Franck Muller Group Acquires Majority Control of Rodolphe Watches

The Franck Muller Swiss luxury watch group has acquired majority control of the luxury watch and jewelry companies of well-known Swiss watch designer Rodolphe Cattin. A company announcement March 22 said it has “slightly above 50 percent” of the Cattin companies—Rodolphe & Co. (Neuchâtel, Switzerland) and Rodolphe Montres et Bijoux (Bois, Switzerland). Details of the transaction weren’t released.

The Rodolphe brand will become the first in a newly created “Lifestyle Watches division” of Franck Muller, says the company. Cattin, who founded his company 15 years ago, will continue to have “both creative and management independence,” said the Muller Group announcement.

Vartan Sirmakes, co-founder and chief executive officer of the Franck Muller Group, said the transaction is “in accordance with our strategy to expand our brand portfolio.” That multibrand strategy began a few years ago with acquisition of Pierre Kunz and European Company Watch.

Sirmakes said the company would support “Rodolphe’s growth potential” with the Group’s industrial and financial resources.

Cattin said that his original goals were to create an awareness of his timepieces in the design segment of the watch market and to increase the market for his watch brand. “We’ve met the first objective, but to meet the second, we needed a solid partner who could guarantee the necessary financial and industrial support [and share our] vision and values,” he said. “The Franck Muller Group is exactly what we were looking for.”

One Rodolphe highlight is the Viper collection, launched in 2003 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Dodge Viper, an American sports car. Cattin officially launched his Rodolphe brand in the United States with it 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.