Geneva-based Rolex SA is no longer a family affair.
The luxury watchmaker last week named Bruno Meier as head of management, replacing Patrick Heiniger, who retired from his position of managing director and chief executive officer last Tuesday. Heiniger had held the position since 1992, when he took the reins from his father, Andre. The younger Heiniger will continue to be associated with the company in a consulting capacity, but his retirement effectively ends 50 years of the brand being overseen by a member of the Heiniger family.
Press reports after Heiniger’s retirement announcement last week linked his stepping down to involvement with the Bernard L. Madoff affair, which the company denied.
Meier joined Rolex in 2005 as director of finance. He will be responsible for running the luxury Swiss watch firm’s business along with the board of directors and the management of Rolex SA.
The company said the brand saw record sales this year. In June, the company opened a 4,320-square-foot Milan flagship dedicated to the brand, designed by architect Claudio Monti and Rolex’s interior designers. The store houses 200 Rolex styles, plus the $630,000 GMT Ice men’s watch entirely covered in top-quality white diamonds.
But while Rolex remains the world’s largest luxury watch brand, it, like others in the sector, faces significant challenges in the year ahead. The global recession has seen the skyrocketing watch sector come firmly back to earth, even as the high-end segment continues to perform well. Exports of Swiss watches declined 15.3 percent in November, underscoring the vulnerability of the timepiece market to the economic crisis.
Total exports of Swiss watches last month reached 1.52 billion Swiss francs, or $1.43 billion at current exchange, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. The downturn most affected watches made of less expensive materials, including steel watches, which dove 22 percent in the month.
Exports of platinum watches jumped 28 percent, suggesting more expensive pieces continue to fare best in the downturn.
“We are cautious on watch players,” said HSBC analyst Antoine Belge in a note to investors. “We do not know how far consumer behavior in this downturn will resemble that seen on previous occasions, but historical evidence shows that the watch segment has been more vulnerable than other product categories to deterioration in the psychological component of the ‘feel-good’ factor.”
The federation said most markets registered double-digit declines in November, although France, Germany and the United Arab Emirates recorded increases. Watch exports to China remained stable, the federation said.
Exclusive: Nicola Formichetti is parting ways with @diesel after nearly four years. Formichetti, who served as Lady Gaga’s stylist in 2009, joined Diesel in 2013 as creative and artistic director. His first show debuted in Venice with a show held at the Venetian Arsenal. #wwdfashion #wwdnews
The polo shirt - an icon of preppy style - is roaring back into fashion in many creative guises, like this A-line polyester top from @carven, worn with @31philliplim cotton and elastane pants. Designers stretched a fashion classic into all kinds of new permutations this season. See how @mayteallende styled the preppy trend on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📸 : Kinya)
(Market Editors: @andrew_shang and @elmercer, Makeup: @amandawilsonmakeup using @fentybeauty, Hair: @gonn24, Model: @bara_holotova at @women360mgmt)
“I do like period [projects] a lot because I like creating those worlds, a world that is different from today," costume designer Mark Bridges said about the '50s British couture featured in @phantomthread. Bridges created the overall aesthetic and individual fashion looks for the film, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville and Vicky Krieps. Pictured here is a gown he designed for Krieps who plays Alma – the love interest of Day-Lewis' character, Reynolds Woodcock. #wwdfashion
@prada is embracing the holiday season with a series of short movies about the art of gift-giving. "The Postman's Gifts", which was directed by American filmmaker Autumn de Wilde, focuses on the brand's signature Prada Galleria bag and features Elijah Wood as the postman. In the first two episodes, Wood's delivers the iconic bag to @emmaroberts, who plays herself as a movie star, and Sasha Frolova. #wwdfashion
“I think I never met the person while we were working,” Vicky Krieps said of Daniel Day-Lewis, who she plays the love interest of in “Phantom Thread.” Day-Lewis remained perennially in character, so much so that she feels she’s just meeting him now. “It’s interesting to see how different he is in real life to the character,” Krieps said. WWD sat down with the 34-year-old actress to talk about her new role in the period film, which brings the fifties’ gender dynamics into the mix. Read more on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
@gucci has expanded its “Places” project to include six new cities. The initiative, which was first unveiled in July, aims to invite people to explore inspirational locations for the brand. On the list is the Biblioteca Angelica library in Rome pictured here. See the other five new venues on WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @massimo_listri_official)
#ad From tools to lashes, WWD rounded up wellness and beauty products guaranteed to take your skin care and makeup routines to the next level in 2018. Follow along as @laceandleatherbyelyse, @ashnfashn and @elleisalwayshere experiment with these products on their Instagram profiles and blogs. #NewYearBetterYou
Blogger @camilacoelho is one of the fastest growing beauty influencers around the world. The bilingual blogger has worked with brands like @revolve Beauty, @dior, @louisvuitton and more and has an Earned Media Value of $34,338,441, according to @tribedynamics. But Coelho isn’t the only influencer making a major impact — head to WWD.com to see the other fastest-growing influencers in six key global markets. #beautyfridays (📷: @zefashioninsider)