Several years ago, the Los Angeles-based jeweler Jacquie Aiche customized her stainless-steel Rolex, adding the eye motif that frequently appears on pieces in her collection, like earrings and rings, to its dial.
“It was my own personal watch and I wanted to change the face,” she said in an interview during a recent business trip to New York. “I started wearing it, and it was wildfire — everybody wanted one.”
She began producing similarly styled watches for select clients, sometimes posting images of them on Instagram, like a photo of a trio of Rolex Oyster Perpetuals with the distinctive eye on different color backgrounds. But finding vintage Rolexes was difficult — and pricey, she said, adding, “I can’t advertise them because it’s not a true collaboration with Rolex.”
This week, three watches that Ms. Aiche helped design without those limitations are to be introduced, a second iteration of the Timex x Jacquie Aiche Collection. The watches are reminiscent of Ms. Aiche’s tweaked creations: The 36-millimeter two-tone stainless-steel Timex timepieces have dials with both her distinctive eye design and bejeweled hour markers, although in Austrian crystals rather than diamonds.
The watches, called the Destiny Collection, are being released in a limited edition totaling about 1,500 pieces and will be available on Timex’s and Ms. Aiche’s websites; the men’s wear online site Mr Porter is to carry a small quantity, too. Each is $250.
The collaboration’s first line, the Mineral Collection, had a similar look, although it featured malachite, lapis lazuli and tiger’s-eye, and each watch was priced at $350.
Ms. Aiche said Timex initially approached her a couple of years ago. “They had wanted to do some eyes themselves, but their creative team was like, ‘If we’re going to do eyes, then we have to use Jacquie,’ so they reached out to me,” she recalled.
Timex does about 20 collaborations a year; its 2022 partners included the watch-focused websites Hodinkee and Worn & Wound and the designers Cynthia Rowley and Todd Snyder.
“We don’t just look at watch brands,” said Giorgio Galli, the Timex Group’s chief executive creative director. “We try to look to jewelers, fashion designers. We look for creativity.”
Like many collaborations between niche labels and widely distributed brands, the partnership’s allure seems to be, at least in part, the buzz that comes with limited quantities.
“That’s probably what’s fueling it: that sort of Instagram-able marketing sugar rush and the desire to create special or limited editions that sell out,” said Rob Corder, co-founder of the online site and print magazine WatchPro, “because core collections can sit in cabinets for year after year and just get discounted, particularly when you’re in the volume market like Timex is.”
For Timex — an American brand founded in 1854 that has been trying to diversify its mass-market reputation in recent years — the collaboration also offers credibility with, and exposure to, Ms. Aiche’s loyal, predominantly female fan base.
“The target is really the conscious, trendy, millennial woman: ‘I’m going to Coachella’ or ‘I’m going to Burning Man,’ ‘I’m focused on sustainability,’ and so on,” said David Sadigh, founder and chief executive of Digital Luxury Group, a Geneva-based marketing agency.
Ms. Aiche has, he added, “been doing a clever job in putting the eyes and some easily recognizable elements in the colors.”
“The watch looks more Jacquie Aiche than Timex,” he added.