Its name evokes boundless territories that its symbol, the star, invites to discover. Pushing the limits, living a dream is the credo of the iconic Swiss brand Zenith. More than 150 years ago, George Favre-Jacot had the idea of a « Manufacture » which would allow high-quality watches and instruments to be manufactured in one place. Thanks to the highly qualified watchmakers and the dynamic vision of its CEO, Julien Tornare, the brand has brought the brand back into the forefront of watchmaking.
Active for two decades in the industry, Julien Tornare initially worked at Raymond Weil before spending 17 years at Vacheron Constantin: first as market Head for Switzerland, subsequently as the Brand’s US Director, and finally as Managing Director for Asia-Pacific. At the helm of Zenith since 2017, Julien Tornare has helped the brand to rejuvenate the products as well as its communication and image. Today, he explains Vendom the position of the brand.
Vendom. Jobs – Zenith is one of the most famous Swiss brands regarding innovation and, historically, the first watches firm. How would you define the spirit of the brand?
Julien Tornare – The Zenith mindset is about people who want to achieve things in their life, pushing boundaries and limits. Our brand philosophy is “Time To Reach Your Star”. Since our founder, we have been about being true, authentic, and also super dynamic and innovative. We believe in connecting past, tradition with future and innovation but always keeping us authentic.
V.J. – As CEO, how do you manage to adapt such a heritage to the new innovations while keeping its spirit?
J. T. – It is all about people here again, so I must show the right example and drive these values. If you want your teams to be innovative and push the limits you must be a leader that accepts mistakes. Only people who are doers can sometimes go wrong.
Then of course we must also learn from our mistakes and not repeat them.
V.J. – What do current watch collectors look for, in terms of design, technology, among others?
J. T. – Collectors look first for authenticity. Zenith is one of the very few brands that can confirm that 100% of our watches have a Zenith movement so we are a true and real manufacture.
Then of course they want to feel the spirit and the DNA of the brand. Last but not least, they don’t want to buy brands that are only repeating the past. This is why Zenith mission is to continue to craft the future of Swiss watchmaking.
V.J. – How have you adapted your production during the crisis? Do you think new processes could be sustained?
J. T. – We have been continuing to produce the same way with the highest standards of quality and perfection as Zenith is a long-term brand that crossed already wars and economic crisis but remained focused on building for the future to be here forever. This is the commitment given to our clients.
V.J. – You have a perfect knowledge of Asian and North American markets. As compared to the European market, is there a different approach? During this uncertain period, are they still among your main target markets?
J. T. – Yes, they are, but every market is important. We take care of each and every client in all markets and wherever our clients are coming from.
There are always some cultural specificities, but the world is global and to be a global brand you must be giving attention to everyone. Today, I just did a zoom with an Australian group of clients then I will do the same with some Chinese ones and this afternoon welcome a couple of Swiss collectors in my house (I do it quite often) and will finish with three interviews with US press based on the West Coast. This is a normal day as I give priority to our clients and want to be close to the markets.
Excerpt published in partnership with The Vendom Company.