By  on March 22, 2010

Swiss watchmaker Girard-Perregaux is staking a claim in the U.S.

The brand, which was founded in 1791, is opening its first U.S. store next month at 701 Madison Avenue, at 63rd Street, in Manhattan.

“New York is very important to us,” chief executive officer Gino Macaluso said of the 900-square-foot space. “It’s one of the five cities in which it’s absolutely necessary to be.”

Designed by architect Ermanno Previdi, the store is lined with wenge wood walls that feature small steel and glass cases to display product and is crowned with several architectural chandeliers that offer a bold distinction of light to the dark space. A watchmaker will be present and visible to customers. The space also includes private selling rooms for those that want a discreet shopping experience.

Girard-Perregaux — owned by Swiss timepiece firm Sowind Group, which also owns JeanRichard — is known for making complex movements such as tourbillon, power reserve and chronograph in-house. Key pieces that will be sold in the New York store include the 1966 collection, Vintage 1945 and the Cat’s Eye for women. Prices range from $10,000 to $500,000.

The brand has 12 stand-alone boutiques around the world, including units in Gstaad, Switzerland; Beijing, and Beirut, Lebanon. The firm recently opened a store in Hong Kong and there are plans to bow a Tokyo store in 2012.

The company is looking to launch a store in Los Angeles in the next few years. The line is sold in 40 wholesale accounts across the U.S. including Cellini and Tourneau to make a total of 500 outlets worldwide.

“It’s more and more important,” Macaluso said of opening proprietary shops. “We are not a simple brand because we produce very sophisticated items. It’s necessary to have embassy. It’s a way to communicate better.”

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