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From Zenith to Rolex - The giant leap of Jean-Frédéric Dufour

From Zenith to Rolex The giant leap of Jean-Frédéric Dufour

At 7.58pm on Monday 14 April 2014, Rolex confirmed with a very short press statement the bolt from the blue that had been resounding through the microcosm of the watch industry since lunchtime, which heralded Jean-Frédéric Dufour, the current CEO of Zenith, as the new managing director of Rolex.

Undoubtedly besieged by newsdesks from all over the world, the green giant with the crown thus decided to react with these two sentences sent to the media: “Rolex confirms the arrival of Jean-Frédéric Dufour, current CEO of Zenith, to ROLEX SA to take over the direction at a date still to be determined, and in agreement with the company’s standing CEO, Gian Riccardo Marini. All other communication will be released in due course.”

This is a big surprise in industry circles, since nobody expected Jean-Frédéric Dufour to leave Zenith in the middle of its resurgence, nor Rolex to change managing director again so soon. Under the influence of the man from Geneva, Zenith had once again started to experience strong growth. One of the symbols of this new direction was Zenith’s sponsorship in 2012 of the fastest man in the world, Felix Baumgartner, the famous adventurer who broke the speed of sound in freefall from a capsule on the edge of space at an altitude of 39,000 metres.

After the stars of Zenith, the loyal captain of Jean-Claude Biver (the boss of LVMH’s watchmaking activities) now sets sail for the crown of Rolex. A yachtsman in his free time, he will undoubtedly be looking forward to attending a few stops on the Rolex circuit, since this brand is one of the most heavily involved in sailing with events on all oceans from January through to December.

In what is either a coincidence in career paths or a genuine acknowledgement of the “Chopard school”, Jean-Frédéric Dufour will be bumping into his former colleague from Chopard, Philippe Peverelli, once again in the corridors, since he heads up Tudor, the other brand in the Rolex group. From Le Locle to Geneva is a small step for a commuter but from Zenith to Rolex is a giant leap for its boss.

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