Some people just can’t get enough. Enough of the right logo, that is. “Logo luxury” is still very much alive, no matter the attention “quiet luxury” received recently. Logos have a hypnotic allure to some people. People under the spell of the right monogram will want to buy into the brand badly, desiring everything with that logo on it. And that’s what brands aim for. They don’t want consumers to buy one or two items. No, they want to successfully integrate their brands with consumers and be a part of their lives constantly. Non-watch brands creating high-end watches is a great way of offering people a way to “complete the look” and integrate products with consumers’ lifestyles even more.

Buying into a brand means buying into a certain lifestyle. Wearing the right logo makes you part of a tribe. That comes at a price, though. But although branded luxury products carry (much) higher prices than generic ones, that doesn’t scare people away. On the contrary, people are willing to pay for high-priced luxury items due to the perceived quality, stylishness, and prestige associated with the brand. The desire to be seen, recognized, and accepted by the “tribe” might come at a price, but it’s a price that many people are willing to pay. Once someone has bought into a brand, one way to keep that person satisfied is to continuously provide a stream of desirable products, including everything from sports socks to watches.

Talking watches

Non-watch brands that stand tall — Hermès, Chanel, Leica and others

When thinking of luxury brands that see an opportunity to keep their clients satisfied by offering high-priced watches, we often tend to mention only the fashion houses. But there are also brands outside the fast-moving fashion world that see watches as an opportunity to broaden their commercial horizons. There’s the prestigious camera maker Leica, for instance. Leica is considered among the most precious in the world, not just in the optical sector but also in the luxury industry. And Leica owners are very proud of their cameras. The emotional person-camera bond is comparable to the bond between a person and a watch. The launch of the first two Leica watches in 2018, the L1 and L2, might have come as a surprise. The introduction of the ZM 11, however, was a bit more expected.

Talking watches

Evident craftsmanship

The ZM 11 comes in three versions and is a take on the popular integrated-bracelet watch design. You also get a few hints about Leica’s origins. There’s the multi-layered shutter-like dial with different colors and finishes, for instance, which Leica describes as “the canvas, where light and shadow create depth.” The ZM 11, as Nacho described in his hands-on article, is a quality product. “The care, thoughtfulness, and craftsmanship put into (the watches) are evident,” he wrote. The €6,800 price for the steel ZM 11 on either the rubber or textile strap and €8,150 for the full-titanium version on the bracelet will not make Leica fans lose one night of sleep. The “basic” Leica M11-P camera has a price just shy of €9K, you see — that’s without the €5K lens, by the way. So why not buy a watch from a brand you already worship?

Dare I touch upon the similarities between Leica and Apple? Both brands achieved such success through their ability to shift technology from practical items to emotional, tactile, carefully designed, well-built pieces of hardware. Both Leica and Apple created products for which users developed an undying love. Furthermore, both brands managed to start a tribe of dedicated members, followers, and even believers. It’s only human to yearn for bonding with others over shared interests. Sometimes people bond over using the same laptop or camera…or watch, of course.


Writing time

Before we get to the fashion houses putting more and more focus on watches, we need to also mention another producer of hardware. Montblanc became famous because of its pens, but when you look at the brand’s current catalog, you will find many more products. There are, to name but a few, sunglasses, fragrances, headphones, leather goods, and watches for sale, all carrying the Montblanc logo. A watch to match one’s belt, cufflinks, and money clip didn’t sound like a bad idea during an “MB” marketing meeting back in the mid-1990s. In 1997, Montblanc released its first watch, but no matter how hard the brand tried with complicated models, sports watches, chronographs like the Rieussec, and even integrating Minerva, it never seemed to convince watch purists. But is that necessary to be successful?

Talking watches

The answer to that question is “no.” Watch purists can’t break a mainstream brand like Montblanc. However, according to several sources, MB’s watch subsidiary is weighed down by heavy debts. There is something ironic in the fact that the price MB has to pay to try to buy into the scrutinizing, conservative watch crowd was too high. Now the brand needs a different clientele. It needs a considerably larger target audience who will buy into the brand by shopping for leather goods, suitcases, and accessories. That audience is now presented with a more generic (but still quite popular) collection of sporty watches, including models like the 1858 Iced Sea diver.

Fashionably on time

When it comes to parallel, complete universes where everything bears the same label, the names Chanel, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton come to mind. All three luxury powerhouses understand that watches can create a healthy revenue stream. Chanel’s J12 is the most consistent and successful watch made by a brand without roots in horology. The ceramic J12 that debuted in 2000 has become a highly recognizable watch in many different executions, and the black and white J12 Cybernetic is a very extravagant, avant-garde iteration. While perhaps not an icon of the watch world, it is most definitely an iconic fashion accessory.


Saddlemaker Hermès created its first wristwatch in 1912 as a gift for Emile Hermès’s daughter. In 1928, the brand put watches on the market together with Movado, but it wasn’t until 1978 that the division La Montre Hermès was established in Biel, Switzerland. That same year, the Arceau wristwatch debuted. The Arceau is still in the collection, but although it was born years before Chanel’s J12, it never managed to reach star status — after all, it was always more understated and less shiny than a J12. Maybe the sporty H08, a collection of timepieces that mixes Hermès’s immaculate eye for detail with contemporary, sporty looks, will be the brand’s new horological star.

Talking watches

Louis Vuitton recently gave its watch collection another boost with the launch of the completely revamped Tambour. The steel, steel-and-gold, and full-gold luxury sports watches cost €19,500, €28,000, and €55,000, respectively. These are upscale watches aimed at the more affluent members of the “LV tribe,” who, with their healthy expendable incomes, can keep Louis Vuitton’s watch business successful.

Talking watches

And what about Dior?

In the world of fashion and cosmetics, Chanel and Dior are like Federer and Nadal, eternal rivals who pushed each other to great heights. But when it comes to the watch game, Dior never took a set from Chanel. Four years after Chanel introduced the J12, Dior presented the Chiffre Rouge. The watch, created by Dior’s creative director at the time, the illustrious Hedi Slimane, never really caught on. A revamp in 2015 also didn’t get much traction, and the Chiffre Rouge quietly exited the stage. Now, 20 years after its initial launch, the Chiffre Rouge is back. LVMH, Dior’s mother company, not only believes that LV can sell watches in its private universe but also that Dior can.

This year, five models of the completely new Chiffre Rouge will debut. The watches have a link to the original Slimane-designed models but are much more refined. By the way, the name refers to the number eight, Christian Dior’s lucky number, which is the only numeral in the date display that’s red instead of white.

In-house refinement

Compared to the Chiffre Rouge A05 (CD084841R001) from 2004, the 2024 chronograph model is much more sophisticated. The original watch came in steel with a black rubber coating and looked somewhat crude. Inside the 42mm case beat an ETA 2894 self-winding movement with 25 jewels.

Talking watches

The new Chiffre Rouge Black Ultramatte Chronograph model is much more refined and sophisticated. It’s still black but does away with the rubber layer that will degrade quicker than anyone likes. And the previous 4Hz ETA caliber has made way for an in-group movement, the famous 5Hz Zenith El Primero 400 that now bears the name Dior CD.001. The Chiffre Rouge Black Ultramatte Chronograph is a €13,500 watch. The 38mm Chiffre Rouge Ultramatte Black costs €7,900. And if you want diamonds and a touch of pink gold, the price is €16,000.

When you’re gallivanting down the boulevard in your Dior B9S limited-edition skate sneakers (€2,000) matched to white Dior logo sport socks (€250), baggy worker pants (€1,200) over a black boxer brief in stretchy viscose (€850) under a matching jacket (€2,500) and a comfy sweater (€1,400) with a Weekender 50 bag (€2,800) over your shoulder, you’re used to spending big money on a brand — a total of €11,000 in the case of this outfit. Acquiring a Chiffre Rouge watch will probably not freak you out money-wise.

Fashion brands mean business in watches

Current watches from Chanel, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton don’t simply rely on their good (fashion) looks. They also show that their respective brands are paying attention to the horological aspect. Chanel invested in Tudor-owned movement manufacturer Kenissi, for instance, which resulted in the new automatic caliber 12.1. Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier (VMF) is the movement manufacturer for Parmigiani Fleurier and also Hermès. VMF is 25% owned by Hermès and part of the Sandoz Foundation, which also owns Parmigiani Fleurier.

Inside the 40 × 8.3mm case of the Louis Vuitton Tambour beats the micro-rotor LFT023 caliber. This is LV’s first proprietary automatic three-hand movement. It was developed by the house’s wholly owned manufacture La Fabrique Du Temps in Geneva, and Le Cercle des Horlogers helped manufacture it.

Although Leica is not a luxury fashion brand like the three French Maisons, it also didn’t cut any corners when it came to putting a movement inside the latest ZM 11 models. Inside the 41 × 13mm case of the ZM 11 beats the Chronode-engineered automatic caliber LA-3001 with a 60-hour power reserve.

Having these movements, which required costly investments to realize, is a sign that the brands in question are convinced that people want to buy into them. It also shows that they take their clients seriously. Modern-day clients are more than often very well informed and demand transparency and authenticity. If these demands are met and trust is established, they have no problem buying into a brand to be a part of its tribe.

Now the question for you, my dear Fratelli, is this: can you see yourself buying into a (watch) brand too?