Ten years ago, an article in the Sacramento Bee
predicted that with the advent of cellphones, the wristwatch may soon "go the way of the abacus." In fact, exactly the opposite is happening. While people may rely on their cellphones for timekeeping, "watches are making a nice comeback among those who want to make a fashion statement," says Rick Low, vice president of special markets at Citizen Watch Company of America
. "Fashion-forward individuals typically own five or six moderately-priced watches, not as much for function but as a nice piece of jewelry to show off."
And perhaps surprisingly, millennials and their Generation Z counterparts are leading the way, according to Low. "College kids are making watches an essential part of their daily wear."
One difference among today's hot sellers and the standard gold watch: Industry companies are adding smartwatch features like fitness-tracking devices to traditional models.
"We're taking wearables technology and making it fashionable," says Jenny Durham, premium account manager for The Fossil Group
. One example is the Q Grant Chronographic Dark Brown Leather Smartwatch, which features the style's classic case and chronograph movement but also tracks steps and calories and is compatible with Android and iOS operating systems. Seiko
's Coutura Solar Perpetual Chronograph also has a traditional look but with an upgrade: It's powered by light energy, using solar cells with high performance electricity generation. Once fully charged, it has a six-month power reserve. The grey dial, protected with a sapphire crystal, features three subdials and a perpetual calendar that adjusts for odd and even months.
Another update on a classic: The Citizen Sunrise second-generation ladies' watch, which debuted at Baselworld 2016 in March. It is light-powered and has six floating diamonds and a starburst sunrise pattern.
One thing that will never go out of style as an incentive: watches with timeless accents, like diamonds and crystals. "Impersonal electronic gifts can become obsolete after receiving," but watches have staying power, says Adrienne Forrest, vice president at Bulova Corporation
. One example: the Bulova Women's Diamond Chronograph Watch, which features 34 diamonds individually hand-set on silver-tone and rose gold-tone case and white mother-of-pearl dial.