Seiko launches light line

Seiko Canada and Timex Canada are betting consumer demand for watch dials that light up in the dark will drive sales of an item that prizes fashion over function.More than 30 models of Seiko's Lorus brand, and a selection of the...

Seiko Canada and Timex Canada are betting consumer demand for watch dials that light up in the dark will drive sales of an item that prizes fashion over function.

More than 30 models of Seiko’s Lorus brand, and a selection of the Seiko line, now have dials coated with a new luminous substance called Lumibrite.

Timex, which launched the first of its IndiGlo luminescent watches in May 1993, and this August introduced IndiGlo Essential, a new line for women, intends to make all its watch dials luminescent by next year.

So far, only 25% of Timex watch dials are luminescent.

Doug Irvine, vice-president of marketing for Timex, says the company feels strongly luminescence will become a standard feature for watches in a year or two.

Irvine says a year of research and development has allowed IndiGlo technology to be made smaller so it can be used in women’s fashion watches.

Jeff Ferguson, Seiko advertising and sales administration manager, says although the target group for the Lumibrite line is consumers aged 15 to 30, there has been a strong response from other market sectors such as seniors and night-duty nurses.

Timex is the sales leader in the market for watches priced below $100, which is where Lorus competes.

Jiro Uchida, president of Seiko, says Lumibrite is a virtually permanent, non-radioactive, fluorescent coating that can light up the face of a watch, or just its hands and numbers, for up to five hours after two minutes exposure to sunlight.

He says the luminous watch dial coating used by the watch industry in the recent past contains an undesirable radioactive substance and has a limited lifespan.

Lumibrite is a patent of Japanese manufacturer Nemoto. Seiko holds the exclusive rights to market watches using the material until March.

The rollout of Lumibrite is being supported by magazine ads in Campus Canada magazine. The product is also being showcased in Campus Canada Caravan, a program from Canadian Controlled Media Communications that visits colleges and universities across the country.

The ads claim that watches featuring Lumibrite ‘glow 10 times brighter than ever before with no buttons to push.’

The line is a slap at Timex’ IndiGlo technology, which requires the wearer to push a button to light up the backlit dial.

Seiko has used the same technology for a number of years in its alarm clocks. In Jan., the company will introduce it into its Lorus brand with a new product line called Lorus Lite.

As part of its ongoing improvements to IndiGlo, Timex is getting set to introduce a feature called Night Mode, which enables wearers to push any button on the watch to make it light up, rather than fumbling for the right one.

With competition heating up between Timex and Seiko on the technological front, the two have concurrently inreased their advertising activities.

Seiko has been running a heavy print campaign all year in a broad range of regional and national magazines for all Seiko Canada lines except Lassale.

Seiko’s ad agency is Bozell Palmer Bonner in Toronto.

Irvine says Timex’ 1994 fall campaign is the company’s biggest in more than 10 years.

A new tv spot, called ‘Liberty,’ starts at the beginning of November for a seven-week run. The spot features the Statue of Liberty wearing an IndiGlo watch.

It was produced by Fallon McElligott of Minneapolis, and adapted for Canada by Ogilvy & Mather in Toronto.

It will be added to the rotation with a previously aired 30-second spot, ‘Firefly,’ and two 15-second executions.

Billboards in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver also have the IndiGlo feature, staying lit all night long.

There is some spillover from major u.s. magazines for Timex and the company is considering newspaper advertising.