Thursday, 29 May 2008

The name that spells luxury - Cartier

In the world of generics, there are very few names that have been elevated to such status. Think Hoover, Kleenex and Thermos - functional, common-garden products that earned their cachet for being universally used.

It probably would not be long before Cartier earns the same accolade; in the reverential coinage of such as "the Cartier look".

Founded in 1847 as jewellers to the gentry, the Cartier name means more than expensive baubles today. The concept mooted in 1968 with Les Must de Cartier speaks volumes of both cash and cachet. It certainly comes very close to being a generic if not one already as embodied in the tenet.

One simply "must have a Cartier" if one is to reflect class and luxury. The range of Cartier goods today is far-ranging, from lighters to leather goods. And in between, Cartier perfumes and other conspicuous items do separate the hoi poloi from the affluent.

As the largest jeweller in the world and the sterling reputation of being bijou creators to the rich, famous and blue-blooded, Cartier has earned its impeccable credentials. Rare are the collections of the wealthy and royalty that do not have a specially-commissioned Cartier jewel.

In 1984, the Cartier Foundation of Contemporary Art was established and that should take the cachet well into the 21st century.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Watch trends (part 3)

Today, most people own more than one watch. For example, executives may have watches that compliment their status and form part of their working attire, besides owning watches with or without diamonds for evening functions and weekend, sporty watches for casual wear.

The introduction of fashion brand watches has injected very keen competition in the watch business on the one hand, but this has also helped revolutionise the watch market as a part of our lifestyle. The watch business was booming back then and anyone who had a fashion name simply added watches to their product line. Consumers were confused with the fancy and colourful watches that were priced reasonably.

However, these fashion watches added an element of interest in the watch industry, which watch retailers and agents felt was an advantage to the industry.

Within that short span of time, consumers noticed an image problem conflict with the price of the fashion timepieces, which in turn destroys the image of the fashion name. Slowly but surely, the demand for these franchised names sizzled off.

Now, customers are buying simple, classical and mechanical watches that are manufactured by authentic watchmakers.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Watch trends (part 2)

Basically, watches fall in the high, medium or low price range, to meet the needs of different kinds of customers. Those in the watchmaking forte produce good mechanical watches that belong to the higher price range and cater to customers who buy good quality watches that last and depict their status symbol.

Automatic and quartz watches fall in the medium priced range, the bulk of which cater to the professionals and engineers who appreciate the watch movements. And there are also cheap and fun accessory watches.

Presently, a revival of the past is distinct as watchmakers move towards the old style watches with emphasis placed on complicated watches. Watchmakers are also recreating old movements and putting them into new watches. And Swiss watchmaking is making a comeback through authentic, original watches to cater to customers who have become very discerning.

There is also a growing breed of sophisticated buyers who know exactly what they are looking for. They go for value, history of the manufacturer and quality and do not mind paying more for a watch.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Watch trends (part 1)

Since its creation, the wristwatch has always been a marriage of form and function. While it serves as a timekeeping device, its form is a piece of jewellery.

As a jewellery, it traces its roots back to the bracelet, which has adorned the human wrist for many millennia. They are seen on statuary and other portrayals of human adornment and fashion from nearly every era and from around the world.

Its function begins much later. Mechanical means of marking time began in the late 13th century.

While there is no one date for the "invention" of the bracelet watch, some significant steps in its development are traced to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The trend continues in the 19th century. Generally, all watches tell time but a few reveal the sophistication of a customer's taste.

Over the past decades, the watch market has been inundated by countless new brands. Even companies not previously involved in the watch business have diversified into this product line, which keeps the business competitive.

And there will always be customers who want the best the watch industry can offer. Such customers are part of a very selective clientele. They may also own fashion watches as accessories but those serve very different purposes.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Art Watches

Up until the middle of last century, the fine line between what was art and watch design had not been trespassed. In the late 1950s, an American, George Horwitt, a disciple of the Bauhaus movement mooted the theory that machine-inspired aesthetics would be used for everyday objects. His watch design, famous for its simplicity and still available today, features a plain black dial with a single gold dot marking 12 o'clock. It was the first watch face that was permanently put on display as part of the Design Collection at the New York Museum of Modern Art and became known as "The Museum Watch".

In 1961, it was acquired by Movado and has since inspired an entire collection of Movado watches, known collectively as "The Movado Museum Watch Collection". A very thin Movado quartz movement was used to replicate the flatness of Horwitt's design.

Since then, many watch companies have commissioned contemporary artists to either design a specific piece or to grant permission for a work of art to be incorporated into a time piece. Thus was born the Art Watch, meant to be taken more seriously than as the result of whimsy. Most art watches reflect contemporary motifs rather than classicism.

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