Breaking News: Jaeger-LeCoultre Gets a New, Female CEO

Catherine Alix-Renier, formerly the chief of VC&A in Asia.

Jaeger-LeCoultre, the Swiss watchmaker that’s been without a leader for almost a year, will get a new boss come May 1, according to Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post. The incoming chief executive is Catherine Alix-Renier, currently the President of jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels’ Asia-Pacific division.

It’s a promotion for Ms Alix-Renier, while keeping things within Richemont, the Swiss group that owns both Jaeger-LeCoultre and Van Cleef & Arpels. Ms Alix-Renier takes over from Daniel Riedo, who left the top job at Jaeger-LeCoultre early last year in a surprise announcement. In the interim, Jaeger-LeCoultre was led by deputy chief executive Geoffrey LeFebvre.

The lack of a chief executive led to some drift at Jaeger-LeCoultre, the biggest maker of watch movements in Richemont. Estimated by Swiss bank Vontobel to have an annual revenue of about SFr680m, Jaeger-LeCoultre has in recent years fallen behind its historical rival and peer IWC, which has outpaced it in revenue and growth.

Manufacture Jaeger-LeCoutlre Le Sentier factory

The expansive Jaeger-LeCoultre complex, which is the biggest factory in Le Sentier.

Ms Alix-Renier becomes the second female chief executive at Richemont, after Chabi Nouri at Piaget, which makes jewellery and watches. More significantly, she becomes the first female head of a major haute horlogerie watchmaker, traditionally a male dominated industry that also caters predominantly to male clients.

This is unsurprising, given Richemont chairman Johann Rupert’s pronouncement at the year-end investor meeting in November 2016: “I want to see less grey men, less grey Frenchmen” at the top of the group. Last year Richemont shook up its board, appointing several tech executives and women.

Like many other senior managers in Richemont, Ms Alix-Renier began her career at Cartier in 1999, after an MBA at Boston College, according to her LinkedIn profile. She then moved to Van Cleef & Arpels in 2003, and spent the next 15 years climbing the ranks.

Source: South China Morning Post

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Up Close with the Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8

The most compelling ceramic Speedy, with a customised cal. 1861 to boot.

Launched five years ago, the all-ceramic Dark Side of the Moon (DSOTM) is one of the most definitive Omega Speedmasters of this generation. Back then the idea of an blacked-out Speedy would have seemed like an attempt to turn a tired workhorse trendy. But it wasn’t just a black-coated Moon Watch, instead the original DSOTM had a ceramic case, dial and even buckle, as well as a top of the line automatic chronograph movement, making for a confoundingly magnificent watch.

Its success had since spawned many, many other Speedmaster “Sides of the Moon”, perhaps too many for a traditionalist, though those were all variations of the same watch. This year, to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Apollo 8 mission – the first manned craft to orbit the Moon – Omega unveiled a special edition DSOTM that delivers a host of meaningful tweaks for a substantively different “side”. Though the new Speedmaster retains all the signature design features, and movement of the Moon Watch, the Apollo 8 is a completely different beast. In fact, it’s a major twist on the original Moon Watch, a Speedmaster that takes the Moon landing association lightly.

Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8

In keeping with the DSOTM series, the Apollo 8 still has the same 44.25mm zirconium oxide ceramic case. Though it’s significantly larger than the Moon Watch, the size is not apparent due to the dark colour of the case and dial.

Practically everything on the outside is ceramic, including the bezel, crown, pushers and case back. The ceramic is sharply finished, with alternating brushed and mirrored polishing, giving it a precise surface that resembles metal. But that’s where the similarities end.

Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 3

Unlike earlier DSOTM Speedmasters which were powered by the two-register, Co-Axial calibre 9300, the Apollo 8 Speedmaster houses the old school, hand-wound cal. 1861 (derived from the Lemania 1873), the same movement found in the current iteration of the classic Moon Watch. But while the mechanics remain the same, it has been specially decorated for the Apollo 8, and christened the cal. 1869.

Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 - 8

Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 5

The most distinctive change, however, is the skeletonised dial, revealing the movement’s blackened main plate – matched with blackened screws – itself also open-worked and decorated via a process of laser ablation (removing the surface of a material via a laser) to achieve a topologically accurate surface of the Moon; basically a miniature replica of the Moon on the dial. And the relief Omega and Speedmaster on the dial are also executed with laser ablation.

The same has been done for the bridges and main plate visible on the back, which replicate the other side of the lunar surface. The landscape of craters on the dial is a slightly lighter tone of black, depicting the Moon as seen from Earth, while the bridges on the back are one hue darker, intended to represent the dark side of the Moon.

Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 7

The watch also enjoys some striking yellow accents and a perforated strap that plays to the chronograph’s inherent association with auto-racing, had it not gone to the Moon. In fact, the black and yellow colour scheme is reminiscent of the Michael Schumacher “Racing” Speedmasters of the 1990s.

Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 2

The hands, hour indices and bezel markings are filled with Super-LumiNova.

More importantly, along with having a hand-wound movement that’s slimmer than the automatic in the other DSOTM watches, the Apollo 8 does away with the “box-type” sapphire crystals found on its cousins, which reduces its overall thickness to just 13.8mm – 2.5mm slimmer than the other DSOTM watches.

Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 6

In a final nod to the Apollo 8 mission, the ceramic case back is engraved with mission date as well as the immortal words the mission’s command module pilot, Jim Lovell, uttered just as the spacecraft disappeared behind the Moon: “We’ll see you on the other side.”

Price and Availability

Despite the unusual features, the Apollo 8 edition is not a limited edition, being part of the regular collection just like the other DSOTM Speedmasters.

The Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 (ref. 311. is priced at US$9750 or S$13,550, and will reach stores September 2018.


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