarters."
That is not to say the composition and geography of Bulgari's sales are not changing. "We are seeing a pretty soft business in the US and in some important European countries . . . [But] almost all of Asia is going extremely well and counterbalancing [that softness]."
The components of Bulgari's profit are also changing. The company used to make a great deal more of its money from expensive watches. In the Bulgari store at Rome's Fiumicino airport some of the most expensive do not have prices marked, while others run up to a mere €18,400 ($28,200).
Such watches are Bulgari's highest margin products but their sales acc-ounted for just 27 per cent of revenues last year compared with 45 per cent 10 years ago. "It's true that when we lose sales in watches it's particularly painful," says Mr Trapani, adding that there have been component supply problems, which the company hopes have passed.
It is making up the difference in profitability with "prudent" price increases, reflecting the growing ability to use the Bulgari name. It is also broadening its offering and has just started selling skincare products.
Mr Trapani is relatively relaxed about the share price. "The stock price moves from expectations and speculation," he says.
The company's family background and continued 52 per cent hold on the shares allows him a long-term view. Mr Trapani is from the third generation after Sotirio Bulgarifounded the company in 1884. The secret to longevity and avoidance of family feuds has been to buy out almost all family members. Only Mr Trapani and his two uncles - Paolo and Nicola - are still involved. The uncles are chairman and vice-chairman and part of a board in which they are outnumbered by independent directors.
When Mr Trapani became chief executive in 1984 he was 27 - "too young", he says - and Bulgari had just five stores. Growing to a group with 250 outlets involved a public listing in 1995 and the imposition of modern governance standards. "I was convinced the only way to succeed was to have a system of total meritocracy . . . We should try to avoid [like other family companies] a cousin in accounting and a sister in marketing," Mr Trapani says.
But he admits the company sometimes acts in ways that may not please investors looking for strong growth every quarter. "The motivation that we have is not quarterly results. It is much more long term. We want to be the largest, the most prestigious brand in 10 years. Every now and then we may have numbers that are a bit less bullish than the financial community might expect because we are determined to make investments."
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
It uses a 25 jewel self-winding movement with 48 hour power reserve. The movement vibrates at 28,800 per hour. The rotor is rhodium-plated with the C1 logo stamped on it as well as ribbed with Cotes de Geneve pattern. The strap is made of vulcanized rubber with a velvet matt finishing using a double folding clasp.
The dial is made to look like fiberglass because of the structure of the white garb. It uses luminescent hour and minute hands that is uniquely designed with asymmetrical cutouts. The seconds subdial is located at 9, at 3 is the date aperture. The 30 minute counter is positioned at 12 and the 12 hour counter is at 6. Its central seconds hand is in Concord blue that matches the points of the running seconds subdial.
The Movado Museum watch first debuted in 1947; its famous minimalist design was the brainchild of Bauhaus-inspired designer Nathan George Horwitt, who had presented the design to various watch firms, before it was accepted by Movado. The Movado Museum watch is celebrated as an example of modern art in watch design, its name stemming from its 1960's acceptance by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
No one can beat Swiss company, Tag Heuer when it comes to incredible designer wear that spells class and luxury. The latest from its stable is the Night Vision glasses, made exclusively for those who are on the road. These glasses correct the low-light short-sightedness that one endures from twilight to sunrise and optimize precision and enhance perception of contrasts to make your night driving more comfortable. The glasses also features “TAG Heuer Reflex-type” flexible temples that are adjustable and fit snugly under helmets. The special ophthalmic lenses are given an anti-reflective treatment to reduce glare and offer more accurate sight. The titanium Night Vision frames are available in both Wide and Panorama, with anti-slip elastomere arms. Whether you are racing on your bike or driving your luxury car, nights are never the same when you wear Tag Heuer Night Vision Glasses.
Friday, March 7, 2008
The Millenary Collection contains some of my favorite Audemars Piguet
watches. Part of it is the wonderfully quirky charm of the distinctive
horizontally oval case, and part of it is the beautiful workmanship and
exquisite detailing these watches demonstrate. But I think I also love
them because they aren’t a Royal Oak Offshore watch–now,
I love the Offshore, but sometimes this hyper-popular collection gets
all the attention, to the exclusion of many other extremely fine
Audemars Piguet offerings.
Take a look at the incredible Millenary MC-12 Tourbillon watch–an
incredible fusion of design and haute horlogerie, this platinum
timepiece features a stunning tourbillon complication that employs some
revolutionary materials in its construction. Less complicated, but no
less fine is the basic Millenary Self-Winding watch, with their
elegant, yet extremely expressive dials. The acclaimed, manufacture
Audemars Piguet 3120 caliber movment
is a major plus for this watch, as well. Might I add, this is by no
means a complete listing–each timepiece in this line has its own charm.
Women have an equally tempting range of choices in this striking Audemars Piguet watch collection, as well. The Millenary Ladies
watches are some of the finest haute horlogerie available for
sophisticated female connoisseurs, uniting brilliant mechanical
artistry with the finesse and scintillating quality of fine jewelry.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Speaking during the press conference to mark the occasion, Michel Parmigiani, CEO of Parmigiani, commented: “Due to the constantly growing success of the Parmigiani Fleurier brand in the UAE over the past few years, thanks to the know-how and expertise of our representative, Damas; Parmigiani Fleurier felt obliged to offer its followers a prestigious location where comfort, elegance and refinement would be fully dedicated to the spirit of the brand.”
Tamjid Abdullah, Deputy Managing Director of Damas, raved: “We are very pleased that one of the world’s top watch brands has teamed up with Damas to set up its first stand-alone shop here in Dubai. The Parmigiani Boutique will house the most prestigious timepieces which are the outcome of over 100 production steps in the hands of expert watchmakers.”
“The latest collections will highlight the best Swiss watchmaking traditions, cutting edge technology and innovative design. Our highly selective clientele in the country cannot expect anything less from this remarkable Swiss watch brand which may be young in years but long in tradition.”
The new boutique is presenting impeccable design features. “Just like Parmigiani timepieces, the new boutique will also have a powerful identity of its own. Its distinctly modern appearance is the perfect backdrop for the streamlined and dynamic luxury watches espoused by Parmigiani Fleurier. An innovative project for the Swiss fine watchmaking brand, it is one of the facets of the "made-to-measure" philosophy that Parmigiani Fleurier likes to instill in each new creation,” explained Jean-Marc Jacot, Delegate of the Watch Holding of the Sandoz FF Holding, SA Lausanne, who was also in Dubai to grace the press conference.
The Parmigiani Boutique – Dubai will have some of the most elegant men’s and ladies’ timepieces given final touches of refinement by diamonds exquisitely arranged to follow the curves of each model. Accentuated by earthly colours, Parmigiani watches are also designed with adventure in mind and effortlessly integrate the best Swiss watchmaking traditions. Some of these highly refined watches take on a bolder, more imposing air in steel and are fashioned to withstand the test of time. Their curves are designed in perfect harmony with those of the wrist, ensuring optimum comfort for the wearer.
Monday, March 3, 2008
The 134-year-old fine jewelry and watch firm, which is owned by Compagnie Financière Richemont, plans to boost its store count to 80 from 48 around the globe within five years and is increasing its focus on fine jewelry. The U.S. presents a large growth opportunity, said Larry Boland, president of Piaget North America.
"We're very optimistic for 2008," said Boland, adding that the firm has recorded double-digit growth in the U.S. since 2000, tripling the business.
His optimism contrasts with luxury market predictions from several experts. "The mood isn't good for spending," Cathy Leonhardt, managing director at Peter J. Solomon Co., said in January. "All levels of luxury spending are being affected — even the really affluent customer seems to be tightening up."
Piaget in January opened its first shop in Las Vegas, located in the new Palazzo resort. In May, Piaget is to launch a 900-square-foot boutique in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa,
Calif. It also is searching for locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and Honolulu. There are three other Piaget stores in the U.S., a Manhattan flagship and in Florida's Bal Harbour and Palm Beach. Piaget wholly owns 70 percent on the stores in its retail network, with the rest done through distributors. Internationally, there are stores in cities such as Paris and Berlin.
The units are 800 to 2,000 square feet and are divided equally between fine
watches and jewelry. There is casual day jewelry in 18-karat gold and
diamonds, as well as high jewelry. Prices range from $800 for a simple
gold band to $1.8 million for a jeweled watch. The average sale is
"The boutiques always have a little bit more jewelry to them," Boland said. "The boutiques are where you can find the true base of the brand. In the States, it's most known for [its watches]. That's changing. We're getting better known for high jewelry."
One-of-a-kind pieces are a major initiative for Piaget. The firm has aggressively sought to dress celebrities in an effort to raise awareness of the category. Piaget was a sponsor of the Independent Spirit Awards the night before the Oscars and outfitted the likes of Javier Bardem and Lisa Kudrow.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Girard-Perregaux ww.tc 24 Hour Shopping watch is an alluring creation
of luxury for sophisticated women. A unique variation upon
Girard-Perregaux's ww.tc watch with its rotating world time display,
the ww.tc 24 Hour Shopping watch replaces the usual cities of the world
with glamorous luxury shopping venues located across the globe, such as
Ginza, Orchard Road, Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Rodeo Drive, and Dubai.
Girard-Perregaux timepiece features a highly polished 41mm stainless
steel case, a bezel set with 54 round brilliant diamonds, and a mother
of pearl dial accented with diamonds at the hour markers, and
skeletonized leaf-shaped hands in white gold. The ww.tc 24 Hour
Shopping watch features twin crowns, each topped by an onyx cabochon;
the crown on the right-hand side of the watch controls winding and
setting, while the one on the left allows adjustment of the world time
indicator to suit one's travel itinerary. An alligator strap and a
stainless steel deployant clasp joins the watch to its owners wrist.
sapphire crystal window in the caseback reveals the automatic
Girard-Perregaux GP033G0 caliber movement, which is equipped with a
solid gold central rotor. Offering a power reserve of 46 hours, this
mechanism also showcases a sub seconds display and a power reserve