The strategic vision behind LVMH’s luxury watch renaissance

    The fifth annual LVMH Watch Week showcased groundbreaking new timepieces from the luxury group's watch brands.
    Image: Zenith
      Published   in Hard Luxury

    What happened

    The fifth annual LVMH Watch Week showcased groundbreaking new timepieces from the luxury group's watch brands, marking an important moment for the high-end watch industry. Hosted in Miami from January 28 to February 1, this year's event was notable for the revitalization of heritage maisons Daniel Roth and Gérald Genta under La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton.

    This move, along with the appointment of 29-year-old Frédéric Arnault as CEO of LVMH Watches, signals a broader generational shift aimed at driving innovation and engaging younger consumers.

    The event brought to the fore the latest offerings from LVMH's elite watchmaking maisons, each unveiling technical prowess and designs catering to modern tastes.

    Perhaps most importantly this year, LVMH's increasingly diversified portfolio of watch brands, ranging from the likes of Louis Vuitton and Dior to Zenith and Hublot, could position the group to dominate the high-end timepiece segment. In 2023, LVMH reported a 7% increase in organic growth for its jewelry and watch division, reaching $11.8 billion in sales.

    Miami's selection as host city for this year's event aligned with LVMH's focus on culture hubs with affluent demographics. Stéphane Bianchi and Frédéric Arnault stated that the locale reflects the company's global outlook and commitment to engaging consumers through partnerships with institutions like the Miami Design District.

    Also notable this year is the fanfare surrounding the revival of Daniel Roth and Gérald Genta under the guidance of watchmaking experts, a move that underscores LVMH's stated commitment to blending heritage with contemporary innovation. As Frédéric Arnault noted of the move, "We are honored to reintroduce these storied maisons and build upon their legacies by leveraging modern technical expertise."

    Notable models displayed included Daniel Roth's Tourbillon Souscription with an elegant case shape and 80-hour power reserve. Further homage was paid to Gérald Genta's iconic designs like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak by accessing his creative archives.

    The Jing Take

    LVMH Watch Week 2024 in Miami served as a testament to the luxury conglomerate's heightened focus on the $30 billion global luxury watch market. Now boasting an array of high-end watch brands, including TAG Heuer, Hublot, and Zenith, alongside its portfolio of fashion and jewelry brands such as Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, and Dior, LVMH is poised to capture the growing interest of an affluent younger demographic keen on high-end mechanical watches. (And, perhaps more importantly, better compete with rival Richemont, which controls brands like IWC, Vacheron Constantin, and A. Lange & Söhne.)

    In China, LVMH has been targeting the younger consumer market with the launch of its new Tmall stores. LVMH-owned Hublot opened its first Tmall boutique, alongside the launch of its exclusive Chinese New Year dragon collection. Meanwhile, the French luxury conglomerate’s other brands Tiffany & Co, and Chaumet also revealed their newest Tmall stores in January.

    Beyond the Chinese consumer, with the world's luxury watch sales projected to swell to over $37 billion by 2032, driven by increasing global wealth and the ascendant purchasing power of Generation Z and millennials, LVMH's recent moves in the watch space have been forward-thinking. The appointment of young leader Frederic Arnault as CEO of LVMH Watches underscores this new direction.

    Additionally, the company's offerings, such as the $6,550 TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph, have been designed to resonate with this emerging consumer base, which has shown resilience in the US market — a region where Swiss watch exports exceeded $4.2 billion in the previous year.

    For this year's installment, LVMH leveraged Watch Week both as a display of its horological prowess as well as its ability to blend historic prestige with technology, materials, and design. Amid rising interest rates and recession concerns, industry leaders like Benoit de Clerck of Zenith are optimistic, citing the short economic cycles and the "super-spenders'" continued investment in high-quality craftsmanship as reasons for the sector's buoyancy.

    Moreover, LVMH's strategic targeting of the women's watch segment — a market that's seen a surge due to increased social media exposure and a growing number of designs catering to female consumers — speaks to its nuanced understanding of market trends. This is reflected in its introduction of models such as the Carrera Plasma Diamant d’Avant-Garde Chronograph Tourbillon, a high-ticket item with a two-year waitlist, and the exploration of heritage-inspired designs for modern collections.

    Key Takeaways

    • LVMH Watch Week 2024 in Miami highlighted the luxury group's focus on the high-end watch market, now boasting brands like TAG Heuer, Hublot, Zenith, Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, and Dior.
    • The revival of heritage maisons Daniel Roth and Gérald Genta under La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton signals a blending of heritage and innovation.
    • The appointment of 29-year-old Frédéric Arnault as CEO of LVMH Watches reflects a generational shift towards engaging younger luxury consumers.
    • LVMH is also targeting younger demographics through launches on Tmall in China and designs like the $6,550 TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph.
    • What's next? LVMH will continue expanding in the surging women's luxury watch segment, leveraging social media marketing and demand from female consumers. However, the company will balance this focus by maintaining heritage men's models catering to "super spender" clients less impacted by macroeconomic cycles and rising interest rates.

    The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

    Discover more
    Daily BriefAnalysis, news, and insights delivered to your inbox.