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Brands to Watch - Take your time ....
Duty Free Watches“Come what may, time and the hour runs through the roughest day” according to Shakespeare. He’s got a point. But even on your roughest day, wouldn’t your spirits be lifted to see a world-class time-piece adorning your wrist? From Aviator to Pierre Cardin, Hugo Boss to Fossil, and Seiko to Versace or Rotary, you might be short on time but you certainly won’t be short on choice at airport tax and duty free watch counters.

There is much to consider when buying a watch, especially if upping your budget to take advantage of an airport’s tax free deals. Main watch types are analogue (normal/ traditional watch face), chronograph (timekeeping, stopwatch and other functions) and digital. The movement itself might be quartz, mechanical (wind up) or automatic. And as for the strap and casing, will they be matt or buffed stainless steel, sterling silver, gold, titanium, platinum, leather, ceramic, plastic, rubber or even encrusted with jewels?

An exquisitely designed watch is a fashion must-have and airports are often the best place to buy them due to tax savings and that intangible X Factor: exclusivity. Cutting-edge watch designers often team up with certain tax and duty free chains to offer unique in-airport designs, models and ranges. This almost guarantees that your own prize purchase will remain the cooed-over talk of the office. Prestigious brands with such exclusive designs include Hugo Boss, Aviator, Fossil and Sekonda.

Why stop at one? Watches are truly coming into their own as a stylish fashion accessory, with many people owning not just one but several. A Pierre Cardin or Versace for the evening, a Diesel diving watch for active days and a funky Fossil for lazy weekends are the beginnings of a great watch collection.

With a spectrum of coloured watches out there from designers like Ice, Lambretta, Avalanche, Puma and Swatch • some with interchangeable straps for the ultimate in colour co-ordination • it’s now easy to select a watch from your mini-collection to suit the mood, the occasion and the colour of the outfit. (Case in point • the author just purchased a comfortable aqua green rubber Breo for weekends away • as it matches her VW campervan).

For the spontaneous, see what grabs your eye on the day. For the more cautious or web savvy, browse and reserve your dream watch online if the airport’s retail website allows. This will also permit a quick price check to ensure that your tax-free purchase really is the best watch for your wallet.
For oversized, sporty or diving watches, check out masculine, military, stylish or fun fashion ranges from Hugo Boss, Omega, Lacoste, Puma, Sekonda, Ice and Gio Goi. How one might live up to the name of Diesel’s coveted Super Bad Ass watch • in sleek black stainless steel • remains to be seen. 01 The One’s eye-catching Binary models are the ultimate in futuristic-chic, and innovative Breo is revolutionising the value end of the active-wear market with its distinctive range of rubber watches in vibrant shades from raspberry pink to ice blue and citrus fresh.

For stylishly sparkling watches for gala evenings and special occasions, turn to the legendary creations of Armani, Gucci, Guess, GC, Versace, Karen Millen and D&G (mothers • try not to upstage daughters on their wedding days). For ladies fashion and daytime watches, consider the breath-taking new ranges from the above plus Accurist, Diesel, DKNY, Ice, Police, Esprit and Juicy Couture • whose Lively Ceramic range comes in a conversation-stopping black, white or powder pink.

Some watchmakers are investing in cutting edge green technologies • perfect for those in the energy and environmental sectors. Seiko’s Kinetic range harnesses the wearer’s own movement to power the watch. Citizen’s Eco-Drive watches use solar power and can run for up to six months from one full charge. And Casio have pioneered Tough Solar watches, unique in that their energy comes from ultra-small solar panels.

As cell phones have diversified to become cameras and portable PCs, so watches are entering their next generation, too. The sWaP (Smart Watch and Phone) brand’s Rebel watch blends light-weight technology with style to double as a touch-screen cell phone that recharges via a built-in USB. For fitness fans, look out for watches incorporating heart-rate monitors from respected names such as Garmin or Timex.

At the top end of the market are legendary watchmakers (watchmaker-jewellers in some instances) like Rolex, Pierre Cardin, Cartier, Davosa, Dreyfuss & Co., GC, Hamilton, Technomarine, Rado, Frederique Constant and Versace. You can easily glide into four figure sums here, but with superb tax savings of up to three figures, you’ll be able to treat the kids to their first designer watch with hard-wearing and funky designs from Swatch, Adidas, Casio, Baby G and Gio Goi.

They say that style is timeless, and never goes out of fashion. The same goes for a finely crafted, hand-finished designer watch.

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