“The Swiss watchmaking industry is very traditional, which is very good in one way,” Julien Tornare, CEO of Zenith Watches explains. “But on the other hand, tradition can live only if there is something new going on—only if we build on it through the future.”
For a brand with 152 years of rich history, Zenith continues to strive towards keeping things fresh and innovative. “I strongly believe that a brand like Zenith can only live as a brand if we project ourselves into the future,” Tornare says. “And how does one do that while still respecting your DNA and what you’ve done in the past?” The formula to success, he says, includes staying in line with your history. The Defy Lab and Defy El Primero 21 are two of the company’s newest releases, and stylistically they rank high amongst the modern designs of today. Yet their technicalities—including the Defy Lab’s premiere oscillator—outdo even their own expectations.
Granted, Tornare is relatively new to the legacy brand. It was just this past spring that he was tapped by Head of Watchmaking at LVMH Jean-Claude Biver to lead the company, and ever since Tornare has made it his mission to awaken what he saw as a “sleeping beauty.” The opportunity to take the company forward, he explains, was one he simply couldn’t pass up. “This was the kind of project I was looking for.” And given their success as of late, Tornare is adamant about staying true to the Zenith brand. “We’ll follow our path,” he says.