François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet, has singled out the creation of the MoonSwatch by Omega and Swatch as one of the great ideas to have come out of the normally conservative and risk-averse Swiss watch industry this year.
The mercurial chief executive, who will step down next year after more than a decade at the helm of AP, believes the watch industry has enormous potential for growth, but has neglected younger customers for far too long and been unambitious and unimaginative.
The export value of the entire Swiss watch industry in 2021 was a record CHF 22 billion, but Mr Bennahmias believes it is dramatically under-performing.
“This is nothing compared to the public’s interest in watchmaking … including the younger generation who were wrongly categorised as uninterested in traditional watchmaking. But we need to change the way the industry promotes itself and stop criticising certain innovative strategies,” he says in an interview with the Switzerland-based Luxury Tribune.
The criticism to which Mr Bennahmias refers is for the MoonSwatch, an inexpensive bioceramic Swatch collection using the design codes of Swatch Group stablemate Omega.
“Their collaboration is a great idea, which does not affect the integrity of Omega at all, contrary to what you may have heard. Why is that? Because it educates the younger generation about the icons of watchmaking,” Mr Bennahmias states.
Elsewhere in the Luxury Tribune interview, Mr Bennahmias hints at what life after Audemars Piguet might look like.
As predicted by WATCHPRO, he says he is very interested in managing and coaching artists or athletes.