Dubai Watch Week Special Insight: Louis Vuitton Group and Watches: The Business Plan and A Future Forecast

Nov 17, 2023,08:50 AM


Moderator Patrick_y gives a quick case study about what to expect about LVMH and watches in the coming years...  


Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy is the highest grossing luxury goods conglomerate in the world.  We're talking over $80 Billion US Dollars a year in revenue.  That's huge.  Apple is around $380 Billion US dollars.  Some of you will say wait a minute - LVMH incorporates a lot of brands, 75+ brands, and many of them are in the alcohol business - to those of you who say this, I am happy to inform you that alcohol is only around 9% of the brand's revenue.  Forty-nine perecent of revenue comes from handbags and fashion (and out of that 49%, I can tell you the vast majority is coming from handbags) - perhaps ironically, you may be surprised to read that only 13% comes from watches and jewelry.  That's right, THIRTEEN PERCENT or around $11 Billion.  LVMH owns Tiffany & Co., Bulgari, Chaumet, Fred, Zenith Watches, Hublot Watches, and Tag Heuer – despite these big powerhouse jewelry brands, notably absent from LVMH's impressive brand portfolio is an ultra-luxury watch brand.  


So, by now, we can safely assume that the management at LVMH want to own a top-level luxury watch brand.  Breguet, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille, Vacheron Constantin, or F.P. Journe would all be a nice addition to the LVMH product portfolio.  Unfortunately, none of these brands are for sale – if they were, LVMH management (let’s call them The Arnaults) would buy one of these brands immediately – with little concern of the costs.  The acquisition of one of these brands would solve many of LVMH’s problems and would complete their portfolio.  


Let’s introduce two of the key players in the LVMH timepiece space. 


Enter stage left, Frederic Arnault, born in 1995, he is currently the CEO of Tag Heuer.  Frederic Arnault understands the situation and the cards he has been dealt – and realizes that LVMH lacks a high end watch brand – Frederic Arnault’s vision is a decade long plan to bring Tag Heuer upmarket with higher level movements, to introduce more complications to the brand, and to create more desirability with the famous brand.  Expect to see a lot in the future with Tag Heuer.  


Entering on stage right, Jean Arnault, born in 1998, educated at MIT, is the current Development Director of Timepieces at Louis Vuitton – Jean Arnault also has a personal interest in fine watchmaking and also understands that without a top-level luxury watch brand, he needs to fine alternatives and substitutes to bring LVMH to that level.  From my observations and analysis of LVMH, Jean Arnault’s comprehensive business plan is three fold; 

1.  Jean Arnault started and partially manages a Louis Vuitton Independent Creators Prize in Watchmaking.  More on this later.    

2.  In order to stay credible Jean Arnault is reviving the top collaboration special (a la Harry Winston’s Opus) to keep clients engaged and to keep the Louis Vuitton brand in the mind of top level watch collectors – this year they launched their first top-level collaboration watch with Akrivia, the independent watch brand helmed by the talented and extremely likable Rexhep Rexhepi.  More on this later…. 

3.  Jean Arnault lead the development of new watches at LV, and has created a top level movement and designs in-house as evident with the new 20,000 Euro Louis Vuitton Tambour watch and other timepieces.  


And sitting probably in the Director’s chair or in a Producer’s Seat at this theater is Bernard Arnault, the patriarch, who is advising and mentoring both Jean and Frederic and collaborating with them on overall watch strategy.  The Arnaults are collectively aware of the tremendous revenue and profit growth potential in watches and they know this is one key area where they’re behind the curve – especially in the ultra luxury sector which has seen tremendous growth in the past decade – and The Arnaults have not capitalized much on this growth at all.  


Going back to Jean Arnault’s three part plan – each one of these is worthy of a multi-thousand page article, let’s examine the impact they will make in the industry…

Photo by the Author: Dubai Watch Week 2023 featuring Rexhep Rexhepi, Jean Arnault, Nick Foulkes, and Wei Koh discussing the LV Watch prize for Independent Creatives.   This discussion was limited to special attendees and may not necessarily be posted online.  But most public discussions and debates will be recorded and uploaded onto YouTube, which I will provide links for on .  

Bullet Point One – The Creators Prize In Watchmaking


The Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives will be a new tour de force in the industry.  The prize is determined by a jury of watch experts whom are tasked with the goal of choosing a top level watchmaker and bestowing recognition to that watchmaker.  Hundreds of candidates were vetted and one was selected.  The recipient of the prize will be given mentorship and access to LVMH’s notable resources, suppliers, marketing help, legal help, administration help, and cash prize.  Don’t underestimate the value of the mentorship and the value of access to resources!  Many of these watchmakers are young and are starving artists whom only understand the art form of watches but don’t understand the business aspects.  The award is given every other year and comes with a stipend of 150,000 Euros.  The inaugural recipient will be named in 2024!  Stay tuned!  


This prize also serves another potential purpose – it allows Jean Arnault and his management team to keep an eye on whom are the newest artists with maximum potential – The LVMH Fashion Prize awarded the late Virgil Abloh with an award in 2015 and then years later decided to hire Abloh to be its fashion design director.  While the main intent of the award is to be a part of the ultra-luxury watch space – a space that LVMH does not occupy with a formal brand – this award could potentially serve as a scouting tool, a recruiting tool, or as an acquisition tool.  It’s a brilliant business move.  I’m looking forward to reading about the new recipient!   


The Akrivia X Louis Vuitton Collaboration Watch.  

Bullet Point Two – Relaunching Louis Vuitton’s version of the Harry Winston OPUS - Collaborative Watches


As already stated, LV does not have a top level watch brand in its extensive brand portfolio.  True, they have some top wine producers, the top fashion house (Dior), the top handbag/accessories brand (the eponymous Louis Vuitton), retail holdings (DFS Duty Free, La Samaritaine, Sephora), and watch/jewelry brands (Bulgari, Tiffany, Tag Heuer, Zenith, et. al) BUT THEY LACK a top watch brand.  At least for now.  Sure, they own Daniel Roth and Gerald Genta (under the Bulgari subsidiary) and LVMH is definitely going to manage those brands very well and they are cooking up delicious products in those kitchens.  


Despite not having a top-level watch brand, that doesn’t mean that they cannot participate in the creation, marketing, and retailing of top level product.  Ergo, following in Max Busser’s (of MB&F fame) footsteps while Busser was at Harry Winston Rare Timepieces where Busser created the OPUS line of collaborative watches, Jean Arnault has started Louis Vuitton watch collaborations.  And the inaugural edition of this collaboration is with Akrivia the brand of Rexhep Rexhepi.  Rexhep Rexhepi and Jean Arnault like each other, work well with each other, and have created a baby together – the Akrivia Chronograph Sonnerie – a 450,000 CHF timepiece, limited to 10 pieces, with a chronograph and a sonnerie.  


The Louis Vuitton brand plans to launch FOUR MORE timepieces with Akrivia over the next few years – so this “Opus” series will feature a longer residency – Harry Winston’s Opus usually had a new watch featured every two years and always by a different watchmaker.  


Bullet Point Three – Building Out From Within: Louis Vuitton’s new High-End Tambour, Tag Heuer, and Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo


I like Jean Arnault.  The world may dismiss him as a privileged individual put on the executive fastrack, but the world forgets the weight on the individual’s shoulders.  The usually reserved young man is rarely outspoken (although he has his outspoken moments), takes a mentee/protégé approach to life, knows he’s young, and knows it’s his time to learn.   I’ve met Jean Arnault multiple times in Geneva and now in Dubai – usually alone (no assistant) and always pensive and smiling.  He’s a likable fella – and he seems to be a nice young man – a gentleman.  Yesterday, I saw Jean Arnault handle himself with aplomb when an aggressive individual attendee at Dubai Watch Week started asking a lot of piercing questions.  Despite my bias towards liking Jean Arnault, I can’t say I like his latest Louis Vuitton Tambour watch.  While yes, I understand this watch is his new baby and all parents love their creations, I find the watch slightly undercooked and overseasoned.  Your personal thoughts may vary – but I don’t see the new Tambour as a great design tour-de-force nor as an organic future icon.  

The new Louis Vuitton Tambour - outfitted with a high-end movement and with a price tag of 20,000 Euros.  I'm not thrilled.  Photo from SJX.


One of Twelve Tag Heuer Limited Edition Dubai Skyline Tourbillon, launched for Dubai Watch Week.  Only a couple remain - and Dubai Watch Week isn't even over yet.  Considering you get a Flying Tourbillon, the price of around 25,000 Swiss francs is fairly reasonable.

Frederic Arnault, the CEO of Tag Heuer, is hard at work, revamping the brand.  I spoke yesterday with Tag Heuer Middle East managers about the transformation of the Tag Heuer brand within – a return to certain values – and the future is bright.  LVMH is investing a lot of time, money, and resources into Tag Heuer with the intentions of elevating the Tag Heuer brand.  Expect to see more complications, tourbillons, chains (maybe fusees), belts, and other high-tech creations in the brand.  I also hope to see a reduction in brand ambassadors – as of the publication date, Tag Heuer has SEVENTEEN brand ambassadors; starting with Ryan Gosling.  Seventeen?  Seventeen!  That’s too many!  I’d say stick to the post-humous ones whom are Senna and McQueen – but Frederic Arnault may say his market research triumphs my personal gut feelings.  But who knows, maybe the real magic number is a compromise somewhere in the middle?  But expect to see a lot of great things from Tag Heuer in the coming years – even look at the Tag Heuer Tourbillon Chronograph today.  It’s a true FLYING TOURBILLON and a chronograph!  COSC Certified!  And only 21,000 Euros!  The powerhouse brand introduced a Limited Edition of 12 pieces for Dubai Watch Week and it’s nearly sold out with only two or three timepieces remaining.  Not in the mood for a tourbillon?  Yesterday, I diassembled a Tag Heuer “standard” movement and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it had a ¾ plate architecture. 

I disassembled a Tag Heuer movement and I was surprised to see a 3/4 Plate on a Tag Heuer movement - pretty good architecture!  


Another note: to my knowledge, neither Frederic Arnault nor Jean Arnault is directly involved with the Bulgari Octo Finissimo, but the Bulgari brand has made some incredible creations in the horological world in the past several years – taking home multiple trophies from various award ceremonies including multiple awards from the GPHG.  Even I have bought multiple watches at Bulgari in just a few short years buying their timepieces – that’s hard to imagine as I even type this – ask me ten years ago if I would ever buy that many Bulgari watches and I would have shaken my head and said it would be unlikely.  Today, I’m eating my words as Bulgari truly creates some amazing timepiece products.  Every time I wear my Bulgari watch I am reminded to be humble and to never say “never.”  This Bulgari Octo Finissimo is another haute-horlogerie path that the LVMH group can excite even a jaded watch journalist such as myself – multiple jaded journalists in fact – I’m one of several journalists who own Octo Finissimos whom are wearing them at Dubai Watch Week.  

 The Bulgari Octo Finissimo is a favorite amongst watch journalists.  And amongst the Octo Finissimos, the Tadao Ando edition is a favorite.  




The brands within LVMH is working hard to increase their prevalence in the world of haute horlogerie.  The Bulgari Octo Finissimo is a 21st Century icon.  And the managers at LVMH have a great three-part plan to elevate LVMH’s positioning in the watch world to a very high level – even if they don’t acquire a top-level luxury watch brand soon.  All I can say is “watch this space!”  You can definitely expect a lot of value creation from LVMH in the future.  You can also expect to see the full weight and power of the LVMH group in the field of horology that will increase competition in the space – that increased competition will increase standards for all watch brands in the future – the future for watch collectors is bright!  


And while LVMH does not have a haute-de-gamme watch brand yet – they have a system in place to identify top talent in the industry, plus deep pockets to acquire any company – should one come up for sale.  The group is definitely planning very far in advance – a decade or more from what I can see – and I am confident that the group will be quite successful.  


I look forward to reading your comments.  No other publication gives you a business-plan outlook of LVMH – as this isn’t the exact narrative that most watch collectors are interested about nor is it what brands want journalists to write about – they prefer us to write more about the virtues of the product, they don’t think consumers care about the virtues of the management.  So let me and WatchProSite management know if this article is appealing in your comments below.  

Lastly, many thanks to the Seddiqi Group who organized Dubai Watch Week!  I will be expressing more about this event later and how it had transformed watch collecting in the Middle East region and will soon be transforming watch collecting for all watch collectors worldwide.  Stay tuned for more Dubai Watch Week coverage!  It's only Day 2!  

More posts: Ballon BleuDaniel RothFlying TourbillonOcto Finissimo

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Comments: view entire thread


Thanks for this fantastic write up! A question regarding LVMH and Laurent Ferrier

 By: smironov : November 17th, 2023-11:25
On the topic of LVMH potentially buying a luxury brand, tell me please, what do you think of LVMH and Laurent Ferrier? LF is luxury, French and already cooperating with LVMH on the movements side. IMHO, this combination would potentially help both and mak... 

That’s funny because I was also wondering about them making a play for LF🤔

 By: ArmisT : November 17th, 2023-14:56
Curious to read Patrick’s opinion.

Could be a multitude of issues...

 By: patrick_y : November 19th, 2023-19:47
Maybe there are too many partners and not all of them want to sell. And LV can't buy enough shares to get enough control of the company so they don't want it. Maybe they don't feel LF is a big value add to their portfolio - for the cost it'd take to buy L... 

A good idea!

 By: patrick_y : November 17th, 2023-18:39
I don't know who owns LF right now. Maybe there are too many partners to be bought out? And maybe some partners don't want to sell? Maybe some partners have unrealistic valuations and LVMH isn't willing to sell? Could be a multitude of reasons. But a good... 

Yes, more, please. I appreciate the business and economic perspectives you share and the comments/opinions of the forum members here.

 By: ArmisT : November 17th, 2023-15:03
In the planned sessions/itinerary, will there be any discussion about market and overall economic outlook for the industry? It’s a big topic with likely too wide a scope, but since there are big changes we are witnessing then brands and other stakeholders... 

The quality of articles...

 By: patrick_y : November 17th, 2023-18:46
The quality, consistency, and regularity of articles is something that we really need to work on. And judging by the number of views and comments, doesn't seem a lot of people share your sentiments about this post nor more business posts. A posting about ... 

I noticed the paucity too😔

 By: ArmisT : November 17th, 2023-19:45
I didn’t realize their site has resources and links…I’ll definitely check that out, thanks.👍🏽


 By: patrick_y : November 18th, 2023-04:24
Most of the Horology Forums will be filmed and put on YouTube, so don't worry if you miss them as they go on live.

Please please please

 By: Esharp : November 19th, 2023-03:21
It’s so easy for so many people to simply post a photo of X watch in the car, in the yard with a cigar, in front of the bbq, at dinner, at the office, on holiday, on a boat…yawn. Mega-yawn, actually. This is MUCH MUCH MUCH more interesting. Please keep it... 

Thank you Esharp! We'll see what we can do!

 By: patrick_y : November 19th, 2023-04:34
It's all determined by view count, reader comments, and any other comments/criticism from other peers. This kind of article is normally published for a less public audience in a consulting company or something to that effect. Brands probably wouldn't find... 

But that’s precisely why we come HERE.

 By: Esharp : November 19th, 2023-16:09
I can go to many other watch sites for the boring stuff. Anyone can take a photo of his Caromegaphillipiguelex (or whatever it is) while on holiday and upload it. Yay!, That’s so cool!, say his friends / fellow Brand X devotees. But the rest of us are yaw... 

We'll see!

 By: patrick_y : November 19th, 2023-19:19
No promises! This kind of a posting was mostly experimental. And would never be seen - this is usually considered business intelligence and is generally provided only in subscription services from consulting companies.

Definitely enjoyed reading this and appreciate the perspective!!! I find the industry of watches and luxury just as if not more interesting than the watches themselves so hope these keep coming!

 By: Fastwong : November 19th, 2023-03:42
There's so much change that's happened and still happening, we will be witness to massive transformation of an industry that pre-bubble was pretty quiet. With luxury really feeling some pain right now, it will be interesting to see how things unfold. Even... 

Thank you Sir!

 By: patrick_y : November 19th, 2023-04:36
I knew you'd enjoy this one! LVMH is definitely thinking long-term. The recent downturn has been felt, but LVMH is still super cash rich, the stock is down a lot the past few months, but still very high overall. The financials at LVMH look good and they c... 

I think this will be something to watch closely next year and see where we end up at the next Dubai WW

 By: Fastwong : November 19th, 2023-17:23
Hodinkee seems to have done another round of layoffs, I've heard of some maisons getting their budgets slashed by big numbers across the board, LVMH is responding to the market with some longer term investments slowing or getting cancelled until further n... 

The kids have set low bars...

 By: patrick_y : November 19th, 2023-19:12
The new Louis Vuitton Tambour does not have especially high sales goals. So it'll be a success no matter what - since the sales goals is only a couple hundred to a couple thousand units a year. As for the longer term goals - well, it'll be mixed. There wi... 

not the super high end ... But they should buy Ebel back

 By: Bruno.M1 : November 17th, 2023-15:23
They had it in portfolio about 20 years ago and sold it to Movado ( Movado created a disaster) I'm sure Ebel can bring value to them. An iconic brand that once was more popular than Rolex ( 1980 Miami Vice ) Ebel once saved Zenith by ordering the El Prime... 

Ebel was indeed a very cool watch when they had Zenith El Primero movements in them...

 By: patrick_y : November 17th, 2023-18:50
Max Busser's first watch was an Ebel with an El Primero movement inside of it. Although, I have a strong feeling that LVMH is looking for a MUCH HIGHER END brand than Ebel. That's what they're missing in their product portfolio. They'd rather have the mon... 

Good point!

 By: patrick_y : November 18th, 2023-04:34
Good point and good question. I actually don't know - as I didn't really know much about Tag Heuer (it's never been a popular brand on this forum) a few years back. I've only recently gotten to know Tag a little bit through Frederic from two years ago in ... 

I seem to remember when he took over he cancelled a lot of the upscale stuff they were coming out with and didnt want them...

 By: Blansky : November 18th, 2023-21:53
to lose their core audience so he bailed on the advances. I think that's when he started adding tech/computer access into the watches as well, to attract younger people and also stay in their price lane. Here was an interview...

I think Biver looked at Hublot, Zenith, and Tag and tried to create a market game plan

 By: Fastwong : November 19th, 2023-17:27
But with the kids split between all the maisons it's game of thrones, each looking to make a name for themselves with their own maisons...

I can't tell for certain...

 By: patrick_y : November 21st, 2023-10:07
I can't tell for certain, but it seems that Jean and Frederic work together pretty well. They might have a friendly rivalry, but they seem very cordial and brotherly amongst each other. Then again, they know that I'll be paying attention to everything - s... 

I don't know them personally, just saying it is a different environment from when Biver was looking across all the watch brands. In a time when Bernard is looking at succession planning...

 By: Fastwong : November 22nd, 2023-02:41
... I think it's expected to see some jostling for position and one of the big scores on the report cards will be growth of the respective maisons they've been "given" whether for position in the group or just who gets to run the next hotter bigger brand ... 


 By: patrick_y : November 23rd, 2023-19:12
These groups often have these big shuffles.

I personally don't think succession planning is that big of a deal at LVMH.

 By: patrick_y : November 23rd, 2023-19:18
The children are all involved and they work very hard to project the image of unity and strength. Sure, who knows if that's the case in the background, but succession planning seems to just be a huge buzz word since the TV show and Bernard's age is taken ... 

Ahh, that was a long time ago. 2016 is a long time ago by watch industry standards...

 By: patrick_y : November 19th, 2023-18:51
Amazing how much has changed in just 7 years! You have a good memory!

Listen to this

 By: m2 : November 18th, 2023-05:01
A 3+ hour deep dive on LVMH. Very very well done


 By: patrick_y : November 18th, 2023-05:57
I haven't listened to the whole thing, but I'm about 1/4 the way through and this is mostly things I know already. Thanks for the link m2!

It's good! Thanks for the introduction!

 By: patrick_y : November 19th, 2023-19:37
I might start listening to more of them!

Thank you my friend!

 By: patrick_y : November 19th, 2023-04:37
Main thing this article is intended is to give you a perspective that most collectors wouldn't think of - as most collectors aren't thinking carefully about the business side of things. And to give the reader some empathy to think from the Arnault's persp... 

Thank you for the kind words!

 By: patrick_y : November 21st, 2023-10:04

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and perspectives!

 By: cfn : November 18th, 2023-09:26
So many interesting subjects in there…how do you groom the next generation, how do you grow a luxury business, etc. Really interesting material. It will be interesting to see what happens here over the next years. I can’t help but wonder how big the marke... 

Definitely a shrewd strategy!

 By: patrick_y : November 19th, 2023-04:38
They're limited in how they can play their cards. LVMH WISHES they had a top level watch brand like Breguet, Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe, FP Journe... They wish so badly they had one - but they don't. So they've got to do the best they can with wh... 

Great write up

 By: Cozmopak : November 18th, 2023-16:32
I’ve heard rumors that Patek might sell out in the coming years as the family considers cashing in. I’ve heard both Rolex and Arnault would be looking to acquire the company.

The rumors have swirled for years since Bloomberg wrote that article...

 By: patrick_y : November 19th, 2023-04:39
Only time will tell. But yes, if the Stern family decides to sell, Thierry Stern knows he's supposed to call the Arnault family and ask for a bid. Bernard reminds Thierry of that every year or two! "Call me first" in French.

What a fantastic writeup which is so intriguing and educational at the same time.

 By: Sfwatchlover : November 18th, 2023-21:27
I agree with assessments which make a lot of sense regarding LVMH’s paths to owning a piece of super high end watchmaking. It seems to me that among their properties, Daniel Roth is the brand with most high end and exclusive reputation. It seems a better ... 

I think LVMH is going to pump a lot of money into Daniel Roth and Gerald Genta...

 By: patrick_y : November 19th, 2023-04:30
Those are the two halo brands that they have and they're going to play their cards right with them!

Should be good!

 By: patrick_y : November 19th, 2023-18:55
Should be very good indeed. I would have high expectations. I see a green Donald Duck watch coming from Gerald Genta soon.

Great read!

 By: pfang56 : November 19th, 2023-00:27
I do think what LVMH has done across multiple luxury categories is quite extraordinary, and I do agree that the recent projects with Akrivia, Tag Heuer, as well as their in-house Tambour is pretty remarkable in such a short time period. I would also like ... 


 By: patrick_y : November 19th, 2023-04:41
You know a lot about the subject Peter! Yes, La Fabrique du Temps is definitely a strategic acquisition to make cool and unusual movements in the future. I didn't like Anita Porchet's work on the snake watch - but yes, they are all about making weird thin...