UPDATE: LVMH bailed on the deal. Click here to read, afterwards.
This week, the world’s largest luxury goods group bought Tiffany & Co. for $16.2 billion. That’s a lot of coin. LVMH has a lot of reasons to spend it. As far as watches are concerned, the conglomerate already owns TAG Heuer and Hublot. I reckon it’s only a matter of time before LMVH puts TAG and Hublot watches into Tiffany’s 321 retail stores. The big question: how will that happen . . .
LMVH’s suits could simply instruct their new vassals to slot TAGs and Hublots into Tiffany display cases. Or they could direct TAG and Hublot to modify existing models to create Tiffany exclusives, like the co-branded Tiffany Patek Philippe (logo at the bottom of the small seconds hand). Or they could give Tiffany the resources it needs to create something brand new and brand faithful.
Whatever they decide to do, Tiffany’s current horological farrago requires a major revamp, if not termination with extreme prejudice. The retailer currently sells 87 different watches – only they’re not so different. Not from each other, and not from established designs. Eighteen are square watches in the Jaeger LeCoultre Art Deco Reverso style, priced from $2.5k to $5k. They make one not-a-Reverso that’s a genuine wallet widener.
The Makers Square Watch above runs $27k. It’s small (22mm) it’s got teeny diamonds and it’s quartz, just like the vasty majority of Tiffany timepieces. Oh dear. Anyway, as Outer Limits might say, Tiffany controls both the vertical and the horizontal. They sell seven rectangular “East West” watches, priced between $3k and $4k.
I like the East West in blue. You gotta give Tiffany’s designers credit for seeing things from a different perspective (42 x 25mm), and the alligator strap is both non-PC and lovely. Slightly less credit is owed for Tiffany’s bland circular watches, which look like nothing so much as everyone else’s watches. Or, alternatively, no one’s.
Tiffany’s 42mm CT60 Chronograph (above) smells of parts shelf assembly, albeit screwed-together with quality bits and pieces. The Hamilton-esque quasi-vintage version ain’t half-bad. And at least both harbor a Swiss made mechanical movement, origination unknown.
Even with this meh Chrono, their $16k diamond-encrusted Chanel-a-like Tiffany Cocktail watch and several display cases worth of boring round-faced pieces, it’s not all bad news on the Tiffany watch front.
The $2800 37.5mm Tiffany Atlas above is the only example of a Tiffany watch line with a Tiffany-specific design language. The company sells 13 variants. The 18k rose gold model tops the list at $7k.
In short, Tiffany’s watch selection is out of hand. Best case? LMVH does a Paloma Picasso: give a high-profile watch designer access to TAG and Hublot’s craftsman. Let him or her channel (not Chanel) their inner Gerald Genta and come up with something timelessly Tiffany, like the Atlas.
That’s unlikely. The big fish eat the small fish, and they don’t ask the small fish for their opinion. Watch this space, so to speak.