February 23, 2023
by Ariel Adams
French LVMH made the surprising announcement today that the world’s biggest luxury group is due to revive the Daniel Roth watchmaking brand in 2023. LVMH is mostly known for acquiring existing companies currently in operation (especially in the horological space), so this news is somewhat surprising — and it’s also exciting for timepiece collectors. LVMH has announced the return of the Daniel Roth brand under the aegis and management of La Fabrique du Temps, a company in Geneva, wholly owned by LVMH, whose main operation continues to be the production of Louis Vuitton-branded timepieces. Daniel Roth himself hasn’t had a relationship with his eponymous brand for some time. Daniel Roth and his family continue to produce small-production batches of timepieces under the Jean Daniel Nicolas brand name.
The Daniel Roth brand was first purchased from Mr. Roth by the company that operates The Hour Glass watch retailers (mostly in Singapore and Asia). It was then later acquired by Bulgari (along with the Gerald Genta brand) in 2010. For a while, Bulgari produced dual-branded watches with the Daniel Roth name on the dial. Bulgari eventually decided to focus entirely on its own brand name, and the Daniel Roth case designs and name were put into hibernation. In 2011, LVMH acquired a controlling share of Bulgari, and this is how it ended up with the Daniel Roth name. The decision to have new Daniel Roth watches produced at La Fabrique du Temps makes perfect sense, as it specializes in exotic high-complication watches and tourbillons. For the time being, it seems that most Daniel Roth watches will be decidedly high-end with a focus on tourbillons and other fancy mechanical animations. LVMH has clarified that no more than “a few hundred watches a year” will be produced under the Daniel Roth name. The first new Daniel Roth watch will be a 20-piece limited edition that will arrive later in 2023.
No dedicated managers for the Daniel Roth brand have been announced, thus far. For the time being, LVMH has explained that La Fabrique du Temps founders Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini will oversee operations for the Daniel Roth brand, but they are both busy people who also have to run the larger factory and see to the production of Louis Vuitton watches. I visited the facility in 2022 and can attest to its impressive nature and high degree of professionalism. It seems likely that a dedicated CEO and management team for Daniel Roth will be appointed in the coming months.
What will the new Daniel Roth watches be like? My suspicion is that 2023 Daniel Roth watches will look very similar to previous-generation Daniel Roth watches from before 2010. This includes the distinctive case shape, dial designs, and mechanical complications. We can only guess what future Daniel Roth models will look like, but I think a major emphasis will be to maintain the round/rectangular case shape for the years to come. Going back to his earlier career, Daniel Roth was credited for giving shape to today’s Breguet wristwatch brand. In the 1980s, he was responsible for translating historic Breguet pocket watches into modern wristwatches. Much of what Mr. Roth did in the 1980s still defines the look and feel of Breguet watches today; he is known for both his aptitude as a watchmaker and his skill in artistic design.
LVMH is clearly leaning on Mr. Roth’s status and legacy to help propel interest in the relaunched Daniel Roth brand. Does that mean Mr. Roth himself will have some involvement in the relaunched brand? That is unclear. But it’s evident that LMVH is looking to specifically revive the passion for existing Daniel Roth watch visuals and styles, which requires a look at Mr. Roth himself, his work, and the last 30 or so years of history. I am excited to learn more about what LVMH has in mind for Daniel Roth, and exactly how the very capable people at La Fabrique du Temps will carve out space to run what could be a dynamic name in the brand’s current portfolio of ultra-high-end watchmaking products. Learn more at the Daniel Roth watches website here.