Richemont is a Swiss luxury goods group, which owns many of Europe’s reputable luxury and high-end watch manufacturers. Initially representing the overseas interests of South African firm Remgro Limited, the company was separated from Remgro in 1988.
At the time of its founding by Johann Rupert, Richemont was equally invested in many different luxury goods sectors. Throughout its history, the group steadily acquired prominent watchmaking houses.
Therefore, as this happened, watches became a more prominent feature of the company’s portfolio. Watch design came to make up the largest portion of Richemont’s R&D budget.
Richemont also has a 50/50 joint venture with Ralph Lauren: Polo Ralph Lauren Watch and Jewelry Company SÀRL.
Keep reading to learn about the watch brands in the Richemont group and its joint venture with Ralph Lauren.
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Hailing from many famous watchmaking regions in the world, Richemont’s watch brands offer a range of deluxe styles. Keep reading to learn about the group’s rapidly-growing watch portfolio.
A. Lange & Söhne
A. Lange & Söhne, commonly known as Lange, is a watch company from Glashütte, historical center of Germany’s watchmaking industry. Founded in 1845, it uses the name A. Lange & Soehne where ö is unavailable, following German spelling convention.
The brand exclusively uses mechanical movements, with cases nearly always made from luxury metals. Lange makes movements from a copper-nickel alloy known as German silver, because this alloy is much more corrosion-resistant than brass.
There is a tradeoff, as it is softer than brass and therefore more difficult to work with. As a result of German silver’s softness, only with great precision and care may watchmakers avoid scratching it during assembly.
Because it seeks to differentiate its watches with German-style aesthetics, A. Lange & Söhne strives for clarity in visual design. Consequently, the brand’s style is clean rather than ornate, with distinct, clear lines and minimal texture.
Baume & Mercier
Founded in 1830, Baume & Mercier is a Geneva-based watch house known for its affordable luxury watch offerings.
Because Baume & Mercier recognized the enormous market potential, the company set up shop in London in 1921. As a result, the brand soon spread all throughout the British empire. Baume & Mercier has been a part of Richemont since 1988.
Baume & Mercier mostly offers dress watches, therefore, many of their designs are relatively unadorned and visually clean. In contrast to these, the company also has some popular chronograph and sports watch lines.
Cartier makes high-end watches, jewelry, eyeglasses, and accessories. In 1847, Louis-François Cartier took control of the Paris workshop of his mentor, watchmaker Adolphe Picard, founding Cartier.
Throughout its history, the company made itself known for great skill in creating beautiful jewelry. Hence, Cartier has served as the royal jeweler to monarchs of more than a dozen countries.
The brand’s watches share an elegantly refined aesthetic with Cartier jewelry. Firstly, the company incorporates precious metals, diamonds and other precious jewels in their watches, masterfully set by Cartier’s expert jewelers.
For example, the memorably-designed Ballon Bleu’s titular feature is its unusual cabochon sapphire crown. Because Cartier is a jeweler, it optionally offers the Ballon Bleu with brilliant-cut diamonds all around its bezel or dial.
Despite the brand’s reputation for women’s jewelry, Cartier also has considerable experience in men’s fashion. As a result, the men’s watches emanate masculinity through their wide, bold dials and use of strong, yet rounded-off geometric shapes.
Dunhill is an English company focusing on men’s luxury goods and accessories, founded in 1893. Because automobiles were just becoming popular in the brand’s early days, much of the brand’s products targeted drivers. This was due to founder Alfred Dunhill’s desire to bring his family’s equestrian lifestyle accessory business to the modern age.
Hence, it named its initial collection of products “Dunhill’s Motorities.” The company has relatively few watch collections compared to most of Richemont’s other brands. So, Dunhill is not as well-known for watches as many of these other companies. Still, the timepieces fit into the overall Dunhill vision of the gentleman’s lifestyle.
International Watch Company began in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, in the German-speaking area of the country. Its name is in English because its founder was an American, Florentine Ariosto Jones.
The “International” in IWC’s name alluded to its aim of creating movements for the American watch market. Hence, the English name also offered a measure of accessibility to Americans.
The company operated from a large factory at a time when most of the area’s watchmakers were using home workshops.
IWC has often distinguished itself with style innovations that have industry-wide effects. It set the standards for pilot’s watches, and its Portugieser series made larger-dimension watches fashionable. Looking for alternatives to gold, which was soaring in price, IWC pioneered using titanium in luxury watches in the 1970s.
If you’re interested the company’s history, recent activities, and recent collections, please read our brand history for IWC.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is a watch company based in Le Sentier, Switzerland. Because of its penchant for cutting-edge invention, the company has created more than a thousand movement designs.
This watchmaker has also pioneered watch-related tools, such as the Millionomètre that can measure microns, which are millionths of a meter. The brand often pushes the limits of thin movements, such as with their 1.38mm thick Caliber 145.
Such expertise in miniaturization therefore allows Jaeger-LeCoultre to create such marvels as the Hybris Mechanica à Grande Sonnerie. Certainly, this watch takes its place among the most complex watches, with 26 complications.
Due to its ingenuity and inventiveness, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been honored by the Swiss government as the manufacturer of the Atmos. This is a clock given by Switzerland to select guests to the country, notable because of its extreme efficiency. Powered by a mechanism that draws energy from temperature changes, normal room temperature shifts effectively keep this clock running indefinitely.
With headquarters in Germany, Montblanc has built its identity around writing instruments and watches. While it is a German company, Montblanc’s watchmaking workshops are in Le Locle, Switzerland. This is because the company seeks to create traditionally Swiss watches, both in construction and style.
Hence, rather than the clean, austere aesthetic characteristic of German design, many Montblanc watches are fancifully decorated. For example, dials of some of Montblanc’s world time zone watches, like the Orbis Terrarium, feature globes.
Detailing techniques such as guilloche also appear in the brand’s collections, such as the Star line of watches. On the whole, Montblanc’s watches and writing instruments are designed to complement each other.
Officine Panerai is based in Italy, but manufactures its watches in Neuchâtel. Hence, in its early days, it used the name “Orologeria Svizzera,” meaning “Switzerland Watch Shop.” Throughout much of its history, the company supplied various branches of the Italian military with watches and other instruments.
Most of the watches sold by Panerai since its founding were in fact a joint venture with Rolex. This partnership between Rolex’s Hans Wilsdorf and Panerai’s Giuseppe Panerai resulted in many watches for the purpose of military timekeeping. Thus, to this day, Panerai offers watches originating from this partnership, such as the California Dial Radiomir.
It was only in 1993 that the company began offering most of its products to civilians. This was because Panerai realized that, at this point, selling to the military had become much less profitable.
Piaget makes luxury watches and jewelry with eye-catchingly decorative with attention to detail, using precious gems and metals.
The company prides itself on its ultra-thin watches, such as its 2mm thick caliber 9P. French actor and cultural icon Alain Delon owned and often wore the Piaget Altiplano, which has a case thickness of 3.65mm. This also extends to watches with high-end features: Piaget’s 600P movement boasts a tourbillon in a movement that’s only 3.5mm thick.
As a jeweler, Piaget makes watches not only with advanced engineering in mind but delicate ornamentation. In many models, goldsmiths meticulously detail dials and set them with precious gemstones, after which enamel painters decorate them.
Roger Dubuis was a watchmaker who developed complications for some of the biggest watch brands, including Patek Philippe. In 1995, he started his own brand with fellow watchmaker Carlos Dias.
Now under Richemont, Roger Dubuis brand watch collections reflect the vision and designs of their namesake. These watches are ultra-high-end pieces built to emphasize their movements, as many models are skeletized, revealing their inner workings.
Roger Dubuis’ skeletized watches seem to display inside and outside equally. For this, their movements are not only expertly crafted, with features like multiple flying tourbillons, they must be painstakingly detailed.
As such, the company’s artisans engrave guilloché patterns and motifs into movement plates on traditional rose engine lathes.
Indeed, the high standards and labor demands of the brand’s watch designs necessitate small editions. Individual Roger Dubuis models are often limited to editions of under 100.
Vacheron Constantin is a Swiss watch company with a well-earned reputation for extraordinary artistry in its watch designs. The company has never ceased production since 1755 since its founding. Consequently, the company’s Maltese Cross logo has instant recognizability for watch aficionados everywhere.
Large teams of artists collaborate to create Vacheron Constantin watches, including enamellers, engravers, painters, goldsmiths, and lapidaries. And, of course, all of these experts work with the company’s master watchmakers to assemble watches of impressive quality.
Vacheron Constantin has long continued its tradition of confidentially creating commissioned watches for individuals. The company’s commission clientele has included kings, captains of industry, and other eminently influential figures.
Van Cleef & Arpels
This French company takes its name from founders Estelle Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef. Since 1906, the firm has used clever and fanciful techniques to create seemingly-impossible spectacles of jewelry and watchmaking.
For example, the brand uses the “Mystery Set” method for its most exclusive gemsetting. While most gemsetting techniques leave visible metal prongs in place to hold the gems, “Mystery Set” pieces have none visible. Instead, the jewels are cut with amazing precision to fit flush against each other with the help of hidden supports. Only a few products using this method are able to be made in a year.
Van Cleef & Arpels’ watches are often more akin to miniature theaters than traditional timepieces. The “Poetry of Time” series, for example, uses retrograde mechanisms and automatons to act out miniature scenes. These scenes play out the romance of young lovers in Paris, mirroring the story of the company’s founders.
In the “Midnight Poetic” watch from this series, a tiny shooting star marks the minutes of the hour. Rather than going in a circle or even half-circle, the star traces a diagonal path across the sky.
Ralph Lauren Watch & Jewelry Co.
A joint venture with Richemont, this brand combines haute horlogerie technology and techniques with themes of gentlemen’s hobbies and adventures.
The Automotive Collection, for instance, takes on the aesthetics of the interiors of Ralph Lauren’s personal cars. Black leather, bezels of rare exotic hardwoods, and intricate tourbillon mechanisms tastefully suggest the refined style of a high-end automobile.
Other Ralph Lauren watch lines utilize motifs that suggest the gentleman’s lifestyle. The “Stirrup” watches imagine the wearer on a noble steed, while the “Safari” series envisions daring exploits in exotic lands. Finally, the “867” collection’s Art Deco aesthetics bring to mind the high society events of the 1920s.
Continue Reading About Watches
We hope you enjoyed this overview of Richemont’s watch brand portfolio. If you’re interested in visiting the official websites of these companies, go to the Richemont site.
Finally, for more high-quality watch content, visit our main watch page for watch reviews, guides, histories, and other articles.