By  on April 7, 2006

NEW YORK — Luxury watch retailer Tourneau and The Swatch Group, the Biel, Switzerland-based watch manufacturer, are joining to open stores in premium outlet malls in the U.S.

The Tourneau outlet stores will offer most of The Swatch Group's brands, including Longines, Rado, Tissot, Calvin Klein, Hamilton and the eponymous Swatch, as well as non-Swatch-owned brands. The stores — the number hasn't been determined — also will offer Tourneau's proprietary watch brand. A spokesman for The Swatch Group said the firm's luxury brands, such as Glashutte-Original, Breguet and Blancpain, will not be sold at the outlet stores.

"American consumers love our brands," G. Nicolas Hayek Jr., ceo of The Swatch Group, said in a statement. "Tourneau has long been one of our strong partners in the U.S., and the opportunity to open multibrand outlet stores looks more than promising."

Wexler concurred, noting in a statement: "It is common to find many luxury brands at premier outlet malls around the U.S. We are delighted to be taking the watch category into this arena, offering a multibrand experience in partnerships with The Swatch Group's many brands."

Although no leases have been signed, the partnership is targeting major luxury outlet malls outside of New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla.

Tourneau's deal with The Swatch Group follows the company's agreement last week with Peace Mark (Holdings) Ltd. and International Watch Group to form a joint venture called Peace Mark Tourneau (Holdings) Ltd., which plans to open 30 luxury watch stores under the Tourneau name brand in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan within the next five years.

Tourneau also is exploring strategic options, including a possible sale, Robert Wexler, chief executive officer of the 106-year-old New York-based brand, said last week.

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