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October 11, 2009

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Plastic 'toy' watches catch on as fun timepieces

WHEN Marco Mavilla came up with the first collection of ToyWatch in polycarbonate (plastic) five years ago, he sent them as Christmas gifts to his watch aficionado friends.

The combination of classic dial design and avant-garde see-through plastic strap brings out an ironic, yet amazing reaction.

The Italian designer/watch collector couldn't have realized at the time that, one day, these light-weighted watches which he created merely "for fun," would replace those expensive watches on the wrists of not only sophisticated connoisseurs, but also celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Madonna, Naomi Campbell and most recently, Michelle Obama.

Mavilla was in Shanghai recently to attend the launch event of ToyWatch on the Chinese mainland.

He talked about his passion for those playful watches which he affectionately described as "my toys."

Q: How did you come up with the unique idea for ToyWatch?

A: I love watches. I have been a collector of watches since I was 15. The more watches I saw, the more desperate I was to share my feelings with others. However, there were none in the market at that time that could satisfy my feelings.

I wanted to create a watch in polycarbonate that you could wear everyday. It was a brand new material in an old concept.

Q: What is your design philosophy?

A: The philosophy of ToyWatch is very simple. We call it affordable luxury.

We don't sell techniques but fashion. Our designs are loved by people who look for something new, funny and unconventional.

Most importantly, my watches are made with passion. Hopefully, the wearers could feel the "feelings" I put inside the watches.

Q: Where do you get inspiration from?

A: I get daily inspirations. I travel a lot. I like to mix my feelings and experiences when creating watches.

Q: Who are your target customers in China?

A: Our watches, like I said, are affordable luxury pieces designed for everyone, from 14 to 70, men and women. I'm glad that we have addicted fans all over the world.

For example, I once saw a dressed-up office lady coming to our store in Rome to buy a watch. Minutes after she left, a hip-hop style teenager came in and bought exactly the same watch.

Q: What is your favorite ToyWatch model? Is there a certain watch that you wear most of the time?

A: I love them all. The "Money," "Spider" and "Skull" collections are our most popular collections. I wear different watches every day following my mood of the day. I usually wear two watches - one ToyWatch and another from my vintage watch collections. I'm a big fan of Patek Philippe and Rolex.

Q: What do you think are the trends for fashion watches?

A: Fashion watches move hand-in-hand with fast-changing fashion trends. I'm attracted by the possibility of using different materials in making a watch from the very beginning. In upcoming seasons, I would love to explore more interesting materials such as rubber, porcelain, nylon and satin.

We have just launched a new collection called "Jelly," which is unfortunately not available in China yet. It allows customers to customize their own watches by choosing from a variety of straps and dials in a rainbow palette.

Q: Do you agree with the saying that watches are a man's most important accessory?

A: Apart from women, yes.


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