In today’s episode, Christian and Anna dive into the major conglomerates that own a majority of the watch brands we all know and love. The three biggest players are Swatch Group, Richemont, and LVMH, and though each of these companies fixate on a range of different brands and price points, there are some commonalities. In a post-quartz world, Switzerland was not in a particularly good way, so a gentleman by the name of Nicolas Hyek developed the Swatch Group, a company that owns brands from Swatch to Longines to Omega to Breguet. The other thing that helps Swatch stand out is their ownership of movement manufacturer ETA, responsible for a great many off-the-shelf Swiss movements supplied to brands both within Swatch and outside of it (though, in recent years, ETA has been toning down their sharing of their movements to outside brands).
The second company is Richemont, who own A. Lange & Sohne, Jaeger LeCoultre, Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, and Piaget. The third conglomerate is LVMH, a company that owns fewer “watch geeky” brands, but still some serious powerhouses, including BVLGARI, Tag Heuer, and Hublot.
Once the brands are acquired by one of these conglomerates, they are still very much independent, but they do acquire a significant number of resources and more direct support to help them grow. That being said, it can be significantly harder to maintain a strict sense of identity when all of a sudden there are second opinions and higher ups involved. However, this doesn’t need to be the case, as Lange has shown despite their ownership by Richemont.
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