The Board of Directors and the General Management of Rolex SA express their deep sorrow on the passing of Patrick Heiniger, former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the company, in Monaco after a long illness. They would like to pay tribute to the memory of a man who marked the history of the company when he presided over its destiny from 1992 to 2008, and extend their sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Throughout his 16 years as head of the company, Patrick Heiniger was the faithful heir to the spirit of enterprise that has made Rolex an exceptional brand. He combined tradition with the demands of an ever-evolving world and his vision brought the company solidly into the third millennium.
Patrick Heiniger was appointed Managing Director of Rolex in 1992, six years after he joined as Commercial Director. He was also named Chief Executive Officer in 1997. As the company’s third Managing Director since it was founded, he followed his father, André J. Heiniger, who in 1963 had succeeded Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex.
Born in Argentina in 1950, Patrick Heiniger was a lawyer by training, specializing in international and intellectual property law. He made it his mission to reinforce the defence of the brand throughout the world.
Under his impetus, in the mid-1990s Rolex made a fundamental strategic choice and opted for the vertical integration of its means of production. This strategy was intended to guarantee control over manufacturing of the essential components of the brand’s watches and thus to ensure its autonomy.
Rolex decided to group at three industrial sites all of its activities located in the canton of Geneva. This step was designed to reinforce the quality of its products while remaining true to the best watchmaking tradition. The vast vertical integration programme led to the construction of new, state-of-the-art production facilities at Rolex headquarters at Acacias, at Plan-les-Ouates and at Chêne-Bourg in the 2000s, as well as at Bienne in north-western Switzerland, where a new extension building was inaugurated in October 2012.
As a true independent watchmaker of the 21st century, enjoying unprecedented freedom in the design and manufacture of its watches, Rolex could take its ambition for excellence and innovation to new heights.
In 2002, Patrick Heiniger created the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, dedicated to helping promising young artists realize their full potential under the watchful eye of a renowned mentor in their discipline.
That same year, he was awarded the insignia of Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honour and, in 2005, he was appointed Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.
Patrick Heiniger retired from the helm of Rolex in December 2008.