LVMH founder Bernard Arnault declared world’s richest man (but what watch does he wear?)Zach Blass
If you were to guess who the world’s richest men were, your mind would probably wander to tech CEOs and Russian oligarchs, all of which would be reasonable assumptions. This month, however, the tides of wealth have changed with LVMH founder, CEO, and executive chairman Bernard Arnault rising to No.1 on the rich list. Edging ahead of Jeff Bezos ($186 billion) and Elon Musk ($147.3 billion), Arnault’s wealth saw a meteoric rise over the past year, trebling from a net worth of $76 billion in March 2020 to $186.3 billion as of Monday, June 1st. Considering the pandemic that has plagued the world for over a year, $110 billion is quite a spectacular spurt of growth all things considered and would be a jaw-dropping accomplishment even under normal circumstances.
The interesting takeaway here is that luxury goods have enjoyed strong sales even during these trying times, with buyers still indulging in pricier goods. According to Forbes: “Pushed by the ‘momentum’ of shoppers in China, according to Jefferies analyst Flavio Cereda, LVMH recorded revenue of $17 billion for the first quarter of 2021, up 32% compared to the same period in 2020.”
But this upward trend is not limited to the LVMH group. While not at the same magnitude, it would seem there has been growth across the entire luxury sector.
Forbes reports: “In the period from March 18, 2020, to Monday, the net worth of rival François Pinault, whose Kering Group owns luxury brands Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Gucci, rose from $27 billion to $55.1 billion. At Chanel (which is not publicly traded), brothers Alain Wertheimer and Gerard Wertheimer, the grandsons of founder Pierre Wertheimer, are now worth $35 billion, more than double their net worth of $17 billion in 2020. Even Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, the granddaughter of L’Oréal’s founder, enjoyed a nearly $40 billion bump, to $87.8 billion Monday.”
To be clear, the watch manufactures of LVMH – including TAG Heuer, Bulgari, Hublot and Zenith – are only one facet of their portfolio, so the jump in worth cannot be attributed to watch sales alone. But it is interesting from a consumer psychology standpoint to see that the COVID-19 pandemic period did not discourage luxury sales but actually represented a period of growth for the groups of high-end brands.
Naturally, some of you may be wondering what does the world’s richest man and LVMH CEO wear on his wrist? Based on photographs of Bernard Arnault at events and in magazines he seems to be very loyal to LVMH manufactured timepieces, typically seen wearing TAG Heuer and Hublot timepieces.
Considering Bernard Arnault’s position, it would be a bit strange to spot him wearing a Patek Philippe or a Rolex. Instead he rightly elects to support his own brands and be an ambassador of their products.
Another watch Bernard Arnault seems to wear frequently is not one of the usual horological suspects but comes from another LVMH cohort – his Dior Automatic Chiffre Rouge chronograph. Perhaps it was a watch he acquired upon founding the conglomerate back in the late 80s, proving that even the world’s richest man can still be swayed by an emotional attachment to his timepiece.