Tokyo (SCCIJ) – The Japanese watchmaker Citizen has acquired four Swiss watch brands in the last five years. Now, President and CEO Toshio Tokura has called them an “optimal diversification” for the Japanese watch giant which is currently morphing into a multinational watch group. With Swiss timepiece makers such as Frédérique Constant and Alpina, Citizen would be able to cover a larger target group, Tokura said. This in turn has given Citizen the confidence to open its world’s first flagship store. Located in the new luxury shopping complex “Ginza Six”, the store houses a full lineup of all the group’s brands, including the first boutique ever of “Arnold & Son”. This historic British brand was restarted by the Swiss watch company British Masters and later acquired first by Swiss La Joux-Perret and then by Citizen.
Becoming a multinational watch group
Japan’s Citizen Watch Group is one of the largest watchmakers globally and the world’s top producer of quartz watches. The Group is known as a powerhouse in the mid-priced market from $300 to $1,200 on the strength of its Citizen and Bulova brands. Under its mid-term business plan, “Citizen Global Plan 2018”, Citizen takes a strategic turn into the luxury mechanical-watch segment and wants to become a multinational watch group.
In May 2016, Citizen Watch Co. purchased Switzerland’s Frédérique Constant Holding SA and its three watch brands Frédérique Constant, Alpina and the tiny Ateliers DeMonaco for an undisclosed sum (SCCIJ reported earlier). In 2012, it acquired Switzerland’s Prothor Holdings, owner of the respected mechanical movement manufacturer La Joux-Perret and the Arnold & Son brand. All brands offer “affordable luxury” watches in a price range beyond the market segment traditionally covered by Citizen.
Swiss brands as “optimal diversification”
CEO Tokura, the architect of the acquisition strategy, now told the Swiss newspaper “Neue Zürcher Zeitung“ that Citizen profits from its Swiss brands with two kinds of synergies: “On the one hand, with a view to the distribution: instead of each brand having its own sales channels, we can put them together. On the other hand, we also generate synergies during production. With Prothor and Bulova, we are able to share our knowledge and experience in the field of manufacturing or design and thus strengthen our brands”, he said.
Tokura likes Frédérique Constant because the company was always very innovative in terms of design and technology. “It is constantly trying to improve, which fits very well with our motto ‘Better starts now’. Frédérique Constant also offers watches at affordable prices – not too expensive, not too cheap. This corresponds exactly to our brand image,” he added.
World’s first Citizen flagship store
The opening of the “Citizen Flagship Store Tokyo” as the first flagship store from the Citizen Watch Group on April 20, 2017, fits into this expansionary picture. The store, with 300 square meters of floor space, boasts one of the largest collections of Citizen brands and Citizen Watch Group brands curated under one roof, including Alpina, Arnold & Son, Bulova, Campanola, Frédérique Constant and others, and also features exclusive, limited edition models commemorating the new store launch.
“The new flagship store aims to stand as a base for watch enthusiasts, where they can come together and learn about our bands, and discover and appreciate the beauty of our timepieces,” Tokura said at the grand opening. In the interview with the Swiss paper, the CEO hinted that more single stores may be opened in the future. Citizen probably wants to acquire experiences in running a flagship store before exporting this model to other big metropolitan areas outside of Japan.
World’s first Arnold & Son boutique
A brand reputable for its fully hand-crafted watchmaking process from design to movement, committed to bringing out the finest beauty of timepieces, Arnold & Son is introducing the world’s only Arnold & Son Boutique within the Ginza flagship store.
With a calming dark wood tone, creating a luxurious ambience bound to offer a truly premium shopping experience, the boutique will house the largest collection of carefully handcrafted Arnold & Son pieces, including models rarely found in Japan.
Citizen’s first Japan-made tourbillon
But the Japanese watchmaker also wants to avoid the impression that its technological and handcraft capabilities are below what their acquired Swiss watchmakers achieve. This is demonstrated in this month with its first tourbillon, an addition to the mechanics of a watch escapement. The mechanism is usually exposed on the watch’s face to show it off.
The Citizen Tourbillon Y01 is limited to only two pieces and will be sold exclusively at the Japanese department store Daimaru for 10 million yen. According to Japanese media reports, at 42mm diameter, the Y01 is a decent-sized wristwatch encased in 18k white gold and held together by reliable titanium screws.
Text: Martin Fritz for SCCIJ; Photos: Citizen