Patek Phillipe May Be Coming Up for Sale

Patek Phillipe chairman Thierry Stern

Patek Phillipe chairman Thierry Stern

In a piece of shocking-if-true-news, Bloomberg is reporting that independent Swiss watchmaker Patek Phillipe may be coming up for sale. Analyts at Bernberg Capital Markets are the source of the rumors that the Canton of Geneva watchmaker, founded in 1839, may soon have a for sale sign on its front lawn.

Patek Phillipe has been owned by the Stern family for nearly a century, and Thierry Stern currently serves as the company’s chairman, a position he has held since 2009. Bloomberg reports that his wife also works as a designer for the brand.

Bernberg cites whisperings “in the corners of the Geneva watch salon” as the source of the report, noting that it may just be a rumor, and that rumors of this type are common during trade-show season (SIHH was in Geneva last week).

Bernberg estimates that Patek Phillipe had annual sales of 1.5 billion francs.

The Bloomberg article also references the sale of previously family-owned Breitling to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners for upwards of 800 million euros in 2014 as the most recent sale of a previously indpendent brand. Most brands have been scooped up by luxury conglomerates like Swatch Group and Richemont over the past few decades.

In 2014, Stern told Swiss newspaper Le Temps that the company may eventually need to leave Geneva or put itself up for sale if its tax burden wasn’t reduced. Months later, the company announced a 450 million-franc ($451 million) investment plan in the canton. Gotta love the way poitical deals are made in Switzerland.

Head to Bloomberg for the full report.