Easton in Japan: good average, but no homers

It’s spring again, when throughout America one can hear the ping of aluminum bats striking baseballs, while U.S. and Japanese trade negotiators amble past Washington’s cherry blossoms, making small talk about supercomputers, communications satellites and lumber products.

What better time, then, to call Easton Aluminum Co., an aluminum bat maker which some observers have held up as an example of the excruciating ordeal awaiting U.S. exporters who seek to penetrate the Japanese market?

“We’re leaps and bounds ahead” of the company’s position at the beginning of the decade, reported Mike Danford, general manager of bat products at the Van Nuys maker of composite fastpitch softball bats , tent rods and arrow shafts.

But Easton’s experience in that market has tempered its executives’ ambitions for further penetration, for reasons that are unrelated to real or perceived trade barriers. Even what must be regarded as a successful long-term effort might not pay extravagant dividends, Danford seemed to suggest.

“We can grow a little more. We wouldn’t mind doubling. But beyond that I don’t know,” Danford said. Easton’s Japanese sales have grown to over 25,000 units in each of the past three years, including one 30,000-unit year, and another strong year is expected in 1990, he said.

Danford’s caution about the Japanese market comes as the company is scrambling to boost its output by 20 to 25 percent in order to cope with burgeoning domestic demand. Easton also is contemplating a growing market in Europe, which Danford predicted could be more important to the company than Japan in a decade. A new, proprietary alloy, EA70, has won warm acceptance from the market as the “second coming” of its earlier CU31 material, he said.

Amid that background of success, Danford’s hesitance to pursue substantial future gains in Japan might seem curious. Certainly, the bat maker has paid its dues to get where it is today – so much so that some observers have held up the company as an example of the gauntlet U.S. companies must run to penetrate that market.

In Trading Places, a 1988 account of his encounters at the negotiating table with the Japanese, Clyde V. Prestowitz recounted how a campaign launched by Easton around 1980 to win needed safety approval from Japanese government authorities required years of effort and high-level diplomatic intervention before discriminatory clauses of Japanese standards were eliminated.

“Four years later, however, the Americans still had less than 1 percent of the Japanese market. The distributors had the last laugh,” wrote Prestowitz. The former Counselor for Japan Affairs to the Secretary of Commerce now is a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment.

The moral, as Prestowitz presented it, was that even U.S. companies that hew to a long-term strategy in Japan are likely to run into a tangle of entrenched interests and cultural and other non-tariff barriers. That was the subject of talks that continued last week in Washington on “structural impediments” to U.S. exports. Negotiators appeared to be making limited headway in the areas of supercomputers, satellites and wood products, although broader issues like Japan’s opaque distribution system still awaited a breakthrough.

Judging by Easton’s experience in the last couple of years, Prestowitz’ assessment might have been overly pessimistic. Today, Easton itself holds about 3.5 percent of the total Japanese market of 850,000 units – a healthy gain from the 1 percent U.S. share Prestowitz described.

The process of getting established “certainly was frustrating,” Danford acknowledged. Like other manufacturers, Easton eventually realized it had to find a strong domestically – in this case, Mizuno Corp., the biggest distributor in the Japanese market.

It also had to undergo further acculturation to the market – realizing, for instance, that while Americans like their aluminum bats to sound as close to a wooden bat as possible, the Japanese want theirs to sound like a bell. “We couldn’t simply take our baseball and say, here, Mizuno, here’s what you sell,” Danford said.

Even with that out of the way, however, the sheer fragmentation of the market has served to temper Easton’s ambitions. In Japan, one producer’s sales last year of 6,500 units of a new model was enough to have it considered a runaway success. One retailer even was able to win a trip to the U.S. by selling a dozen or so units of a successful model. With Easton able to supply 3.5 percent of the Japanese market with only 2.3 percent of its total output, “We produce more bats in one year than the Japanese market can consume,” Danford said.

In that environment, to reach 100,000 units in annual Japanese sales, Easton would have to develop 20 or so successful models against an array of entrenched competitors. And it would have to freshen them up with cosmetic changes every year or two. Given the marketing and manufacturing realities involved, “your likelihood of striking it rich is slim to none, and Slim’s leaving town,” Danford observed.

Easton also has encountered a level of fussiness among Japanese consumers that Danford views as extraordinary. Bats sold there are divided into 10-gram gradients – and even then, retailers keep scales on hand so customers can refine their choice further. Even with bats commanding $130 or $140, it’s tough to make money under those conditions. “It makes for small production runs that are expensive production runs,” Danford said.

By any standard, however, Easton would have to be considered a success story in exporting to Japan. Surely, Easton’s long development effort wasn’t a waste of time?

Straight ‘A’ basics: early on in the back-to-school selling season

Retailers agree that basic styles drive back-to-school (B-T-S) shoe sales, particularly in the US’ more conservative regions. Warm weather and careful spending by parents have, as of mid-August 1995, held down B-T-S sales. Market conditions in the East, West, South and Midwest are discussed. Little Capezio, Nike, New Balance and Reebok are among the popular brands on the East Coast.

Across the nation, kids are just beginning to buckle into the back-to-school mindset. While some retailers still hear the word “jellies” ringing in their ears, as sandal sales have continued mainly due to the heatwave and the appeal of the colorful plastic styles, others are just opening shipments of school shoes.

Basic, say retailers, sells running shoes with good arch support for school, especially in conservative Southern and Midwestern locales. Some brands mentioned by retailers are not traditional children’s brands, as big-footed kids move onto adult sizes in their teens. The upside of the adult size trend is that the ever-maturing tastes of girls and boys em be satiated by grown-up shoes.

Across the nation, warm weather coupled with cost-conscious parents have mounted an early roadblock for a blockbuster back-to-school season, said retailers. Few have afl their fall goods in, anticipating that most b-t-s shopping will be done in mid-to late August. Still those that are selling goods, report a variety of items doing wee, including outdoor gear from Nike and Stride Rite, as well as sneakers and rugged looks from vendors such as Skechers.

The East Coast

Brands: Little Capezio, Jumping Jacks, Nike, Reebok, New Balance, L.A. Gear

Styles: Velcro or other hook-and-loop fasteners, high-top sneakers, maryjanes, basic school oxfords in blue and red, boat shoes, suede bucks, patent party shoes for girls.

Prices:: $35-$65

Comments: The consummate cry from retailers is that parents are buying skads of sneakers, while just a few have started buying traditional school shoes. Omar Warren, salesperson, Two Steps, New York, said sales on summer shoes are just finishing up and all the new styles for b-t-s are just now coming in.

“Last week the back-to-school traffic began,” said Tony Gagliardi Jr., manager, Heathcote Bootery, Scarsdale, N.Y. “People have been cutting back on the number of shoes they’re getting,” he said, noting that hand-me-downs are coming into play as parents pinch disposable pennies. He expects his store to be busy starting this week and continuing through to the end of September when the Jewish holidays hit.

The South

Brands: Nike, Fila, Keds, Valencia and L.A. Gear

Styles: For boys, Nike’s leather GTS and Fila’s Grant Hill; for girls, Keds’ Ashley in black or brown, Valencia’s Rachel brand – specifically its Savannah and brown waxy leather Wyoming styles – Willets’ Hawk style boot, and L.A. Gear’s lighted shoes. Overall, the demand is for sneakers, conservative looks such as loafers and slipons, and oxford laceups.

Prices: $30-$50

Comments: “Right now the hottest thing we’ve got going is the Rebel boot with a high heel for girls. For boys we’re doing real good with Nike Airs,” said Juan Gomez, manager, Stride Rite, North Miami Beach, Fla.

Gretchen Jordon, owner of If the Shoe Fits, Charleston, W.Va., said “Right now there’s a boot from Jumping Jacks called the Hard Hat, a boys’ construction walking boot for plantar fasciitis for $42-$46 retail, that the girls are just cleaning the shelves on. No one’s even blinking an eye on the price.”

The Midwest

Brands: For boys, Jumping Jacks’ CL Kids; for girls, Graphique; and for both, L.A. Gear Lights. Styles: Branded sneakers; hook-and-loop fasteners; lug-heeled styles from Rebels; Skechers’ low and mid-tops in suede and canvas with chunky heels; maryjanes; lug-soled penny loafers in leather and suede; Kinderland’s boot with sock attached; Birkenstock sandals; Converse One Star; Airwalk for older kids.

Prices: $30-$70

Comments: Many Midwest store owners were too busy to comment. But the quick-talking ones said sandal sales were dying off as the mid-to end-of-summer mindset seeps over parents. As far as school shoes go, many have the same sentiment: “It’s a little early to tell,” said Dave Gotskind, owner of two-unit Gotskind Shoes, Oak Park, Ill. “The parochial schools out here still want them in fairly basic shoes – basic straps and ties are selling. And for boys, it’s that little chunkier heel that is still selling. The time of imports at $65, forget it; they don’t want to mess with that anymore.”

We do a promotion for b-t-s in August, so people start early, but some wide shoes for bunions haven’t come in yet. A lot of the industry is late in shipping,” said Beryl Bloch, co-owner, Kickers, Northbrook, Ill. “Doc Marten has some new colors, with the Analine shiny leather selling great,” she added. At Kickers, fast fashion sells, said Bloch, and price has little effect on customers. Of the high-priced Doc Martens, Bloch said: “They’re all sold out. I tried to reorder already… We’re very forward fashion for junior high to adult. We have five-year-olds, too, but our strength is in the junior market.”

The West Coast

Brands: Grendha, Nike, Stride Rite, LA Gear

Styles: Fisherman jellies from Grendha for $10.99; Nike’s Air Turmoil, $46, and Nike Air Diamond Fury, $49; Stride Rite Rimrock hiker; L.A. Gear’s L.A. Lights series for $47-$53; Stride Rite Sprint, a Velcro-hooked sneaker in black and teal, $40; Leo ballet flats, $17.99; Stride Rite Sweet Pea sandal in white, $24; Stride Rite Supercharge, a Velcro low-top for $41; Stride Rite Splashdance leather casual, $40.

Prices: $25-$45 is average

Comments: The weather, if it has delayed the fall buying period, has also prolonged the summer sales. Mike Padilla, a buyer with Brooks Shoes for Kids, Los Angeles, said, “jellies, jellies and jellies” are one of the moving items at his store. Other than that, however, he noted, “we’re in the doldrums right now. We never had to reorder [this summer].”

Others agreed. “There’s not much of a big bang of anything right now. Some of the Skechers’ items are starting to sell along with some hiking boots, but that’s about it,” said Frank Burmann of Chalk Talk Bootery, Thousand Oaks, Calif.

“I can’t even figure a trend out yet,” said Gary Manprin of Burch’s and Combs Footwear, Eugene, Ore. “We don’t know if lighted shoes, hikers or high-tops or going to be big. People are starting to look, but they aren’t buying…but then we only have about half of our fall stuff out yet.”

Why watches look like watches

Watches were viewed as jewelry pieces when they were introduced in Germany and France after 1500. As jewelry pieces, importance was given to decorations rather than functionality, rendering accuracy as slightly relevant to their appeal. However, stuhrling original watch review, social and economic developments made watches more accessible to the ordinary people and they were increasingly viewed as functional pieces. Manufacturer and buyer emphasis on decoration was also diverted, leading to revolutionary change in shapes, sizes and design.

Today’s watches descend from timepieces that are best understood as talismans in the form of mechanical jewels

Most of today’s watches are functional accessories, tools that are worn on the wrist to keep up with a busy schedule. This wasn’t always the case. Earlier in this century and throughout the 19th century, timepieces were carried in the pocket. Earlier still, before there were pockets as we know them, they were worn as pendant jewels, suspended from a chatelaine at the waist or simply held in the hand as an object of wonder.

Not only do early watches look quite different from their modern descendants, but our attitude toward them has changed greatly also. To appreciate early watches, it helps to put aside the modern notion that watches exist mainly to keep time. Initially, clocks and sundials were more tangible representations of time as a concept than devices to measure it.

Watches first appeared in Germany and France shortly after 1500, but they were woefully inaccurate for the first 200 years of their existence. They were so inaccurate that minute hands were superfluous and didn’t appear until nearly 1700. Even if early watches could have kept accurate time, the coiled springs that made them tick would run down in less than a day. These timepieces are best understood as talismans in the form of mechanical jewels.

Watches evolved from small table clocks like the one serving as symbolic decoration in the 16th century portrait shown in Figure 1. The clock of the Renaissance was a metaphor for the sitter’s relatively brief lifetime and insignificant accomplishments as compared with Creation. Because of akribos xxiv watches review, watches also were meant to display wealth, case decoration was usually more important than the mechanism inside. Unadorned, functional cases were the exception until the primary purpose of a watch became timekeeping.

The watch case is a cleverly engineered container designed to protect a delicate piece of machinery so it may be carried around. Unlike other jewels whose form is not determined by function, a watch case must be constructed under narrow constraints that dictate, to a certain extent, the watch’s appearance.

The parts: You don’t have to understand in intimate detail how watches work to appreciate their history. In simplest terms, a watch has four components that must be accommodated within the case. These are the face or dial, a train of gears known as the wheelwork, a coiled mainspring that provides the power to turn the wheels and, finally, a controlling device called the escapement. Each of these components influences watch-case design in its own way.

The first and most obvious component, the dial, has numerals to indicate the time. Initially, the top lid of the case served as a dial, with the hour hand fitted and exposed outside. This was a satisfactory arrangement as long as the watch remained stationary. But it was problematic if carried around or made into jewelry. The hand was too vulnerable and easily lost or snagged on clothing.

These inconveniences may have prompted the first step in the transformation from drum clock to pendant jewel. As soon as watch cases acquired pendant rings that allowed them to be worn around the neck, they also got lids to protect the dial and hands. Watch crystals were not common until the mid-17th century. But once introduced, many early lids were cut away and fitted with crystals to make viewing the dial easier.

The familiar dial with a ring of 12 numerals around its edge appears on the earliest watches. Other highly decorative arrangements were attempted, but few survived for long because most were effectively illegible.

The gears: The second component of a watch, the wheelwork or train of gears, moves the hand to indicate the time. The number of teeth on gears needed to move hands is easy to calculate, but placing the actual gears in a pattern that function as a time machine isn’t straightforward. Consequently, early watches were thick because the wheels needed to make them work properly took a lot of space.

Until the 19th century, most watchmakers made their movements out of two brass plates separated by stout decorative pillars. Think of this as a thick sandwich with the plates as bread and the wheels as filling. A large movement needed a large case, not unlike a bowl. In French, cases of this type are called bassine or basin. Such large, flat surfaces begged for decoration, and casemakers complied.

By the first decade of the 17th century, small clocks became true watches as cases shrank to slightly larger than the size of a jumbo egg. Cases came in diverse shapes: oval, octagonal, fluted or even in the fanciful forms of flowers or animals. Not unlike other pendant jewels of the period, they were made of precious metals, hardstones and sometimes enameled.

By the second quarter of the 17th century, watch cases were constructed pretty much as they would be for the next 200 years. Watches were now small enough to be carried or worn as pendant jewels. But their weight still made them inconvenient and easily damaged when worn. The problem of swinging was solved by a shorter chain or a chatelaine. Pockets would become a good place to carry a watch, but until costume changed to incorporate this convenience, watches remained pendants.

The increased use of tissot watches for men as jewelry in the mid-17th century coincided with the rise of the newly developed technique of colored enamel painting. Some of the finest 17th century polychrome enamels survive as watch cases. The early 20th-century horologist G.H. Baillie aptly called this period “the great age of decoration.”

It’s unlikely that watches, particularly enameled examples, were carried around much because existing ones seldom shows sign of wear. Instead, they often appear to have sustained injuries from a single accident after which they were retired to prevent further damage.

Power source: The third important watch component, the mainspring, is the power source that drives the gears. Mechanical movements are driven by this spring wound into a tight coil with a separate key. The earliest watches had to be taken out of their cases to be wound, a great inconvenience that suggests they probably weren’t used regularly.

Watches work far better if they remain protected within their cases. To keep the movement enclosed, watchmakers began to cut a hole in the case through which to wind the spring. English and Dutch watchmakers preferred to have access from behind, so their holes were cut into the case back. Even with this improvement, holes still let in dirt and moisture. To prevent this, the movement eventually was put into an inner case, pierced with a winding hole and then surrounded by an outer case. The two comprised a “pair case” that divides the protective and decorative functions between a closely fitting inner case and an often extravagantly decorated outer case.

The cases are made of many materials, but silver and gold predominate. Inner cases are absolutely plain, pierced only by a single hole through which the watch can be wound. If the watch was designed to indicate the time by striking a bell (a repeating watch or clock watch), however, the inner case often was elaborately pierced around the circumference so the sound could escape. This piercing often was engraved to imitate a complex latticework, usually inhabited by exotic birds or serpents with grotesque faces among vines and foliage.

Sometimes outer cases are severely plain, relieved only rarely by a monogram or crest, but some feature hardstone and shagreen (granulated, untanned leather). The most interesting outer cases are gold with intricate repousse and chased scenes, often from classical mythology. The art of gold chasing flourished during the mid-18th century, particularly in England.

The movement of a pair cased watch is held within the inner case by a hinge adjacent to the pendant and a small latch and spring under the dial at 6 o’clock. A tightly fitting, hinged bezel holds the crystal and serves as a protective lid.

Winding a pair case watch requires some dexterity. After the outer case is opened, the inner case is removed to expose the winding hole. As one hand inserts the key, the other must hold both cases. To avoid dropping the watch, pair cases are best wound sitting at a table.

In contrast, French and Swiss watches generally are wound through the dial, which eliminates the need for two cases. Just as in a pair case, the crystal, movement and single case are secured by a common hinge. Because the movement is inside the case during winding, an outer case for dustproofing is unnecessary. Though winding through the dial is easier because there’s no extra case to handle, chips in the dial’s enamel are inevitable unless the winder is careful.

In the early 19th century, a new case with two back lids was developed. The inner lid has two holes, one for winding and one for setting. This solved most of the earlier problems, but the best solution to the dirt and damage dilemma was eliminating the key. Keyless winding was an important development of the 19th century. The most successful scheme for this transformed the pendant of the watch into a winder. At last, the watch case no longer had to be opened to be wound.

The sound: The fourth important component of a watch is more often heard than seen. The familiar ticking sound of a watch is produced by the “escapement” as it gradually releases the mainspring at a constant rate. The timekeeping mechanism of the watch, escapements alternately lock and release the gear train. Without an escapement, a watch would unwind in an instant.

Together with the gear train, the escapement influences a watch’s thickness. Until the early years of the 18th century, watches had to be thick because the escapement took up a lot of room. In fact, French watches of the 1690s were so thick they were called oignons (onions). A state-of-the-art watch of 1700 could easily have been an inch thick.

The 18th- and 19th-century quest for precision produced new escapements, most of which took up less vertical space and consequently allowed watches to be thinner. By 1800, for example, a sophisticated watch would have been 1/4″ thick or less. The pursuit of thinness reached its 19th-century peak in the 1820s when Geneva watchmakers produced movements thin enough to be concealed in a coin. The equation of thin with elegant reemerged during the Art Deco era with Cartier’s ultra-thin dress watches.

Decoration: Once the watch ceased to be a metaphoric talisman during the 18th century, its decoration reflected tastes evident in other small gold-work of the time. Snuff boxes, containers with tight-fitting lids for storing snuff (tobacco), greatly influenced watch case design.

The English produced repousse gold snuff boxes made with the same techniques as pair cases. The French used enamel, varicolored gold and precious stones with virtuosity.

But watches and snuff boxes were luxury items. The notion that ordinary people could own watches did not become a reality until the 19th century, when the Industrial Revolution made greater accuracy and mass production possible.

NFL watches kick off new Bulova Sportstime division

Bulova Corp. this month becomes the first major U.S. watch supplier to launch a separate division for sports fashion products. The new division is called Sportstime.

Clothing and other products with sport team logos and colors are fast becoming a major retail industry. Many malls already have stores devoted to such products, “indicating the growing impact of sports and sport teams on fashion products,” says Robert Ryan, Bulova’s vice president of marketing. “Our new Sportstime division shows Bulova’s intent to become a major force in that market.”

Team graphics: Leading the Sportstime lineup are new watches featuring National Football Leagueteam graphics. The metal case strap watches are available in men’s and women’s sizes with graphics for each of the 28 NFL teams. One series ($49.95 retail) features the official team crests on the dials. The other ($34.95) uses colors and helmet art of each team.

The watches are ready for Christmas shipping and will be supported by advertising in sports magazines. Clocks will be introduced next year, adds Ryan.

Sportstime’s wares won’t be limited to NFL watches. Details weren’t available at press time, but Bulova expects to develop league-related products later this year based on reviews on bulova watches. The firm also may develop and market “sport fashion and themed products beyond affiliate merchandise,” he says.

Sportstime products will be available to all vendors of Bulova and Caravelle products, as well as the growing number of sports league product stores. (Bulova also may offer separate but parallel marketing programs for all its sports watches, such as those of Marine Star and the lower-priced Caravelle brand, says Ryan.)

Bulova has made customized, corporate and premium program watches for years. But its first major thrust into sports fashion occurred in 1988 with the production of watches for the winter and summer Olympics. The success of that project, plus the growing sales of sports logo merchandise, led Bulova to create the new division.

New markets: Sportstime is the latest in Bulova Corp.’s expansion into new markets that complement its core watch business. In the past year, it has added the 14k Ultime jewelry line, Buly (leisure-time products such as backbags, pouches and ski jackets with clocks), Classic Moments (watches featuring famous or original artwork), trendy TFX fashion nixon mens watches and its popular clock miniatures.

Consolidation and development of these markets, plus the addition of more new markets, will continue into next year, says Ryan. The changes are part of the overall tendency in retail to cultivate specialized markets, he notes.

Swiss exports match record – Better time for watches

The Swiss watch industry, in deep decline for 10 years, made a fragile recovery in 1984, which in terms of exports almost matched the record year of 1981.

Based on figures for the first 10 months of 1984, Andre Margot, president of the Watch- making Federation, which represents the approximately 700 companies involved in the industry, said exports of watches and movements probably grew for the year by 8 per cent in volume and 13.5 per cent in value, to almost 3.9 billion francs ($1.5-billion U.S.).

In the face of severe competition, employment in Switzerland’s watch industry has been cut by more than half in the past decade, including a 5 per cent drop in employment in 1984 to 30,000.

In 1983, to counter falling demand, the industry was restructured through the merging of the two largest companies, Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie and Societe Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogere.

Qualifying the success of the merger, Mr. Margot said: “The cash flow from the newly formed group leaves much to be desired. . . . A real pickup in investment has yet to come. There remains still, unfortunately, an excess of unused capacity and those unemployed . . . have yet to be reabsorbed.”

China goes shopping

The Chinese went on a spending spree last year, laying out a record $107-billion for consumer goods, and demand for luxury items is increasing, the Commerce Ministry said Thursday.

Retail sales rose 17 per cent in 1984 and could go up by nearly 20 per cent this year, the ministry told the New China News Agency and the newspaper China Daily.

It said luxury goods, clothing and better food were in demand.

The ministry said sales of food last year increased by 18 per cent, clothing by 16 per cent and household goods by 20 per cent.

This year refrigerators, television sets and high-protein foods are expected to be popular.

Fancy electrical goods have replaced the three status symbols of only a decade ago – bicycles,watches and manual sewing machines.

Western economists said the spending spree, while reflecting the success of an incentive-led economic boom, could also cause inflation. They said the Government would have to tread very carefully with its far- reaching economic reforms.

China has announced that during 1985 it will adjust prices to even out the distorted state- set price system, but workers’ real incomes will be protected where needed by wage increases.

This means more money will be chasing a limited number of consumer goods. Light Industry Minister Yang Bo said recently that supply might sometimes fail to meet demand.

Mesmerizing aspects to know about Invicta 5511 from Invicta watches review

The Invicta 5511 is recognized to be one among the most renowned model of watches from Invicta flagship models. This model would found with a design from world famous sub aqua noma III type of range and it would not very much hard to learn why. Accordingly to the Invicta review, this model has been sold in the market at a great level than other models of the same range offered by other brands. You can also learn from the review that the features offered with this model would make almost all watch lovers to crave for the purchase of one for them.

Here are some of the mesmerizing features that is provided with Invicta 5511 model as per Invicta watches review

The watch comprises of a large circular case of about 50 mm in diameter. It is made from none other than surgical grade quality steel so that it would offer much better level of performance when used in various conditions as well. There is a unidirectional bezel that can be found on top of the case and this is made up of stainless steel as well. This bezel would also match precisely with the color of the case. The bezel has been brushed with satin and most of the features embossed on it would be in Arabic numerals for each interval of five seconds. If you are really planning to buy this watch then it would be worth the price as the features that you can find in it would be provided on a top quality range of watches from brand like Rolex.

You can find a large sunray dial that is composed with silver indexes which are then coated with trinity of luminescent shades. You can also find indexes to be positioned on each hour expect for 2, 4, 10 and 12. The large and luminescence dial would make sure that the watch can be read at any possible conditions as well. It would work perfectly and can be read very easily even in pitch black darkness. This watch is a Swiss made that can be found on the number 6 of the hour. This means that, the watch has been completely made and assembled in Switzerland including the parts as well. You can find a date window next to hour number 4.

You can find around three different types of sub dials that would rest at hour number 2, 6 and 10. You can make use of these sub dials in conjunction with the crown that can be screwed down to measure the fraction of seconds effectively. As per the invicta 8926c review, The dial window on the watch is made of crystal type flame fusion which is exceptionally resistant to any type of scratches and any kind of sudden shock as well.

Another specialty of this model from Invicta than other models is that, a diver can wear this watch and dive to a depth of about 1650 feet as well. Hence it’s majorly opted by the true professional divers.

Luxury stays bubbly: watches, bags drive LVMH sales up 10.5%

Consumers are still lapping up luxury on a worldwide scale.

Signaling continued momentum for the high-flying sector, LVMH Mot Hennessy Louis Vuitton beat forecasts Tuesday and reported a 10.5 percent rise in second-quarter sales to 3.41 billion euros, or $4.29 billion, headlined by strong demand for logo handbags, champagne and high-end watches.

The world’s largest luxury group reported revenue growth across all business units and geographic regions, bolstering its confidence of achieving “very significant” growth in profits for the full year. LVMH is slated to report first-half earnings Sept. 6.

Analysts predicted a strong showing from other luxury firms, with Herms, Bulgari, PPR and Tod’s all due to report first-half sales this week.

Goldman Sachs analyst Jacques-Franck Dossin, encouraged by LVMH citing rapid development in the U.S., wrote in a research note that the results offered “a reassuring data point for the sector, and [we] continue to believe that concerns over a slowdown in luxury goods are overdone.”

LVMH’s sales in the half rose 12.9 percent to 6.97 billion euros or $8.57 billion. Dollar figures are at the average exchange rate.

“We are very satisfied with our performance in the first half,” said Jean-Jacques Guiony, LVMH’s finance director, during a conference call on Tuesday. “All areas have contributed to this strong growth. Europe and the U.S. have remained very strong and Asia is moving from strength to strength.”

Questioned by analysts about any risk of a U.S. slowdown, Guiony replied dryly: “We are not particularly worried.”

In the first half, total sales in the U.S. leaped 11 percent in dollars, with watches and jewelry rising 21 percent, perfumes and cosmetics 15 percent, selective retailing 14 percent, fashion and leather goods 8 percent and wines and spirits 6 percent. Guiony declined to quantify July sales trends, but said there was no slowdown.

One of the few blemishes on the results was a dip in Vuitton sales in Japan in the second quarter, which LVMH blamed on an April 3 price increase there. Guiony explained that Japanese increases are announced two or three weeks in advance, creating a “bubble” of demand beforehand and a negative impact thereafter. “This is shifting 2 or 3 points of growth from one quarter to another,” he said. “The price increases are absorbed quite rapidly. We don’t see major changes on the Japanese market so far.”

Sales in Asia, meanwhile, roared ahead in the first half, with sales of wines and spirits catapulting 34 percent, perfumes and cosmetics 29 percent, fashion and leather goods 22 percent and watchesand jewelry 21 percent.

Guiony said the boom in Asia applies to all countries and reflects a sharp rise in demand rather than any big increase in store openings there. “We are getting more people in the stores and more people drinking cognac,” he said.

Similarly, Guiony said growth in Europe is “coming from all directions,” with Italy described as “very strong” and Germany as “booming.”

In a report last week, HSBC analysts Antoine Belge and Erwan Rambourg characterized rapid growth in Europe as the “real surprise” of the luxury sector this year, underpinned “by more than just healthy trends in tourism and emergent Eastern Europe: even in so-called ‘mature’ markets such as France, Italy and the U.K., most luxury brands are attracting new clients, particularly an increasingly young clientele.”

In their view, investors “overestimate the possible impact of a potential rise in interest rates on worldwide demand for luxury goods” and that trends should remain above historical averages through 2007.

At LVMH, double-digit organic growth at Vuitton buoyed sales in the fashion and leather goods division, up 12 percent in the half to 2.47 billion euros, or $3 billion. The company cited “extraordinary” success with Vuitton’s suede and perforated monogram handbags and new colors in its permanent denim line.

Fendi was cited for “exceptional” revenue growth and crowned a “rising star” within the group. LVMH also highlighted strength at Loewe, Marc Jacobs and Berluti, and lauded a solid performance for Donna Karan’s collection line.

Questioned about reports of a forthcoming management change at Karan, Guiony declined comment.

Robust demand for Tag Heuer’s expensive Carrera and Aquaracer watches buoyed the watchesand jewelry division, which posted a 23 percent spike in the half to 320 million euros, or $393.6 million. LVMH also cited good progress with Zenith and Dior watches, primarily its Christal model.

Continued growth in Chinese tourism led sales in the selective retailing division up 7 percent in the half, to 1.8 billion euros, or $2.2 billion. At Sephora, LVMH highlighted “excellent” sales and market share gains in Europe and double-digit same-store sales growth in the U.S.

Sales in perfumes and cosmetics leaped 13 percent in the half to 1.17 billion euros, or $1.44 billion, led by “excellent” performance of Dior product lines, especially its Capture skin care line supported by an ad campaign featuring Sharon Stone. The company also trumpeted Guerlain’s Orchide Imperiale skin care and Givenchy’s Very Irresistible line.

Price increases in key markets buoyed revenues in wines and spirits, with sales in the half bubbling up 18 percent to 1.22 billion euros, or $1.5 billion.

LVMH shares rose 1.8 percent Tuesday to close at 76.70 euros, or $96.40 on the Paris Bourse.

Separately on Tuesday, Christian Dior SA, parent of LVMH and the Dior fashion house, posted results largely in line with LVMH’s. Sales at Dior rose 5.8 percent in the second quarter to total 164 million euros, or $206.1 million.

The company noted that its retail network now numbers 202 boutiques.

Caption(s): Suede handbags were hot sellers for Louis Vuitton. / High-end watches, like this Dior Christal model, performed well.

Fossil’s business keeps ticking ahead

Fossil Inc. conquered the fashion watch world during the Eighties and Nineties with moderately priced, stylish timepieces. Now the company known for its all-American aesthetic is rapidly expanding its international presence and entering a variety of new fashion and watch categories.

“Fossil is the Timex of today’s generation,” said Robin Murchison, an analyst with New Orleans-based investment firm Hibernia Southcoast Capital. “And the company is doing so many things, I think it will continue to gain market share.”

The company’s drive manifests itself almost across the board, from licensing to retail rollouts to product launches. Fossil jewelry, for example, is now sold in Europe, with plans to introduce it Stateside, and Fossil apparel — including jeans and tops — is being tested in company stores. Handbags have been updated and expanded to include more directional styles in fabrics such as straw, suede and velvet.

Fossil also dabbles in the designer world, producing timepieces for some of the hottest names in fashion, including DKNY, Emporio Armani and Diesel. This holiday season, the company will add to its designer stable, launching a line of watches for Burberry. In addition, Fossil is launching a new crop of watches that features special technologies that can sync with personal digital assistants and other high-tech gadgets.

On the retail front, Fossil operates 93 stores including 50 outlet units, scattered throughout the U.S., Australia, U.K. and Singapore. This year, the company plans this year to open five outlet stores as well as three accessories doors in Fair Oaks, Va., Las Vegas and Detroit, Mich.

The Richardson, Tex.-based firm is also rapidly expanding its international business by acquiring new licenses as well as some of its distribution partners. The $545 million company last fall went on an international shopping spree, acquiring Swiss watchmakers Montres Antima SA, Meliga Habillement Horloger SA and Synergies Horlogeres. Fossil in the fall also acquired the worldwide rights to the Zodiac brand. The sum paid for all four companies was approximately $7 million.

The acquisition of the three manufacturers provides the company with the design, sourcing and production capabilities necessary to manufacture and market Swiss-made watches. Currently, the bulk of the company’s products are made in East Asia. These acquisitions will allow the company to manufacture pricier watches that could be sold to independent jewelry stores — which typically balk at selling non-Swiss-made watches — where Fossil does not have a significant presence. Zodiac, Fossil’s first Swiss brand, features stylish timepieces that range from $300 to $1,000 at retail.

Fossil in April relaunched Zodiac with price points ranging from $300 to $1,000. The line includes fashion, sport and everyday styles, many in steel, for men and women.

One of the best-known names in the watch world, Fossil burst onto the scene in the mid-Eighties, at a time when fashion watches were just becoming a hot property. The company was founded by Tom and Kosta Kartsotis, two brothers originally from Albuquerque, N.M., who saw a niche for trendy styles that didn’t break the bank.

During the Nineties, Fossil solidified its position as a key department store watch resource and started to introduce other categories, including leather goods in 1992 and sunglasses in 1995. The company grew quickly, eventually going public in 1993, and it remains one of the few watch companies to successfully make the jump to Wall Street. Now sold in more than 8,000 doors, Fossil’s products continue to account for a hefty chunk of the overall fashion watch category — as much as 35 percent, according to one industry executive.

“What the company has been doing is working for them,” said Bill Baldwin, an analyst at Baldwin, Anthony & McIntyre, a Dallas-based investment firm. “They have been successful with their licensing arrangements and they still have a lot of opportunities in Europe.”

Unlike many fashion companies today, however, Fossil has grown from within. While it has a broad product array, the company has eschewed licenses for the Fossil name, choosing instead to produce all Fossil products in-house.

“We continue to develop Fossil, and we feel we have real staying power,” said Richard Gundy, president of Fossil’s watches and stores division. “We have grown organically, and we have done it by growing our existing businesses and leveraging our design and infrastructure.”

On the financial front, Fossil hit a few rough spots during the last few quarters, but it has come back in recent months. During the fourth quarter of 2001, sales grew 10.6 percent to $176.1 million from $159.3 million, while earnings improved to 59 cents a share from 57 cents, excluding charges.

For 2001, net income, excluding charges, fell to $1.49 a share from $1.71, as sales grew 8.2 percent to $545.5 million from $504.3 million. Nonetheless, Hibernia Southcoast Capital’s Murchison said the company ended the year “on a positive note.”

“2001 was a difficult year for most retailers, and Fossil was no exception,” she said. “However the company continued to execute their international initiatives and ended the year in a strong financial position.”

Watches remain the company’s key focus, accounting for about 75 of overall sales, which are expected to grow to more than $600 million this year, due in part to its many new introductions. Two years ago, the company formed a think tank to focus on the high tech watch arena, Gundy said. As part of this initiative, in late April Fossil will introduce timepieces compatible with personal digital assistant features. Data such as calendars, to-do lists and addresses from the user’s pda are downloaded to the watch through an infrared interface. The watches will retail for $145.

Other technologically advanced lines introduced include Big Tic, which has both analog and digital time displays, and Kaleido, a line of watches featuring dials that change color at the push of a button.

The company’s offerings are also getting a major infusion of hipness with a collection of watchesdesigned by Philippe Starck. The line, first introduced last year, has plastic and stainless steel straps and distinct digital modules featuring oversized numbers and is being expanded with a number of new styles for fall.

The company’s core line, carrying an average price of $65, continually gets updated, and styles on tap for fall include oversized looks and plenty of colored dials.

Overall, department stores remain the company’s core distribution channel for watches and other products, accounting for between 60 and 65 percent of sales. But specialty stores, including Watch World, and youth-oriented chains like Gadzooks, Pacific Sunwear of California and The Buckle have become more important, Gundy said. Fossil is also expanding the distribution of its Relic brand, which is priced between $50 and $85 and is sold by mass retailers, including Sears, Kohl’s and J.C. Penney.

Fossil is also continuing to expand its international business, which has been propelled by the recent acquisitions of its distributors in France and Australia. The international business accounted for 35 percent of total sales last year.

Licensing is also emerging as a major driver, due to its deals with established and up-and-coming fashion names such as Paul Frank, which is geared toward younger customers.

‘`Now that they have access to new movements, you will see Fossil go after more and more licensed businesses,” observed Murchison. “It will bring them into new distribution and help drive business.”

Tag Heuer relaunches its 2000 watches

Tag Heuer is relaunching its 2000 watch collection and trying to expand its reach to women, while developing a new policy to discourage retailers from discounting watches.

When the revamped 2000 line, with its broadened range, begins to hit stores in September, it will be the largest of several Tag lines, according to Susan Nicholas, president of Tag Heuer USA. The 2000 collection has been the company’s signature line since its launch in 1982.

“The 2000 line is our entry series; the true classic sport watch,” said Nicholas. “We had a 1500 line and a 4000 line that flanked the 2000 series, but they have now been phased out. We’re taking the 2000 line and embracing a broader price point.”

There are now three tiers to the 2000 assortment. At the low end is 2000 Sport, the most youthful, featuring multicolored bezels and retailing from $650 to $795. 2000 Classic features the recognizable 12-sided bezel and stainless steel bracelet, and retails from $795 to $1,095.

At the highest end is 2000 Exclusive, a sleek combination of stainless steel and rose gold with anthracite, blue, silver or black faces retailing for $1,050 to $1,450. The rose gold looks are expected to be particularly strong with women, Nicholas said.

Despite tough going in Asia, where the firm expects a dip in sales of as much as 5 to 10 percent in the first half, the U.S. division is on plan and expects to achieve modest growth of 5 to 7 percent, Nicholas said.

“Obviously, we’re quite important to Tag’s corporate structure right now,” she said. Nicholas said if the firm can produce enough of its Kirium watches and the 2000 launch is slightly more successful than planned, the U.S. could contribute even more to the bottom line.

Tag also is taking a dramatic and controversial step to stop stores from discounting watches, a common practice among jewelry and watch retailers.

“We implemented a new policy effective July 1, saying that we could elect not to do business with any retailer who discounts our product more than 15 percent,” said Nicholas. “We’re about to take our first steps toward enforcement and are prepared to close doors and know that we will. It takes so much to build a brand. Why should we view discounting in a different light?”

A six-page ad insert, called “The Line on Design,” will feature a 4-to-2 ratio of female to male models and will make its debut in September issues of Vogue, Vanity Fair, HG and GQ.

Tag Heuer, along with Ford, will for the first time be a major sponsor of the fourth annual Gen Art Faces in Fashion event that showcases young talent. The show will take place at the Manhattan Center here on Sept. 16 and in Los Angeles for the first time on Oct. 5. The runway and still-life exhibit will present six women’s wear designers, two men’s wear designers and four accessories lines.

Nicholas said Tag liked the idea of focusing on young talent, and this is the first time the company is doing something for women’s fashion. Tag Heuer has been a sponsor of the men’s apparel runway shows here in the past.

“In sports and fashion, we like to identify with people on the rise,” said Nicholas. “Tag is for the person for whom the best may lie ahead.”