You’re probably familiar with a number of luxury watch brands, from A. Lange & Söhne to TAG Heuer, and OMEGA, but one thing you may not realize is that these are actually part of larger families. In fact, these watch brands are owned and operated by just a handful of big parent companies. You might be surprised to know that OMEGA is a sibling to Tissot, Cartier shares a parent with A. Lange & Söhne, and TAG is related to Dior.
While some might see this as more of a monopoly, with just a few key players owning a major share of the luxury watch market, the logic behind it tends to be a bit simpler. As the watch brands advance, they’ve needed to tap into the technology, manufacturing, and distribution abilities of others, and so the larger companies have become Goliaths by picking up the smaller companies as they’ve grown. They even make watches which are over 100,000 worth.
Do you know who’s behind A. Lange & Söhne, OMEGA, TAG, and others? Make a mental note of your guesses now and check your answers as you read along.
1) Kering S.A.
Founded in 1963 and originally known as Pinault S.A., The French company Kering has been picking up other firms at breakneck speeds. Their array of subsidiaries includes fashion-focused Alexander McQueen of the UK as well as Italian suit-maker Brioni. Historically, Kering cast a wide net and picked up companies or portions of companies like Puma and Stella McCartney, even going so far as to grab boardsports product producer Volcom. However, Kering recently reestablished its focus to luxury-only and is now dropping many of the companies that don’t fit within their new vision. As of 2018, Kering is the fifth-largest luxury goods company in the world based on sales according to research by Deloitte. While the company is still getting its feet wet in the luxury timepiece market, it’s certainly well-poised to become a stronger competitor.
Kering Watch Brands
- Ulysse Nardin
- Christopher Kane
Chances are you’re undeniably familiar with LVMH, even if you’ve never heard the acronym. It is the number-one luxury goods company, per Deloitte research, and it has been for years. The name stands for Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, three distinct companies with different roots. Moët, the world-renowned champagne producer, and Hennessy, globally-celebrated cognac maker, merged in 1971, while internationally-acclaimed fashion house Louis Vuitton picked up both in 1987. Combined, LVMH owns more than 60 companies now, with the oldest being wine producer Château d’Yquem, established in 1593. In terms of luxury timepieces, it may be difficult to choose a forerunner from LVMH’s line as the company has quite a few watchmakers, each bringing something unique and special to the table.
LVMH Watch Brands
Formally known as Compagnie Financière Richemont S.A., the Swiss company Richemont slipped into third place from second on Deloitte’s recent list. However, it was overtaken by Estée Lauder, which specializes in cosmetics and fragrances, rather than another luxury watchmaker. Originally part of Rembrandt Group, which was formed in 1940, Richemont spun off on its own in 1988 and is largely focused on jewelry and watches. Not surprisingly, they own several of the most trusted and appreciated luxury watchmakers anywhere on the globe.
Richemont Watch Brands
- Ralph Lauren (engaged in a 50/50 partnership)
- Vacheron Constantin
- Van Cleef & Arpels
4) Swatch Group
When most people think of the Swiss watchmaker Swatch, they consider the company’s lineup of low and mid-range products. That’s not overly surprising, considering the company markets “disposable” products under the name of the parent company. However, it does have some serious watchmakers under its umbrella and currently places seventh on the list of biggest luxury companies overall. Although Swatch by its current name has only been around since the 1980s, lots of the companies it owns have been around much longer. Swatch grew big by purchasing smaller companies. In particular, OMEGA has become a crowing star for the firm, and has been seen in numerous James Bond films.
Swatch Watch Brands
Rolex came in at number 12 on the list of luxury companies, which is actually quite a feat, considering it’s independently owned and focused wholly on watches. The relationship is so solidified that the brand name is often the go-to when discussing timepieces, almost as if it’s a synonym. Yet, you won’t find Rolex on an umbrella list like the others. In fact, the company only has a single subsidiary; Tudor. Rolex consistently breaks records and earns spots on lists. Many of the most expensive watches ever sold are Rolexes and it was naturally the first choice for James Bond.
Rolex Watch Brands
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