WHO OWNS OMEGA WATCHES?
I am sure that you have all walked past an AD window and looked at an Omega watch at some point, or at the very least seen their advertisements through sports and celebrities. Some of you may know a little more about Omega and about their rich heritage for making watches that go to the moon, the official timekeeper for the olympics and many more famous achievements. Most people associate swiss watches with luxury watch brands such as Omega, Rolex, Patelk philippe etc, but very few would be able to answer the question, ‘who owns Omega’.
An increasing amount of watch brands are starting to become part of larger companies as not only does it give the brand more investment and money to further develop their watches but also brand recognition. For example, the watch brand TagHeuer used to be just ‘Heuer’ before the TAG group bought them. However, Omega has had a slightly different and interesting history of ownership which we will take a look at today.
The beginnings of the OMEGA company
Omega was founded by the watchmaker Louis Brandt in the late 1940s and was established in the Swiss city renowned for watchmakers starting their companies, La Chaux-de-Fonds. When Louis Brandt first started making his watches, they were not called ‘Omega’, instead it was ‘La Generale Watch Co’. It was not until 1903 when after the death of Louis Brandt, his sons would take over the company and rename it ‘Louis Brandt et Frère - Omega Watch & Co’.
Source : Time & TIde
This name would very quickly be changed to ‘Omega’, the watch name and brand we know today. However, whilst the two sons of Louis Brandt were running the family owned company, they soon needed more resources, specifically financial ones and they became part of the Swatch group in 1985. This essentially means that The Swatch Group is the parent company of Omega meaning that they can control Omega’ interest and have significant influence over their decision making.
Source : Time & TIde
Omega, like many watch companies, would probably have liked to remain a family business but due to the quartz watches affecting the mechanical watch industry, the sons of Louis Brandt knew they would need help and fast if they wanted to keep their company alive. During the 1970s and 1980s, quartz movements were taking over, they were cheap to make, easy to make, and reliable watches. Suddenly the demand for a swiss made mechanical timepiece was not what it once was so watch companies had to be innovative and original with their designs in order to survive and stay relevant for their time period. Hence the sons of the founder of Omega, who were then the owners, finally gave in and merged with The Swatch Group. Despite giving up family ownership of Omega, they were now in a much better posoiotn to make watches, invest into research and development (R&D) and expand their facilities.
Preserved freedom for Omega
Regardless of who the CEO is of Omega, the CEO of the parent company, The Swatch Group, Nicolas Hayek is technically the owner of Omega since it is no longer a family owned business. However, before anyone starts to worry that The Swatch Group is just another large investment group that does not care about watches and focuses on only profits, you would be wrong. The Swatch Group owns many other famous Swiss watch brands such as Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Rado, Longines, Tissot, Breguet and many more.
Source : Monochrome
The Swatch Group emerged in the 1930s after it merged with Omega and Tisssot , its sole goal and desire was to help Swiss watch makers produce mechanical movements during the quartz crisis to ensure Swiss watchmaking would not become obsolete. The Swatch Group may own Omega but they are there purely to help Omega with acquiring access to resources and to give guidance whenever Omega requests.
Source : SJX
Despite The Swatch Group owning Omega, that does not mean to say that the management within Omega are powerless and have no control. The CEO Omega, Raynald Aeschlimann, still oversees the decision making process within Omega and will then propose it to The Swatch Group.
Whilst The Swatch Group had the final say, it is very rare they would disagree with Omega as they are there to help Omega where they can, not take over and run the company for them. So whilst Raynald Aeschlimann makes all the decisions and runs Omega like he's the owner, due to the parent company The Swatch Group owning Omega, that therefore means Nicolas Hayek and the Swatch Group own Omega.
Regardless of the fact that the CEO or indeed family of Omega are not the owners of the brand and haven’t been since 1985, it has not changed who Omega is and what type of company they are and what they strive to achieve.
With The Swatch Group as Omega’ owners, they have gone on to achieve many incredible results such as making the first watch to go to the moon, being involved with James Bond and being the official timekeeper for the Olympics.
What started out as a small family owned business is now one of the largest watch brands in the world with a famous achievement to their name whilst being owned by The Swatch Group. So next time you’re talking with friends and family about watches and the question ‘who owns Omega’ comes up, you’ll know the answer is The Swatch Group!