In January 2017, Jean-Claude Biver announced that he would be acting as interim CEO for Zenith, in addition to staying Head of Watchmaking at LVMH, Chairman of Hublot, and CEO of TAG Heuer. He’s a busy man. At the time, the plan was to find a full time candidate within six months, and now just three months later we’ve got our guy. The news broke today that Julien Tornare is taking over as the top boss at Zenith after spending the last 17 years at Vacheron Constantin.
It is no secret that of the LVMH watch brands Zenith has been having the hardest go of things recently, a fact that pushed Jean-Claude Biver to energetically step in just before SIHH this year. At the time, he told Arthur he had "become impatient, which has led me [Biver] to lose a certain confidence in the ability of the managing team." However, it was always in the cards that his tenure as CEO was limited, giving him the time to find someone with the right profile to turn things around.
Today, it was announced that Biver’s pick is Julien Tornare, a real veteran of the watch industry. Tornare has spent the last 17 years at Vacheron Constantin and worked at Raymond Weil for two years prior to that. Most recently at Vacheron, Tornare was in charge of the 13 boutiques in the Asia Pacific market, which he began after supervising the boutiques in both the Swiss and U.S. market’s. In an article announcing the news (in French), Mr. Tornare fully acknowledges the challenge that he will face at Zenith, where he will start at the beginning of next month. He was careful to stress the asset that Zenith’s history represents though and also mentioned that he’s ready to work in collaboration with Jean-Claude Biver, who has clearly communicated that he will remain deeply involved at Zenith for the foreseeable future.
It will be interesting to see the direction that Zenith takes in the next few months, and the balance that it will find between its historical pieces and the more contemporary designs.