It was always going to be an uphill battle to revive the Favre Leuba brand name and make a small volume of watches in Switzerland, then retail them around the world at a reasonable price.
The problem is this; for many watch fans under the age of 50 Favre Leuba means nothing. It was a prestige Swiss brand – the second oldest in the world founded in 1718 – but Favre’s heyday was five decades ago and it never really achieved the same marketing kudos of Blancpain in diving, Zenith in chrono movements or Heuer in motorsport during the mid 20th century. In the USA, most watch fans know Bulova, Hamilton, Zodiac or Buren from the past, but not a name like Favre Leuba. In short, there isn’t much heritage and glamour to sell to a new 21st century generation.
So, no surprise that Titan, part of the Tata empire, announced yesterday that it’s scaling back investment in the FL brand. The costs of manufacturing in Switzerland must surely be a factor here, although the marketing spend needed to tell FL’s heritage story to a wider audience is also considerable?
Titan Company acquired global rights to the trademarks of heritage Swiss watch brand Favre Leuba for 2 million euros in 2011. In a regulatory filing, Titan Company said that it has been continuously supporting FL, and has made a series of investments but that the COVID-19 pandemic, however, has severely impacted the revival plans. That may be partially true but the bottom line is this; would you spend £7000 buying a Favre Leuba dive watch or buy a pre-owned Rolex Submariner?
Thank you for being honest, goodnight Favre Leuba.