Chanel, a high-fashion house known for its women’s haute-couture and ready-to-wear clothes, luxury goods, and fashion accessories, has been investing in the watchmaking industry – and for quite some years already. This surprising move, initiated in 1998 with Bell & Ross and in 2011 with Romain Gauthier, now goes one step further with the addition of F.P. Journe in the portfolio of brands supported by Chanel.
As part of the development of the brand – which is still privately owned by Alain and Gérard Wertheimer, grandsons of Pierre Wertheimer, who was an early business partner of the Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel – Chanel has just announced the acquisition of a 20% minority stake in Montres Journe SA. Under this company is the brand “F.P. Journe Invenit et Fecit”, which produces high-end, complex and desirable watches since 1999. Located in the heart of Geneva, the Manufacture designs, develops and produces movements, case and dials – both executed via two companies named Cadraniers de Genève et des Boîtiers de Genève.
Chanel indicates that this new acquisition “is part of the desire to preserve and develop expertise and to support independent watchmakers who share the same values of creation and excellence as Chanel“. However, we must remember that Chanel Horlogerie already relies on the resources offered by its two historical partners for the production of watches – assembly in the same building as Bell & Ross in La-Chaux-de-Fonds and movement design and parts manufacturing at Romain Gauthier (only for some collections, such as Monsieur de Chanel and Skeleton Boyfriend watches).
Thus, a minority stake in Montres Journe SA could indicate the wish for Chanel to integrate cases and dials production, as well as the expertise of FP Journe for the conception of complex movements. It would also be interesting to see if synergies could be created between B&R, Gauthier and Journe.
Also, François-Paul Journe recently revealed that he has decided to sell a part of his shares “in order to guarantee the future of his company” – knowing that his children won’t take over the manufacture once Journe retires.
Finally, we must not be too worried about future F.P. Journe creations. Chanel owns multiple other minority stakes in different companies (Bell & Ross and Romain Gauthier, but also Lesage, Barrie ou Massaro) and all of them have kept their identity and independence when it comes to the creation of their products. Journe will certainly continue to produce more high-end, highly desirable watches.