Swiss Watches

Breitling's Clock is Ticking

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Switzerland’s grand tradition of independent, family-run watchmaking companies are slowly falling under the umbrellas of large luxury enterprises.

  • Facts


    • Founded in 1884, Breitling has been owned by the Schneider family since 1979 and employs 400 people.
    • In October alone, the volume of sales plummeted by 16.4 percent compared to the previous year.
    • Last year, the company known for its “pilot’s watches” produced exactly 147,917 timepieces.
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Day Two Of The 2014 Baselworld Luxury Watch And Jewellery Fair
A Breitling logo sits on the face of a Chronomat 41 Airborne wristwatch, produced by Breitling SA. Source: Gianluca Colla / Bloomberg

Luxury watchmaker Breitling could be running out of time. According to reports, the 132-year old Swiss heritage company is looking to be bought up.

Swiss daily Aargauer Zeitung reports that Breitling is being advised by an investment bank and while no decision has been made yet, a large luxury goods enterprise could most likely be the buyer.

A Breitling spokesperson declined to respond to Handelsblatts’ request for comment. “We do not want to make a statement concerning this rumor,” he said.

It’s not a confirmation, but also not a denial. Insiders are expecting the sales process to be made public as soon as buyers have been narrowed down.

Breitling is one of Switzerland’s last large independent luxury watchmakers. Headquartered in Grenchen, a small town at the foot of the Jura Mountains, the company designs and produces its own mechanical chronograph movements in La Chaux-de-Fonds. One of the company’s best customers is the military, which Breitling provides with onboard timepieces that can send out emergency signals.

Founded in 1884, the company has been owned by the Schneider family since 1979 and employs 400 people.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a traditional Swiss watchmaker has given up its independence. For a long time now, well-known brands like Tissot, Omega, and Longines have been owned by major Swiss watchmaker Swatch, while Tag Heuer, Zenit and Hublot are now a part of the French luxury giant LVMH’s empire (best known for Louis Vuitton). Meanwhile, Swiss watchmaker Richemont has control of the Cartier, Piaget and IWC Schaffhausen brands.


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