HOT 100 POWER PLAYERS: Robert Dreyfuss, chief executive officer, Eterna

Robert Dreyfuss is a self-confessed workaholic, but having been handed the family business at the tender age of 28, following the sudden death of his father, this is a quality that has served him well.

Not only did he guide the fourth-generation Dreyfuss Group through a complex but successful sale to a Hong Kong-based investment company, whilst maintaining family harmony and stakeholder satisfaction, he also went on to place himself at the helm of the Eterna brand, based in Switzerland.

Originally founded in 1856, Group-owned Eterna has a long pedigree in the watch market, however it had suffered from many years of management changes and strategic false starts. Having introduced an Emergent Strategy for 2015, the brand went on to deliver a healthy set of results for the year.

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“We analysed Eterna’s past, present and future with a new team and built a three-year strategy, unveiled at Basel 2016, with a view to restoring Eterna back to its rightful place among the most prestigious brands on the international stage, with true watch-making credentials, a pioneering history and craftsmanship second to none,” he enthuses.

But Robert keeps his feet firmly on the ground, recalling the invaluable wisdom he has received over the years from those around him – as well as lessons learned from unexpected twists of fate.

Photographed here at the hotel in which his family resided for six months when a major water leak destroyed their brand new, bespoke-built apartment just days after they had moved in, Robert says he has learned to focus on “controlling the controllables”.

“It was a stark reminder of how fragile life can be – switching from euphoria to misery in a flash of a moment and at the hands of forces out of our control.”

One thing that most certainly is within his control, however, is the success of Eterna – which, as its name suggests, has a long future ahead of it.

“My key business objective for the next few years is to complete the phoenix-like rise from the ashes of this grande dame of the Swiss watch industry. If 2015 was the year for taxi-ing the aircraft to the runway, 2016 is the year for take-off, and 2017 is the year of sustaining a steady cruise at 36,000 feet,” he smiles.

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