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Grimoldi’s Growth

NEW YORK — Italian watch brand Grimoldi recently celebrated its American debut with a party fitting the size and style of its timepieces: big and bold.<br><br>The launch event, held at Tourneau’s flagship here, drew an eclectic crowd of...

NEW YORK — Italian watch brand Grimoldi recently celebrated its American debut with a party fitting the size and style of its timepieces: big and bold.

This story first appeared in the July 1, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The launch event, held at Tourneau’s flagship here, drew an eclectic crowd of watch industry executives, celebrities and hip-hop musicians, including Russell Simmons, who owns a minority stake in Grimoldi.

“I own a lot of watches, and I had a feeling this brand could be very special,” said Simmons, who was also a co-host of the event. “The hip-hop community has been responsible for the launch of so many luxury products, and I wanted to continue that with Grimoldi.”

The Grimoldi family has been in business as retailers in Italy for more than 50 years, but it didn’t wholesale its watches until about a year ago. In America, Grimoldi is now sold at Tourneau, as well as Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and a number of independent retailers.

The Swiss-made line, which has all mechanical movements and oversized faces, carries retail prices of $1,500 to $5,500. Steven Holtzman, president of Helvetia Time, which distributes the line in the U.S., estimated first-year sales of $3 million in this country.

“Despite the large size, women love it,” said Antonio Grimoldi, chief operating officer of Grimoldi. “More than 70 percent of our sales are to women.”