Prefacing answers with proclamations of “Absolutely”, “Sure”, or “Of course!”, Zenith CEO Julien Tornare fields our questions like a man bent on taking all comers – and one who is supremely confident that he’d come out on top, regardless of where the probe leads.
Tornare has every reason to feel assured. In the two years that he has taken over the helm at Zenith – a hot-potato position for his predecessors, given the huge expectations for a brand perceived to be one of Switzerland’s most eminent watch companies – he has given the erstwhile lukewarm brand an adrenaline shot to get it humming again.
From implementing the series production of a pioneering new, avant-garde high-frequency oscillator in the Defy Innovation collection, to overseeing the successful 50th-anniversary celebration of the legendary El Primero movement (and its hugely popular commemorative editions), the 46-year-old has had a busy and auspicious start to his Zenith career. Handpicked by LVMH’s president of watches Jean-Claude Biver, no less, Tornare is aware of the work that lays ahead despite the storming off the blocks. Zenith is a 154-year-old brand, after all, he says, and to maintain a culture of innovation and progressiveness is no small feat.
Speaking to CROWN at the Zenith ‘A Star Through Time’ exhibition in August, however, Tornare appears in a reflective mood as he takes stock of the recent accelerated developments and offers his take on taking the company into the future.
Let start with the El Primero chronograph movement, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. What does this mean to Zenith?
The El Primero is more than just a movement now. It is a philosophy, a school of thought. It is also ingrained in Zenith’s very own DNA.
What did you learn most about how the El Primero relates to the company?
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