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 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,” 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.