Jeane-Claude Biver – Tag Heuer
Jeane-Claude Biver is an institution in the watch making industry. He is best known for saving Hublot from the brinks of collapse. However he has revolutionised watch brands on more than one occasion.
Jeane-Claude Biver has a career which spans more than 40 years and has worked either directly or in-directly with all of the leading brands during that time.
What comes across in Jean-Claude’s interviews is his genuine passion for Swiss watchmaking and his ambition to see it thrive long into the future. He has dedicated his entire life to building up brands, helping them to have the courage to innovate and not get lost in the dust.
When asked about Smart watches and whether he thinks they pose any threat to Luxury watches his response is that Smart watches are the best marketing tool one could hope for.
It’s this kind of leadership & passion which makes Jeane-Claude Biver the best man to kick off our list of 4 influential CEOs.
George Kern – Breitling
George Kern definitely deserves a mention in this list. Before joining Breitling he was at IWC so has been in the watch industry for a while. What’s refreshing about his approach is that he wants to bring Breitling into the current age by redefining the brands values and aligning them with the modern world. Archaic sexist adverts like this one:
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Need to be long gone (in George’s own words). He also wants to put a greater focus on the mechanical movements, developing in-house expertise and placing less focus on quartz and movements purchased elsewhere.
It seems George is shifting the brand to one which focuses on craftsmanship and ingenuity giving the brand more depth than it did previously. Historically Breitling has been a very masculine brand, George plans to keep the spirit of adventure but infuse it with integrity and modern values.
Catherine Renier – Jaeger LeCoultre
Catherine Reiner is quick to dismiss that being female and CEO of a luxury watch brand makes her any different from any of the male CEO’s. However, in a very male dominated industry, and a very male dominated role it does make her unique.
Female CEO’s represent between 5-10% of the top companies in the world, so in our opinion, by taking this role Catherine is changing the course of history.
She wouldn’t have got the role at one of the most prestigious watch companies in horology without some serious talent & strong ethics. Catherine has both of those in abundance.
Her rhetoric is very much like Jean-Claude Biver, it’s the passion, the tradition & the craftsmanship that makes the industry so special for her.
Where Catherine really stands out as a CEO is her long term view. She speaks of preserving more than she does of growth. Jaeger Le-Coultre has a long history of impressive work & it should be kept alive and strong.
Part of this is to embrace technology but not without thought for the past, the heritage & a deep connection between the brand and the customer must come first.
Nicolas Baretzki – Montblanc
To finish this list off we want to mention Nicolas Baretzki of Montblanc. Steering the helm of Montblanc, Nicolas speaks regularly about philanthropy and giving back.
The watch industry may have started out with humble beginnings, but no-one can ignore the capitalist machine it has turned into.
Nicolas is pushing for brands to stick philanthropy at the forefront of what they set out to achieve. Philanthropy makes good business sense since many consumers are looking for this too.
Nicolas Baretzki has also seen the opportunity for Montblanc to take part in the conversation about connection. Luxury brands are not throw away brands. You don’t purchase a luxury watch without consideration & reflection, this is part of the excitement & wonder of the luxury world.
Baretzki is encouraging people to take a moment to step back, reflect and see a wider view point than the day to day rush of life. A millennial message which brings Montblanc firmly into the present moment.
That’s our list of the top CEO’s in the luxury world right now! We are excited to be a part of this industry & be here to see the shifts that are already happening.