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Buyer's Choice: Time To Talk
Buyer's Choice

Pictured wearing his polo shirt and khakis, hair ruffled by the wind as he sails off the Vineyard, John F. Kennedy is still a style icon. His casual elegance would be just as fashionable today, with one exception. Kennedy's Cartier tank, although still glamorous, would now be sold as a woman's watch. To the modern eye, it looks tiny on his wrist.

Stylish watches today have been super-sized. For men, diameters of 44mm or even 47mm are best sellers. And yesterday's men's sizes are now being worn by fashionable women.

Fashion trends are helping drive sales of luxury watches as the new proportions, a wider color palette, and lots of diamond dazzle are adding many new must-haves to the watch enthusiast wardrobe. Rose gold and diamonds are popular on the high end for both men and women.

We talked to retailers across the country about what brands were hot, what models are selling best, and what trends are driving the market. Business is brisk in watches retailing for more than $5,000. Rolex still reigns, of course. Jumbo Panerai and other big guys still have plenty of heat. Opening price point watches are also selling. Tag Heuer is on the upward swing again. Yet buyers report the middle price range, from $800 to $2,500, is still a difficult sell. Despite the flurry of new watch brands, there's still a shuffle continuing about who will eventually reign in this important middle ground.

a striking business
"We've narrowed our watch assortment to mostly Bulova brands mainly due to the fact that we get excellent service, replenishment, and other amenities. We do a great business in pocket watches from Bulova. They are popular gifts from parents to their graduating children or as engraved wedding gifts. We no longer have a gift gallery, but we do carry mantle clocks which sell well, and even the grandfather clocks. We have had customers who special order wind-up styles from Bulova, too. As a result, we have developed a corporate business and we recently sold 18 ‘Millenia' watches to the Food Lion grocery store, and have sold both watches and clocks as incentives to several local companies."

— John Moseley, Moseley Jewelers, Lexington, South Carolina

status symbol
"Our opening price points start at about $200 with Bulova and go up with Accutron and Wittnauer. Our Rolex business continues to be amazing. It's the kind of brand that young men aspire to and it still symbolizes the fact that you made it.

Many of them want to buy them even when they cannot really afford a watch for that price. They are willing to reach to buy the Rolex status. Successful styles are the Daytona, Submariner, and Thunderball. Customers who don't want Rolex often will buy Wittnauer. These men want watches that are slimmer, dressy, and definitely not the ‘Rolex look.' We also carry Rado, which tends to be a niche brand. It has a unique look that is identifiable to consumers."

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Rolex watch
Rolex’s latest style, the “Prince,” in 18k rose gold, (212) 758-7700.
Bulova mantle clocks
Traditional style mantle clocks from Bulova, (800) 204-3300.
Rado watch
Rado’s “Jubilee” has a distinctive style, (800) 283-4500.
Oris watch
Oris’ “Frank Sinatra” watch, (914) 347-6747.
Panerai watch
Panerai’s “Marina Militare” watch, (877) PANERAI.
Accutron pilot's watch
Accutron pilot’s watch, (800) 228-5682.
Ernst Benz watch
The “Chronolunar” watch by Ernst Benz is 47mm in diameter, (248) 203-2323.
Versace watch
Versace’s “Character Domino” watch, (212) 813-0190.
gold watch from Cuervo y Sobrinos
“Prominante” 18k gold watch from Cuervo y Sobrinos, (561) 330-0088.
Tourbillon watch
Tourbillon from Vacheron Constantin’s 250th anniversary collection, (212) 713-0707.
Lochman watch
Oversized “Latin Lover” by Locman curves to fit the wrist, (212) 371-1888.