Antiquorum buys

Horological auction house Antiquorum has acquired, the largest English language community Web site for wristwatch enthusiasts and those seeking information about fine timepieces. TimeZone has more than 45,000 registered users worldwide; receives almost 70,000 new posts per month, and generates more than 9.5 million page views per month. In 2006, it was visited by more than 3 million unique IP addresses.

The acquisition was announced earlier this month. The financial terms weren’t disclosed.

The site was owned by watch enthusiast Joseph Lam, who acquired it in 2001. Lam invested heavily in the Web site, “rebuilding [it] from the ground up with new software and providing whatever was needed to help TZ stay at the forefront,” noted TimeZone’s own announcement of the acquisition. The Web site “thrived” under his ownership and “greatly expanded” its audience, said TimeZone. Lam will oversee the transition to Antiquorum.

The combination of Antiquorum and TimeZone, said Antiquorum spokesperson Karin Tasso is, “a natural fit.” TimeZone’s statement called the new partnership “a great step forward.”

Antiquorum is an Internet pioneer, being among the first major houses to take their auctions online, bringing together collectors and their dream timepieces. TimeZone brings together collectors and enthusiasts and fosters interest in fine timepieces. Osvaldo Patrizzi, Antiquorum’s founder, chairman and chief executive officer, said he has been a fan of TimeZone, founded in 1994, since its early days and an official supporter for several years.

Antiquorum will “maintain [TimeZone’s] continuity and independence,” said its announcement, and add “historical and cultural content, widening the spectrum for the TimeZone audience to include watchmaking back to the 16th century. [Antiquorum’s] expertise, and profound understanding of 500 years of watchmaking, will greatly expand TimeZone’s resources and make it the most complete horology site on the Web,” said the auction house.

TimeZone, founded in 1994, offers 34 watch-related discussion forums, plus “Lifestyle,” “Automotive,” and “Photography” forums, all moderated by a staff of 31 people located in nine countries. It also offers dedicated discussion forums in Japanese and French, plus industry news, interviews, original articles, an on-line watch repair school, two sales boards and a horological tool shop.

Antiquoroum founded in 1974, is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and has branches in 10 cities serving 13 countries, including New York, London, Moscow, Paris, Milan, Munich, Shanghai, and Tokyo. In 2006, Antiquoroum sold 50 percent of its equity to ArtistHouse Holdings Inc., a Japanese company. The deal enabled Antiquoroum to expand its Asian publishing and Internet operations.

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