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20th Anniversary
Zenith - Julien Tornare

Zenith Julien Tornare

CEO*

January 2000 marked the start of a whole new chapter for Julien Tornare; having gained some initial commercial experience with Raymond Weil, he took the helm of Vacheron Constantin’s Swiss market during a very buoyant period. There, he learned all the ins and outs of managing a booming brand and discovered the particular characteristics of a multicultural country – one that he saw as a kind of test lab for the world market as a whole. In 2004, at the age of just 32, he was put in charge of Vacheron Constantin in the US, where the brand was struggling. Within the space of a few months, he won the trust of key retailers, rebuilding a network that he managed to motivate and train by dint of a daily presence on the ground. His relentless and methodical approach earned him the support of the outlets, where sales increased fourfold over five years – and the attention of the industry. He was recalled to headquarters in 2009 to be involved in international redeployment, familiarising himself with Latin America and the Middle East as he did so – but aiming for Asia. And as things turned out, he was entrusted with the position of Asia-Pacific director when it fell vacant in early 2011. When Julien arrived in Hong Kong, his role consisted in developing a strong brand image, in particular by opening stores (15 in six years) and expanding human resources (from 80 to 200 employees). He professionalised his teams, emphasising CRM, quality, and in-house after-sales, as well as digital transformation. He was especially impressed by the hard-working, close-knit, resilient Chinese culture.

Julien Tornare

Julien Tornare © Zenith

Then in early 2017, he received a call from Jean-Claude Biver, who had noticed his work in the US and asked him to come and apply the same approach to Zenith. The brand had always been close to Julien’s heart, and the prospect of working with such a watchmaking genius was very appealing to him. The new CEO established a three-year roadmap with LVMH to get Zenith back on track, redefining the fundamentals and onboarding the vital skills implied by the task. In 2019, Tornare made outstanding use of the 50th anniversary of the El Primero calibre to revitalise the brand, thus fulfilling a commitment to organic growth. Zenith was indeed well-prepared for the decade to come.

*On the occasion of GMT Magazine and WorldTempus' 20th anniversary, we have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years in watchmaking in The Millennium Watch Book, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English, with a 10% discount if you use the following code: WT2021.

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