Whether you’ve heard of the Kering Group watch brands as a whole or not, chances are you’re familiar with at least a couple of their watchmakers.
The company has been known as Pinault, Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, and PPR in recent years.
Historically, it hasn’t been purely devoted to luxury goods, either, but the French company has been working to change its image over the past decade and is now the fifth-largest luxury goods provider in the world according to a Deloitte report, beating out notables like Swatch and Rolex by several billion dollars per year each.
Although it brings in only a fraction of what LVMH does, it is gaining on Richemont, so the family of Kering Group watch brands is one to keep an eye on.
The Ulysse Nardin brand, named for its founder, was formed in in Switzerland in 1846.
Coming from a family of horologists and training under some of the best, Nardin was certain that demand for marine chronometers would grow, so he broke off on his own and began work.
Nardin built some of the best marine chronometers available, and by the 1870s, was supplying more than 50 navies and shipping companies around the world with theirs.
To be clear, this was a major accomplishment, as marine chronometers weren’t simply used to tell time; ships needed them for celestial navigation.
An inaccurate chronometer could derail a voyage or worse, so the fact that so many entrusted their lives with his chronometers says quite a bit about his reputation.
Unfortunately, Nardin passed away just as business was taking off, but his son took over and the company immediately began setting new records for accuracy and winning awards for innovation and design.
To date, the company may well be one of the most decorated watchmakers around, with thousands of titles to its name.
That being said, we’d almost expect a brand with such historic roots to produce traditional vintage-styled timepieces, and indeed, some of them are.
The current Marine Collection, for example, features pieces which would certainly be at home on a sea captain’s wrist; their large round cases with roman numerals and numerous complications are formidable.
However, Ulysse Nardin breaks from tradition entirely with its Freak Collection.
While many have tried to copycat this design since its release in 2001, it was initially the only timepiece with a seven-day carrousel-tourbillon and features no dial or hands.
Its movement literally pivots upon itself to display the time. The Trilogy of Time Collection released in the 1980s also broke all the rules.
The Astrolabium, for example, made the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most functional timepiece ever, offering up 21 distinct functions in a single watch.
Ulysse Nardin joined the Kering Group watch brands in 2014 and is still innovating, but in-house craftsmanship and highly-complicated pieces comes with a solid price tag.
If you set your heart on a Freak, plan to invest six figures. However, the Marine Chronometer, Executive, Diver, and Classic Collections each bring something special to the table and have entry points below $10,000.
Guccio Gucci initially fell in love with the luggage he saw visitors toting while he worked in Paris and London hotels.
Upon moving back home to Florence, he established his own factory and shop in 1920.
While he leveraged many aspects of mass production, Gucci first and foremost was dedicated to quality and worked with skilled artisans, which helped him develop a reputation in the luxury goods industry.
Together with his three sons, Gucci expanded into all sorts of fine leather goods, but when WWII brought about material shortages, the company switched to canvas.
These items were stamped with the trademark double-G, which is still seen on Gucci pieces today.
The company has been part of the Kering Group watch brands since 1999.
Though better known as a fashion house, Gucci has been producing timepieces since the 1950s and their offerings are on par with what one would expect; a fusion of Swiss craftsmanship and Italian design.
Many Gucci timepieces are surprisingly affordable, such as the Vintage Web, which starts at less than $700.
Even the G-Timeless Collection, which features an eclectic walk down the company’s memory lane and has everything from floral designs through moon phase watches, tops out around $4,500.
The story of Girard-Perregaux dates back to the late 1700s, when Jean-François Bautte, a Swiss orphan, became an apprentice at age 12.
He learned the trades of jewelry making, goldsmithing, and watchmaking, and at 19, was signing his own timepieces.
Bautte is credited with creating the first comprehensive production facilities and it’s said that he personally monitored each aspect of manufacturing, down to the final polish.
It wasn’t long before Bautte had locations in Geneva, Paris, and Florence, with a huge following among the European elite, including royalty.
Fast-forward to the 1850s, watchmaker Constant Girard married Marie Perregaux, and the pair formed Girard-Perregaux.
Girard made quite a name for himself as well, crafting the distinct tourbillon with three gold bridges, which he went on to patent and win design awards for in the 1880s.
It was around this time that word of Girard’s quality reached the German navy, which subsequently ordered 2,000 pieces.
Bear in mind, this was at a time when every piece was painstakingly pieced together by hand and timepieces were often reserved for the elite.
Orders of that quantity simply did not happen. His ability to fulfill the order transformed the industry altogether.
Eventually, the business is passed on to Girard’s son, Constant Girard-Gallet, who went on to purchase Bautte’s watchmaking company in 1906.
The company continued to innovate, introducing the Gyromatic, an ultra-thin automatic winding system, in 1957, followed by the first high-frequency mechanical self-winding movement in the world in 1965.
Girard-Perregaux was also the first Swiss company to adapt and produce a quartz timepiece too.
Girard-Perregaux joined the Kering Group watch brands in 2011. It has largely remained true to its roots.
The Vintage 1945 Collection is one of its most popular, featuring flawless Swiss craftsmanship and art deco styling. Pricing starts at about $15,000. The Gold Bridges Collection, boldly showcasing Girard’s iconic three-bridge tourbillon, starts around $40,000.
Tracing the roots of Jeanrichard is a bit harder than with other brands. The company says it got its start when Daniel Jeanrichard crafted his first timepiece in Switzerland in 1681, and with a heritage like that, one would expect the name to be a leader in watchmaking,Yet, it’s still relatively obscure and there’s absolutely no mention on the company site about having ties to the Kering Group watch brands, so what gives?
Daniel Jeanrichard was, in fact, an amazing watchmaker.
He was the only one producing timepieces in his area at the time and developed things others weren’t doing yet, like calendar features.
He applied his ingenuity in business too, employing local farmers during the winter months, giving them opportunity to create individual components in small workshops or their own homes.
However, the company eventually went dormant. Nothing much was heard of it until Swiss watchmaker Nouvelle Lemania bought the rights to use the company name in the 1980s.
The company did nothing with it, instead selling it to Sowind Group in 1986. Founded by Luigi Macaluso, whose family still owns 49.9% of the company, it’s Sowind Group you’ll routinely see listed as the owner or parent of Jeanrichard.
The other 50.1%, as you may have guessed, belongs to Kering. Sowind and Kering initially teamed up in 2008, with Kering becoming the majority shareholder in 2011.
That said, even Sowind wasn’t sure what to do with the Jeanrichard name, so it mostly did nothing.
When Kering came on, the leadership team identified a major issue; the historic watchmaker would have been in direct competition with their own Girard-Perregaux (coincidentally also a Sowind company, though rarely marketed as such).
Yet, people knew what Girard-Perregaux stood for, and if Jeanrichard was to fight for placement, it would be cannibalizing from Girard-Perregaux, as the timepieces were in the same price range. It was then that Sowind CEO Michele Sofisti and COO Bruno Grande realized the heritage of Jeanrichard could be preserved if they decided to rebrand it to fill the gap between Gucci and Girard-Perregaux. The two pitched the idea to Kering and it was approved.
With a new niche among the Kering Group watch brands, Jeanrichard was reimagined.
The company’s aim was to create high-quality timepieces that maintained the brand’s DNA for no more than $2,500. To do so, most of the movements could no longer be crafted in-house, with the exception of the 1681 models which start at around $1,500.
The company also rebranded with an adventurous or “pioneering” spirit, paying homage to Daniel Jeanrichard. The aim was to demonstrate that ordinary people could do extraordinary things anywhere they might be, and as such, the Terrascope, Aquascope and Aeroscope were born.
As the names suggest, Terrascope is ideal for any land dweller, while Aquascope is the dive watch, and Aeroscope the pilot watch.
The company selected Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger to be the brand ambassador; a natural choice, as the captain is well known for having saved the lives of 150 passengers aboard his aircraft in 2009 by artfully landing in the Hudson River.
These developments and rebranding efforts have taken place in just the past decade or so, meaning Jeanrichard is still “up-and-coming,” but it’s certainly one to watch.
Frederic Boucheron was enamored with trinkets and anything that sparkled. He opened his jewelry-focused French workshop in 1866 and won a Gold Medal at the World’s Fair right out of the gate.
His shop at Place Vendôme, which still exists today, was an easy choice for Boucheron, as he reportedly instantly envisioned how his diamonds would sparkle in the windows of the square’s sunniest space.
He also delighted in a sundial in the Palais Royal gardens. Created by watchmaker Rousseau in 1785, the sundial cast beautiful reflections into Boucheron’s first shop each day and bore the inscription “Horas non numeri nisi serenas,” or “I count only the joyful hours.” Boucheron adopted the saying as his own motto and began incorporating it into each piece he created.
You’ll still feel this air of lightheartedness and spirit in timepieces crafted with his name today.
The Boucheron company remained in the family for quite some time, though was eventually purchased by Gucci, which became part of the Kering Group watch brands too.
The company’s Epure models feature contemporary styling and start at around $2,500, though reach up through $25,000 depending on the materials and features.
Boucheron’s most recognizable model is Reflect; featuring elongated rectangular cases with stripes or ribs stamped in the metal, stretching lengthwise from band to band.
Bracelets are designed to be changed out with ease, making it possible to match your Reflect to whatever the day will bring.
Plus, Boucheron hid a further secret in the design. When the dial is pressed, a silhouette of the Vendôme Column emerges; a landmark visible from the company’s flagship shop.
Depending on the customizations selected, it’s possible to pick up a Reflect for under $4,000. There’s also the Epure d’Art, Ajouree, and Serpent Boheme Collections, which include beautiful timepieces designed to sparkle and capture imaginations.
Find Your Favorite Kering Group Watch Brands on Value Your Watch
While it’s easy to think of the Kering Group watch brands as fashion-focused, simply because it contains names like Gucci and Bucheron, having Ulysse Nardin, Jeanrichard, and Girard-Perregaux among them certainly makes it a name to know, even for serious luxury timepiece collectors. At Value Your Watch, we make the process of selling timepieces simple, thus ensuring our marketplace is always full of new pieces to explore, and we also add layers of transparency, so those browsing can purchase with confidence. See our selection of Kering Group watch brands and other fine timepieces now.
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