Greubel Forsey Partnership with the Richemont Group -

Greubel Forsey Partnership with the Richemont Group

by Jack Forster
© October 2006 is pleased to share some interesting news. Greubel Forsey S.A. has established a partnership with the Richemont group (Compangnie Financière Richemont S.A.) Stephen Greubel and Robert Forsey will retain control of the company that bears their name, as majority shareholders.

The Richemont group already has under its umbrella some of the most famous names in watchmaking, including Panerai, Jaeger LeCoultre, Piaget, IWC, A. Lange & Sohne, Vacheron Constantin, Baume & Mercier, and Cartier. A partnership with one of the most technically exacting of the independent watchmaking brands offers many intriguing possibilities for both the group and for Greubel Forsey.

Greubel Forsey was kind enough to share the news with and also to allow us to inquire as to what this new partnership might represent for both GF and Richemont.

TP178: What was the impetus for initiating an exploration of a relationship with the Richemont Group?

GF: We have been collaborating for a very long time with certain brands belonging to the Richemont Group. This working relationship, based on trust and respect, has reinforced itself over the years and has logically developed into this partnership.

This partnership will support Greubel Forsey in the medium and long term so that we may work on our projects with even more serenity and reinforce our future projects.

TP178: How do you expect this partnership to impact on your product development process? In particular, will Richemont’s resources impact on the speed of product development?

GF: Our creations are unique. They are very specific and exclusive due to their inventions, mechanical sophistication and extremely high level of finishing which explains our very limited quantities. The Richemont partnership cannot change these facts. We will always need the same amount of time to create our timepieces.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30 Degrees

TP178: Will Greubel Forsey’s mechanical innovations remain exclusive to the brand, or will your technical expertise be a resource to any extent for other brands within the group?

GF: Our inventions will be used only by Greubel Forsey, it is a fundamental aspect that enhances the exclusivity of our timepieces. The only exception was with the Harry Winston Opus 6, and we all know how successful this project has been! We do however have many other ideas that are not all applicable to Greubel Forsey. These ideas may of course be used by the Richemont Group if they so wish.

Harry Winston Opus 6, done in cooperation with Greubel Forsey

TP178: Does this new partnership have any implications for the presentation of a wider range of watches?

GF: No, the exclusive nature of our timepieces does not allow us to widen the range of watches. Greubel Forsey’s product strategy to create timepieces with inventions and high level of finishing remains unchanged.

TP178: What resources does Richemont bring to Greubel Forsey? In addition to a financial position, does the group intend to offer input into the design process?

GF: Richemont may provide Greubel Forsey with support in various areas such as distribution where desirable, or ensuring provision of strategic components.

TP178: Does Greubel Forsey intend to offer larger scale production in terms of numbers of watches produced, or will the emphasis continue to be on relatively limited production with highly selective dealer representation?

GF: As mentioned before even if we wanted to we cannot accelerate our production. Our inventions are technically sophisticated and we need time to test and validate them. There are no short cuts. Finishing is also crucial for us. For example the finishing of certain components can only be made by a handful of qualified people in Switzerland, 2 of which work with us. This type of “constraint” naturally limits the number of timepieces that leave our workshop.

Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon Cage

TP178: Richemont’s stated corporate philosophy is that “each of the Maisons has its own distinct identity that stems from its heritage and culture and it is critical that each Maison has the correct strategies and resources to be able to enhance that identity. The independence of the Maisons within the Group is fundamental to the Group's strategy for future growth.” Despite the fact that Greubel Forsey is not chronologically the oldest of the brands associated with Richemont, it is nonetheless among the most distinctive and unique; what steps will both Richemont and Greubel Forsey take to ensure the preservation of that identity?

GF: Richemont does not want to and cannot influence Greubel Forsey’s image and identity. That was never their intention. On the contrary, Richemont supports us to continue the work we have pursued this far. This is shown clearly by the type of partnership it has concluded with us whereby Greubel Forsey maintains its freedom and independence. From this standpoint we could not have found a better partner! We are very proud of this partnership and thank Richemont for their trust in us.

TP178: Thank you for your time!

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