Swatch Group Buys Harry Winston


by John Sealander  

Swatch Group

The Swatch Group Adds Another Jewel to Its Empire

Swatch Group Buys Harry WinstonOn January 14, 2013 legendary jeweler and luxury watch manufacturer Harry Winston became part of the powerful Swatch Group in a one billion dollar sale. As part of the sale agreement, Harry Winston will net $750 million and The Swatch Group will assume $250 million in Harry Winston pro forma debt.

The Harry Winston name has been synonymous with luxury for decades and has been hailed in film, TV and song. Who could forget the 2000 benefit concert where Elton John sang “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,” wearing over $3 million in Harry Winston Jewels. To this day, Harry Winston jewels and luxury timepieces are a mainstay at almost every Hollywood Red Carpet event.

Consolidation in the Watch Industry

When The Swatch Group purchased this legendary company, it provided further confirmation of the trend toward consolidation within the watch industry that has been taking place for many years. The Swatch Group, which already owns Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Jaquet Droz, Omega, Longines, Rado, Union Glashütte, Tissot, Certina, Mido, Hamilton and many other famous brands, will benefit from the Harry Winston acquisition in a variety of ways.

Not only does Harry Winston have 21 directly owned retail locations worldwide, it also is a major diamond producer with ownership of several diamond mines in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Since Swatch is a major buyer of polished diamonds for its luxury brands, it is already exploring a joint diamond-polishing venture with the Dominion Diamond Corporation, a Harry Winston subsidiary.

Now that Harry Winston has become part of the Swatch Group empire, there are only a few brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Fortis, Gevril, Breitling and a handful of others who continue to remain independent. Watch brands that lack the capacity to manufacture their own movements will need alliances with huge conglomerates like Swatch, just to stay in business. It is unclear which company the powerful Swatch Group will buy next. What is certain however is that there are fewer and fewer choices left.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the exclusive US representative for select European watch brands, distributing and servicing luxury, fashion and sports timepieces at a wide range of price points. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair department staffed by master Swiss watchmakers.

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Harry Winston Sale Rumors

by John Sealander  

Harry Winston Storefront NYC

Is the Harry Winston Watch and Jewelry Business For Sale?

Harry WinstonWhen Reuters and Women’s Wear Daily reported recently that luxury goods powerhouse Harry Winston was looking for buyers for its lucrative watch and jewelry business, it caused a lot of speculation within the watch industry.

There has been a trend towards consolidation within the watch industry for many years, and if Harry Winston were to be purchased by a luxury conglomerate like LVMH or PPR, as it has been rumored, it could confirm the fears of some that a few large companies could control the entire industry.

Consolidation in the Luxury Industry

Premier luxury brands are already controlled by various different conglomerates. Brands such as Zenith, Hublot, TAG Heuer and Bulgari, are controlled by luxury conglomerate LVMH; IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, Panerai and Piaget by Richemont; and Blancpain, Omega, Tissot, Rado, Balmain, Breguet and Hamilton by Swatch Group. In fact Swatch Group has gained so much influence recently, that it makes the movements that power the majority of the world’s timepieces. Only a few brands, like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Fortis, Gevril and Breitling remain truly independent.

While Harry Winston has issued a statement denying that its luxury business was for sale, it has not closed the door completely. Regarding the recent rumors in the press, a Harry Winston spokesperson said, “The company does not intend to make any further public announcements regarding this matter unless it concludes that they are warranted by the circumstances or are required by law.”

This isn’t the first time there has been speculation about the sale of Harry Winston assets. Just last year, it was the giant Swatch Group that was rumored to be eyeing a Harry Winston acquisition. Whatever happens, it is safe to say that the trend toward consolidation will continue.

The Value of In-House Manufacturing

According to Gevril Group owner Samuel Friedmann, as fewer and fewer of the world’s leading brands have the capacity to manufacture their own watch movements, they will need alliances with the conglomerates simply to stay in business. “In this environment, a company that that can manufacture watches completely in-house is more valuable than ever before.” You can probably guess what company Samuel Friedman is talking about.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the exclusive US representative for select European watch brands, distributing and servicing luxury, fashion and sports timepieces at a wide range of price points. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair department staffed by master Swiss watchmakers.

Please subscribe to the Gevril Group newsletter and blog updates. Reader comments are welcome.