The game of musical chairs is not over. For the past months, the watch industry was the field of multiple departures and appointments, including at the giants like Rolex and TAG Heuer. It is now time for Sowind, the mother company of Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard, to finally appoint a new CEO. Just before Baselworld, the arrival of Antonio Calce should be seen as a deliverance for the brands, which have been without a CEO for more than four months.
With the arrival of Jean-Frédéric Dufour as new CEO of Rolex, and of Jean-Claude Biver as CEO of all watch brands of the LVMH Group (see here) and now also CEO of TAG Heuer, after Stéphane Linder’s resignation, the watch industry was extremely active in changing its leaders. Should it be seen as a sign of an active and creative industry that wants to innovate and modernize or as a last resort reaction against a complicated market? Time will tell us. Today, our focus is on a brand that we, at Monochrome-Watches, really love: the manufacture Girard-Perregaux (and its sister company, JeanRichard). Because we love this brand and the complicated watches they create (think about the ground-breaking Constant Escapement L.M. and the impressive Tri-Axial Tourbillon), we’re now glad to see a new CEO appointed.
Sowind, the mother company of Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard, is owned by Kering (former PPR), a large luxury group that owns several brands including Ulysse Nardin, Gucci or the Jeweler Boucheron. All the watches and jewelry brands are reunited under a single entity, lead by the recently appointed Albert Bensoussan. The situation at Sowind was more problematic, since the former CEO, Michele Sofisti, was appointed CEO of Gucci Watches and Jewelry as of 1 October (and left recently). Thus, a new CEO for Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard had to be found. Knowing that Baselworld is coming in a few weeks, the situation was becoming problematic. The credibility of the brands, on product or strategy levels, was critical. Fortunately, Kering just announced a new CEO to be appointed and his name is not totally unfamiliar to the industry: Antonio Calce, previously CEO of Corum Watches.
Antonio Calce will supervise the management of the brands Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard, both parts of the Sowind Group, as well as its manufacturing activities. He will report to Albert Bensoussan, CEO of Kering’s ‘Luxury – Watches & Jewelry’ division.
As said, Antonio Calce is not new to the industry. He started his career within the Richemont group in 1994 as head of the technical department of Manufacture Piaget, before moving to product management responsibilities. In 2001, he was appointed director of operations and product development for Panerai. In 2005, Calce moved on to Montres Corum, where he was sucessivly appointed Vice President of Operations and Chief Executive Officer. Antonio Calce holds degrees in microtechnology and management studies.
What has to be pointed out here, is that his latest role was CEO of a brand that isn’t known to be thriving. Owned by a Chinese group (China Haidian), Corum is facing a huge crisis and sales are lower than expected. This is regardless the talent of Antonio to create interesting watches and to re-launch brands in difficulty. Let’s hope for Girard-Perregaux that he will bring some fresh air and new ideas to a highly qualitative manufacture.