BREAKING NEWS: Rolex Appoints Jean-Frédéric Dufour, now CEO of Zenith, as New CEO
Word just got out that Rolex has appointed Jean-Frédéric Dufour, current CEO of Zenith, as their new CEO. This news has also been confirmed by Rolex (press release at end of this article). As such he will replace Gian Riccardo Marini, who has been CEO for a little less than 3 years, since May 3th 2011. That makes him the sixth CEO of Rolex, since Hans Wilsdorf founded the brand in 1905, and the 4th CEO since the crisis of 2008!
This news was first published by industry-insider Gregory Pons, on his (French) website Business Montres. The news was announced to employees of the rolex group this Monday morning. According to Pons it is a ‘youthful’ move from Rolex, in order to dust off the brand. Dufour is ‘just’ 45 years young and originally comes from Geneva, the city where Rolex has its headquarters since 1919.
For those who speak French, we included the video. However for those who don’t we have a short transcript from the interview that Gregory Pons did for Swiss television:
What can we imagine for Rolex? Jean-Frederic Dufour is a young and dynamic guy, close to Jean-Claude Biver and trained by him. So we can expect some very fresh wind in the Rolex strategy. It’s a big move in the industry that could change the game…
Are all these changes at Rolex headquarters not dangerous for them? Well, Rolex is still the first watchmaker in Switzerland and in the world, one of the 10 best known brand in the world, so Rolex is in a secure position. However, this new CEO will set the trend for Rolex, for the next years and for that reason, this is big news that deserves to be followed closely in the coming next months. While hiring a nice looking and young guy, with a real expertise in watches, Rolex dusts off its image. But that also means engaging the brand in long-term changes, probably for more than 20 years. Dufour is new to Rolex and so will have to dsicover the company. He will be introduced to the Rolex spirit in the next few months and could be the one to re-launch Rolex for the coming 20 years.
Dufour is the spiritual son of Jean-Claude Biver. Important is that Tudor, Rolex’ daughter, is being managed by another spiritual son of Jean-Claude Biver: Philippe Peverelli. That shows that JC Biver knows how to train the bests in the industry.
Rolex just confirmed this news and we end this message with the formal press release from Rolex:
Rolex confirms the arrival of Jean-Frédéric Dufour, current CEO of Zénith, to ROLEX SA to take over the direction at a date still to be determined, and in agreement with the company’s standing CEO, Gian Riccardo Marini.
All other communication will be released in due course.
Wait – does this have anything to do with the fact that we accurately predicted 3 of their new models this year at Basel??? I hope not!
Well, Mr. Dufour have been at Zenith during these years, a brand with lots of Technical Expertise in many areas and supervised the Defy development and introduction. May be he will inject a new blood, and will get the technological Sleep Giant into something more advanced. Rolex is very conservative in terms of technological feats- their anti-magnetic hairsprings are behind PP, Omega, Tissot, Seiko, and others, and they are known to de-tune movements, while Zenith has the new 50 Hertz Dual Movement for its newest chronograph based on El Primero movement, a movement that Rolex de-tune as Caliber 4030. They stay afloat because of their great marketing machinery, second to none, but they are the same in all other regards, and with low technical expertise in areas such as Complications, where its competitors are way ahead of Rolex. IMHO, the combination of possessing the best QA/QC in the world, together with more complications could mean Rolex could aspire to be at the very top level of Watchmaking, at the level of PP, A Lange & Sohne, AP, VC, Breguet, JLC, UN, Omega, Zenith and Seiko among others……..
What has Dufour done to this brand? It appears he’s been in charge at a time of some technological development, but this seems to be occurring with many brands. What appears more profound under his stewardship is a marketing strategy that has resulted in unavailability, except to customers whom he deifies as acceptable recipients, in collusion with his ADs. This road taken is not a step forward, but many steps backward. He sees his misguided strategy through the eyes of elitism and arrogance. But this is something shared by a lot in the Swiss watch industry. Dufour typifies, promotes, and takes pride in it. He should be ashamed of himself, but he has no ability for insight.