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What Would You Do If You Were The New CEO Of Zenith? This Is What We Would Do . . . | Quill & Pad

Yes, the major focus is on Zenith and its relatively recent issues, but there are some good comments about the industry as a whole.

But the introduction to the discussion is something I want to highlight. This is from Ian Skellern:

I am pessimistic for high-end mechanical watch brands in both the short and medium term, and that's independent of whether the world economy picks up this year or not. I feel that in the quest for ever-increasing profits the larger brands have, and still are, making far more watches than the market can support.

There are and will be a few particularly well managed or just plain lucky brands that will do well, but they will be the exceptions.

Even if things pick up economically, and consumers worldwide grow in both wealth and number, I expect the large brands to do what they have done for the last 20 years: produce too much and continue the boom-bust cycle. That puts pressure on medium-sized brands like Zenith, whose investor (LVMH) is unlikely to be brave enough to keep pouring money into what is likely to look like a bottomless pit.
This also may well explain the *seriously* excessive quantities of uber-expensive watches, especially the high-complication ones. To paraphrase Dr. Strangelove: Mr. Chairman, we cannot allow a tourbillon gap!!!

The other point I liked came later...rationalizing product lines, emphasizing core competencies. This seems potentially a different facet of the same issue...they have one, so we have to have one! Christopher Ward is another brand where I think this applies; they're all over the map.
 

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Looks like a good read. One thing that always surprises me is the number of different models that watchmakers produce. It's insane. Some brands, frankly, most brands, should seriously think about consolidating their product lines and focus on core competencies.
 
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The other point I liked came later...rationalizing product lines, emphasizing core competencies. This seems potentially a different facet of the same issue...they have one, so we have to have one! Christopher Ward is another brand where I think this applies; they're all over the map.
very interesting comment about CW. I have been contemplating posting on their forum for two weeks now about my recent feelings that they have lost their way. They make some great stuff, but man have they been churning out the models and constantly having sales and rebranding. It had cheapened an otherwise decent brand. Not to turn this into a CW thread, but do you feel the same way, if so I will start the thread because maybe they will read it.
 

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Go for it. I just picked CW because it came to mind when searching for another brand that has similar issues...and that I didn't have to head over to their web site to double check. :) I thought that way the first time I looked through their web site, and have never had reason to change that opinion.
 

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It's not an enormous industry secret that Zenith has been flailing somewhat since its takeover by LVMH in 1999 and the ensuing reign of then-CEO Thierry Nataf, which heralded in the eyes of many an unfortunate turn of both direction and fortune for the Swiss chronograph legend.
Well, I got news for Biver, Zenith was barely making it 90's as well. I remember. They made the movement that went into the classic Daytona. That was their fame in the 90's. The 90's was a pretty good time in Vegas. But not a great time for some watch brands. There was a shop in Vegas, that I use to buy my watches from. This shop carried, IWC, Zenith, Rado, Hublot(which was worth nothing back then), and many more. Zenith had nothing and what they had I could get at nearly half off. These people that run Zenith do not understand what attracts consumers and even WIS. They missed the point. They misread the market for decades. They played the watch stock market and got a 3% return over their life time.

I think of Patek and I think Calatrava. I think Audemars Piguet and I think Royal Oak. I think Rolex and I think Submariner, GMT, Explorer. I think Omega, I think Seamaster, speedmaster. I think Cartier, I think Pasha, Santos, Tank. I think Breitling, I think Navitimer. I think Zenith, I think ??????? hmmm, they are known for their movement, no classic watch that they have made over the years, that made their name. Add to that the fact, that they cater to a specific group, dressy chronographs and a few simple dials with a star on it, that looks ok. That's it. The first step in improving the brand is in recognizing the problem. Zenith and it's small core of fans cannot do that.

Zenith could have used their movement, encased it in a nice sports chrono and a nice sports watch, with actual frieken bracelets instead of the leather they always push, and kept on making it for years even in small quantities, then associate a version of it with some movie or some racing event and give it a history. That is what sells. Zenith can't figure it out, neither can their management. What surprises me the most is that LV owns them and they are all about brand historical image, but did not know how to direct Zenith to get a brand history.

Even now the excuse is that high end mechanicals are not in favor and there is an over abundance of them. Well, I think Omega, Rolex, Breitling, Tag are all doing fine. Heck Grand Seiko is more popular today than it was 15 years ago and Eterna has made a comeback. The issue is with the lack of vision from Zenith. They live in their tiny box of boring styles and when they do come out of the box they produce some ugly monstrosity that should have been branded by Hublot not Zenith.

Zenith finally came out with a chrono that looks nice and is sporty. They stuck it on a leather strap. Dumb. They made it an LE. dumb. LE of what, an obscure watch they once made which is not a classic at all? Sorry, Zenith is more known for being the movement that went into the Rolex Daytona and some other great watches than for anything else. This is the truth and maybe they should read it.
 

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very interesting comment about CW. I have been contemplating posting on their forum for two weeks now about my recent feelings that they have lost their way. They make some great stuff, but man have they been churning out the models and constantly having sales and rebranding. It had cheapened an otherwise decent brand. Not to turn this into a CW thread, but do you feel the same way, if so I will start the thread because maybe they will read it.
Tbh that would be a great thread to have here as well.
 

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The idea of rationalizing their product portfolio isnt a bad one. However, keep in mind that they probably need to carry enough variety to get ADs to keep them.

The whole "special winder which transmits readings", as part of getting customers to test the watches, made no sense to me.

And i dont get their whole fascination with specially designed watches for women. I mean - smaller size and colors/designs that appeal more to women: that sounds about right to me. It's a freaking watch. What special features should it have? Dishwasher and oven?
 
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