We Asked 10 Watch CEOs What They’re Most Looking Forward To In 2021

We Asked 10 Watch CEOs What They’re Most Looking Forward To In 2021

Their No. 1 answer? Returning to face-to-face interactions ASAP.

By Victoria Gomelsky

Over the past year, Swiss watch executives have become masters of digital engagement. From leading press conferences over Zoom to FaceTiming and WhatsApping with their VIP clients, they’ve channeled the time and resources they used to spend on flying around the world into tightly focused digital sessions mandated by lockdowns and social distancing guidelines. But that doesn’t mean the Swiss are content to keep things virtual.

How do we know? We asked 10 luxury watch brand chief executives (including one retailer, WEMPE US’s Rudy Albers) one question:

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

Virtually all of the CEOs we talked to acknowledged that their sincerest wish this year is to hit the road again (a hope that goes hand-in-hand with putting the pandemic firmly in the rearview mirror). As Edouard Meylan, CEO of H. Moser & Cie., told Watchonista, “I can’t wait to travel again and see new faces.” 

Here’s to their wishes (and ours) coming true sooner rather than later.

Jean-Marc Pontroué, Panerai

“In 2021, I’m looking forward to seeing our clients, partners, and employees in person, all together, around the world. We have made great efforts to stay connected during this time, but there is no replacement for meeting someone for a coffee and having a chat face to face. 

“The vibrancy of traveling to different markets that bring on inspiration, excitement, and collaboration is also something I’m very much looking forward to.”

Chabi Nouri, Piaget

“What I am most looking forward to in 2021 is to rapidly have a safe sanitary situation. I am looking forward to living an intense social life with actual social interactions and less virtual ones. To be closer to the Piaget Society!

“I can’t wait to start traveling and meeting our community, our colleagues, our friends and family around the world. Hopefully, we will keep all the lessons learned in 2020 to build a more robust and positive future.”

Davide Traxler, Parmigiani Fleurier

“We are cautiously optimistic on 2021 as we are excited by the full-year rollout of the GT collection as well as the launch of our partnership with Armani. The last quarter of 2020 was very positive, and the indicators are positive.”

Julien Tornare, Zenith

“We are looking forward to this new year of opportunities. 2020 brought unprecedented challenges for the industry and the world as a whole, and we are excited to turn a new page.

“Later this month, we will be presenting our latest releases during the LVMH virtual watch week. One, in particular, has been in development for many years, and we are thrilled to finally be able to share it with watch aficionados around the world.”

Christoph Grainger-Herr, IWC Schaffhausen

“In 2021, I am looking forward to finally reconnecting with our clients and partners and enjoying our shared passion for mechanical watchmaking together. Face-to-face conversations, relationships, shared experiences, travel, finding inspiration, exchanging ideas – that is the foundation of creativity and emotion, vital to our world of watchmaking.

“Let’s hope that the beauty and ingenuity of what we do can play a small part in bringing a sense of hope and joy back to the world in the wake of this devastating pandemic. But first, we need to keep working together to beat the virus for good.”

Georges Kern, Breitling

“That more than 60 percent of the population gets vaccinated by Q3, at the latest.”

Edouard Meylan, H. Moser & Cie.

“A lot of people have discovered Moser, especially in the U.S. – it’s amazing how we grew in the pandemic. I’m looking forward to, hopefully, meeting people, showing them a little bit of the future of Moser, teasing them, chatting with them.

“I’m really missing that – getting feedback from the market and feeling the pulse.”

George Bamford, Bamford Watch Department

“In 2021, I am looking forward to traveling again, seeing my good friends at the watch brands in Switzerland, and hanging out with them.”

Rüdiger Albers, President, WEMPE US

“WEMPE has been able to stay operational by working in separate teams, so I have not seen the other half of our New York employees other than through Zoom since March of last year. The wonderful chemistry and team spirit that is so unique to WEMPE is still alive despite the separation, but I think I speak for all team members when I say: We miss each other! “

Of course, what we miss most is hosting in-person events where passionate watch enthusiasts meet like-minded collectors, toast, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company. Virtual events are a nice distraction but don’t replace the basic need for human interaction.

“Last but not least: We will soon have our online store go live, which finally allow our clients a website experience that complements the in-store experience.”

Maximilian Büsser, MB&F

“Like everyone, I am hoping we will get COVID under control and return to a form of normality. MB&F-wise, I am so looking forward to an intensely creative year – amongst the launches, there will be two totally new calibers and lots of other surprises!”

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