Zenith CEO Julien Tornare On Lessons From The Pandemic
How has the pandemic impacted Zenith?
It has definitely forced us to develop new ways of working but almost immediately we found ways we can still be efficient, despite being restricted to our homes. On a personal level, it’s been hard because I like meeting people, so while we’ve been successful at digitising the company, not being able to meet collectors is something I’ve missed.
What have you learnt over the last year?
One big learning curve for us was e-commerce, which we had initially intended to develop over the next 18 months. Of course, because of the pandemic, we had to master it over just 18 days—my team has been super-fast. I wouldn’t describe it as pleasant but we successfully started e-commerce for Europe in June and the US in July.
Why are watchmakers so hesitant to go digital?
We always knew we’d have to adapt and step up our e-commerce investment but, you know, Swiss people and the Swiss watchmaking industry can be very conservative. For most people, the idea that we should be selling such beautiful timepieces online sounded almost vulgar. But we’ve since realised that e-commerce does work for our industry.
Tell us about the new Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Silver.
I love the silver dial on this watch. I’ve always wanted to use silver because it’s a material that hasn’t been used in watchmaking for a long time. Silver really reminds me of old pocket watches. My only concern was how we could avoid the ageing of silver, which could have made the dial look black and rusty, almost dirty, so we worked on some special treatments to prevent the dial from ageing the wrong way. I love this chronograph because it reminds me of an old plane. You know how they have that silver colour? This watch is very cool and it’s unique: how many people can say they own a watch in silver?
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