A few hours ago, one of the biggest luxury conglomerates in the world, Richemont, announced in an abrupt statement the immediate resignation of Georges Kern, the former head of watchmaking, marketing and digital in the group. Kern, 52, has spent the last 17 years in Richemont, as the head of IWC from 2002 until November 2016. At the end of last year, Richemont’s chairman Johann Rupert announced a massive reorganisation of the company’s structure, seeking younger leadership in the company’s various luxury brands. The former CEO of Montblanc, Jérȏme Lambert was promoted to head of operations of the entire group while Kern held the the watchmaking, marketing and digital portfolios.
Rupert’s statement was short. “Georges has been offered an interesting opportunity to become an entrepreneur. He has had a very successful career at IWC Schaffhausen and we wish him well.” During his 15 years as IWC’s CEO, he revitalised the brand and welcomed a new customer demographic while embracing celebrity ambassadors. It made IWC wildly popular among young execs, but at the same time also faced criticism for alienating aficionados of the brand, including John Mayer (he reconciled with the brand).
Mr Kern has not yet revealed where he is headed but there’s speculation in the markets. Here’s where we think he’s headed.
It’s not yet been confirmed by anyone apart from the Swiss news platform Le Temps, but the paper claims anonymous sources have told them Kern is headed to Breitling. Bloomberg and Forbes have also reported on this, without news sources. The paper wrote, “Georges Kern, whose resignation from the head of the Geneva luxury group was announced Friday morning, will actually take over the watch brand Breitling, according to information obtained by Le Temps. The former boss of the IWC Schaffhausen brand could not be contacted on Friday morning to confirm this information.” We’re waiting on confirmation of this from Breitling and will update you as soon as we have it.
You might think it unbelievable, but then, really consider it. Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick, along with his company, has taken a beating in the public from the various scandals and possible mismanagement of the company’s resources, along with lawsuits on its self-driving technology. Who better to come and rescue it than a legit, success-proven CEO of a renowned watch brand with plenty of experience at the wheel (pun intended) and a score of famous celebrity friends perfect for a PR blitz for the company. Imagine an Uber ad campaign with Kevin Spacey behind the wheel, IWC on his wrist. Or Lewis Hamilton or Adriana Lima.
Come on, that’s an awesome ad for Uber.
Kern has owned shares in Spotify for some time and like Uber, it certainly could use a jolt of old-school business management to structure its profitability. Again, Kern’s useful celebrity connections would come in handy for getting a power campaign out to encourage more to subscribe to Spotify.
We’re just kidding. In all likelihood, Kern’s headed to Breitling. We’ll know in a few hours.