Franck Muller Acquires Martin Braun

The Franck Muller Group, the Swiss luxury watch mini-conglomerate, has acquired majority control of the German luxury watch brand Martin Braun, purchasing 52 percent. The transaction, capping three months of negotiations, was confirmed to JCK by Miguel Payró, the group’s chief financial officer.

Martin Braun, best known for its award-winning complication watches with astronomical themes, produces about 1,000 handcrafted watches annually. It recently moved its watchmaking facility from near Pforzheim, Germany, to Porrentruy, Switzerland, in order to use the “Swiss made” label on its watches. It also has produced its own watch movement.

Watchmaker Martin Braun will continue to oversee the brand bearing his name. The U.S. operation, located in Austin, Texas, will remain the same but be integrated into the Franck Muller USA operation. “We intend to change nothing, except to provide more means at the financial, industrial, and commercial level, to grow brand, strengthen its range [of products], and make it better known to people,” said Payró.

That means a stronger marketing program and expanded production. Payró said that with the group’s support, the high-end watch company could expand to 3,000 watches annually in about three years.

Martin Braun has 20 points of sale in the United States. Over the next few years, it could be included in all of Franck Muller’s U.S. outlets (more than 75) or expand its own network to about the same number. “We do want to retain the brand’s image as a complication watch, penetrating markets where it hasn’t been in the past,” Payró said. That includes Asia as well as the United States.

Martin Braun’s production facilities will probably be moved to another Franck Muller location in northern Switzerland, near Germany, in the next couple of years.

In a related story, the Franck Muller Group and Backes & Strauss of London, the world’s oldest diamond company (1789), have agreed to create a watch company, with the Muller Group having just over half the ownership.