Watches

A New Face in Children’s Watches – The New York Times

Summary

It is a critical question in the watch industry: How do you get young people to wear analog watches?

The rise of connected devices has sent exports of low-cost analog watches into a spin. In Switzerland, exports of watches valued at less than 500 Swiss francs, or $538, declined by 7.5 million units a year between 2015 and 2019, a third of the total, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

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It is a critical question in the watch industry: How do you get young people to wear analog watches?

The rise of connected devices has sent exports of low-cost analog watches into a spin. In Switzerland, exports of watches valued at less than 500 Swiss francs, or $538, declined by 7.5 million units a year between 2015 and 2019, a third of the total, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

One entrepreneur has taken on the mission. In August, Cara Barrett introduced Parchie Pal, playful watches aimed at children and priced at $50, putting it in competition with established dial names such as Flik Flak, Timex and Ice Watch. Like the Swatch Group’s Flik Flak, the new brand’s website says it wants to educate children about telling the time, keeping it — and understanding it.

“People are obsessed with watches and collecting, and a lot of their stories started with their first watch at a young age, 5 to 10,” Ms. Barrett said in a phone interview from her home office in New York. “But what’s out there for kids today is really limited. So I thought, let’s come up with something new.”

Ms. Barrett, 35, is well known in the watch sector. Until earlier this year she was an editor at the influential online watch portal Hodinkee, where she had been since 2015. “When I joined, I was the fourth employee,” she said. “It was a hands-on MBA.” Hodinkee, once a blog, now employs almost 200 people and retails high-end watches by brands including Vacheron Constantin, TAG Heuer and Hermès.

Parchie Pal’s initial offering was one watch in three zingy, high-contrast colorways, including hot pink and orange. The timepiece, made in Hong Kong, has a 32-millimeter aluminum case with an oversized crown, a nylon strap and a Japanese quartz movement.

Ms. Barrett described the models as “little mini dive watches in fun colors” and said she had no plans to create a connected watch. “I don’t want Parchie to be a screen watch,” she said. “We’re all on screens enough as it is.”

The name is very personal to her. “Parchie was the name of my imaginary friend growing up,” she said. “I want kids to bond over shared appreciations and parents to bond with their kids. That’s the genesis of Parchie.”

Ms. Barrett said she funded the business herself and is not looking for investment. She declined to share numbers, but said she sold half her inventory in the first six weeks and now two models are sold out (although she is still taking orders). Sales have been through her own website and WhatsApp, but she said she has been in talks with retailers, including Hodinkee.

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Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/22/fashion/watches-children-cara-barrett.html