Rolex Watches Appoints Jean-Frederic Dufour As New CEO

Rolex Watches Appoints Jean-Frederic Dufour As New CEO

Rolex Watches Appoints Jean-Frederic Dufour As New CEO Watch Industry News

aBlogtoWatch received a note from Rolex today on the appointment of a new brand CEO. The news release from Rolex was a scant, one line document on official letterhead that explained Jean-Frederic Dufour would be appointed as the CEO of Rolex SA in Geneva. Mr. Dufour would be replacing Gian Riccardo Marini.

Many in the watch industry are familiar with Jean-Frederic Dufour as the CEO of Zenith watches, a position he will now be leaving. Zenith is part of LVMH, and after a successful time there since 2009, he is making the ultimate trip up the ladder to being in a top leadership position at Rolex.

Mr. Dufour is a known friend and protegé of the famed Jean-Claude Biver, former CEO of Hublot, who continues to retain a position of influence at the brand and who now has a more senior role guiding the watch brand divisions of LVMH (which also includes Zenith and TAG Heuer, among others). Mr. Biver greatly assisted Mr. Dufour when he started at Zenith and most agree that their combined work has turned Zenith into a brand which has recaptured and in many ways exceeded much of its former glory.

Rolex is known for having relatively long-standing CEOs and the stepping down of Gian Riccardo Marini is unique since he was appointed in 2011. The release from Rolex suggests that the stepping down of Mr. Marini and the appointment of Mr. Dufour was "in agreement" with Mr. Marini.

Ironically, I just posted an article on Forbes regarding Rolex's position as the number 1 most reputable consumer products company in the world. The company is in very good shape as Jean-Frederic steps in–so it will be his job to continue and maintain that success.  Rolex is known for being relatively secretive so it is unclear what type of role Mr. Dufour will now have in dealing with the media as the CEO of Rolex. In the past, aBlogtoWatch has sat down with Mr. Dufour to talk product and the watch business. He is a very capable fellow and of course we wish him success in his new position leading Rolex. rolex.com

  • DG Cayse

    Interesting development.

  • Ulysses31

    He looks sinister; like Sam Neill from “Event Horizon”.

  • Coming off the heels of the dark, dreary Nataf “DEFY” era at Zenith, Dufour really righted that ship in short order, and since that time Zenith has punched above their weight class effectively and consistently. I am more hopeful that they maintain their success than I am Rolex – that ship has not changed course by a single degree basically ever (probably most noteworthy was them using El Primero movements from Zenith). I hope Dufour doesn’t show up with a bunch of great ideas, they’ll likely fall on largely deaf ears. I wish him the best and hope it doesn’t end up being stifling for him – I’m not Negative Nancy and I’m sure this is an opportunity for him, but I kinda see it as a step down. Time will tell.

  • timekeeper703

    Agreed.  The Nataf days were a nightmare that one never forgets, but Dufour has done a splendid job of doing almost a seamless 180 for the brands design direction.
    I am not too sure what capacity he will have at Rolex as the brand is run essentially by the Wilsdorf foundation, although I hope he can implement some design changes or novelties other than a new bezel or case size.  I believe (could be wrong) this is the first time Rolex has hired a CEO from the watch industry (meaning other brands) as most of have been promoted from within or came from financial backgrounds.  
    I also wonder what the interview process was like for such a position……I imagine it being done in the basement of a castle, lit by only fire, surrounded by men in black robes chanting…….or perhaps thats the induction ceremony.
    Either way going from a 200SF millon company to an estimated 3 billion sf company in sales is an amazing opportunity but…..YIKES!
    I think Biver has zenith under control…….his announcement as head of Zenith, Hublot and Tag Heuer and Dufour’s departure……….no coincidence, friends or not 🙂

  • Ryan B

    Ulysses31 Sam Neill’s character was in a better position than this guy because he had no eyes towards the end of the movie, thus being spared from seeing another Rolex for the rest of his life.

  • Ulysses31

    Ryan B Ulysses31 Classic line:
    http://youtu.be/YhEs9KUQ4qo

    The Filmsack review of that movie is quite amusing.

  • MKRoma

    Ulysses31 My thoughts exactly.  Also, an incredibly underrated film!

  • DG Cayse

    timekeeper703 Time and again, in both business and life, it has been shown the folly of “messing with success.”
    The Rolex marque has been crafted into one of the most, if not the most, successful and respected marques in the business world. This is not something to be toyed around with by following the whims of trend and fashion.

  • timekeeper703

    Both of your statements are very true…….and…..time and again brands/companies who were at the top of their fields have “messed with success”.  I hope this wont be the case with Rolex, especially with all the effort they are doing with their retail partners in building in store salons.
    I dont however think even Rolex is above whims of trend and fashion.  The deep sea dweller was evidence of that and even the 41mm date just for that matter.  Both of those in regards to increasing the case size of the watch……..which is a trend.
    2015 and 16 basel will tell.  should be fun to watch.

  • What is a little, at least, curious is that two weeks ago at the end of Baselworld he gave a lot of interviews talking about the future and new projects for Zenith, and two weeks later he goes to Rolex? What a nerve!

  • DG Cayse

    Dsmcastro Well, that might also be interpreted as him being loyaol to his employer to the end of his contract. 
    Certainly, within both groups, there was knowledge of his impending change of positions.

  • pillow

    Very interesting points of view.
    Hope he knows where is going…. Rolex will not change anything. Watches development is done until 2017, marketing is under control, Finance is supervised by a woman who is the lead of the comany.
    This position is “just” a super PR position. The Wilsdorf Foundation and the Board (composed of rich industrials) manage this Holding.
    Maybe Rolex wants him to come with Baumgratner….

  • witchwatch

    SuperStrapper

    Rolex will be fine that I have no doubt, but I agree I hope Zenith continues on the path it now finds itself on  thanks to Mr Dufour.

  • pillow

    timekeeper703  Funny your comment about the interview process…. Maybe the image to be “swiss” again…. French Directors at the Board have been asked to live in Switzerland (Geneva)… they did…. The production is all done by persons living at the French border.
    Dufour has a huge network, his family is powerful and involved in real estate (Rolex needs this also)….
    Pretty sure that marketing and communication will remain the same, managed by the Board directly…. M. Gros is the person in charge of the Holding, his lawyers are questionned before all potential actions….

  • drckhan

    Congrats jean pl send me a brochure of rolex watches
    C khan

  • drckhan

    Sorry idiot want to post another I comment

  • drckhan

    Pl read the word idiot as don’t
    Apologies

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  • RahimZobaear

    Dear sir, I don’t know who will read this comment whatever I would like to get a just date 2 model rolex which is so much price. I can’t buy it in my life. So my request is that if you have any of that model please give me. I have one damage rolex which I can’t use……..

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