In the last post, I covered the story of Nicolas Hayek who put together the largest watch group in the world. Now, let’s look at the major watch groups as of May 2018. Yes, there are many brands not in this post. This is meant to be a high-level overview.
Swatch is the largest of the watch groups and is based in Bienne, Switzerland. With 18 brands (and likely growing) Swatch covers from Breguet on the high end down to Flik Flak kids watches. This is a publicly traded company that has roots as far back as the 1930s. In addition to the watchmakers, Swatch also owns movement maker ETA who happens to be the largest supplier of Swiss watch parts. A current Swiss Competition Committee ruling will allow Swatch to stop supplying parts to outside brands in 2020.
Swatch, Hamilton, Breguet, Harry Winston, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Jaquet Droz, Leon Hatot, Omega, Longines, Rado, Union Glashütte, Tissot, Balmain, Certina, Mido, Calvin Klein, Flik Flak
Compagnie Financière Richemont SA is primarily a Luxury watch company. Richemont currently owns 13 watch brands and a small number of other luxury brands. The company was formed in 1988 as a result of a spin-off of international assets of the Rembrandt Group Limited of South Africa. Rembrandt was founded in the 1940’s as a brand owner in a wide variety of industries. This is also a publicly traded company.
IWC Schaffhausen, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin, Baume & Mercier, Jaeger LeCoultre, A. Lange & Sohne, Cartier, Officine Panerai, Van Cleef & Arpels, Montblanc, Roger Dubuis
The Paris, France based Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) group is the largest luxury retailer with brands across many avenues. For more than a decade, LVMH has been building its watch portfolio. Resting at the top of the watch portfolio is Tag Heuer which is one of Switzerland’s top-selling brands. The company was formed in 1987 when Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessey merged into the current publicly traded company.
Chaumet, Tag Heuer, Zenith, Bulgari, Fred, Hublot
Another Paris based luxury group, Kering S.A., formerly known as Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR) is a luxury brand conglomerate that has steadily built its watchmaker brands. In March 2013 PPR changed its name to Kering. The headline watch brands are the storied Girard-Perregaux and Ulysse Nardin.
Ulysse Nardin, Girard-Perregaux, Jean Richard, Gucci, Boucheron, Qeelin, Bottega Veneta
Founded in 1881, the Seiko Group is a large Japanese conglomerate with a small number of watch brands under its name. In addition, the publicly traded Seiko produces clocks, jewelry, and other electronics. The first watches produced under the brand rolled out in 1924 with an industry-changing highlight in 1969 with the first production quartz watch.
Seiko, Grand Seiko, Credor, Pulsar, Lorus, Alba, Orient
Citizen is a vertically integrated, publicly traded company from Japan. Founded in 1930 by Japanese and Swiss investors, until WWII the company relied on Swiss technology. Since the war, Citizen has gone on to develop atomic timekeeping, the Eco-Drive line and also owns Miyota movement manufacturing.
Citizen, Campanola, Q&Q, Bulova, Bulova Accu Swiss, Alpina