When two of the longest serving chief executives in Richemont’s stable of brands (namely Vacheron Constantin and Piaget) were retired earlier this year, speculation intensified that Panerai boss Angelo Bonati would soon step down. Mr Bonati reached retirement age in 2016, and has led Panerai for a remarkable 17 years, being the first and only chief executive of the brand since Richemont bought it in 2000.
Now it is official, according to an internal Richemont announcement earlier this week: come April 1, 2018, Jean-Marc Pontroue will become the next chief executive of Panerai, the watchmaker best known for its military inspired Luminor and Radiomir watches. Credited with having grown sales at Panerai some 20-fold and turning it into a global luxury brand, the 66-year old Mr Bonati will stay on for a few months to help with the transition.
Chief executive of Roger Dubuis since 2012, Mr Pontroue’s move is a major promotion, given that Panerai is a significantly larger company, with annual sales of SFr450m, compared to just SFr80m at Roger Dubuis, according to estimates by Swiss bank Vontobel.
Well regarded by insiders at Richemont, Mr Pontroue will report to Emmanuel Perrin, recently appointed head of distribution for Richemont’s watchmaking brands. However, according to insiders, Mr Perrin, a Richemont lifer whose uncle was once the president of Cartier, will eventually become chief of the watchmaking division, taking over the post vacated by Georges Kern.
While still enjoying strong sales and one of the best margins amongst Richemont watch brands, Panerai has lost some of its allure amongst diehard collectors (the “Paneristi”) in recent years. Consequently Mr Pontroue’s direction for the brand will certainly be one worth keeping an eye on.
Correction December 22, 2017: Mr Pontroué’s last name was misspelled in an earlier version of the article. We regret the error.Back to top.