CORDER’S COLUMN: Swatch Group and Calvin Klein’s divorce should surprise nobody

Rob Corder.

Swatch Group and Calvin Klein announcing last week that they are splitting up after a 22 year marriage was a shock that should surprise nobody.

The remarkable thing about the announcement was that the two companies had worked together for so long.

Swatch Group is first and foremost a manufacturer of finished watches and watch movements.


Calvin Klein needed neither manufacturing nor movements from the Swiss Group.

As a fashion brand, Calvin Klein has a presence on thousands of high streets and in hundreds of department stores across the world where its inexpensive quartz watches could be sold alongside clothing, accessories and underwear.

It never needed wholesale distribution to the jewellers and watch specialists that Swatch Group might have reached.

There is little reason to think that either Calvin Klein, with annual sales of around $4 billion, or Swatch Group, with turnover of around $8.5 billion, gave their co-created watch business anything more than cursory consideration in terms of how its collections should be positioned, marketed or sold.

Predictably, they could not even agree on who should be to blame for breaking up.

In a short two-paragraph statement, Swatch Group said it was ending the long-time partnership due to the “recent turbulence and uncertainties at the management level of Calvin Klein Inc., New York”.

Calvin Klein, however, cites not being able to achieve “maximum potential in key markets” as the reason for parting ways.

Fossil Group, Movado or Timex, which are global giants in creating fashion watches under license, are the natural home for Calvin Klein timepieces and jewellery, and it is staggering it has taken all involved parties 22 years to work this out.

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