I usually highlight timepieces here by presenting you my top five or ten in a specific category. But today I want to present my top three CEOs, the men behind some of these watches.
There would be no watch on the market without them. These entrepreneurs and/or CEOs and/or managers are the driving forces for any positive development or upcoming disaster in this very specific industry. Some of them are real movers and shakers, some act more quietly and there are also very few I don´t even want to mention here.
It was not easy for me to determine just three top managers, since for years now many of them definitively do a perfect job. Please have a closer look how the Swiss watch industry performs and what kind of strong position Swiss-made-watches today have in the distinctive world of luxury.
I took my time, I recalled my personal impressions of the year 2014 and I thought about it… The longer I thought about it, the more I only had three CEOs in mind.
I again thought about it carefully and in the end it was their achievements and their charisma that made me come to the conclusion that in alphabetical order, since this is no ranking, Jean-Claude Biver, Nick Hayek and Jérôme Lambert are my top three CEOs of the year 2014.
Let me now in alphabetical order present you my top movers and shakers:
Jean-Claude Biver, 65
CEO LVMH watch division
All of you of course know Jean-Claude Biver. What a charismatic manager! I have been regularly writing about him and I have conducted several very emotional interviews with him, which by the way I recommend you to listen to, if you have not yet done it. Jean-Claude Biver was asked by LVMH Group Chairman Bernard Arnault early this year to take over the lead of the LVMH watch division. Since then his personal tour de force is a one of a kind. There was and is nothing Jean-Claude Biver did not rethink and question. He takes nothing as granted and pushes his collaborators and teams to new frontiers. Since TAG Heuer CEO Stephane Linder resigned he is also taking care himself of all financial and communication/marketing activities of TAG Heuer. He also plays a dominant role at Zenith, despite the fact the brand has his own CEO. But also Hublot, his baby, is constantly under his supervision. Yes, Jean-Claude Biver´s tour de force is a one of a kind, please forgive me if I write: the man works like an elephant! And don’t forget, that with the age of 65 he could already take his well-deserved rest. Believe me he has money enough. Jean-Claude Biver is driven by passion, not by money! I am sure he will be able to reap the fruits of his labours in 2015 and you will, as always, be among the first ones to read the stories.
Well done! Dear Jean-Claude Biver I wish you all the best for 2015!
Nick Hayek, 60
CEO Swatch Group
Nick Hayek leads the biggest group of the Swiss Watch Industry with a turnover of 8,8 Billion Swiss Francs and a net profit of 1,9 Billion Swiss Francs in 2013. The degree of Swatch Group´s verticalisation is just stunning. Nick Hayek always acts like a courageous and clever entrepreneur, he buys and invests in new manufacturing facilities to steadily extend the range and to improve the quality of his products. I like his keen approach to all the segments of this industry. Swatch Group offers you a good deal from Swatch to Breguet and all of these timepieces are Swiss made and built in-house. The Swatch Group earns money by producing huge quantities and not by just selling some luxury watches for very high prices. The daily challenge to successfully be a mass producer is the same as to “just” assemble some hundred or thousand high-end watches. Swatch Group brands like Longines, Tissot, Certina, Mido and Hamilton prove that one can buy a good Swiss-made-wristwatch for only little money. I also like Nick Hayek since he speaks out what others not even dare to think about. Recently he criticized competitors for laying-off part of their workforce just because their business slowed down a little bit. He said: “This is shareholder-driven and has nothing to do with the daily reality in Switzerland; it´s because of the casino mentality at stock exchanges that companies act this way.” Nick Hayek and his sister Nayla, who is the Chairwomen of the Board of Directors of the Swatch Group, today successfully continue the oeuvre of their father Nicolas G. Hayek, who died in 2010.
Well done! Dear Nick Hayek I wish you all the best for 2015!
Jérôme Lambert, 45
Jérôme Lambert has already shown with Jaeger-LeCoultre what he is able to do. Before being appointed the new CEO of Montblanc he had developed Jaeger-LeCoultre to become one of the big players in high watchmaking. Today Jaeger-LeCoultre is in a league where only a few Swiss manufacturers can play. Now being the new CEO at Montblanc for one and a half years he has again shown how to push a brand to new frontiers. In only short time he has launched a complete new watch collection with an incredible price-quality-ratio. He has started a democratisation of high-watchmaking complications as not seen before. Offering a state of the art perpetual calendar in a steel case for only 10.000 Euro really shocked some of his competitors. Guys, I know already what Montblanc will present during the SIHH in January 2014 and I can tell you this will be the next watch industry tsunami. But Jérôme Lambert did not only change and innovate the watch collections at Montblanc, he did not leave one stone unturned and literally re-launched the entire brand. Jérôme Lambert sets the pace and who is not willing to follow has no future at Montblanc. I am convinced that he will very soon reach a turnover of more then one Billion Euro with Montblanc and he will thereby achieve his first big goal. On a more long-term perspective I assume Jérôme Lambert will take over the lead of Compagnie Financière Richemont SA and then be the CEO of all its luxury brands; today this position is co-shared by Bernard Fornas and Richard Lepeu.
Well done! Dear Jérôme Lambert I wish you all the best for 2015!