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It's time for a change in strategy for major watch marketers.

In what industry executives call a first, Timex Corp. will advertise continuously throughout the year instead of just in the spring and fall, the traditional time for watch campaigns.

Meanwhile, Swatch is quintupling its ad budget to $10 million while courting controversy in a print ad that includes a headless shot of two bikini-clad women.

Timex plans to boost its budget 50% from last year to $18 million, in hopes of building awareness of its patented Indiglo dial illuminating feature.

New Indiglo TV and print ads by Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, will break by March.

In 1993, Timex unit sales rose about 30% with more than half of the increase attributed to Indiglo.

The big hike in spending by Swatch will be used for a return to TV spots and promotion of two new watches-MusiCall, an alarm watch, and AquaChrono, a combination of scuba watch and chronograph-as well as support of existing lines.

"We redirected a lot of our dollars," said Missy Farren, VP-marketing for Swatch, explaining next month's return to TV and a foray into out-of-home advertising. Previously, the company relied on special event sponsorships and print ads in more than 25 publications.

Swatch's "The Art of Changing" global campaign from Barbella Gagliardi Saffirio, Milan, broke this week.

Next week, in the annual swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated, Swatch's controversial ad, "The History of the Bathing Suit," will appear. The magazine initially rejected the ad, featuring women in string bikinis, seeing it as dehumanizing. But Swatch convinced Sports Illustrated to reconsider and said the ad is really about the changes in women's swimwear since the 1900s.

In March, cable TV spots break set to David Bowie's song "Changes," followed by ads on outdoor boards, transit shelters and buses in New York, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Also next month, Seiko Corp. of America is expected to unveil a $13 million ad campaign by its recently named agency, DDB Needham Worldwide, New York. Seiko VP-Advertising Jonathan Nettlefield said that represents a 30% increase in spending.

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