The head of LVMH watch-making division, Jean-Claude Biver has named Julien Tornare as his pick for the role of CEO for Zenith Watches. Earlier this year, Biver had taken over Zenith watches as interim CEO from Aldo Magada, who had resigned from the position. Back then, Biver had made a commitment to find a new CEO within a six month timeframe, and that commitment has been realised within just three months.
Julien Tornare has been in the watch industry for nearly two decades and has spent the last 17 years at Vacheron Constantin, where there has been recent management changes over at the Richemont brands. Mr. Tornare started at Vacheron Constantin as the market head for Switzerland, and his last post at the brand was as Managing Director for Asia-Pacific, where he personally oversaw growth of boutiques in the region from three to thirteen.
It is by no means an easy task, and Tornare will face an uphill battle at Zenith, where turnover and profits have been declining non-stop since 2014, as we have seen a reoccurring trend across the industry with each major Swiss manufacturer reacting in their own ways to difficult market conditions. It’s also important to note that the famous Jean-Claude Biver is not a patient man, and regarding the departure of Magada, he had said that he had lost “a certain confidence” in the ability of the managing team, which led to strained relations.
Many industry experts and collectors had agreed with Biver in that Zenith had indeed stagnated and failed to live up to its potential in recent years. At this years Baselworld, the release of the Zenith Defy El Primero 21 was met with rave reviews and was seen as a clear sign of the brand’s refresh and possible ‘Biver-ian’ direction going forward. It still remains to be seen, however, how the brand will evolve under the Tornare and Biver leadership and what watches to expect from this new era for Zenith.
Tornare will report directly to Biver and, according to a press release from the brand, will be focusing heavily on the “renewal of Zenith” as well as the development of its markets and marketing activities. It’s undeniable that Zenith is a watch brand with rich history and tradition and it will certainly be interesting to see the what the Tornare and Biver leadership will bring to this iconic Swiss watch manufacture.