Franck Muller Group acquires Rodolphe watches

The Franck Muller Swiss luxury watch group has acquired the luxury watch and jewelry companies of well-known Swiss watch designer Rodolphe Cattin.

The Rodolphe watch brand will become the first in a new, just-created “lifestyle watches” division” of Franck Muller, say company documents.

Rodolphe Cattin, who founded his company 14 years ago, remains with it. There were no details at press time on whether the Rodolphe companies would remain in Neuchatel, Switzerland, or move to the Muller Watchland headquarters in Genthold, outside Geneva, Switzerland.

The acquisition, announced March 22, includes Rodolphe & Co. and Rodolphe Montres et Bijoux (watches and jewelry). Details of the transaction weren’t released.

Virtan Sirmakes, co-founder and chief executive officer of the Franck Muller Group, said the acquisition is “in accordance with our strategy to expand our brand portfolio.” Other high end luxury watches acquired by Muller in recent years include Pierre Kunz and European Company Watch.

Sirmakes declared the company’s intention to “associate Rodolphe’s growth potential” with the Group’s resources.

Cattin said that his original goals were to invigorate the design segment of the watch market with his timepieces and to increase the market for his watch brand. “We’ve met the first objective, but to meet second, we needed a solid partner with financial and industrial support, and a shared vision values. I’ve found that in the Franck Muller Group.”

One Rodolphe’s highlights are the Viper collection, launched in 2003 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the American sports cars (the Dodge Viper).

Cattin officially launched his Rodolphe brand in the United States in December 2003, in Beverly Hills, Calif. There were no details at press time on whether Franck Muller will take over U.S. distribution of Rodolphe.

Rodolphe will be exhibiting its watches at both Baselworld 2005 (Mar. 31-Apr. 7) ad at the Franck Muller group’s “WPHH (World Presentation of Haute Horlogerie”) in Genthod from Apr. 4 – Apr. 10) in Genthod, outside Geneva.