Every year, the watch fair Watches & Wonders generates a lot of excitement and buzz in the luxury watch industry. The event attracts leading watchmakers, journalists, and enthusiasts from around the world, who gather as brands showcase their latest innovations and products. However, Watches & Wonders is not just about unveiling new timepieces. It’s also a breeding ground for rumors and speculation.
This year, one particular rumour has been generating a lot of attention and speculation. A rumour concerning a potential new brand acquisition by LVMH. Indeed, LVMH has been on a shopping spree in the watch sector for the past two decades. Latest brand in their sight is rumoured as none other than Cartier. In this article we’ll briefly touch on some of their past acquisitions, and how that has perhaps laid the groundwork for this next potential (huge) acquisition.
LVMH, which stands for Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, was formed in 1987 through the merger of Louis Vuitton, a luxury fashion brand, and Moët Hennessy, a producer of champagne and cognac. LVMH owns a wide range of luxury brands in various categories, including fashion, jewelry, watches, perfumes, cosmetics, and spirits. Some of the most well-known brands owned by LVMH include Louis Vuitton, Dior, Fendi, Celine, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Bulgari, Sephora, and Dom Perignon. The company is one of the largest and most profitable luxury goods companies in the world.
Over the past two decades, LVMH, the French luxury goods conglomerate, has made several significant acquisitions in the watch sector. LVMH’s first major acquisition was TAG Heuer in 1999. The Swiss luxury watch brand, known for its sports watches and chronographs, helped LVMH establish a stronger presence in the luxury watch market.
The following year, LVMH acquired Zenith, a Swiss watchmaker famous for producing high-end mechanical watches. Zenith, founded in 1865, was renowned for creating some of the most accurate and complex mechanical movements in the industry. This acquisition further bolstered LVMH’s position in the luxury watch market. In 2008, LVMH acquired Hublot, another Swiss luxury watchmaker known for its unconventional designs and use of unique materials. Hublot, founded in 1980, appealed to a younger, trendier audience, expanding LVMH’s reach in the luxury watch market.
LVMH’s next significant acquisition in the watch sector was Bulgari, an Italian luxury brand known for its jewelry, watches, and accessories. The acquisition in 2011 helped LVMH expand its reach in the luxury market beyond watches. Bulgari’s reputation for quality and elegance in the jewelry industry made it a perfect fit for LVMH’s portfolio.
LVMH’s most recent acquisition in the watch sector was Tiffany & Co. in 2021. The iconic American luxury brand, founded in 1837, is renowned for its jewelry, watches, and accessories. This acquisition helped LVMH expand its reach in the luxury market beyond Europe. Tiffany & Co.’s reputation for quality and elegance in the American luxury market made it a perfect fit for LVMH’s portfolio.
Fast forward to today and rumour has it that Cartier is next in sight. Today, Cartier is one of the most renowned and respected luxury brands in the world. Its jewellery business knows no equal, and the watch business is home to some of the most iconic watch designs, and the latter division has been going very strong the past couple of years as well. The Richemont group is the parent company of Cartier and several other luxury brands, including Montblanc, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget, and Vacheron Constantin. Richemont has become one of the largest luxury goods companies in the world. Cartier however, is arguably one of Richemont group’s all-star brands.
So then – Why would Richemont sell Cartier? Why would Richemont ever consider selling its bread and butter? Sure, LVMH would love to get Cartier, but would it be a smart move by Richemont to sell? To me, that would be the surprise move of the decade. It would almost make more sense for both groups to simply merge to form one massive luxury goods behemoth with absolutely no equal.
It goes without saying that, either way, this could be a major shake-up for the industry, potentially shifting the balance of power and possibly even influencing the direction of watch design and production for years to come. As with any rumor, it’s important to take this news with a grain of salt until official announcements are made. However, the buzz surrounding this potential acquisition has certainly piqued the interest of watch enthusiasts and industry insiders alike.
As always, time will tell..