On May 26, Tokyo-based watch company Citizen Watch Co., Ltd., announced the acquisition of Geneva, Switzerland-based Frédérique Constant Holding S.A., which includes brands Frédérique Constant, Alpina, and Ateliers deMonaco. Citizen has been making a push recently to complete their portfolio of brands and offer watches in every price segment of the market. Most recently, Citizen made big news in 2012 when they acquired Prothor Holding S.A., parent company of Swiss movement manufacturer La Joux-Perret S.A. and the Arnold & Son brand. All of these acquisitions are part of the “Citizen Global Plan 2018,” it’s multi-brand strategy to acquire Swiss companies.
The Frédérique Constant brand was founded in 1988 by Dutch couple, Peter Stas and Aletta Stas-Bax. They have continued to operate the company ever since and will still remain in management for at least the next five years. Their decision to sell the company came from the fact that neither of their two children showed interest in joining the family business. The current structure of the company will remain in place for the time being, and they will continue to operate independently from Citizen.
Frédérique Constant and Alpina both occupy the market space of “affordable luxury” timepieces, with most models falling in the $1,000-$4,000 price range. Some tourbillon and high-tech, silicon-component models can fetch considerably higher prices. Frédérique Constant produces mostly traditional luxury watch styles, while Alpina focuses on more sport-oriented watches. In the last 12 years, Frédérique Constant has developed and produced 19 in-house calibers. Last year, they made news with the release of their line of “Horological Smartwatches,” a high-grade Swiss version of the modern smartwatch. The lesser known Ateliers deMonaco is a high-end luxury watch brand that develops and manufactures very limited runs of watches in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. Their production numbers only reach several dozen units per year.
Citizen Watch Co., Ltd., has not stated if this is their last high-profile Swiss brand acquisition. The world’s largest watch manufacturer now offers watches and movements in almost every price segment from entry-level brands like Bulova and Citizen Eco-Drive to the luxury Japanese Campanola brand all the way up to the ultra-luxury Angelus, which was reintroduced by the La Joux-Perret S.A. manufacturer last year after being defunct for 35 years.
Aaron Recksiek is an independent watchmaker in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a graduate of the 2008 WOSTEP class at the Lititz Watch Technicum.