The Big Companies That Own Most Of The Major Luxury Watch Brands

Since the 1980s and the “quartz crisis” (that really changed the way traditional watch companies do business), the wrist watch landscape is increasingly populated by “big brands” that are often part of a larger multinational groups. Independently owned companies which can compete on an international level with the “big boys” are becoming more and more rare.


Just this week, yet another independent watch brand announced that it was acquired by the large holding company called Kering (formerly PPR). Ulysse Nardin’s acquisition by Kering, is the latest in a long line of independents being bought up by large companies. Kering last acquired the Sowind Group a few years ago that includes the watch brands Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard.

At this juncture, I thought that it might be a good idea to survey the current landscape of “who owns who,” and discuss the major groups and the watch brands that they own. I am going to focus on the groups that own the “luxury watch brands,” as there are other groups also (such as Fossil and Movado, that include some of the less expensive mainstream brands). That a watch company is controlled by a larger group is not necessarily a bad thing, but rather raises a series of pluses and minuses. Pluses for the consumer include better distribution, more product availability, often a high degree of company stability, as well as reliability. Minuses can include most of what comes with large corporate politics and internal competition. That often translates into much less risky design, and often an erosion of distinct brand personality because of a need to fit into a more specific marketing image.


In listing the major groups that own most of the luxury (and non-luxury) watch brands one needs to start with the Swatch Group. In most ways, the Swatch Group was the first major mega group to own a range of watch brands, and in many ways helped save the Swiss watch industry. Here are the brands under the Swatch Group umbrella:

The Swatch Group Watch Brands

  • Breguet
  • Harry Winston
  • Blancpain
  • Glashütte Original
  • Jaquet Droz
  • Léon Hatot
  • Omega
  • Longines
  • Rado
  • Union Glashütte
  • Tissot
  • ck watch
  • Balmain
  • Certina
  • Mido
  • Hamilton
  • Swatch
  • Flik Flak

That is a lot of watch brands in one group, but the Swatch Group is clearly an innovator when it comes to making watches in the modern age. The Swatch Group also owns a host of other companies (as many of the other groups do) dedicated to producing watch movements or parts, such as ETA and Nivarox. Next is The Richemont Group, the second major name in luxury watches and other fine labels.


The Richemont Group Watch Brands

  • A. Lange & Söhne
  • Baume & Mercier
  • Cartier
  • IWC
  • Jaeger-LeCoultre
  • Montblanc
  • Officine Panerai
  • Piaget
  • Roger Dubuis
  • Vacheron Constantin
  • Van Cleef & Arpels

The Swatch Group and Richemont are the two mega groups in regard to high-end watches, but LVMH isn’t far behind. LVMH is a more diversified group with more than just watch brands, but their holdings include some of the biggest and most popular companies today.


LVMH Watch Brands

  • Bulgari
  • Hublot
  • TAG Heuer
  • Zenith
  • Chaumet
  • Fred
  • Dior

As mentioned above, the Kering Group is up and coming, having added more and more luxury watch brands to their portfolio over the last several years. Kering is still relatively new to the “watch game,” and in my opinion, they have yet to prove themselves as a major influence in the market – even though many of their brands are important. I will eagerly continue to observe Kering to see how they manage the watch brands under their umbrella. There is also the smaller China Haidian Group that has recently begun to acquire a few labels.

The Kering Group Watch Brands

  • Boucheron
  • Girard-Perregaux
  • JeanRichard
  • Gucci
  • Ulysse Nardin


China Haidian Watch Brands

  • Corum
  • Eterna

These above lists represent most of major luxury watch brands on the market, but not all of them. Though, consumers will find that the majority of major watch companies owned by a larger group are mentioned above. So are there still independently owned and operated watch companies? Yes, and some of them are extremely large and powerful. The below list shows some of the big names in watch making that are independent.


Currently Independent Major Luxury Watch Brands

  • Rolex / Tudor
  • Audemars Piguet
  • Breitling
  • Frederique Constant / Alpina
  • Chanel
  • Chopard
  • Patek Phillipe
  • Hermes
  • Richard Mille


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