On the occasion of GMT Magazine’s 20th anniversary (and WorldTempus’s upcoming 20th anniversary in 2021), we have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years in watchmaking in The Millennium Watch Book, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book.
The Millennium Watch Book is available exclusively now for pre-order at a discounted rate on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English, with delivery aimed just in time for the holiday season.
In the coming weeks, WorldTempus will be exclusively sharing excerpts from the book, to give you a taste. Use the code WT2020 at checkout get 10% off your first order!
Here’s is an exclusive excerpt from our section “Who’s who”, where we name the 80 industry players, from CEOs to Creative Directors to retailers and independent watchmakers, who have indelibly shaped the last two decades of watches, written by those in the industry who perhaps know them best. For more information, visit www.the-watch-book.com.
Some are enamoured with figures, others prefer words. Georges Kern, meanwhile, likes action. The current CEO of Breitling can’t help it; it’s just the way he is. This charismatic Franco-German 55-year-old is constantly on the move, and appears to have an inexhaustible power reserve. When Breitling sponsors the Wheels & Waves motorcycle festival in Biarritz, he lines up for the endurance event. When Breitling teams up with a charity cycle race in South Africa, he gets into the saddle and rides 200 kilometres without a wobble. When Breitling makes a sudden foray into film, he shoots off to Hollywood to stand in for Brad Pitt. And so it goes on. Clearly, Georges Kern was born to make things happen. Twenty years ago, armed with a degree in politics from Strasbourg and another in business management from Saint-Gallen, plus some time spend in industrywith Kraft Foods Switzerland, Kern arrived at Richemont with the task of integrating IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and A. Lange & Söhne, acquired from the German group Mannesmann.
Two years later, at the age of just 36, he became head of IWC in Schaffhausen, where he fine-tuned his vision of watchmaking. Under his command, IWC underwent a complete transformation: the Manufacture from German-speaking Switzerland acquired a touch of glamour, with a focus on movie stars, top sportsmen and women, and – ahead of its time – the environment. The brand was often portrayed through the lens of fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, now sadly lost to us. The campaigns cost a fortune, but the return on investment was undeniable – even if they sometimes provoked a little envy and jealousy here and there. Kern proved successful in everything he turned his hand to. In 2017, he was appointed Head of Watchmaking, Marketing, and Digital at Richemont, supervising all of their watch brands. It’s harder to go any higher than that – but to everyone’s surprise, he resigned a few months later to take the helm at Breitling, in which he held a stake – proof, should any be required, that he’s as full of action and energy as ever. Since then, he’s been applying the same methods that proved their worth at IWC to Breitling, now owned by UK private equity firm CVC. He’s managed to convince Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron, Adam Driver, and Daniel Wu to join him, too. And in a separate development, in 2019 Georges Kern produced his first film, My Dog Stupid, a successful adaptation of John Fante’s short story by Frenchman Yvan Attal. “Through my work in luxury, I’ve had the good fortune to get to know many Hollywood stars,” he explains. “The fact is, I’ve always dreamed of working in cinema.” Truth be told, he prefers long takes to Grand Complications. And in the world of watchmaking, that turns out to be a key asset.