This is a really, really interesting branding exercise - and I have no idea if it is a good idea. Frederic Piguet
is (I mean, was) Swatch Group'
s higher-end movement maker. Sort of like a fancier version of ETA
. Most of the Swatch Group's higher end brands used Frederic Piguet movements (higher-end brands include Breguet, Jaquet Droz, Blancpain, etc...). That isn't to say that Frederic Piguet made all the movements for these brands, but did many of them. Problem was that all but the most hardcore watch aficionados knew what Frederic Piguet even was. So telling people that their new luxury watch had one of these movements in it required them to first explain what Frederic Piguet was in the first place. Also, I am sure there was some corporate redundancy, etc.. That Swatch was looking to clean up.
So Swatch Group made the big decision to have Blancpain
take over Frederic Piguet to make all of the movements. From a facility and logistical standpoint I don't know what will actually change. I understand that Blancpain will "take over the existing manufacturing structures." From a branding standpoint, Blancpain will now be thrust forward as a watch maker as well as an even more serious watch movement maker. Since the economy turned sour, watch brand groups have been carefully looking at each of their brands to figure out what purpose each one has. This is a lot like what GM did when it axed a bunch of its redundant, pointless brands (I am looking straight at you Oldsmobile and Pontiac) in the current market.
Swatch Group announced the move as a "consolidation." This would explain the desire to remove redundancy, but at the same time you usually don't see a movement maker be absorbed by a watch brand. So the decision to have Blancpain look like the big daddy movement maker was highly strategic (most likely). Swatch is trying to give each of its brands a lot of importance. While Blancpain has done a good job of making nice watches, over the last few years the brand has lost a bit of its zest. This moves is an attempt at making them exciting once again. Plus, Blancpain can now assert themselves as a pretty much totally vertically integrated movement manufacturer - something that the Swatch Group doesn't really have in comparison to competitor the Richemont Group.
The new entity will be known as the "Manufacture Blancpain," and (as I understand it) will be making movements for the Blancpain brand, as well as other high-end Swatch Group brands. I am interested to see how the next few years for this new entity will unfold, and the effect it will have on the public's image of the Blancpain watch brand.
Ariel Adams publishes the luxury watch review