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Business News: LVMH Buys Tiffany & Co. for US$16.2 Billion

Securing the iconic Blue Box.

After several weeks of negotiations, LVMH has sealed the deal to buy Tiffany & Co. in a US$16.2 billion, all-cash deal.

Despite several years of listless growth and a declining share price – though its current management was in a midst of engineering a turnaround – Tiffany & Co. is the biggest acquisition ever in the luxury goods industry.

The French luxury conglomerate, which owns Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, is paying US$135 a share, about 35% above the last traded price before news of the takeover broke.

With the acquisition of the storied American jeweller, LVMH strengthens its presence in the “hard” luxury business of jewellery and watches, a segment traditionally dominated by its Swiss rival Richemont, the owner of Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and most recently, Buccellati.

The addition of Tiffany’s to its 75-strong stable of brands, which includes watchmakers like Hublot and TAG Heuer, will also help LVMH grow its presence in China and the United States, where the jeweller’s baubles are popular.

And the deal also means Tiffany’s well regarded chief executive, Alessandro Bogliolo, returns to LVMH, where he was once the chief operating officer at Bulgari.


 

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Patek Philippe Ref. 2523 World Time Becomes Most Expensive Watch Sold in Asia

At almost US$9m.

Just two weeks after the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime in steel set the record for the most expensive watch ever when it sold for US$31m at Christie’s in Geneva, the auctioneer clinched the title of most expensive watch sold in Asia, toppling the former record holder.

It sold a Patek Philippe ref. 2523 double-crown world time wristwatch – with a blue enamel dial signed by Milan retailer Gobbi – for HK$70.175m including fees, equivalent to US$8.97m. The result yields a tidy profit for the seller, a noted Asian collector who purchased the watch in 2010 at Christie’s in Geneva for 2.675m Swiss francs.

One of two known with a blue enamel dial and extremely crisp, the ref. 2523 was offered for sale in an unusual manner. Though it was part of the Hong Kong watch auction, the watch was instead offered as the first lot during the 20th century and contemporary art sale a few days before, presumably to appeal to buyers who regularly spend much larger sums on art.

The watch was extensively documented by Christie’s in its catalogues, both online and offline, though it did not do the typical presale marketing tour around the region due to its insured value.

The presale estimate of HK$55m-110m, or about US$7m-14m, made the ref. 2523 the most expensive lot to be ever offered at a watch auction – leading to some mutterings that the watch might not sell – so anticipation was high when the sale started at 5:30pm, especially since ultra high-value vintage watches are usually offered in Geneva.

The saleroom was packed, presumably with people from the art world, although many watch industry insiders were present.

With Christie’s jewellery department head Rahul Kadakia at the rostrum, the bidding opened at HK$40m, and immediately became a two way battle between two phone bidders. One was represented by Francis Belin, who joined Christie’s in 2016 but was recently appointed President of its Asia Pacific operations, and the other by Remi Guillemin, a watch specialist at Christie’s Geneva.

The bids bounced back between the two of them, with Mr Guillemin’s being the one to bid HK$55m, the low reserve. Two bids later, Mr Guillemin’s client won the watch for HK$60m, which is HK$70.175 after the buyer’s premium.


 

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Omega Introduces the James Bond Limited Edition Set

A pair in steel and in gold.

Omega is slowly counting down to the latest James Bond film, No Time to Die, which is scheduled for April 2020, with a trickle of 007-themed watches. Just two months ago it debuted a Seamaster Diver 300M to mark half a century of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (OHMSS),  and now it’s the release of a box set of two watches in steel and gold respectively, presented in a suitcase by British luggage maker Globe-Trotter.

Limited to 257, the James Bond Limited Edition Set is made up of a pair of Seamaster dive watches almost identical to the earlier OHMSS edition but without the date. Both are essentially variants of the 42mm Seamaster Diver 300M but tweaked to incorporate several references to 007.

The stainless-steel model features a black ceramic bezel insert with a white enamel scale, while the yellow gold version has a scale of Ceragold, which is ceramic with gold filling for the markings. Both have black ceramic dials engraved with the gun barrel motif taken from the title sequence of James Bond films.

The hands and indices of both models are yellow gold, with the 12 o’clock marker inspired by the fictional Bond family coat of arms. A subtle detail is the “50” embedded within the luminous marker at ten o’clock, visible only in the dark, a nod to the 50th anniversary of OHMSS. And there’s also the tiny “007” that takes the place of the marker on the minute track.

A commemorative plate bearing the set serial number is screwed into the side of the case, done in a contrasting colour for each watch: yellow gold for the steel model and white gold for the yellow-gold model.

The Bond family coat of arms is also printed in gold and black on the sapphire crystal back of each watch. And while the stainless-steel model is equipped with the Co-Axial Master Chronometer 8806 with a rhodium-plated rotor, the yellow gold uses an upgraded 8807 calibre, which has its rotor and balance bridge in Sedna gold.

Gold components aside, both movements are mechanically identical, with a free-sprung balance wheel and a silicon hairspring. And most crucially, various parts of the co-axial escapement are made from proprietary alloys that boost magnetism resistance to over 15,000 Gauss.

Both watches are presented in a Globe-Trotter suitcase, made of the brand’s signature vulcanised fibreboard – essentially layers of paper hardened by resin – that also contains a pair of travel cases, an additional stainless-steel bracelet for the steel model, an extra NATO strap for each watch, as well as a loupe and a strap removal tool.


Key facts and price

James Bond Limited Edition Set
Ref. 210.22.42.20.01.003 (Stainless steel)
Ref. 210.62.42.20.01.001 (Yellow gold)

Diameter: 42mm
Material: Stainless steel and yellow gold
Water-resistance: 300m

Movement: Calibre 8806 (steel) and calibre 8807 (yellow gold)
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Winding: Automatic

Frequency: 25,200bph, or 3.5Hz
Power reserve: 55 hours

Strap: Rubber strap with additional steel bracelet

Limited edition: 257 sets
Availability:
At boutiques and retailers from January 2020
Price:
 39,000 Swiss francs, or 58,500 Singapore dollars

For more information, visit Omegawatches.com.


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