CanadianJeweller.com, a leading voice in the timepieces and jewellery world, is excited to discuss Breitling’s bold move: acquiring Universal Genève. This significant development in the watchmaking industry sees Breitling AG, a powerhouse in Swiss luxury watchmaking, making its first major acquisition. The aim is to rejuvenate Universal Genève, a once-celebrated brand that has faded from the limelight but is now set for a resurgence.
Breitling, which climbed into the top 10 Swiss watch companies by sales in 2022, is renowned for its aviation-themed chronographs, including the iconic Navitimer. This strategic move marks Breitling’s evolution into a watchmaking group, under the leadership of CEO Georges Kern and with the support of Swiss private equity firm Partners Group Holding AG.
In a recent interview, Kern shared his vision for Universal Genève. He emphasized the importance of assembling a dedicated team of designers and executives to manage the brand independently, a key aspect of Breitling’s acquisition strategy. Plans are in motion to reintroduce famed models like the Gerald Genta-designed Polerouter and the Compax sports watch, popular in the 1960s and ‘70s.
Kern’s enthusiasm for this venture is evident. He describes Universal Genève as “the best dormant or semi-dormant watch brand on the planet,” a company with roots dating back to 1894. The relaunch, expected by 2026, aims to target a higher price bracket than Breitling’s current average, promising an exclusive and luxurious experience for collectors and aficionados.
Universal Genève’s journey has not been without its challenges. The brand, like many mechanical watchmakers, faced financial difficulties during the quartz crisis in the 1980s and has since been under the stewardship of Hong Kong-based Stelux Holdings International. The acquisition, valued at approximately 60 million Swiss francs, signals a new dawn for this storied brand.
This acquisition places Breitling in a unique position in the competitive landscape, where it now competes with conglomerates like Swatch Group AG and Richemont. This move is akin to the strategy of Rolex, the leading Swiss watchmaker by sales, which also owns the Tudor brand.
As Breitling embarks on this exciting venture, the watchmaking world watches with keen interest. The revival of Universal Genève under Breitling’s umbrella promises to bring back the glory of a once-iconic brand, blending tradition with innovation. Stay tuned to CanadianJeweller.com for more updates and insights into this fascinating chapter in the world of luxury watchmaking.