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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.

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.”