Watch trends for 2018 are inspired by the past, offer better value, and use more color, with greater attention paid to the female wrist. Among the top 10 best watch brands on many popular lists post Baselworld watch fair in March—Seiko, Bulova and Citizen, all located in The Plumb Club at the upcoming JCK Las Vegas Show June 1-5 offer great examples of these market trends and more.
“The biggest trend in watches to emerge in the past two or three years is vintage,” says Carol Besler, veteran watch and jewelry journalist and founder of the blog watchdetail.com. “Almost every brand has an anniversary edition, commemorating either a model or the company itself.”
Seiko, for instance, celebrates its strong history in dive innovation with its Prospex line targeting a new generation of adventurers, represented by Fabien Cousteau, grandson of famed aquanaut Jacques Cousteau, as the Seiko Prospex Dive ambassador, shares Eric Hofmann, senior vice president of business development for the brand.
Bulova too revisits its 1972 Oceanographer for fall 2018, the third model in its Archive Series started over two years ago to explore historically relevant designs from the brand’s past. Earning the nickname Devil Diver, the watch has ‘666 feet’ printed on the dial, referring to the depth it could withstand under water, instead of the traditional 200 meters used by Swiss watchmakers, tells Susan Chandler, the brand’s chief merchandising officer. Also, the brand’s latest ladies collection, Rubaiyat, named after its first woman’s timepiece in 1917, is launching its first-ever fragrance by the same name, celebrating empowered femininity.
Value is a primary factor in timepieces with models previously available only in gold now out in stainless steel, and mid-range brands offering better materials or new and improved movements without significant price increases, says Besler. “The watch industry is only just beginning to recover from a two-year downturn, the response to which has been a lowering of average prices and an effort to improve existing collections, often with new movements, instead of introducing new ones. These improvements generally came without price increases, resulting in great value for consumers.”
But watch brands are not sacrificing innovation while holding prices, says Besler. Seiko, for example, is optimizing popular collections like its Presage with new technology that incorporates three inventions: Diashock, a shock-resistance system that protects the long-term precision; Magic Lever, a simple and durable fast-winding system; and Spron, the brand’s unique alloys for stronger, longer-lasting main and hairsprings. The brand’s Coutura chronograph collection for men also expands its Radio Sync Solar line, which automatically adjusts the time and calendar signal reception and results indicator, with black ion stainless steel case and bracelet, and black dial and luminescent hands and marker.
Citizen too invests in technology, not only in the generic definition of it but also in the technology behind new and innovative materials, tells Ellen Seckler, chief marketing officer for Citizen Watch America. “Citizen is always expanding beyond the obvious like our proprietary Super Titanium. The use of a surface hardening coating called Duratect allows basic titanium to become five times harder and 40% lighter than everyday stainless steel. It prevents rusting, is scratch resistant and hypoallergenic. This year we’ve expanded our surface hardening technology to stainless steel with our Tough watch in the Promaster Land collection.”
The name of the game is answering consumer demands in style, function and craftsmanship, says watch journalist and book author, Roberta Naas, founder of ATimelyPerspective.com.
Trends for women show brands incorporating more versatility and choice for good prices, says Naas. “We’re seeing more brands with interchangeable straps for women giving a selection of great colors and choices. Color is coming into play in a bigger way this year, as well as classicism [simpler, more accessible models for a wider audience, using materials like steel].”
Seckler says Citizen is launching its new Chandler strap collection for women featuring different colored straps and dials that has something for everyone and is easy to wear. “Citizen has learned over the years that women tend to buy based on current trends, not only that appeal to them but also to those they surround themselves with. The idea of layering and mixing metals is highly recognizable and we’ve worked towards appealing to that with our new Jolie and Citizen L Ambiluna collections.
We’ve also found that less is more, so you’ll notice in upcoming collections that not all styles are embellished.”Chandler notes that the ladies segment has been a challenge for the entire watch industry, but Bulova continues to entice women with modern design fused with true craftsmanship and styles that empower her femininity, like the brand’s new Rubaiyat collection of diamond and ceramic designs and expanded leather straps with diamond dial timepieces representing versatility, value, and vintage.
It’s a lifestyle thing, cites Seckler, as brands seek to inspire, guide and motivate people with the goal of their products contributing to the definition of the consumer’s way of life. “Citizen recognizes the importance of experiences in the lives of its consumers. It’s important to show the watches in action, tying back to that experiential lifestyle. Consumers want to see products in real life situations and they want to show off their purchase and how the product fits into their lives.”
It’s about finding new ways of getting your message across, says Naas. “Tell stories and engage readers with the meaningful history and marketing concepts that they can relate to.” She cites as a good example Citizen’s latest partnership with Disney, wherein the brand will have a strong presence via clocks and other signage all around the world’s most important “feel good” spaces.
Instagram is among the top social media platforms to engage directly with consumers and discover new trends customers may be interested in, says Hofmann. Seckler describes it as an amazing platform for visually presenting a brand and creating stories/lifestyles around models and collections.