By Magnus Salbu
Another leading Swiss luxury watch manufacturer is said to be considering a sale. Breitling is one of the few big, independent brands that has yet to be bought out by a major luxury goods concern. According to a recent report by Bloomberg, Breitling is now considering a sale.
Most of today’s big luxury watch manufacturers have already been acquired by huge luxury goods concerns such as Richemont, Swatch Group AG, Kering SA and LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey). Breitling is one of the very few left who are run independently. But due to a recent decline in the Swiss luxury watch industry, it seems now that Breitling could be the next luxury watch manufacturer to join one of the big concerns. This downturn in the industry is affecting expensive watches the hardest, while the lower end of the price spectrum doing much better. With Breitling dealing mostly with less expensive watches, it may come as a surprise to many that they are now weighing a sale.
Breitling’s most popular model, the Navitimer
Since they were founded in 1884, Breitling has always been a specialist of technical watches, doing especially well in the Pilots watch segment. Since most other brands in their business has been bought, and is being run by these big concerns, Breitling has always been very proud of still being a family business. On their website, they proudly state that they are one of the last remaining independent Swiss watch brands, but now it seems this might be about to change. Bloomberg’s source for this information are three people who are said to be ‘familiar with the matter’. They were also very clear on the fact that this is not finalized decision and that Breitling could decide not to sell.
It’s the UK-based investment bank GCA Altium Ltd. who is advising Breitling on the sale according to Bloomberg’s source. Neither Breitling nor GCA Altium has commented on a possible sale yet.
A lot of Swiss watch manufacturers have already felt the downturn of the industry, with many brands being forced to cut jobs. According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, exports are in their longest downturn since 1988, when they first started recording.
If they were to sell it does not necessarily have to be a negative turn for the company. Many brands before them such as Blancpain and A. Lange & Söhne that have experienced tough times, have been saved from bankruptcy and even resurrected by the Swatch Group AG and Richemont. As long as a potential buyer keeps Breitling in more or less the same track and stays true to its legacy, I don’t think we will notice much of a change from them if they were to be bought.
Will Rolex lose a fierce competitor in the segment of independently run luxury watch manufacturers? Or will Breitling continue its legacy of being a long time standing, family owned business? We will continue to post updates here as soon as they become available.