Management Turmoil in Swiss Watchmaking as CEOs Depart


Hautlence co-founder and chief executive Guillaume Tetu is the latest in a string of departures from prominent watch brands in the last quarter, a consequence of the slowdown in the luxury watch business.

Eleven years after he helped establish the brand, Hautlence chief executive Guillaume Tetu is leaving to join the Ralph Lauren Watch & Jewelry Co. as the head of products. Tetu follows Pierre Jacques, Emmanuel Vuille and Jean-Marc Jacot, the former leaders of De Bethune, Greubel Forsey and Parmigiani respectively, all of whom have recently moved on for various reasons – within the last two quarters. Most prominent amongst the recent departures was that of Cartier‘s Stanislas de Quercize, who was reportedly suffering from “burn-out”. Personnel changes are happening not just at the top level but also below. Davide Cerrato, one of the key people behind the rejuvenated Tudor, is joining Montblanc to lead its watch division, taking over from Alexander Schmiedt. In South-East Asia the mantle of regional chief at Montblanc and the Swatch Group has been passed on within the last six months, with similar scenes playing out in the regions. These changes are part of a trend, as watch companies adjust to the slowdown that looks like it’s going to last. New captains often want a new crew after all. The impact on watch buyers is manifold, with the most likely being a shift towards more affordable products, the watch industry’s favourite tactic at the moment. A new boss, however, might steer a company in a wholly different direction, something that might not please existing clients or enthusiasts. Case in point: TAG Heuer, under Jean-Claude Biver, went from US$400,000 double tourbillon chronographs to the US$1500 smartwatch.   You may not be able to please everyone, but you can at least keep your job.

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