Tourneau in joint venture to retail luxury watches in China

Tourneau Inc., the leading U.S. watch retailer, said Thursday that it is in a joint venture to start a chain of retail stores in China to sell luxury watches. Specifically, it has signed a letter of intent with Peace Mark (Holdings) Ltd. of Hong Kong, a leading manufacturer of watches, and the International Watch Group of New York City (and brought Tourneau and Peace Mark together) to form a company called Peace Mark Tourneau (Holdings) Limited. The transaction should be finalized by the end of March, subject to approval by the companies’ boards of directors.

The new company will engage in retail distribution of luxury-brand timepieces to the high-end market in what it calls the “Greater China” region, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Its retail outlets will operate under Tourneau name. The first two will open this year in Shanghai; a total of 30 stores are planned to open within the next five years.

“With the current opportunities resulting from the strengthening of the Chinese economy and the anticipated long-term growth from continued development of the region, we see an untapped market for luxury timepieces in mainland China and an underdeveloped market for high-end retail throughout the region,” said Howard R. Levitt, Tourneau’s president. “We expect to … capture a marked share of the luxury timepiece market in Greater China.”

“Luxury brand timepieces have huge potential in the Greater China market,” said Patrick Chau, chairman of Peace Mark. “I’m confident that Peace Mark Tourneau [will become] a leading retail operator in the Greater China region for luxury brand timepiece products.”

Established in 1900, Tourneau, headquartered in New York City, is world’s largest watch store. It offers over 100 new and used brands, including Breitling, Cartier, Jager-LeCoultre, Omega, Patek Philippe and Tag Heuer, as well as its own Tourneau brand. It operates 22 stores across the country and in the Caribbean.

Peace Mark founded in 1983 and based in Hong Kong is a leading watch manufacturer, distributor, and retailer of its own and licensed brand timepieces and after-sales services. Its major markets include the United States, China, Europe and Asia. It has production facilities in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Shanghai, China, and in Bienne, Switzerland.

International Watch Group, also based in New York City, owns several fashion and watch brands including Lucien Piccard and is a leading U.S. watchmaker and distributor.