Meyers out to make noise in watches

Meyers is hoping to build a business on a blend of jewelry and watches.

The collection of watches, launched in the U.S. earlier this year, combines jewelry and watchmaking with an unusual design feature. Like a sunburst, the watch bezel is adorned with dangling diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies that make a rattling noise when shaken.

It’s a perfect union between the Swiss watch world and the couture high-end jewelry world,” Doron Basha, president and owner of San Diego-based Meyers USA, said. “The watch business has gotten to a point where the consumer became very open to a much more creative and aggressive design, utilizing colored gems and high-end jewels.”

The company was started by Basha, who was the vice president of sales and marketing for Alor International, the distributor for Philippe Charriol, and Paris-based Jean Christoph Niarquin and Cyril Waskoll.

“We were introduced by a good friend of ours who is a retailer, and we really clicked and decided to launch this company,” recalled Basha.

Niarquin comes with a strong background in watches, having been the Paris distributor for several upscale watchmakers, including Audemars Piguet, Breitling and TechnoMarine, while Waskoll is a jewelry maker in his own right and produces a namesake line.

The result of this collaboration is a watch collection that is rooted in jewelry without forsaking the timepiece element.

Case in point: The Lady diamond Samba is inspired by the colors and moods of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival, and its round or square case is set with 20 dangling rubies, sapphires and diamonds, with matching-color crocodile straps. Also in the line is the Ladydiamond Mouna — inspired by Paris socialite Mouna Ayoub — which is set with 120 diamonds and adorned with dangling briolette sapphires. The piece de resistance is arguably the Ladydiamond After Eight, with a pave diamond chronograph face and multicolored sapphires both on and dangling from the bezel.

“The tassel element of sapphires, rubies, emeralds and diamonds makes this line recognizable,” said Basha. “Hanging tassels are becoming a popular look in jewelry. They give the watch an element of playfulness, joyfulness and happiness.”

Retail price points are between $3,500 for the Ladydiamond Samba with a plain dial to $37,000 for the diamond and sapphire Ladydiamond After Eight.

The collection has already been picked up by upscale independent jewelry stores and jewelry departments in specialty stores including Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, Mayor’s Jewelers and London Jewelers.

Basha said he targets a distribution of 150 to 200 doors in the U.S. Wholesale volume projections are between $35 million and $50 million.

“About 95 percent [of the watches] purchased so far have been bought by women for themselves,” Basha said. “The average price point is between $10,000 and $11,000. It is interesting that women are ready to spend that kind of money on a product that speaks to them. Men don’t necessarily understand this product, but it speaks to a woman’s heart because it comes from jewelry. You have an emotional reaction.”

Morellato Feels It’s Time On Fifth Avenue

The Italian watch and jewelry brand opened its first freestanding store in the U.S. on Saturday, in New York’s landmark French Building at 551 Fifth Avenue. Designed by Milan-based SGS Architects, the 1,600-square-foot boutique houses Morellato‘s jewelry, watch, writing instrument and leather goods collections.

Morellato & Sector Group, which operates the Morellato and Sector divisions, as well as multiple watch and jewelry licenses, is a major player throughout Italy, with sales of $368 million. The Morellato brand encompasses 42 percent of the country’s fashion jewelry market share, according to the company.

In the last year, it opened several boutiques throughout the world in Shanghai; Panama; CancA*n, Mexico; London, and Berlin bringing the total freestanding store count to 57 worldwide. Marco Frison, chief executive officer of the firm’s U.S. subsidiary, Morellato & Sector USA, expects that, in the next three years, 40 percent of the company’s business outside Europe will take place in the U.S. He anticipates the new store will exceed $1 million in sales after its first year.

“Morellato wants to do things in the U.S. in the right way,” Frison said. “The distribution we have in Europe and the structure is something we cannot replicate exactly in the U.S., so we’re studying the right way to enter and the right moment to enter. This is a tough moment for the economy in general, but the Morellato concept is so strong in perceived value. We’re offering prices that are unbeatable, which puts us into a special positioning. We want to let our customers have a luxury experience and an emotional experience.”

All Morellato products range in price from $35 to $300. The new store will offer the firm’s accessibly priced jewelry and watches from its own labels Morellato, Sector and Philip Watches as well as from its licensed brands, which include Roberto Cavalli Timewear, Just Cavalli Time, Just Cavalli Jewels, Miss Sixty watches, Miss Sixty jewelry, Pirelli watches and John Galliano watches, launching next year. The company’s licensed products retail at higher prices, with Pirelli watches capping off the assortment at $14,750.

As to whether the firm is planning a larger-scale U.S. rollout, Frison said Morellato would prefer to remain a niche brand.

“We need to let Morellato enter slowly into the U.S. market,” he said. “Our strategy is not to open a lot of flagship stores. Our target mission is to let American people know more by having a few important locations. We are, however, considering an aggressive marketing campaign and examining our wholesale capabilities.”

Morellato is in talks to expand distribution into department and specialty stores. The firm’s Just Cavalli collection can be found throughout Nordstrom and Macy’s East.

Morellato dates back to 1930, when Giulio Morellato opened a watch repair shop in Bologna, Italy, before going on to specialize in leather watchbands. When he died in 1965, his closest colleague, Silvano Carraro, took over the firm. In the years following, a string of major investments were made in the company as it took on a leading role in European watchband marketing and licensing.

In 1990, Carraro turned over leadership of the company to his sons, Massiwmo and Marco, who are seeking to elevate the brand into a global player.