Georges Kern, 4-Month Richemont Head Of Watchmaking Resigns

Georges Kern, 4-Month Richemont Head Of Watchmaking Resigns

Georges Kern, 4-Month Richemont Head Of Watchmaking Resigns Watch Industry News

Just about half a year after being appointed, and only four months into operating as Head of Watchmaking of luxury group Richemont SA, Georges Kern has announced today that he is resigning from the position with immediate effect. The news was reported by the Financial Times, based on a statement made by Johann Rupert, Richemont’s chairman, who has not given many further details... Though the Swiss publication Le Temps cites unnamed sources hinting he may be heading to Breitling...

Georges Kern, 4-Month Richemont Head Of Watchmaking Resigns Watch Industry News
Speculation had already begun on whether or not this may be Kern's next office.

Kern is reported to have left this highly important role at the luxury group in pursuit of an opportunity "to become an entrepreneur" – we are yet to learn any further specifics on that. Georges Kern is a 17-year Richemont veteran who had been running IWC as CEO for some 15 years before Richemont's late-2016 massive internal restructuring, where he accepted the strategic position as Head of Watchmaking for all of Richemont's "Specialist Watchmaker" brands, including A. Lange & Söhne, Baume & Mercier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, and Vacheron Constantin. Other brands such as Cartier and Montblanc, although watchmakers themselves, are placed in other segments of the group.

Georges Kern, 4-Month Richemont Head Of Watchmaking Resigns Watch Industry News

Notably, Kern had also simultaneously been Head of Marketing & Digital at the group, and that means his departure puts the group and its watch brands in that much more complex a situation. And although markets appear to have stabilized over the last few months of 2017, the watch industry is going through its greatest downturn of the last few decades, with sales and profits dropping steeply with changing scenarios in the industry's greatest market, China and Hong Kong. Add to this the issues linked to pricing, over-production, and rapidly changing consumer behavior, and you will understand why Richemont had, at last, decided to shake things up in late 2016.

Georges Kern, 4-Month Richemont Head Of Watchmaking Resigns Watch Industry News
Plenty of ups and downs in recent Richemont history as markets start to slowly recover.

Many considered Kern to be a prospective Richemont Group president at some point – his previous role is as close as one could get – but now all his responsibilities fall to to the board, to whom brand chiefs will directly report. While this may be an okay temporary solution, it remains clear that the majority of Richemont's watch brands require very clear (and new) directions in terms of reacting to the changing landscapes in marketing and digital – and with Kern leaving, a temporary solution might just cause further confusion in these departments.

An unexpected move from Georges Kern that comes at a time when finding a replacement must be even more urgent than it would have been a few years back when things were still all nice and bright in the watch industry -
although him seeking other opportunities after some 17 years with IWC and Richemont should be easy to understand. Kern has been incredibly successful at building the modern IWC into the renowned brand that it is today, but to get Richemont's watch brands working together in greater harmony will be for someone else to figure out – the thing is, we are yet to know who. richemont.com

  • Sheez Gagoo

    I heard from unreliable sources, that he had some trouble with Jerome Lambert. I guess he’ll take his position.

  • Word Merchant

    In the end even Kern couldn’t stomach the latest IWC designs and was eased out when caught wearing a Janice Traipsing limited edition homage to something else. Rumour has it he’s off to be Head of Hot Air and Backstories at Bremont after Giles’s recent unreported and alleged debacle with a blow-up mattress and a team of French gymnasts. A darker rumour states that there are actually twin Kerns which is why the first name is always pluralised: Georges.

    • David Bredan

      That last bit about the “s” did crack me up – also explains how he could run IWC, Roger Dubuis and Baume & Mercier at the same time at one point a few years back. Breitling will be a walk in the park, then.

      • IanE

        Mind you that ratehr implies that JCB is(are) quads!

      • Lincolnshire Poacher

        This site has a moderator? How about banning the racists, seriously.

        • Moonraker

          Be quiet, Lincoln. I want to stay. 🙂

    • Kuroji

      Hasta la vista, baby.

  • Marius

    According to a mole that I infiltrated into the Richemont Group, Georges Kern`s last words to the board of directors were: “Adios, bitches!!!”

    Joking aside, I would like to now focus on the future of Georges Kern. The rumour according to which he will be heading off to Breitling is false. Georges Kern, together with his lifelong friends Jordan Belfort and Danny Porush will start an “over-the-counter” brokerage house called Stratton Oakmont, Inc. This firm will operate from Long Island, New York, and it will be Kern`s first forray into the world of finance. Let’s wish him the best of luck!

    • Kuroji

      Hasta la vista, baby!

  • SuperStrapper

    Somewhat bizarre, and while I’ve heard the Breitling rumour it doesnt make tons of sense considering they were just sold: how could he go there to be an entrepaneur?

    • David Bredan

      Good question, that was part of the official Richemont statement (https://www.richemont.com/press-centre/company-announcements.html?view=article&id=525) — could it have been a bit tongue in cheek? Also, FT has updated their story which now quotes their sources also saying Kern *is leaving for Breitling.*

      • SuperStrapper

        Curiouser and curiouser.

        • Lincolnshire Poacher

          Said Alice….

          And all that was left were the teeth shinning in the dark. (I paraphrase)

    • Sevenmack

      I wouldn’t be shocked. Kern did a great job at IWC and Breitling may be in need of stronger leadership in order to gain a larger share of the $4,000-plus market. After all, Breitling’s 165,000 watches sold in 2014 (the latest available) is far behind the 780,000 sold by Rolex, the 720,000 sold by Omega and the 620,000 sold by Richemont’s Cartier. [IWC was nipping on Breitling’s heels, selling 100,000 watches that year.]

      A lot of brands will either have to get bigger in order to survive long-term, go niche, or close up shop.

      • imageWIS

        I don’t think Breitling will ever be Rolex. EVER.

        • Sevenmack

          No one claimed that Breitling will be Rolex. What I did write is that Breitling can gain a lot of ground in watch sales if Kern succeeds. An additional 100,000 watches sold isn’t hard to imagine over decades if done right.

    • Yojimbo

      straight up he CANNOT if they are even 1/10th on the ball.

      Any specialized industry with executives the contracts are built with provisions on what happens in the event of termination, for a resignation dollars to donuts, there will be a period of time in which he agrees not to work in the industry and in particular not with competitors and/or there’s a huge amount of $ he’ll have to sacrifice to do so

      • George Yang

        Non-compete clauses are hard to enforce.

        • Yojimbo

          not in a specialized industry, in a niche market they are the norm and they are extremely easy to enforce, in a generalized service industry situation they aren’t, but in one like this there would definitely be provisions that could stand up to review

  • Jérôme Lambert for the win!

  • G Street

    Good.

  • BNABOD

    Ok then

  • Travis Cannata

    I don’t have much to say about this, but the dude knows how to rock a dope tie.

    • SuperStrapper

      A half windsor? Thats phoning it in.

      • Travis Cannata

        I’ll give you that one.

    • Saddest Factory

      And how about those sleeve buttons, eh?

    • IG

      Dope tie? You mean there’s a hidden tube in it to snort coke from his jacket’s inner pocket?

      • Travis Cannata

        Doesn’t Camel already make that?

  • FrankD51

    Whatever the reason and wherever he goes one thing is certain, the watch industry is in a mess of their own making. Much too high of prices and way too much production. And frankly, most of the recent designs stink….over the top in size and garishness with silly stupid complications that no one really wants or needs. And let’s not even talk about the lousy after sales service most brands provide.

    • SuperStrapper

      You need to lurk moar.

    • IanE

      Actually, as talk is cheap:- ‘the lousy after sales service’ is surely a major factor in limiting how many watches many of us WISes buy – certainly is for me!

    • Raymond Wilkie

      What he said.

  • IanE

    The rumour is that, given his experience, he is going to become a party organiser!

  • Saddest Factory

    I heard he’s returning to his first love: making electronic music. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0f95af6d71cf224d4fc0be5d188c19a5303621b0f6f940b0606d6d93c63794e9.jpg That’s his white whale.

  • Richard Kalina

    Having been in the watch business for over 1/2 century, I can tell you that the higher-end of the so-called really Swiss watch business is going through it’s most difficult times (manufacturing and distribution changes) that have yet happened including the global quartz movement introduction. The changes you have already seen and are just beginning. Distribution is trying to adjust to the giant 3 new trade-classes that didn’t exist 15 years ago. The Big Box stores, the cable T.V. and the gigantic WEB. Together, these 3 NEW trade classes are responsible for such a giant % of market-share that they cannot be ignored. These are the 3 monsters that changed retailing forever.Consumers have already and are continuing to radically change their purchasing models,normal brick and mortar stores whose business-model can’t compete, are going out of business and are in their death cycle. Over 50% of the retail jewelers in business 5 years ago are now O.O.B .- gone. This will continue over the coming 5 years with about 50% of what was left also having to close. The old-time brands who are impossibly not willing to accept these updates because we’ve done-it this way since??????and it always worked before, and their culture rejects these changes, are being driven out by both new and more timely players at both manufacturing and retailing. I’ve had the best teachers in the business and live our business 7 days a week 52 weeks a year. That’s a program that is outdated also. Lucky for me and a few still dedicated die hards, as I got older my eyesight got worse and worse but my vision gets clearer and clearer. I suggest the industry ask the right questions of the very few selected seasoned and dedicated right people who are not driven by money and perceived power. Creating. building and delivering the finest timepieces that enables the buyer to own and wear a fine work of art time-timepiece should be their ultimate goal. These changing times demand the best leaders our business can identify and get. The success will not result by focusing on making the most money. It will come from understanding the chosen buyer and answering their wants, needs and desires.

    • Sheez Gagoo

      True words from a wise (or not bind) man. I`m a watchmaker and glad to have a job. but most of the time I sratch my balls and comment on this blog because there`s nothing to do. When you drive through the villages/cities where all the big watch companies are you`ll see empty parking lots. The contracts of most production staff hasn`t been renewed. They are not in the unemployment statistic.

  • Chaz

    He was brash, he was obnoxious, he schmoozed too much with celebrities and he was most likely overly intoxicated with the “glam life” and his perception of himself BUT he did what was asked of him competently and with vigor bringing glorious new riches to his overlord and The Group.

    Will be interesting to see his next chapter.

  • commentator bob

    Good for him, Breitling is a way cooler brand than IWC and Panerai combined. Cartier, JLC and Lange are cool to watch nerds, but Breitling has name awareness. I call out their tacky shit like $1,000 plastic quartz watches and anything over 44 mm. But check out this 24 hour manufacture Navitimer Cosmonaute for less than IWC wants for a sepcial needs “learn to read a watch” Big Pilot. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/35a59b4dd1d2324fda18647539b4f23c0505e70e6b5ca7e25393a43f1917329b.jpg

    • socrates35

      Watching that overly busy dial almost gives me a seizure…and not in a good way!!

      • Saddest Factory

        Lovin’ those good way seizures. They fricken rock! 🙂

        • socrates35

          LOL…you’d have to, if you were forced to wear that!! 😉

        • Berndt Norten

          You know the procedure
          If you want this cat
          Gotta make that —
          Shake like a seizure

    • SuperStrapper

      Great choice, certainly among my favourite Breitlings.

  • Saddest Factory

    Even Breitling’s building looks like a rendering. Is anything real? Are we in the matrix?

  • Tempvs Mortvvs

    According to this, Mr. Kern will factually be heading Breitling:

    https://www.letemps.ch/economie/2017/07/14/georges-kern-met-cap-breitling

    As to why this move has been deemed entrepreneurially motivated is beyond my understanding. It seems to be as entrepreneurial as any CEO holding shares of the company s/he helms.

    On more interesting news, though, some reports have surfaced that Ariel Adams from ablogtowatch.com has been tapped to take up the vacant post left by Georges Kern. Apparently, his vast experience heading the “The World’s Most Popular Source for Watch Reviews, News & Admiration Since 2007” has made him the ideal man to successfully conduct Richemont’s watchmaking business as Head of Watchmaking, Marketing and Digital and bring the venerable company back to its past glories, if not to never-before-reached heights.

    Company insiders were baffled, nonetheless, by this apparent choice of man. Because it’s also been reported that several objections were raised to dissuade Mr. Johann Rupert from his election. However, he pointed out that Ariel Adam’s recent hot streak of industry criticizing articles were so detailed and knowledgeable that they had enlightened Mr. Rupert as nothing ever had before about the true nature of the watchmaking business. So, even when he was pointed out that Adams had had the cheekiness (or poor taste, depending who you ask) to interview Paul Pluta and post it on his site, Mr Rupert has been reported to merely state: “Whether this man is a sinner or not, I do not know. All I know is this. I was blind and now I see.”

    Wait for further confirmation of this report anytime soon. Just don’t wait standing up, let alone on your hands.

    • SuperStrapper

      I day drink once in a while too.

  • Chaz

    Do you think Georges has about 8 or 10 photos of himself strategically spread around his office? I would imagine he does.

  • mtnsicl

    Phill Collins?

  • Berndt Norten

    David your goatee and glasses lend a menacing hipster vibe. Is that what you sought?

    • Chaz

      The Hungarian Musketeer

      • Yojimbo

        is it HunGARRian or hunGAYrian?

        • What an odd comment from you considering your diatribe a while back about all sorts of equality bashing and sexism.

          BTW – I know David and he’s straight – not that it matters either way.

          • Chaz

            I’m str8 and David’s str8 but he STILL looks muy cute and dashing in that pic 😉

          • I know it may be hard to believe now, but when I was younger I had the same “affliction” – looking younger than my years. Getting carded for beer after 40 etc. You may think he looks like he’s 12 but with a goatee, but trust me he is of legal drinking age, ha ha.

          • Yojimbo

            I wrote i because I know he gets his back up easily if my name is attached the comment and if you look back, I did exactly this before. I have more than one gay person in my life and I am not Archie Bunker to them, people who a fit over the work ‘fag’ or being called a queerbait truly are generation snowflake. The worst offender for someone calling people a queer that I know is gayer than Nathan Lane. I see he remarked elsewhere so my mission was accomplished. Toodles Daaaaaahveed.

          • So you are a provocateur (or really more of a person who just insults people for sport or low personal pleasure) and have no real principles at all when it comes to equality – as in treating all people equally. It seems like you are a champion for people you don’t know but have a hard on for those you do (at least from the safety and anonymity of the Internet). Don’t worry, I won’t waste my time hassling you about it after this. Pointless to “feed the troll”.

          • Yojimbo

            I would not presume to say I know what it is that makes you tick, but if it makes you feel better to think so with me, then do it. He went out of his way to tell me off when I made non pointed comments before so if I can suggest his mustache makes him look like a rather effete poof, then I’m going to do it. IMHO that does not constitute trollism, just tit for tat.

        • David Bredan

          I’m yet to decide if that’s a step up or down from the “hungry” jokes, but first time I hear it, so there’s that.
          I’m 28, most always looked way younger than I actually was, nothing new in that to me. That said, I’m wearing elegant(-ish) clothes and a pair of round glasses with a design that may not be as old as silent movies — if that renders me a hipster, I can live with that.
          Looking back at the last 13 years of my truly novel-worthy history with incredible Hungarian girls and women (I wonder what difference it would make to you if I was into men — a spike in interest?), I realized very early that girls (and I mean the very pretty and very smart ones) don’t give a crap about how you dress, except for some very basic rules. I dress however I feel comfortable, feel good in my skin and find that that attracts smart, good-looking and confident girls and women. Petty picking/jokes on other people’s looks, nationality or sexual orientation, from what I see around myself, does not.
          I know this was a joke so if me turning it into a train of thought/discussion is an issue then disregard all of that and: hahaha.

      • Berndt Norten

        The YOUNG Hungarian Musketeer
        Saw the people all lived in fear…

    • egznyc

      I noticed the new photo. Just wasn’t going to comment on it (oh well …). A bit hipster but menacing? I don’t think so. It’s probably an effort at looking a little older. Don’t worry – some of us judge by the quality of your ideas and logic.

      • Berndt Norten

        Was trying (apparently without success!) to be funny.

        • egznyc

          I approve of such a lofty goal. It can be hard to get the right tone across with nothing but the written word as our guide.

          • Moonraker

            f#ckin’ a if that ain’t the truth! 🙂

        • IG

          Don’t give up!

      • David Bredan

        Your feedback on the latter is what matters to me, the rest really doesn’t — I judge other people by their ideas/values too.
        Since we’re talking about it, I’ll say I really didn’t seek anything other than a pair of Hungarian made glasses (been trying to support local firms) that were an OK size and shape for the size and shape of my head. As for the rest… I forgot to have my hair cut before this trip or to shave in the morning — goes to show how very much I care, so long as I feel I’m in a relatively presentable shape. I chose this picture because it is the only one I have (I’m always behind the camera) and because it reminds me of a nice occasion.

    • benjameshodges

      I think he looks pretty sharp. It’s a good look.

      • Berndt Norten

        I gots nothin gainst a sharp dressed hombre

  • I was surprised when he took the Marketing and Digital job at Richemont in the first place. Trying to herd cats might as easy as trying to align a bunch of watch brands. Little authority and too much fiscal responsibility. So it always sounded to me like a great job to fail at no matter how hard you try. And then you become the scapegoat. What’s the fun or future in that? I know there was a lot of questioning how Breitling would do now with a financial company overlord. But by having Kern run the operation, I think they have a better shot than without him (since new management was a given anyway with the sell off).

  • William Jones

    Get the guy who is in charge of design at Timex. Lately their designs
    Hew.

    • Chaz

      Totally agree!!

  • Greg Dutton

    Apparently Kern bought a stake in Breitling when it was sold, so at least he’ll have some skin in the game.

    Also, both of the watches he’s pictured wearing are way too big for him.

    • goju1

      Irrelevant…

    • imageWIS

      He’ll never admit that the watches he likes are too large.

  • Jeffrey Wong

    Nice suit

    • imageWIS

      He is much better at choosing suits than he is watch designs (or sizes).

  • Once upon a time a famous and respected maison named IWC.
    Many iconic watches, from pilot to cal 89, through 666 and ingenieur.
    Today they (richemont + IWC) sell the same watches, indistinguishable design, poor overall quality.
    But the parties were amazing (never invited)

    • imageWIS

      Killing the Genta-design-inspired Ingenieur was the last straw.

    • Maybe that’s the real reason Kern is going to Breitling – they throw those huge parties at BaselWorld each year.

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