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Breitling Acquires Universal Genève

Swiss luxury watchmaker Breitling has recently announced the purchase of Universal Genève, a storied Swiss watch brand, from Hong Kong-based company Stelux Group, in an attempt to revive the brand to its former glory. It marks Breitling’s first major acquisition.


The deal marks a turning point for Breitling as the brand has jumped into the top 10 Swiss watch companies by sales in 2022 and as it becomes a watchmaking group.


Universal Genève was founded in 1894 in Switzerland as ‘Universal Watch’ and was popular among high-end watch buyers through the early to mid-20th century. The brand created timepieces for men and women with innovative designs and robust mechanical in-house movements. At one point in time, Universal Genève was unofficially considered a “sister” brand to Patek Phillipe in North America. The quartz crisis in the watch industry in the 1970s and ’80s significantly challenged the company. During this time, the company moved from mechanical to quartz movements and focused on the Asian market. 


Breitling wants to restore the prestige of the watch brand. “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. “Rebuilding a brand with such a rich narrative is not a quick endeavor—it is a meticulous labour 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.”


“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 Breitling board.


The strategy for raising the company's profile will involve returning classic models from its archive with updates to meet the needs of modern watch collectors.


“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,” (Photo courtesy: Universal Genève)




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