To be a successful watch company in today’s world, a company will often times need help. Watchmakers, on top of designing worthwhile timepieces, typically have to face challenges with getting parts from suppliers, how to distribute across the world, and how to market their products effectively and cost efficiently. With that being said, the wristwatch landscape is typically dominated by large multinational conglomerates or groups. While every single brand won’t be mentioned, this post will cover who owns what watch brands and try to present it in a simplified manner.
Swatch Group – Location: Switzerland
The Swatch Group was formed in 1983 as ASUAG/SSIH. It was taken private in 1985 by Nicolas Hayek and renamed SMH (Société de Microélectronique et d’Horlogerie) in 1986. Finally, it was renamed The Swatch Group Ltd in 1998. The Swatch Group is the largest watch company in the world and has gone on to own around 20 watch brands.
Owned Brands: Blancpain, Breguet, Balmain, Harry Winston, CK Calvin Klein, Certina, Endura, Flik Flak, Glashütte Original, Hamilton, Harry Winston, Jaquet Droz, Léon Hatot, Longines, Mido, Omega, Rado, Swatch, Swiss Timing, Tissot, and Union Glashütte.
The company is a vertically integrated watch company meaning that it makes all necessary components of a watch in house. They are the top supplier of watch movements to the Swiss watchmaking industry and arguably the most important company in the Swiss watchmaking industry.
Richemont Group – Location: Switzerland
Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, known also as Richemont, is more than just a watch company. They are a luxury goods holding company based out of Switzerland who was founded in 1988 by Johann Rupert. Richemont produces and sells more than just watches, for example, they also sell leather goods, jewelry, pens, clothing and accessories. Their “Specialist Watchmakers” brands are listed below (I will explain more on this afterwards).
Owned Brands: A. Lange & Söhne, Baume & Mercier, IWC Schaffhausen, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Roger Dubuis, Piaget, Officine Panerai, Montblanc, Dunhill and Ralph Lauren**
**Under a joint venture between Richemont the Ralph Lauren brand
The brands listed above are under their Specialist Watchmakers division. Richemont’s brands are grouped into 3 different divisions: Specialist Watchmakers, Jewellery Maisons, and Other Businesses. With this being said, they are the 2nd largest luxury goods company in the world. The group earned most of its revenue from watches in the 2019 fiscal year, which amounted to around $5.5 billion USD.
LVMH – Location: France
LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE, or simply LVMH, is the largest luxury goods company in the world. They own many recognizable brands that expand beyond the world of just watchmaking, for example, Hennessy, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior.
Owned Brands: Bulgari, Chaumet, FRED, Hublot, TAG Heuer, Tiffany & Co, and Zenith
It’s most recognizable and biggest watch brand, TAG Heuer, is also one of the top-selling Swiss brands. In 2019, the company brought in a total revenue of $59.1 billion USD.
Kering Group – Location: France
Kering is an international luxury goods company based out of Paris, France. In addition to watches, they also specialize in handbags, shoes and clothing.
Owned Brands: Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Boucheron, Girard-Perregaux, Ulysse Nardin
While Gucci is the most recognizable brand owned by Kering, they do have some respectable watchmakers in their portfolio as well such as Girard-Perregaux and Ulysse Nardin. Kering, in general, is still relatively new to the watchmaking sector.
Citizen Group – Location: Japan
A major player in the watch game, Citizen is based out of Japan and is one of the world’s largest watchmaking companies. Being vertically integrated, they are able to produce all parts necessary for watch assembly not only for the Citizen brand, but for other quartz watchmakers as well.
Owned Brands: Citizen, Bulova, Wittnauer, Caravelle New York, Frédérique Constant, Alpina, Ateliers de Monaco, Campanola, Q&Q, Arnold & Son.
Although a Japanese founded company, Citizen moved into the Swiss watch manufacturing industry with their purchase of Manufacture La Joux-Perret and its Arnold & Son brand. In 2016, they also bought Switzerland’s Frédérique Constant Holding SA and its three watch brands — Frédérique Constant, Alpina and the tiny Ateliers DeMonaco.
Seiko – Location: Japan
Seiko is a large-scale company based out of Tokyo, Japan that specializes in watches as well as other electronic devices, such as semiconductors. Seiko was the first watch maker to bring in the quartz movement with their Astron watch. They are a vertically integrated company and produces all of the components used in their mechanical and quartz watches.
Owned Brands: Seiko, Grand Seiko, Credor, Pulsar, Lorus, Alba, Orient
The company recently made efforts to separate their luxury line, Grand Seiko, from the Seiko line in hopes to expand the brand internationally.
Fossil Group – Location: United States of America
Fossil is based out of Texas, USA and is most well known in the fashion-watch space. The watchmaker makes watches under its own name as well of those of licensors.
Owned Brands: Fossil, Michele, Skagen, Zodiac, Relic, **Adidas, Diesel, Burberry, DKNY, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Armani Exchange, Emporio Armani, Emporio Armani Swiss Made**
** Fashion Brands
While the majority of Fossil Groups movements are Japanese made quartz, they have expanded into the Swiss market with the introduction of Fossil Swiss back in 2012. The Swiss movements are produced by Swiss Technology Production, or just STP.
Movado – Location: United States of America
Movado is a Swiss watchmaker that focuses on producing affordable luxury and fashion-watches. Based out of New Jersey, they have their own name brand as well as a couple of other higher priced Swiss luxury brands.
Owned Brands: Movado, Concord, Ebel, ESQ by Movado, MVMT, **Coach, Hugo Boss, Juicy Couture, Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste, Scuderia Ferrari**
** Fashion Brands
Movado recently purchased MVMT, a small watch company founded in 2013 by Jacob Kassan and Kramer LaPlante. MVMT is a popular and up and coming watch brand, especially in the eyes of millennials largely due to their heavy social media presence and simple, yet beautiful, watch designs.
Timex Group – Location: United States of America
Timex roots begin with the founding of the Waterbury Clock Company in 1854 in Waterbury, Connecticut, USA. Timex primarily operates in the budget-conscious space with the price friendly quartz watches, but they do have two brands in the luxury segment: Ferragamo and Versace.
Owned Brands: Timex, **Nautica, Opex, Guess, GC, Versus, Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo**
** Fashion Brands
Timex primarily sources their movements from Southeast Asia and China. While most of their offerings are inexpensive compared to their competitors, it doesn’t mean that they are cheap or bad products by any means.
Citychamp Group – Location: China
Formerly known as China Haidian, Citychamp Watch & Jewellery Group Ltd., is mostly well known on the international watch scene.
Owned Brands: Rossini, Ebohr, Corum, Eterna, Codex, Rotary, Dreyfuss & Co., J&T Windmills
They have a very strong position in its own domestic market and has also expanded out to the international market with acquisitions of Swiss brands such as Corum and the Dreyfuss Group.
Major Independent Groups
While most watch brands are owned by a larger holding compnay, there are some highly recognizable brands that are able to stand on their own.
Rolex, Tudor (Both are held by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation), Patek Philippe, Richard Mille, Breitling, Audemars Piguet, Hermes, Chopard
Hopefully this guide to who owns what watch brands will help you when it’s time to pick out your next timepiece and take out the guesswork of whether or not you’re buying a reputable brand. While things are likely bound to change at some point, it’s good to know as a consumer what brands are owned by what families.