Choices Ahead for Tiffany Following Breakup with Swatch Group

by John Sealander  

Watch Industry Consolidation Continues As 20-Year Partnership Ends

Tiffany & Co.When the giant Swatch Group Ltd. broke off a 20-year partnership with Tiffany & Co. to produce Tiffany branded watches, it was one more sign of growing consolidation in the watch industry. It is well known within the industry that many luxury brands, such as Tiffany & Co. do not manufacture their own watches internally. Instead, they rely on manufactures like the Swatch Group to create and produce their watches for them.

Now that the Swatch Group is ending it’s agreement to supply watches to Tiffany & Co., the luxury retailer will be forced to find a new supplier, presumably one that doesn’t rely on movements made by Swatch-owned ETA. This will not be as easy as it once might have been, since fewer and fewer of the world’s leading brands still have the capacity to manufacture their own watch movements.

Tiffany will also need to decide whether to continue licensing their name to a company with distribution capabilities like Timex Group or Gevril Group, or to enter the watch business and take the distribution of their products into their own hands. Either way, they will need to find a company that can manufacture complete watch movements. There are very few watch companies in the entire world that still make watch movements. A few well-known names like Rolex, Eterna and Gevril still manufacture their own mechanical movements, but increasingly watch movements are being manufactured by companies like ETA SA, Miyota and Sellita, who make movements for many brands.

It will be interesting to see where Tiffany & Co. turns to for support in the years ahead. It is rumored that the Swatch Group is looking to add luxury jeweler Harry Winston to its growing list of luxury brands. To stay competitive, Tiffany & Co. will need to establish a relationship with a new supplier who can deliver the product quality, design expertise and marketing capability that the well known brand demands. Will they go with a Chinese supplier like many fashion brands are currently doing, or will they stick with a supplier who can supply genuine “Swiss Made” movements?

Samuel Friedmann, Owner and President of Gevril WatchesAccording to Gevril Group owner Samuel Friedmann, “there is a company that can manufacture watches in-house and that will be able to meet Tiffany & Co.’s high standards for quality and design excellence.

“That company would make a perfect partner for Tiffany & Co., whether Tiffany chooses to license its name or to take over its own distribution.”

You and I can probably guess which company Mr. Friedmann is referring to.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the exclusive US representative for well over thirty select watch brands, distributing and servicing luxury, fashion and sporty timepieces at a wide range of price points. Gevril maintains a full-service watch repair department staffed by master Swiss watchmakers. You can email us or call 845-425-9882.

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