Biel/Bienne (Switzerland), January 14, 2013 – The Swatch Group Ltd. in Biel/Bienne has acquired 100% of the shares of the US company HW Holdings Inc., owner of Harry Winston Inc. The $750 million deal sees the jeweller and watchmaker selling its watches-to-necklaces division to Swatch Group Ltd. The sale doesn’t include diamond mining operations of Harry Winston Diamond Corporation leaving the newly formed Dominion Diamond Corporation to focus on diamond mines.
Harry Winston is known for its novelty complications like the Opus 3; a complication set within a rectangular gold case with six porthole openings, an innovative time display using blue numbers for hours read in the upper portholes and black numerals for minutes in the lower openings. Red numerals represent the date display in the center openings. Remarkably, the instant jumping of all six indicators is a unique technical achievement heretofore un-seen in Swatch Group’s portfolio before the acquisition of the American high-end watchmaker and jeweller.
According to Nayla Hayek, Chairwoman of The Swatch Group Ltd., “Harry Winston does brilliantly complement the prestige segment of the Group. We are proud and happy to welcome Harry Winston to the Swatch Group family – diamonds are still a girl’s best friend”.
With Asian demand for luxury goods and high-end timepieces slowing but continuing growth, the Swatch-Harry Winston deal is expected to generate over 1 billion Swiss francs for Swatch. Additionally, the US watchmaker is strong in the world’s second largest watch market- the United States, and in Japan. The Group is the world’s largest watchmaker in terms of sales but the acquisition of Harry Winston allows Swatch to compete in a marketplace populated with the likes of Richemont, home to luxury watchmakers like Cartier and Breguet.
The sale comes amid a legal mess when a relationship with another US based luxury company, Tiffany, ended acrimoniously in 2011. This deal is similar to one two years ago when LVMH acquired Bulgari, jeweller and makers of the Octo timepiece.