September was a tough month for watch executives, and not just because of the continuing slump in sales. A small army of top executives – three worldwide CEOs, and five U.S. ones – resigned or were fired.
Fabian Krone has left his CEO post at A. Lange and Söhne and been replaced, on an interim basis, by Jerzy Schaper, the brand’s COO. The company is looking for a permanent CEO. Also gone: Baume and Mercier’s CEO, Michel Nieto, who had held the post since 2002. His successor is Alain Zimmermann, former head of marketing at IWC Schaffhausen, which, like Baume and Mercier, is owned by the Richemont Group.
Fabian Krone (left) and Michel Nieto
Both management changes follow a recent restructuring of Richemont’s watch operations. That restructuring gave Jérôme Lambert, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre, oversight also of A. Lange & Söhne, with that brand’s CEO reporting to him. The restructuring also gave oversight of Baume and Mercier to Georges Kern, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen, with the Baume and Mercier chief, now Zimmermann, reporting to him.
In the meantime, the Swatch Group’s Jaquet Droz brand also lost its worldwide CEO, Manuel Emch. He had held the post since 2001. The Swatch Group has not announced a successor.
Watch companies’ U.S. operations saw an even greater wave of departures. Frédéric de Narp, head of Cartier’s North American business, resigned effective Sept. 11. Although Cartier has not confirmed it, sources say his replacement is Emmanuel Perrin, who had been U.S. head of fellow Richemont brand Van Cleef and Arpels. (Perrin’s move to Cartier seems apt: his uncle, Alain-Dominique Perrin, was Cartier’s worldwide chief from the 1970s through the late ’90s, when he became head of all of Richemont – he has since left − and is credited with turning Cartier into the watch powerhouse it is today.)
Manuel Emch (left) and Frédéric de Narp
Also at Richemont, Ronny Wolfgang announced that he will be leaving his post as head of the Roger Dubuis brand in this country, but will remain a few months to ensure a smooth transition for his successor, who has yet to be announced.
Ron Jackson has left his post as U.S. president of the Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard brands, both owned by Gino Macaluso. He had been with the company for 15 years. No announcement has been made, but sources say Jackson will be replaced by Marcia Mazzocchi, former head of U.S. operations for A. Lange & Söhne and, before that, for IWC Schaffhausen.
Ron Jackson and Marcia Mazzocchi
Zenith’s U.S. chief, Paul Ziff, has also left. He will not be replaced: instead, Zenith’s marketing functions will be transferred to the company’s headquarters in Switzerland and only U.S. sales operations will continue to be based here. They’ll be headed by Alain Huy, who will hold the title of brand director. Zenith is owned by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
Lastly (actually, most likely not), Corum’s U.S. chief, Michael Wunderman will, at the end of October, be leaving his post. Corum’s worldwide CEO, Antonio Calce, will serve as interim U.S. president until he hires a new one, the company said. Wunderman’s resignation follows the acquisition of Corum’s U.S. distributor, Corum USA LLC, by the Corum company in Switzerland, Montres Corum Sarl. Wunderman (who is the son of Corum’s former owner, the late Severin Wunderman) owned the American distribution company with two partners, Johnny and Steven Wizman. The three also own the W Luxury Group, the North American distributor of the Franc Vila watch brand. W Luxury will continue to market that brand.