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26 Sep, 2017

Who Owns What: A Guide to the Watch Groups (Part 2)

Who Owns What: A Guide to the Watch Groups (Part 2)

Who Owns What: A Guide to the Watch Groups (Part 1)

Every so often the landscape of the watch industry shifts: a key brand gets sold to a major watch group and the balance of power changes ever so slightly. In the last few years, some important changes in the big groups' holdings have occurred: Harry Winston joined the Swatch Group, Kering acquired Ulysse Nardin, and both Citizen Group and Citychamp have made inroads into the Swiss watch world.

Here are the group rosters of brands:

Seiko Group (Japan): Seiko, Grand Seiko, Credor, Pulsar, Lorus, Alba, Orient

The Seiko Group is a massive, publicly held conglomerate that makes many types of products. It consists of Seiko Epson and Seiko Holdings. The watch business, Seiko Watch Corp., is part of Seiko Holdings. Seiko Epson produces some components and is the parent company of Orient Watch Co., Ltd. Seiko produces all the components used in both its mechanical and its quartz watches. While it is known primarily for the Seiko brand of watches, the group also makes high-end mechanicals under Grand Seiko (which it launched on the U. S. market in 2010) and a variety of offerings through its other brands.

For the year ended March 31, 2014, the Seiko Group’s total revenues were $12.75 billion (Seiko Holdings' were 308.2 billion yen, or $3 billion; Epson’s were ¥1 trillion, or $9.75 billion). Of that, ¥150.7 billion ($1.46 billion) were in watch sales. As of March 31, Seiko Holdings had 13,439 employees. Seiko and Grand Seiko have become separate, independent brands as of Baselworld 2017.

Fossil group (USA): Fossil, Relic, Michele, Zodiac, Skagen, Adidas*, Burberry*, Diesel*, DKNY*, Michael Kors*, Tory Burch*, Marc Jacobs*, Emporio Armani*, Emporio Armani Swiss Made*, Armani Exchange*, Karl Lagerfeld*

Fossil, Inc. is a publicly held company based in Richardson, Texas. It is a power on the fashion-watch scene, posting sales of $3.26 billion in 2013, 77 percent of them from watches, mostly fashion watches. Fossil makes watches under its own brand names and those of licensors. Its most recent acquisition was Skagen, purchased in 2012. While most of the Fossil Group’s movements are Japanese quartz, Fossil has recently made forays into the Swiss-made market, including the introduction of Fossil Swiss, a line of Fossil watches with quartz and mechanical movements produced by the group’s subsidiaries in Switzerland’s Canton Ticino. In 2014 the group added a Swiss-made line to the Emporio Armani brand. It also introduced a licensed watch brand under the name of fashion designer Tory Burch.

Movado group (USA): Ebel, Concord, Movado, ESQ by Movado, Coach*, Hugo Boss*, Juicy Couture*, Tommy Hilfiger*, Lacoste*, Scuderia Ferrari*

Based in Paramus, N. J., Movado Group International is a leader in the affordable luxury and fashion-watch segments of the market. In addition to its hero brand, Movado, MGI has two higher- priced Swiss luxury brands: Concord and Ebel. Nearly half of this publicly traded group’s revenue comes from its six licensed brands, a business that MGI has been developing since the late '90s. In the year ended Jan. 31, 2014, the group had total sales of $570.3 million. As of early 2014, the company had approximately 1,100 employees.

Citizen group (Japan): Citizen, Campanola, Q&Q, Arnold & Son, Bulova, Bulova Accutron II, Bulova AccuSwiss, Wittnauer, Caravelle New York, Bulova Clocks, Frank Lloyd Wright*, Harley-Davidson*, Frédérique Constant, Alpina, Ateliers de Monaco

Citizen Group is a major vertically integrated company, with its business principally in watches, machine tools, components and electronics. It is publicly traded under the name Citizen Holdings Co., Ltd. For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2014, Citizen had net sales of ¥309.9 billion ($3.01 billion), up 13.9 percent over 2013. Of that total, more than half (¥162 billion, or $1.57 billion) came from the Watches and Clocks division.


At the end of 2013, Citizen had 22,233 employees globally. In addition to finished watches, Citizen is a major supplier of quartz movements made by its movement-manufacturing division, Miyota. In 2008, Citizen acquired the American company Bulova Corp., adding its watch brands to the Citizen stable. In 2012, Citizen moved into Swiss manufacturing, buying the movement-maker Manufacture La Joux-Perret and its Arnold & Son brand. In May 2016, In May, Citizen agreed to buy Switzerland’s Frédérique Constant Holding SA and its three watch brands — Frédérique Constant, Alpina and the tiny Ateliers DeMonaco.

Timex group (USA): Timex, Nautica*, Opex*, GC*, Guess*, Salvatore Ferragamo Timepieces*, Versace*, Versus*

The Timex Group of Middlebury, Conn., is best known for its famous mass-market brand Timex. It also makes seven brands under license agreements, including two, Ferragamo and Versace, in the luxury segment. The company is privately held and releases no data on its sales or production.

Franck Muller group (Switzerland): Franck Muller, Pierre Kunz, European Company Watch, Rodolphe, Martin Braun, Barthelay, Backes & Strauss**, Pierre Michael Golay, Smalto Timepieces*, Roberto Cavalli*

Headquartered in the town of Genthod outside Geneva, Franck Muller Genève is a Swiss luxury group. Most of the group’s holdings other than the original Franck Muller brand have been acquired in the last decade or so. The Franck Muller brand is the star of the group and its biggest seller. Franck Muller Group is privately owned and does not release sales data.

Binda group (Italy): Breil, Freestyle, Hip Hop, Moschino*, Kenneth Cole*, Kenneth Cole Reaction*, Tommy Bahama*, Ted Baker London*, Chronotech*, Gametime*, Sperry Top-Sider*, Zoo York*

Binda is a watch and jewelry company focused on fashion brands. Based in Milan, the company owns Breil, Freestyle and Hip Hop. Its acquisition of the American company Geneva Watch Group in 2008 gave Binda a large array of licensed brands. Binda Group is privately held and does not disclose its sales numbers.

Citychamp group (Hong Kong): Corum, Eterna, Ebohr, Rossini, Codex, Rotary, Dreyfuss & Co., J&T Windmills

Citychamp Watch & Jewellery Group Limited, formerly known as China Haidian, has recently become a force on the international watch scene. The Hong Kong-based company has a strong position in the Chinese market with its brands Rossini and Ebohr. But in the last few years it has begun to acquire international brands as well. They include the Swiss brands Corum, which Citychamp purchased in 2013, and Eterna, acquired in 2011. Last year, Citychamp acquired the Swiss Dreyfuss Group and its brands, including Rotary.

Citychamp is a public company. In 2013 it had revenues of 3.176 billion Hong Kong dollars ($409.8 million U. S.). At the end of 2013, the group had approximately 3,000 employees in Greater China and 200 in Switzerland.

Festina group (Spain): Perrelet, L. Leroy, Candino, Festina, Lotus, Jaguar*, Calypso*

The Festina Group is a private company based in Barcelona and owned by Miguel Rodriguez. Its key brands are Festina and Perrelet. Most of its brands are in the middle price range; two of them, Perrelet and L. Leroy, are in the luxury segment. Festina Group also owns Soprod, which makes movements for a number of Swiss brands, and the high-horology complications maker MHVJ. The Festina Group does not make its sales figures public.

Read also: Who Owns What: A Guide to the Watch Groups (Part 1), Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Trends,

Out project: Jewelry brand


* Watches are produced under a license agreement with the brand owner.

** The company is a joint venture between the group and the brand.

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