ome of the most important watch brands have their roots in jewellery, a branch related to horology. Cartier, Bulgari, Jacob & Co. and Van Cleef & Arpels, for instance, were all founded by jewellers. The opposite path – jewellers with watchmaking origins – also exists; Chopard and Piaget offer well-known examples. Clearly, these two worlds are very close; they could even be called cousins.
As far as the dynamics of the current moment are concerned, however, watchmaking and jewellery are following very different trajectories. The jewellery industry has recorded higher growth in recent years, and has better weathered the pandemic crisis in 2020. Its destiny over the coming decade seems more promising. The takeover of Tiffany & Co. by LVMH, in addition to being the largest transaction in the history of luxury goods, at 15.8 billion dollars, also points to an impending jewellery boom.
As far as the dynamics of the current moment are concerned, watchmaking and jewellery are follow- ing very different trajectories. The takeover of Tiffany & Co. by LVMH- points to an impending jewellery boom.
In what is still a highly fragmented sector, where “no-name” brands dominate, the jewellery heavyweights – Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Bulgari and Van Cleef & Arpels – have opened hostilities with a view to establishing themselves internationally, by promoting their history and their most iconic products, particularly in China.
This consolidation is driven by the two luxury supergroups: Richemont and LVMH. Generalist luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Hermès and Dior are also taking a closer interest in this specialist branch, which for the time being represents only a minor part of their portfolio.
Generalist luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Hermès and Dior are taking a closer interest in jewellery, which for the time being represents only a minor part of their portfolio.
- Watchmaking is increasingly connected, from the Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar to the TAG Heuer Connected. Jewellery too, as shown by this example of a contactless payment and access bracelet by luxury brand Armillion.
What does the good fortune of its cousin mean for the watchmaking sector?
Groups that have taken control of the destiny of an already largely consolidated watchmaking industry could choose to transfer their resources to a jewellery category with greater potential – even if this means shedding a few watch brands that have failed to deliver on their promise. Furthermore, watch brands or groups with little or no jewellery activity could decide to invest in the sector, either on their own or through alliances.
The positive dynamic of the jewellery sector will also inevitably influence retailers that represent both segments. One possible avenue of resilience for them is to develop their own jewellery lines, with the operational freedom and associated profit margins that go with them. Jewellery, the trendy cousin, has not finished shaking up watchmaking.
- When watchmakers try new paths: the Breitling Chronomat for women is making its way into the virtual wardrobe of Drest, the world’s first interactive luxury fashion mobile game.