Dior is taking watchmaking more seriously again – but what does this mean for the rest of the LVMH stable? Dior is taking watchmaking more seriously again – but what does this mean for the rest of the LVMH stable?

Dior is taking watchmaking more seriously again – but what does this mean for the rest of the LVMH stable?

Jamie Weiss

LVMH’s stable of luxury brands encompasses some of the loftiest and most aspirational brands on the planet. But one brand sits above all others in the LVMH hierarchy: the jewel in Bernand Arnault’s crown, Christian Dior. However, unlike some other multidisciplinary Maisons under the LVMH umbrella, like Bulgari, Louis Vuitton or Tiffany & Co, Dior has never really been known as a watchmaker.

That might be set to change, however. Earlier this week, Dior relaunched the Chiffre Rouge, their most notable men’s watch line, debuting a stealthy new PVD black look for the watch as well as chronograph models utilising El Primero movements from fellow LVMH brand Zenith and tourbillon models utilising La Fabrique du Temps-developed micro-rotor flying tourbillon movements.

dior chiffre rouge 2024 chronograph

This is a bold new direction for Dior’s watchmaking efforts. Dior has sporadically dipped its proverbial toes in the water of high watchmaking before, but it’s never really stuck. These new Chiffre Rouges, however – which feature much more refined designs than previous Chiffre Rouge models as well as more horologically significant movements – signal to me that Dior wants to invest and establish itself as a serious watchmaker in the same way that Louis Vuitton has (or is in the process of doing, with watches like the new Tambour, another watch with a La Fabrique du Temps movement).

dior chiffre rouge 2024 chronograph front and back
The Dior Chiffre Rouge 41mm Black Ultramatte utilises an El Primero 3600, designated the CD.001.

It’s worth pointing out that these new Chiffre Rouges aren’t the first time Dior has used Zenith movements in their watches. Some Chiffre Rouge models from 2011 also took advantage of the group relationship and utilised El Primero calibres, for example (some Louis Vuitton Tambours from this era also used El Primeros, and even TAG Heuer took Zenith’s famous chronograph movement and put it in the Link back in the day). Dior has also created exceptional pieces utilising tourbillons in the past, too, like the Christal Tourbillon from 2009. However, the vast majority of Dior watches both traditionally and currently use quartz or basic ETA mechanical movements, and definitely fall into the category of ‘fashion watches’.

dior chiffre rouge 2024 tourbillons
L-R: the new Dior Chiffre Rouge 41mm Tourbillon, and the Dior Christal Tourbillon from 2009.

It’s their utilisation of La Fabrique du Temps movements for their new Chiffre Rouge tourbillon models that strikes me as a significant development here. Up until now, Louis Vuitton has been the only LVMH Maison to use movements from La Fabrique du Temps. Now that Dior is also using La Fabrique du Temps movements, perhaps this is a signal of LVMH’s intentions to use La Fabrique du Temps as a sort of horological engine that can supercharge their disparate brands’ watchmaking efforts.

But that begs the question: now that Dior is also being supplied by La Fabrique du Temps, does this mean we’ll see LVMH’s other luxury houses unveiling their own haute horlogerie creations? Will we start to see the likes of Fendi or Kenzo, for example – other LVMH brands that up until now have really only made fashion watches – start coming out with La Fabrique du Temps or Zenith-powered watches?

dior chiffre rouge 2024 date
It’s not all high-end movements: the Dior Chiffre Rouge 38mm Black Ultramatte utilises a Sellita SW300-1, designated the CD.002.

To answer my own question, I doubt it. Dior is primus inter pares at LVMH; perhaps this is just special treatment. Indeed, I doubt a business as savvy as LVMH would risk oversaturating the luxury watch market by letting all of its fashion brands make high-end watches. But we might see a few more LVMH brands come out with more impressive watches than we’re used to – or, at the least, more Dior pieces. Time will tell if Dior even continues down this route of making more serious watches. Let’s let this experiment play out and see where the Arnaults want to take us next.