ARLETTE EMCH, chief executive of cK watches and a director of the Swatch Group, is excited by the rapid rise in the importance of women's watches. She points out that the wristwatch was invented for women. In the '20s and '30s, women's watches benefited from an era of remarkable prominence. This was followed by a period of obscurity until the '80s in which women's watches were often little more than smaller versions of men's models. Swatch took the initiative in the '80s when it brought a new focus to women's watches, but many manufacturers still concentrated their attention on sports watches. Ms Emch explains that the picture began to change in the '90s, when the fashion houses turned their attention to watches. Calvin Klein was the first couturier to apply his label to accessories - first perfumes and then watches. Gucci accelerated the trend and many others soon followed their lead. Now, fashion houses are firmly entrenched in the watch business and most are there to stay. Watches today are fashion accessories, in the same way as a handbag or a pair of shoes, and many women would be happy to spend $30,000 on a watch. Master jeweller and watchmaker Leon Hatot opened his workshop 100 years ago and designed for some of the most famous jewellery houses of the time. Today his name has been brought back to life by the Swatch Group, which has acquired the collection of his original designs. The modern collection, inspired by his original themes, includes watches and jewellery. One of the most spectacular models is the Eventail watch, shaped like a curved rectangle and set with a row of diamonds. The beautifully decorated cover of the watch lifts to reveal a white mother-of-pearl dial adorned with gold threads and set with diamonds. In the same way that fashion houses extended their interest to watches in the '90s, it is now the turn of watch companies to spread their wings by turning their skills to producing jewellery to complement their watches.