Harry Winston famously provides jewelry for Hollywood stars every year. Swatch recently purchased the jewelry icon for one billion dollars and adds its stamp to the company’s colorful timeline.
As a young 12-year-old man in 1908, Winston recognized quality gems. He purchased his first two-carat emerald for a quarter and sold it for $800. Eventually, he started his own business buying and selling quality gems and jewelry to luxury clients.
After Harry passed away in 1978, his sons Ronald and Bruce split the company’s shares. Ronald assumed leadership of the company while Bruce contentedly pursued a jet-set lifestyle.
Under Ronald’s leadership, Harry Winston unveiled its first watch in 1989. The bi-retrograde platinum watch with a perpetual calendar was the first of its kind.
Meanwhile, the company’s leadership began unraveling. Ronald tripled his income, a decision Bruce challenged. Ronald sought to purchase his brother’s share numerous times over the next few years. Bruce refused to sell until Fenway Partners, a private equity group, purchased his shares for $44 million in 2000.
In 2003, the company underwent further changes. Aber Diamond Corporation completed a friendly takeover and acquired 51 percent of Harry Winston for $85 million. They purchased the remaining shares for $157 million in 2006.
The world’s most lucrative watchmaker, Swatch Group joins Harry Winston’s timeline as they pay $750 million to the Harry Winston Diamond Corporation. Additionally, the Swiss-based group assumes $250 million in accumulated debt.
Harry Winston Diamond retains its diamond mining business as Dominion Diamond Corporation.
With its recent acquisition, Swatch adds high-end jewelry and gem-studded watches to its popular line. They also gain the Geneva production company and 535 global employees, an investment that no doubt will only provide immense future dividends.
Jennifer T for Raymond Lee Jewelers, South Florida’s premiere source for buying and selling luxury watches and designer jewelry.