A huge surprise to many, today word got out that the Citizen Group acquired Frederique Constant, including its sister brands Alpina and Ateliers de Monaco.
Frederique Constant was founded by the Dutch Aletta and Peter Stas in 1988. Launching its first collection in 1992, its main focus has always been classically styled luxury wristwatches at an accessible price. In 2004 the brand introduced its own in-house movement. Frederique Constant currently produces some 150.000 watches annually with a staff of 170 persons in six offices worldwide. It has approximately 3000 points of sale.
Citizen on the other hand goes back to 1918, when its forerunner Shokosha Watch Research Institute was established. In 1924 it completed its first pocket watch, while in 1931 the first wristwatch was introduced. It employs approximately 19.000 people. I am not aware of the number of watches sold annually; in Japanese yen, it amounts to almost 180 billon (1.4 billion EUR).
While continuing Frederique Constant as a family owned company has been a quiet wish according to Aletta and Peter Stas, their kids developed their own desires and ambitions – Piet-Jan in sustainable energy, Eline in the medical field. Impressed by the Citizen Group and its innovative spirit, in a letter to their partners Mrs. and Mr. Stas quote three big advantages they see in this new Japanese-Swiss partnership:
“High-tech collaboration in development of electronic, mechanical and hybrid calibers. We look forward to combîning Frederique ConstanVs high-end Manufacture capability with Citizen’s long history in revolutionary solar, radio and ultra-thin caliber innovations.”
“Citizen and Bulova have a tremendous distribution organization in the Americas. Frederique Constant and Alpina will greatly benefit from the sales and marketing power in the Citizen Group.”
“Accelerate growth with the support of a strong strategic watch industry partner. Frederique Constant secures its long-term continuity with the financial, HR, and strategic strengths of the Citizen Group.”
On the other hand, it has been a well-known fact that a number of Japanese watch comglomerates have been trying to expand their business to get a firmer grip on the luxury market. In the Citizen press release, Mr. Toshio Tokura, chief executive officer of Citizen Watch Co., Ltd, indicates that “With the acquisition of Frederique Constant, the Citizen Watch Group will be able to augment its portfolio of brands and occupy the space in the markets where some of our competitors operate and further expand the presence of the Citizen brand in the market.”
I’m looking forward to see what this move will bring. Of course, our Frederique Constant page is updated to reflect this new chapter in their short but interesting history.