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NBA, watchmaker Tissot announce multiyear partnership

The NBA and Swiss watchmaker Tissot announced a comprehensive multiyear partnership on Monday that both hope will lead to the most complex timekeeping in sports history.

Terms were not announced, but Tissot president Francois Thiebaud told ESPN that it was the most expensive deal the company has made in its 162-year history.

As part of the deal, Tissot will get branding on clocks inside the arena -- most prominently the shot clocks above the baskets.

Emilio Collins, the NBA's executive vice president of global marketing partnerships, said the league was shopping around to find its official timekeeper as it was clear that more updated technology was needed to develop a more efficient system.

"This was the right company for us at the right time," Collins said.

The starting and stopping of the clock is currently kept by the officials through a button on their hip, and backed up by a timekeeper at the scorer's table. The clock does automatically stop when a whistle is blown.

Steve Hellmuth, the league's executive vice president of operations and technology, said Tissot and the league will also work with the league's television partners to synchronize the clocks in the arenas and the clock being shown on television. Hellmuth said the league's timing technology last underwent a full update in 2004.

The league will also be adding a new element to the clocks this upcoming season as a new 90-second countdown clock will be used between the announcement of starting lineups and the opening tip, as well as other points in the game when the clock is stopped.

Because of the constant starting and stopping, Thiebaud hopes to build the most intricate timing system in sports history.

The brand will benefit from being part of the Swatch Group, which has a history of being at the forefront of sports timekeeping. It's Omega brand starting keeping time at the Olympics in 1932, while its Longines brand has a heavy presence in skiing and gymnastics and at the French Open. Tissot has also been the official timekeeper of FIBA since 2008.

While the marketing part of the deal, which includes a relationship with all 30 teams, will start with the first preseason games this week, the new timing system will be unveiled for the 2016-17 season.

Tissot, which has had a deal with San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker for five years, is hoping that the brand recognition associated with its new NBA deal will help boost sales among fans. Tissot, which sold 4.2 million watches last year, intends to use the NBA team trademarks it receives as part of the deal to sell team-branded timepieces, watches, clocks and watch accessories.

"This deal gives us a chance to touch a lot of people," Thiebaud said. "We hope it gives them the confidence to buy a beautiful Swiss watch that is connected to sports."