Claudine Herzog - Uli Herzog - Rolf Studer


Text: Gisbert L. Brunner

An overview of the personnel merry-go-round in the watch industry in 2015

When I heard that Davide Cerrato had left Tudor, naturally I wondered where this ever stylish gentleman would turn up next. On November 19 2015 we found out that the Vice President of Marketing, Design and Product Development, whom Tudor have so much to thank for their current success, would become Managing Director of the new watch division at Montblanc in Le Locle as of December 1 2015 and report directly to Jérôme Lambert. After studying at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD, a private business school in Lausanne), Davide first worked for the confectionery group, Ferrero. I first met him in his capacity as Head of Communications at Panerai. He held that position from 2004 to 2006. He moved to Rolex subsidiary Tudor in Geneva on January 1 2017.

Davide Cerrato, at Montblanc since December 2015 

The new job no doubt represents a huge challenge to Davide as his new boss, Jérôme Lambert, is known to have great expectations. Auguri, Davide!

Davide’s new boss at Tudor: CEO Philippe Peverelli

Davide’s new boss Jérôme Lambert is Alexander Schmiedts old boss

I can also report that the man in charge of product development and global watch strategy at Montblanc, Alexander Schmiedt, from Austria, left the company after 11 years’ service and from February 1 2016 moved over to their sister company, Vacheron Constantin, to take over the running of their Middle East market from Dubai. Alexander told me by telephone that he had long entertained the idea of wanting to gain hands-on experience in watch sales and marketing. A suitable position had now come up with the august Geneva manufacture that he couldn’t say no to. And all I can say to that is I wish you good luck and every success in the Middle East, Alexander!

At Vacheron Constantin with immediate effect: Alexander Schmiedt

Alexander Schmiedt’s new boss: Juan-Carlos “Charly” Torres

Oris - real watches for real people – had a change in management as of January 1 2016. After 33 years at the helm, co-owner Uli Herzog will now focus on his position as Chairman of the Oris Group. Uli came to Oris in 1978, at the height of the quartz crisis. In 1982, he was part of the management buy-out and successfully positioned the firm as a manufacturer of mechanical watches only.

The current Vice President Rolf Studer and Claudine Gertiser-Herzog will continue to co-manage the company. Uli Herzog’s daughter, a successful businesswoman, has been a member of the board of directors at Oris since 2005. Rolf studied law and has been with Oris for ten years. In future he will be responsible for global sales, international marketing and product and supply chain management.

Claudine and Uli Herzog, Rolf Studer (right)

On the subject of the changes at the helm of the company, Uli had the following to say: “I can look back on many exciting, challenging, rewarding years in the development of Oris. In Rolf and Claudine we have two passionate, motivated leaders. I’m sure that this rejuvenated management team at Oris leaves us in a stronger position going forward.”

All the best to Uli, Claudine and Rolf in their new roles. I look forward to seeing you in Zermatt soon.

I have already reported here on the long-expected change at the head of Cartier. The news hit the industry like a bombshell when it became public on November 6 2015. Stanislas de Quercize, who had moved from Van Cleef & Arpels to Cartier in early 2012, had resigned as CEO for personal reasons. He will now be at the helm of Richemont’s French branch. We weren’t told any more than that but insiders spoke of massive burn-out which had already kept Stanislas de Quercize away from the office for some time. Nor had he attended Watches & Wonders in Hong Kong.

Stanislas de Quersize

In the meantime his predecessor and one of the two Richemont CEOs, Bernard Fornas, has taken over his role.

Richemont chairman Johann Rupert expressed great regret at the resignation: “My colleagues on the Supervisory Board, my management colleagues, all the staff at Richemont and Cartier and I personally thank him for his commitment, work ethic and enthusiasm. We are deeply saddened by his decision to resign but we must accept it.”

Johann Rupert

Richemont Chairman Johann Rupert

Richemont has already found a successor. His name is Cyrille Vigneron, who was still President of LVMH Japan until the end of 2015, so he officially took up his new position on January 1 2016. He knows the Jeweller to Kings inside out thanks to a total of 25 years of service with Richemont (from 1988 to 2013), most recently as the head of Cartier Europe. Johann Rupert commented: “He is an old colleague and a highly competent and effective leader.” There are many challenges awaiting Cyrille Vigneron. Business in China and Hong Kong is no longer a sure-fire success and hasn’t been for some time. And yet the watch division still merits a great amount of attention.

Perhaps Hélène Poulit, the head of international marketing and a member of the Cartier Executive Committee, was a little hasty in leaving the company at the end of August 2015.

Head of Boucheron since September 2015: Helène Poulit

Hélène has been at the helm of the French purveyors of jewellery and watches and Kering-group member Boucheron since the beginning of September 2016. This charming lady’s responsible position sees her reporting direct to Albert Bensoussan.

Albert Bensoussan

This is pure speculation, but if she had stayed she may have had a shot at the top job at Cartier. In any case, this mother of two manages to balance perfectly the uneasy combination of feminine charm and a hard head for business. And that must be one of the reasons for her unparalleled rapid rise through the ranks after her studies at the elite French business school, ESSEC.

She had her degree in the bag by the age of 22 and without even applying immediately secured a staff position at the multinational luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH. After a brief spell at Dior, she moved to Cartier in October 1998. Within 13 years, Hélène, the only woman in a team of self-assured men, had worked her way up into the seven-person leadership ranks. She is axiomatic that one requires steely discipline, clear structures and forward-thinking, with the company’s wellbeing always in mind. With a smile on her face, she readily admits that she is also an incorrigible workaholic, as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

Other members of Cartier staff in leading roles have faded into the background in recent months too. Jean-Marc Jacot’s retirement from Parmigiani Fleurier had long been in the pipeline due to his age

Jean Marc Jacot

Good luck for the future Jean-Marc!

However, it was somewhat surprising that the 66-year-old virtually gave up his day-to-day leadership role overnight. I cannot rule out a link between this and the departure of 30 other colleagues for economic reasons. The question of whether that leadership role will be taken up by someone else remains unanswered. Parmigiani was already headed by an eight-person management committee which Jean-Marc Jacot was part of.

Over at De Bethune, which was founded in 2002, Pierre Jacques handed over the controls in late 2015 after five years at the helm to focus on other tasks. Prior to working there he had been in the media business (GMT watch magazine) and headed the Geneva branch of Les Ambassadeurs.

In mid-September 2015, Chinese company Citychamp Watch & Jewellery Ltd (formerly China Haidian) named Davide Traxler the COO of watch manufacturer Corum. Traxler takes over the management at La Chaux-de-Fonds. He is also in charge of day-to-day business and responsible for international strategic focus. Davide has over 15 years of experience with luxury brands after working for Bulgari and Chopard.

Davide Traxler

And finally Patrick Kury has left Porsche Design Timepieces in Solothurn to tackle new projects, as had been agreed from the outset.

Patrick Kury

Read more
November 2015 The Red Bulletin

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