Switzerland’s biggest watch maker, Swatch Group, is all set to make its largest acquisition to
date by taking over the watch and jewellery unit of diamond giant Harry Winston. According
to the deal, which also includes 535 employees and a production company in Geneva,
Swatch will pay the Canadian company USD 750 million in cash and assume debt of USD
250 million, making it a USD 1 billion purchase.
A well-known, high-end jeweller added to its profile ought to help Swatch a great deal in
competing with other big players like Cartier in the luxury market.
Swatch, which is based in Biel, Switzerland, beat two rival bidders to win the deal with Harry
Winston Diamond Corporation (HWDC), adding this name, which was immortalised by
Elizabeth Taylor in the movie ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’ to its range of 18 brands,
which include Breguet, Omega and Tissot.
The company’s namesake, Harry Winston, founded the firm in 1932. He was one among the
most famous jewellers of yesteryears and was the first one to set the trend of lending jewels
to actresses for red carpet events.
Aber Corp, a Canadian diamond mining company, bought Harry Winston Company in
2006 to create Harry Winston Diamond Corporation. The transaction with Swatch does not
include HWDC’s diamond mining activities, which would be run under the name Dominion
. Swatch Group’s Chairperson, Nayla Hayek, says that the takeover of Harry Winston would
wonderfully complement the prestige segment of her company. According to experts this
partnership ‘checks all the right boxes’ and is a ‘right fit’ and fills the gap in the portfolio of
Swatch, following the unsuccessful alliance with Tiffany. In Zurich, Swatch shares rose by
4.2 percent as investors welcomed the deal.
Harry Winston Diamond Corporation’s Chairman, Robert Gannicott, feels that the company
will make a sound return on its investment in the brand and will also be able to supply
diamonds to Swatch. Being one of the world’s largest purchasers of polished diamonds,
Swatch would also explore opportunities for a joint diamond polishing venture, bringing
together the manufacturing and diamond expertise of the two companies.