10/27/1986 at 01:00 AM EST
Michel Jordi doesn't see himself as an entrepreneur or even a super Swiss watch salesman. In fact he is both, but he likes to think of himself as a revolutionary. "My watch frees the world from the enslavement of the wrist," he says. "It even eliminates suntan lines."
By blending hype with an adaptable hi-tech design, the 38-year-old son of a watchmaker from tiny Grenchen, Switzerland hopes to strike it rich with a bandless timepiece called Le Clip. During its first five weeks on the market in Switzerland, Le Clip, which looks like a plastic clothespin, attracted more than 100,000 buyers. Retailers—who will begin stocking the $35 item in New York City this month and across the U.S. in 1987—expect them to rival Swatch watches. "We have bought them in a big way," says Joan Kaner, a fashion director at Macy's. "A watch has become an important accessory. You change it the way you change your socks or your handbag." Americans have already been quick to snap up Jordi's watches in Europe. At the Montreux Jazz Festival last June, Al Jarreau and George Benson both adorned themselves with Le Clips.
Jordi, who used to peddle Japanese-made watchbands in Switzerland, got the idea for Le Clip last year, when he saw a much larger tabletop version at a Geneva design studio. He bought the design, miniaturized it and began production in Swiss factories, which are now struggling to meet his huge orders.
So far, Le Clips come in 200 styles, and Jordi plans, with help from his Korean-born wife, Ki Young Kim, to design two seasonal lines each year. The silent quartz timekeeper, created primarily for the wardrobes of 15-to 35-year-olds, is powered by a three-year battery. As for whether the fashion appeal of Le Clip will outlast its batteries, only time will tell.