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.

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