When it comes to telling time, recently technology has trumped tradition. Items like the wristwatch have seemingly become obsolete, being replaced with high tech gadgets like mobile devices, iPods, and computers. However, classic craftsmanship, vintage-inspired styles, and high-tech updates have consumers buzzing again. Unit sales of watches have increased annually in almost every price segment since 2009.
“Reports on the death of the wristwatch have been greatly exaggerated,” says Mike Bisceglia, president of online and catalog jewelry retailer Stauer. “Yes, you can check the time on your smartphone, but nothing can match the timeless appeal of a wristwatch when it comes to defining a style and sending a message.”
Vanja Buvac, founder and CEO of Cadence Watch Company, agrees: “We’re seeing great month on month growth in sales as new generations discover wristwatches, not just tell time, but to look great and express your identity.”
Trend experts say that more men are choosing unique watches as functional fashion statements. At luxury auction house Christie’s, sales of vintage watches are booming. Collectible timepiece sales topped $116 million, making it the sixth largest category for them.
According to a report by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, 2011 broke all records for the Swiss watch industry. Exports of Swiss-made wristwatches were up 13.8 percent representing an increase of 3.6 million watches. Notably, the popularity of automatic watches soared over 20 percent. Movement makers in Japan, the world’s other great watch country, are seeing similar gains.
“In a high-tech world, people appreciate the crafted technology of automatic watches,” says Dan Buerk, a Philadelphia-based watch expert.