Breitling buys Universal, but why?

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bbattle
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Breitling buys Universal, but why?

Post by bbattle » January 11th 2024, 7:01pm

Hodinkee dives deep into what Breitling may do with their new acquisition, Universal Geneve.
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Will they make homages of the iconic Universal models like the Tri-Compax or the A. Cairelli? Will they revive any of the Universal in-house movements?

Given Universal's 'heritage', it would seem that new iterations of older models are in order, but at 'reasonable' prices, given that Universal made tool watches, not pieces of art.

Breitling did revive their vintage Datora line, which look a lot like some of the Universals pictured in the article.
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Hodinkee is hopeful the Universal brand won't get saddled with Sellita movements; I take that to mean Universal won't be an everyman's brand but rather one for the court-side seats at the LA Lakers basketball games. Surely Breitling has suitable movements in their stable to power their Universal partners.

https://www.hodinkee.com/articles/in-de ... cquisition

Business of Fashion has more information:

Swiss luxury watch maker Breitling AG is making its first major acquisition, buying Universal Genève in an attempt to revive a brand that has faded since its heyday decades ago.

The deal marks a turning point for Breitling, which jumped into the top 10 Swiss watch companies by sales in 2022 and is known for aviation-themed chronographs such as the Navitimer, as it becomes a watchmaking group. The company, controlled by Swiss private equity firm Partners Group Holding AG, has been revived under chief executive Georges Kern.

Kern, in an interview, said Breitling will hire a team of designers and executives to run Universal Geneve as a separate entity. There are plans to bring back famous models such as the Gerald Genta-designed Polerouter as well as the Compax sports watch, which was popular in the 1960s and ‘70s.

“This is the best dormant or semi-dormant watch brand on the planet,” Kern said of Universal Geneve, which was founded in 1894.

The first watches could come to market by 2026 and will be priced well above Breitling’s average price of about 6,700 Swiss francs ($7,640).

“It will be much more expensive,” said Kern.

https://www.businessoffashion.com/news/ ... al-geneve/

There are hints that Breitling is seeking to beef up to go up against the larger watch groups by acquiring more "hibernating" brands.

https://www.jewellermagazine.com/Articl ... atch-brand

I've seen this in bicycle brands but it has always been a price-conscious Taiwanese company with a dozen or so European brands under its belt, cranking out loads of "only $1299, originally $3999" bikes. Loads of print about their heritage but no mention of their current state of affairs. Sounds an awful lot like what Invicta does.

Universal was in the hands of an Asian company, Stelux, since 1989, and naturally, no mention of this is on their current website: https://universal.ch/histoire-et-chronologie/

It would be nice to have another "affordable" Swiss watch to choose from amongst all the other "affordable" Swiss watches and I always hate it when a formerly grand brand is thoroughly trashed in a race to the bottom by some unnamed conglomerate interested only in milking the "heritage" for all its worth. (can somebody reputable please take Glycine away from that 'other company'?)
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3Flushes
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Re: Breitling buys Universal, but why?

Post by 3Flushes » January 12th 2024, 8:05pm

It would seem that Breitling will gain significant manufacturing ability and sales by acquiring a subsidiary brand with existing in-house production facility, and a more affordable product of long standing heritage and sustained sales performance. Good things to come to be sure.
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