Watch makers appeal to sports lovers

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The Independent Online

Two of Japan's top watch manufacturers are releasing now timepieces designed to appeal to sports lovers - although in two quite different categories.

Seiko Watch Corp. has just released the Sportura FC Barcelona Chronograph, in large part to allow fans to mark the recent successes of the Spanish soccer team, while the affiliated Seiko Instruments Inc. is launching 32 models of its Asics sports watch collection, designed to be light, convenient and easy to use for runners.

Seiko entered into a three-year partnership with FC Barcelona earlier this year, with the team's star players featuring in the company's global advertising campaigns - which received a boost when the club won both the Spanish League and the UEFA Champions League.

To commemorate the achievement, a new watch was commissioned that carries the team's crest and colors. The reverse of the stainless steel case bears an engraving of the club motto, "més que un club" ('more than a club').

Water resistant to 10 bar and with a sapphire crystal glass with an anti-reflective coating, the watch incorporates an alarm, split-time measurement facility and a date calendar.

Other soccer clubs get high-end watch treatment as well: Swiss manufacturer EBEL is responsible for the 1911 Tekton, which is made on behalf of Barca rivals Real Madrid as well as Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Olympic Lyonnais, Ajax and Glasgow Rangers. Hublot meanwhile has the King Power Red Devil, which is Manchester United's watch. It contains actual blades of grass from the team's stadium pitch.

But while the Sportura is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, it is clearly designed with the armchair sportsman in mind. The Asics Sports Watch, however, is a very different timepiece.

To be launched globally in October, the 32 new models employ a unique design of the case being offset well to the left to minimize interference with free movement of the wrist. In addition, Seiko Instruments said, the watch has been laid out with the buttons available to be operated easily and the widest possible liquid crystal display to ensure the numbers are visible - an important requirement among runners.

The watch company has collaborated with the Kobe-based Asics brand, which is renowned for its athletic equipment, shoes and accessories.

Data on up to 500 laps of split times can be stored in the memory, which is also preserved when the battery is changed. The watch comes in two sizes - the regular version, measuring 130 mm by 190 mm and the super variant, which is 140 mm by 200 mm. The range also comes in a wide variety of colors that can be coordinated with Asics shoes and running clothing.

JR

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