SWATCH ADDS METAL WATCH

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Swatch is dressing up for its new watch line, Irony, and plastic is out.

The company is offering more classic styling with leather bands and metal watches. While the look is more subdued than is typical, many designs still have a twist and the bands remain colorful.

Martin Grossenbacher, brand manager for Swatch Watch USA, said he expects the line to have wide appeal. "Many people think Swatch is not appropriate at work," he said. "But in the U.S., the work outfit is becoming more liberal, like with casual Fridays. Irony can be a starting point to bring them into our other lines."

The watches are shockproof, water-resistant and made of stainless steel. They will be available in Europe in December and in the U.S. in February.

Swatch expects to name a new agency by December. Barbarella, Milan, did most recent creative. Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York, keeps media buying but is said not to be among undisclosed agencies vying for creative.

Irony puts Swatch up against Fossil and Guess? Inc., well established in selling fashion dress watches in the $55-$65 range.

"They've got a strong identity in plastic and a singular look," said Susie Watson, public relations manager for Timex Corp., which also markets Guess? watches. "It may be tough to extend the brand name to a different consumer."

Fashion watch sales are $650 million a year, Jeweler's Circular-Keystone estimates.

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