Change is in the air at Longines. After 32 years with former CEO Walter von Känel at the helm, the Swatch Group-owned brand closes one chapter as it opens the next, one that is to be written by Matthias Breschan, who may be new to Longines but not at all to the Swatch Group.
Breschan has spent nine years as CEO of sister brand Rado, and just before that seven years at Hamilton, bringing a wealth of experience into the top job at Longines. But it’s not so much experience as rejuvenation that the brand now needs.
The company he inherited from von Känel, the indefatigable Swiss army colonel-turned-luxury watch CEO, is the world’s fourth-largest by revenue after Cartier, Omega and Rolex. According to LuxeConsult’s 2018 Morgan Stanley industry report, Longines generated CHF1.65 million (SGD2.45 million) that year, with the same results in 2019.
This year, obviously Longines as much as all other firms within the luxury industry have taken a hit in retail sales as cities worldwide went under lockdown between March and June, along with continued political instability in Hong Kong. But things began to turn around for Longines as quickly as in July.
“In the past two months we have already seen strong signs of recovery. In China, for example, we are in 2020 already above 2019,” Breschan tells Esquire Singapore via email in September.
His appointment in the midst of a pandemic, however, wasn’t a corollary of the crisis wreaked by COVID-19. On the contrary, it was long in the tooth, and if the pandemic did indeed play a role at all, it was only to accelerate plans that were already in place.
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