Fall 2011
Slap Happy

A new twist on watches revives an almost forgotten fashion trend.

When Jim Howard and Lori Montag of Big Time Brands were trying to develop a new style of watches last year, slap bracelets were not the first thing that came to mind. It was only as they were sitting through a meeting with a branding agency that the idea clicked into place.

Slap bracelets were a popular phenomenon in the late 80s and early 90s. The bracelets—which fold out flat—curl to fit your wrist when “slapped” on. The popularity of the bracelets lead TIME magazine to name them one of the 100 greatest toys of all time.

Clap of inspiration

“While we were sitting through [the branding] agency’s presentation they mentioned the top trends in the world over the years, such as troll dolls and Beanie Babies,” Howard recalls. “The slap bracelet was actually number four on the list, and later on we got to thinking ‘What if we made our watch into a slap watch?’ We put it on paper and by the end of dinner 90 percent of it was designed,” he adds.

Through the silicone Slap Watch, a new generation is experiencing the slap-on trend. The watches appeal to both men and women over a wide age range, Howard says. He and Montag decided to use interchangeable faces, creating different color combinations for the watches, and began creating prototypes. The slap watches had a soft launch in Germany last year and the success there spurred the release of the Slap Watch in the United States.

“It took off very quickly over in Germany. We did a sampling in New York before fully launching in the United States, and we got a call from Barbara Walters’ producer who saw them at a store,” Howard says. After appearing on The View, Slap Watch was featured on Ellen and CNN, as well as other national media outlets.

An unfortunate side effect of all the publicity is that the watches have had imitators. “We respect all our intellectual property and pursue people accordingly. It hasn’t affected our sales; the PR has helped people to become aware of our brand, and they know which watch to look for,” Montag says.

Cart program launches

Slap Watch launched its specialty retail initiative in July, with plans to roll out about 25 carts each month, according to Micheal Brother, who manages the company’s cart program. The turnkey package includes a branded cart and supporting marketing materials such as displays, a DVD, signage and artwork. The product investment is about $2,500 to start; the visual display fixtures generally run from $500-$750, depending on the cart construction.

The product, which has a suggested retail price of $19.95, has a 300% markup. Howard says the average transaction is around $50, because customers buy not just the watch but also additional watch faces and bands in a variety of colors to allow for mixing and matching. There are nine colors each for the face and the band allowing for 81 different combinations. Additional bands retail for $12 each. Junior sizes are also available.

Howard is convinced the company has a hit on its hands. The watches’ demonstration appeal make it a natural for carts and kiosks. “When you take the watch off and [demonstrate] the slap mechanism it has that cool factor [that clinches the deal],” Howard adds.

For more information, please visit www.slapwatch.com.

Kristin Larson Contino

Kristin Contino is a freelance writer and copy editor based in Philadelphia. She writes for a variety of print publications and blogs, and also covers women's fiction for examiner.com.
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