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GOOD CRISIS: Zenith

Zenith

Jean-Claude Biver has an uncanny knack of appointing brilliant CEOs.

Jean-Frédéric Dufour, who has taken Rolex into the stratosphere since moving from Zenith, and Ricardo Guadalupe, who has turned Hublot from nothing into $640 million success since joining almost 17 years’ ago, are both his protégés.

Mr Biver’s final appointment before retiring was Julien Tornare to run Zenith, and he has turned out to be just the man to carry the company through this crisis.

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With sales of around $69 million in 2019 (up 11% YoY), Zenith is more nimble and has more license to innovate than LVMH stablemates Bulgari, TAG Heuer and Hublot.

Mr Tornare is a natural communicator, and held several online video chats with journalists and open sessions with customers during lock down.

When Zenith’s manufacturing and service team went back to work in early May, Mr Tornare prowled the workshops wearing a mask to make sure everybody was comfortable with the safety procedures put in place to protect them.

Zenith’s mission is to draw on its legendary history but use today’s manufacturing and design techniques to create a new story and it started the year well with an extensive launch of new watches at LVMH Watch Week in January including a broad family of Elite dress watches.

The company’s heritage is best seen in its El Primero A384 Revival watch that launched in 2019 and became an instant best seller.

This year’s version, the CHF 8,400 Chronomaster Revival Shadow, is even better as a thoroughly modern titanium watch with a microblasted finish giving it a moody stealth bomber feel.

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder