Timex buys high-end Versace S.A

The Timex Group has purchased Versace S.A., the high-end Swiss watchmaking subsidiary of the upscale Italian fashion house by the same name. The acquisition was announced Nov. 15 by the Timex Group B.V. and Gianni Versace S.p.A.

The purchase gives Timex—the most-widely sold watch in America—“entrance into the luxury market,” said company spokesman Jim Katz. For Gianni Versace S.p.A., the deal “allows the Versace Group to continue developing the brand’s largely untapped potential in the watch industry” through its licensing partnership with the Timex Group, said Giancarlo di Risio, CEO of Gianni Versace S.p.A.

Financial details of the deal, which had been in the works for several months, weren’t released.

The acquisition could open more jewelry store doors for Timex Corp. Earlier this year, Timex Group president and chief executive officer Joe Santana told JCK that while jewelers were a very small part of Timex’s business (about 1%), “we’d love to do more business with them.” That could happen, he said, through the “acquisition of a Swiss-made high-end watch brand company in Europe [Versace S.A.],” which then was still pending.

Versace S.A., which will be renamed, is the watch, jewelry, and writing instrument licensee of Gianni Versace S.p.A., the Versace Group’s parent company, and will continue to be so under Timex. It will remain in Lugano, Switzerland, its current location, and the high-end watches it produces will continue to carry the Versace name. The licensing portion of the agreement allows the Timex Group to continue to manufacture and distribute watches, jewelry, and writing instruments bearing the “Gianni Versace” and “Versace” trademarks.

The company will be operated directly by the Timex Group, not its Callanen International division which makes and distributes several fashion brands, including Guess, Guess Collection, and Nautica watches.

“The change in ownership will take place in a manner that will not disrupt any existing distributors or retailers of the products of Versace S.A,” said Santana.

For his part, di Risio noted, “In Timex, we’ve found a partner that is uniquely qualified to realize and enhance the brand’s potential within timepiece and jewelry categories.”

Founded in 1978, Versace is one of the world’s leading fashion houses. The Italian parent company of the Versace Group, Gianni Versace S.p.A., designs, markets, and distributes—directly or through licensing—luxury clothing, accessories, fragrances, makeup, home furnishings, and eyewear.

The Timex Group of companies, which just celebrated its 150th anniversary, has operations in 20 countries and sales in more than 60 countries. Headquartered in Middlebury, Conn., it is one of the largest designers, manufacturers, marketers, and distributors of watches in the world.