In a rather unexpected strategic move, Breitling announced today that it aims to restore the prestige of the historical brand name in the world of luxury watches – something that many collectors (and watch industry executives) have been wanting to see happen for quite some time.
Even though there obviously is a huge potential for synergies, especially when it comes to chronograph watches, Universal Genève will be, according to the press release sent out today, “operated as a separate maison by a dedicated team,” which is de facto also catapulting Breitling to the level of a watchmaking group:
“As excited as we are, we are also fully aware of the task at hand and the profound heritage we are set to uphold,” stated Georges Kern, CEO of Breitling. “Universal Genève was once hailed as the couturier of watchmaking, renowned for its in-house movements and mythical models. It is a brand that watch enthusiasts have dreamed of seeing make a permanent comeback,” said Alfred Gantner, Co-Founder of Partners Group and Chairman of the Breitling board. “Rebuilding a brand with such a rich narrative is not a quick endeavor — it is a meticulous labor of love that we anticipate will unfold over the coming years. A dedicated team will be brought on board to allow Breitling and Universal Genève to operate as separate maisons,” explained Georges Kern.
Founded in 1894, Universal Genève rose to prominence through the early to mid-20th century with their innovative designs and technical prowess (like the Compax chronograph in the late 1930s). However, the advent of the quartz crisis significantly challenged the company, marking a shift in its trajectory.
“It is a brand that watch enthusiasts have dreamed of seeing make a permanent comeback”Alfred Gantner, Co-Founder of Partners Group and Chairman of the Breitling board
Since 1989, it had been owned by the Hong Kong based Stelux Group, which actively maintained its legacy. “We are convinced that Breitling is best positioned to take Universal Genève to the next level, as it has so successfully done with its own marque,” said Joseph Wong, Chairman and CEO of Stelux Group. “When stewarding a maison d’horlogerie of this stature, preserving its heritage is a topmost concern. The management at Breitling has demonstrated that it is 100 percent committed to ensuring that Universal Genève lives on, not just in name but in spirit.”
Follow this link to read the full press release.