Watch scene

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For Disney, coming up with a new way to market Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and its whole wide world of characters was as simple as a snap.

The Disney Snap Watch, which hit the market in August, marries a plastic case with an innovative metal backing that flips open and closes securely for easy transfer to an array of rubber straps and even Tinkerbell’s wings, Piglet’s striped jersey, Pluto’s dog collar or, for mere mortals, a coat lapel, backpack or sneaker.

We wanted it to be personal, to allow people to express themselves,” said Bob Baldocchi, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Seiko Instruments, which holds the Disney watch license for North America, Europe and parts of Latin America.

Each Disney Snap Watch comes with its own strap for a suggested retail price of $35. Alternate straps retail for $10 each, with a typical assortment of eight coordinating styles for each design. Straps come in both solid colors and patterns, and each features magnet closures.

“Disney is a brand that is able to cater to the youngest of kids to mom,” said Baldocchi. “The first Mickey Mouse watch style made in 1932 has sold millions and millions of units. It has a built-in history and heritage, and that’s what makes this such an interesting project to be working on.”

NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOE

From the Bahama prints at Proenza Schouler to the safari-esque silhouettes at Diane von Furstenberg, the look of the tropics has popped up on spring 2005 runways. So it’s an ideal time for the two-year-old company, Caribbean Joe, which has built its look on island living, to launch its 13th product category.

Debuting at November’s accessories market is Caribbean Joe’s first collection of watches, designed and manufactured by licensee Genender Watches.

Watches further the Caribbean Joe lifestyle,” explained Ken Sitomer, a principle partner.

According to Amy Genender, the head of licensing at Genender Watches, the 24 styles will target men and women and reflect both current watch trends and a casual style with a tropical twist. Retail pricing will begin at $40 and go up to $150.

Although the company declined to release specific sales estimates for the watch collection, Genender believes that Caribbean Joe’s past success with licenses will be repeated with the latest line as well. “Nobody ever knows in advance, but we hope to sell lots and lots of watches.”

THE SAFETY DANCE

Shawn Montgomery, a designer at nine-month-old Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Monji, realized the safety pin, when embellished with colored beads and strung together on elastic, could produce endless bracelet variations, as was the case in the Eighties when teen girls crafted the items to exchange with their best friends.

But Montgomery and her partner, James Lambert, weren’t satisfied with rehashing the bracelets alone. They wanted to design something more marketable.

“One day, I thought, that’s it, a watch,” said Montgomery. The watches come in 12 different color schemes and are priced at $45 wholesale. Montgomery said they are popular with all ages.

“It’s a fun, clever, hip idea,” she said. “For young girls, it’s eye candy, but it’s also sophisticated enough for older women to throw on with jeans and a T-shirt or to wear out at night.

The watches are presently sold in boutiques in 12 states, including Shop Girl in Chicago, Henri Bendel in New York and Fred Segal in Santa Monica, Calif. Monji is expecting $4.8 million in sales over the next year.

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