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Power Behind the Throne: Watch Groups and their Brands

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[With particular acknowledgements to Jay Deshpandes for his updated article of 12 April 2017 in WatchTime on "Who Owns What: A Guide to the Watch Groups"]

In the world of watch production the watch group has become a powerful entity, and the rules regarding brand independence within the different groups will vary. In this topic, I am not going to delve into the details of each group and brand, and for more information on each individual group, I suggest that a good start would be to reference the article whose details I have given here above.

Quite simply, I shall now list the name of each group, with a few details, and then list the various watch brands that are owned by that group. I have also differentiated between brands that are fully owned by a group from those that are licensed. So, here goes:


1) Swatch Group (Bienne, Switzerland): The largest watch company in the world with Omega generating the most revenue out of its 18 brands. Additionally, Swatch owns ETA and Nivrox-FAR) giving it a powerful position in the manufacture of watch movements and other components. Omega is the third-largest watch brand in Switzerland:

Breguet, Blancpain, Glasshutte Original (Umlaut on 'u'), Harry Winstone, Jaquet Droz, Omega, Leon Hatot (acute on the 'e'), Longines, Rado, Union Glasshutte (umlaut on 'u'), Tissot, Calvin Klein, Balmain, Certina, Mido, Hamilton, swatch, Flik Flak.


2) Richemont Group (Switzerland): A leading company across a range of luxury products, the most important of which are the watches. The Specialist Watches Division is responsible for 28% of Richemont's revenue and comprises the following brands:

A. Lange & Sohne (umlaut on the 'o'), Baume & Mercier, IWC Schaffhausen, Jeager-LeCoultre, Officine Panerai, Piaget, Ralph Lauren, Roger Dubuis, and Vacheron Constantin.

The Richemont group also owns Cartier, which is the largest brand in the group and the second biggest watch brand in the world after Rolex. Montblanc - until recently a Richemont division - has now been subsumed into other busineses.


3) LVMH Group (LMVH Moet (umlaut on 'e') Hennesy Louis Vuitton SA) (Paris, France): The largest luxury-goods company in the world with over 3000 stores worldwide selling all manner of luxury products. The watch division has been expanded over the last decade and a half, and now is represented by the following brands: 

TAG-Heuer, Bulgari, Hublot, Zenith, Dior, Fred, Chaumet, Louis Vuitton.


4) Kering (Paris, France): Known as PPR before 2013, this group has a luxury division with more than half the revenue coming from Gucci alone. In 2012 it bought the Sowind Group, consisting of Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard and acting as an ebauche maker for Swiss mechanical watches, including, from 2013, Gucci models:

Ulysse Nardin, Girard-Perregaux, JeanRichard, Gucci, Boucheron, Qeelin, Bottega Veneta.


5) Seiko (Japan): A huge publicly held conglomerate that manufactures all types of products and is basically divided into Seiko Holdings (which includes Seiko watch Corp.) and Seiko Epson which produces some watch components and is the parent company of Orient) Seiko produces all the components of both its mechanical and quartz watches:

Seiko, Grand Seiko, Credor, Pulsar, Lorus, Alba, Orient.


6) Fossil Group (Richardson, Texas,USA): A watch group that continues to expand its portfolio of brand names for which it makes watches under license - mostly with Japanese quartz movements. Fossil has now started making Swiss-made mechanical watches by virtue of it subsidiaries in Ticino, but essentially the group focuses on fashion/designer brand watches of middle quality:

Fossil, Relic, Zodiac, Skagen, {licensed brands; Adidas, Burberry, Diesel, DKNY, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs, Emporio Armani, Emporio Armani Swiss Made, Armani Exchange, Karl Lagerfeld}.


7) Movado Group (Paramus, N.J., USA):  MGI is now a leading player in the affordable designer/fashion watch market, mainly due to its six licensed brands. Movado Group International is also in the high quality watch arena with its four owned brands, including the eponymous hero brand:

Ebel, Concord, Movado, ESQ by Movado, {licensed brands; Coach, Hugo Boss, Juicy Couture, Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste, Scuderia Ferrari}.


8) Citizen Group (Japan): A large vertically integrated company trading as Citizen Holdings Co., Ltd. and mainly involved in the manufacture of watches, machine tools and electronics. More than half of total sales comes from the Watches and Clocks Division. Citizen is well-known for producing watch movements via its Miyota division, and since about 2008 the firm has been acquiring some well-known watch names plus the movement-manufacturer La Joux-Perret together with its Arnold & Son watch brand:

Citizen, Campanola, Q&Q, Arnold & Son, Bulova, Bulova Accutron II, Bulova AccuSwiss, Wittnauer, Caravelle New York, Bulova Clocks, Frederique Constant (acutes on first two 'e's) Alpina, Ateliers de Monaco, {licensed brands; Frank Lloyd Wright, Harley-Davidson}.


9) Timex Group (USA): Privately held and with one sole ownership - the mass market Timex brand. The firm does have licensing arrangements with a number of brands however:

Timex, {licensed brands; Nautica, Opex, GC, Guess, Salvatore Ferragamo Timepieces, Versace, Versus}.


10) Franck Muller Group (Genthod, Geneva, Switzerland): Privately owned luxury goods group, with Franck Muller being the top-selling brand in its portfolio:

Franck Muller, Pierre Kunz, European Company Watch, Rodolphe, Martin Braun, Barthelay, Backes & Strauss?, Pierre Michael Golay, Smalto Timepieces, Roberto Cavalli}.


11) Binda Group (Milan,Italy): a privately held company focusing mainly on fashion brands, with an array of licensed brands coming to the group in 2008 when it bought the American "Geneva Watch group":

Breil, Freestyle, Hip Hop, {licensed brands; Moschino, Kenneth Cole, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Tommy Bahama, Ted Baker London, Chronotech, Gametime, Sperry Top-Sider, Zoo York}.


12) Citychamp group (Hong Kong): Previously known as China Haidan, this public company group as been expanding its number of international brands, having penetrated the Chinese market with Rossini and Ebohr watches. In 2016, Citychamp acquired the Dreyfuss Group and with it the Rotary brand:

Corum, Eterna, Ebohr, Rossini, Rotary, Dreyfuss & Co., J & T Windmills.


13) Festina Group (Barcelona, Spain): Private company owned by Miguel Rodriguez with Festina and Perrelet being the main brands. The company owns the ebauche maker, Soprod, and the horological complications specialist MHVJ:

Perrelet, festina, L. Leroy, Candino, Lotus, {licensed brands; Jaguar, Calypso}.


I trust that this information will be of interest to Watch Forum UK members, and greater detail about the watch groups given above will be found in Jay Deshpande's article. Obviously, given that Jay is writing for an American watch magazine, it is perhaps not surprising that he has not included Time Products Group which is a British concern whose current brands are Accurist, Limit and Sekonda. In fact, other watch groups are also available, but I believe that he has made the right choices for inclusion when it comes to watch collectors and those interested in the higher end of the fashion/designer watch market.









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On 01/05/2017 at 16:44, Always"watching" said:


The Richemont group also owns Cartier, which is the largest brand in the group and the second biggest watch brand in the world after Rolex. 



An excellent summmary, thanks for taking the time! This in particular was a surprise to me ^

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On 2017-5-1 at 12:44, Always"watching" said:

Montblanc - until recently a Richemont division - has now been subsumed into other busineses.

Meaning that...??? Leaves Richemont or stops watch production???

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A question, dear Doolittle, that I have been wondering about myself for a few days. Please understand that, as I stated in the topic post, my source for the information it contained was essentially a single article rather than a product of my own research.

Like you, I have been puzzled by the fact that Mont Blanc seems to still be a watch producer based in Hamburg, Germany, and fully owned by the Richemont Group. In fact, the Mont Blanc website indicates that this brand is used for a number of different luxury goods in addition to watches. In addition to this, I have discovered that Ralph Lauren is currently listed as a 50/50 partnership with Richemont and not a wholly owned Richemont brand. 

I apologise for any other slip-ups, but even when I research as fully as possible myself and write accordingly, it can be difficult to find the exact truth about something or an exact date. This is a nightmare for anyone who writes serious non-fiction and although I must always correct what I have done in error, I have to conclude that it is a hazard of the work and something I cannot berate myself over more than I already do.:)


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Well, at least there's two of us stranded in the doubt...allow me if I quote Wristwatch Annual 2017, pp. 220: The Richemont group, owner of Montblanc, has placed great trust in its "daughter"  company, the little manufacture Minerva...the Minerva Institute serves as a kind of think tank for the future, a place where young watchmakers can absorb the old traditions and skills...In the summer of 2013, Jerome Lambert, from sister brand Jaeger Le Coultre took over the presidency and focused the brand on the top and lower price segments..."  End of quote...so...out goes Montblanc, in comes Minerva???!!!  Wow!! that's exciting!!

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Very interesting article, thanks.

According to Wikipedia, Timex is now Dutch, part of the Fred. Olsen empire?   You live and learn....

Edited by Lancman

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