Canadian firm CCL Industries, which has its headquarters in Toronto, said it has a "high regard" for the family-owned Glasgow business and its 80-strong workforce.
The deal will bring an end to almost two centuries of independence at John Watson & Company.
It is understood negotiations have been taking place for around 12 months. The terms of the transaction include an earn-out agreement covering the calendar year of 2013.
Once that is completed the business is likely to be rebranded as CCL Label and become part of the Canadian firm's global wine and spirits unit.
In the interim period, both businesses will work together with the co-ordination led by Guenther Birkner, CCL's president of food and beverage worldwide.
John Watson, 64, the fifth generation of his family to work in the business, will remain in an advisory role as chairman during the earn-out period.
According to Mr Watson, CCL (which is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange) is interested in expanding operations in Glasgow with a possible factory move on the cards.
Mr Watson said: "We are delighted to have concluded Heads of Agreement with CCL Industries and look forward to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.
"CCL intends to grow the brand and in two to three years establish the company in a new green-field site within the Greater Glasgow area."
Mr Watson has been with the company for about 46 years, and has held the chairman post since 1985.
Two sons, 24-year-old Angus and 21-year-old Sandy, are the sixth generation of the family to work for the business.
CCL said John Watson & Company's position in the drinks industry, where it supplies most of the major Scotch whisky producers, was especially attractive.
Mr Birkner said: "We have long admired John Watson & Company.
"They are a fantastic team of highly experienced and knowledgeable print professionals. We look forward to working with them and building on their long-held association with the drinks industry in the UK and the Scotch whisky industry in Scotland in particular."
Geoffrey Martin, president and chief executive of CCL Industries, added: "The wine and spirits sector continues to be attractive for us as we have built our business by a series of acquisitions, joint ventures and greenfield investments around the world.
"Guenther and his key people have held John Watson & Company in high regard for a long time and believe the great team that John assembled will allow us to get closer to important global customers located in Scotland.
"We also plan to support the planned acquisition with further investment in the operation in Glasgow."
In the year to March 31, 2012, John Watson and Company hiked its turnover by 19.8% to £11.6m.
Pre-tax profits rose from £204,830 to £278,070.
CCL employs around 6600 people in 74 plants around the world. It also produces packaging and aerosol cans.