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Watches for runners selling briskly

JIJI

Wristwatches designed for runners are attracting brisk demand on the back of growing Japanese interest in participating in marathons.

Watches that enable users to measure running distance and pace using GPS are particularly popular, while lightweight products mainly targeted at amateur female runners are starting to find a niche.

According to Fuji Chimera Research Institute, an estimated 330,000 wristwatches for runners were sold last year, up some 17 percent from 2012. Sales are expected to keep rising in 2014 and reach 520,000 units in 2020, according to the institute.

GPS wristwatches identify the exact location of the wearer, giving runners a clear picture of distances and the running course.

Overseas manufacturers held the early lead in such products, but Seiko Epson Corp. launched its WristableGPS wristwatches for runners in 2012.

Last November, the company released new models with longer operation times of some 30 hours per battery charge and enhanced GDP functions.

With an eye on female runners, Seiko Watch Corp.’s Super Runners series features a thin body. The watches weigh 30 to 40 grams, approximately half that of conventional GPS wristwatches, while increased flexibility makes them more comfortable for women with thin arms.