September 28, 2019
by Ariel Adams
Versace, through long-standing design and manufacturing partner Timex Group, has been producing wristwatches for some time. In the pantheon of “fashion watches,” where does Versace exist in comparison to its many fashion house competitors who also have their own watches? The famed Italian fashion maker run by the sister (Donatella) of the founder who was murdered years back in Miami, Florida has been humming along with its distinctive aesthetic, which often revolves around the motif of the Medusa from ancient mythology. Today, I look at a women’s Versace wristwatch, the reference VERF000818 Versace Medusa Stud Icon.
What I think a lot of people don’t quite understand about a lot of fashion watches is exactly who designs them. There might be this perception that the fashion house itself designs and produces the watches, or that they design and then have an external supplier produce the watches. Neither of that is true in this instance. What groups such as Timex and Fossil (as well as Movado) have historically done, to great success, is contract with fashion brands to handle the entirety of wristwatch design and production. All fashion houses need to do, in most instances, is receive, market, and sell the products. This particular model worked extremely well for Timex Group competitor Fossil Group, in the example of Michael Kors watches.
My belief, however, is that Timex has been designing and producing Versace watches for Versace for years longer than Fossil’s relationship with Michael Kors. Versace and Salvatore Ferragamo probably represent the current highest-end names that Timex produces fashion-focused products for, but their relationship with fashion labels across the globe goes deep. But also local. I think, perhaps, the most telling part of the Versace watches story is that Timex’s design headquarters isn’t located in Connecticut, the United States where the Timex main headquarters is, but rather across the pond in Milan, Italy.
Being in Milan offers Timex a few benefits when it comes to relationships with the fashion labels it does business with. First, it is able to work very closely with their teams when it comes to product design and concepts, and second, it allows Timex to benefit from the design and marketing talent that exists in the city. If Timex, or any other group for that matter, wants to design marketable fashion watches, does it not need to at least make sure the products it makes fits logically within the brand whose stories and websites will carry it? That challenge — and to come in at desired price points — is incredibly difficult to succeed at. This is because clients look at a product like this Versace Medusa Stud Icon women’s watch and must feel that it is both a good watch and a logically compelling Versace product. The important takeaway message here is that Versace watches are designed to, first and foremost, be timepieces, which is why a third-party partner makes the most sense to help the fashion label get the best product possible.
The name of this Versace women’s watch is a bit amusing to me because of how literal it is. Taken any other way, the “Stud Icon” watch sounds like something a man, not a woman, might wear. The term is really a comment on how the watch prominently features Versace’s Medusa iconic Medusa motif, in the form of the image on studs that are used across the fashion label. You’ really need to know that, and you’d also need to know that lots of other Versace watches that also prominently feature the Medusa stud icon don’t actually have any of those terms in the name. If it were up to me, I would have focus group-tested these names a bit more. At least when it comes to matching the design of the watches with the fashion brand, all the hard work was done correctly.
Visually, the concept works in this timepiece, and I like this women’s watch because it is just as much decorative bracelet as it is wristwatch. The round dial, along with the round “stud” links, makes up the majority of the composition, with a more traditional watch bracelet underneath and mostly there for both wearing comfort and to make sure the bracelet can be sized to someone’s wrist. What I like about the design overall is that by using relatively few shapes and themes, the repetition of those shapes makes for an interesting wearable that is both utilitarian and fashionable.
Versace currently produces (through the Timex Group) four versions of the Medusa Stud Icon. This reference VERF00818 is two-toned with polished steel and steel IP-coated with yellow gold tone (actually, Versace refers to the color as “champagne”). This is the only two-toned version of the watch, as the others are either all yellow gold tones with a matching yellow gold tone or black dial, and an all rose gold toned model. The case is 28mm-wide (water resistant to 50 meters) with an attractive but simple dial powered by a Swiss-made quartz movement (a Ronda caliber 751). Over the dial is a sapphire crystal.
The hands and four hour markers have a neat texture (small repeating letter Vs) to them, which actually adds to the contrast value, making them more legible. I would actually like to see more men’s watches use techniques like this to enhance the visual effect, as well as the legibility of timepiece. The female wearer modeling the watch really liked the overall comfort and style of the watch. The personality and its visual distinctiveness (along with comfort) were all plus factors. The only downside for her was the lack of additional hour markers that would make reading the time a bit more straight forward. I don’t disagree, and these are some of those “style over substance” considerations that happen all the time is wristwatch design.
One of the interesting things about what happens to these fashion house watches when they come to market, is that no matter how much time or detail is put into them, there is virtually storytelling by the brand itself when it comes to discussing the merits of these products. There are probably fewer than 100 total words on the Versace website that attempt to explain this watch, why Versace even has watches or any substance whatsoever to help convince customers. Granted, Versace and most Italian fashion labels dedicate equally little effort to explaining their other products. That said, time and time again in today’s world, we find that stories and substance sell watches, not mere looks or brand associations.
I like writing about women’s watches that I personally like to see on women. I don’t really care what brand they come from or the price point — though more accessible price points are more interesting to me because I like the idea that a lot of people can wear or enjoy the product. Women rarely purchase timepieces for similar reasons as men, so the storytelling and concepts around them need to be different. Unlike men, women tend to immediately respond well to watches that are as much jewelry as they are timepieces. In this case, you have a blend of three things. First is the fact that the Medusa Stud Icon is a reliable timepiece. Second is that it is designed to be an attractive jewelry-style bracelet. Third is the fact that it is recognizable as a member of the Versace product family. Price is $1,395 USD. Learn more at the Versace website here.