Nobel Plans ‘Significant Expansion’

Nobel Watch Co., which makes and sells mid- and luxury-priced watches, is raising capital for what it calls “significant expansion” of its business. The company, based in New York City, recently launched a private stock offering to raise more than $1 million. It’s also offering 200,000 warrants (exchangeable later for stock) to its retailers who want to invest in its growth, and it plans to go public before the end of 2005.

Money from the stock offering to private investors will underwrite a national ad campaign to build consumer awareness of the brand and provide co-op ad support to its dealers, says Israel Genuth, Nobel’s chief executive officer and co-founder.

Nobel also plans to expand distribution. Genuth declined to discuss the current or projected size of its national network of retailers. He did say, however, that Nobel wants to expand into European and Asian markets and also plans to open at least 10 U.S. stores, primarily in outlet malls, to sell discontinued Nobel watch models. Those could begin operations in “less than two years,” starting in the Northeast, said Genuth.

The private offering to institutional investors and venture capital firms was set for mid-August to mid-November. It was to be handled by Laconia Capital of New York City and Marketview Financial Group, which will assist Nobel in its plans to go public. That initial public offering (IPO), said Laconia president Michael F. Franzese, “probably will be [made] before the end of next year.”

Meanwhile, Nobel is letting current and potential authorized dealers invest in its growth through stock warrants. For every $10,000 of Nobel timepieces ordered (and paid for within 60 days of the invoice date), a retailer receives 1,000 warrants (initially valued at $1 each), exchangeable for stock within three years of Nobel’s going public.

Nobel, founded eight years ago by Genuth and former partner Barry Fink, caters to independent jewelry stores and boutiques. Its watches (both quartz and automatic) are Swiss-made, though some parts are produced in Asia, and have “buckle-to-buckle” warranties for two to five years. Its mid-range watches are priced at $275 to $995 and come in stainless steel combined with tungsten, with 18k accents, and/or gold plating. Its newest series is the Paragon collection, with patented curved case and crystal. Nobel’s solid 18k gold and diamond series retails for $2,500 to $22,000. In addition, Genuth said Nobel planned to launch a new collection of limited-edition timepieces.