As dozens of watchmaking executives are reaching their 70s, a new generation of men will begin managing these luxury timepiece companies over the next several years.
They are faced with new challenges in the advancing watch industry, dealing with everything from smartwatches to the conflict between artisan craft and 3-d printing technology.
Omega is one of the watch brands currently experiencing this change. After almost 17 years of successfully leading Swatch Group AG’s Omega brand, Stephen Urquhart is retiring as president of this luxury watch company. Urquhart, who turns 70 next month, will continue to consult of work on special projects with Omega, according to Bloomberg.
While Urquhart has worked with a variety of watch brand over the years, his career began and finished with Omega. It all started in 1968 when he first joined Omega, long before Swatch owned it. After 6 years, he then moved on to Audemars Piguet where he stayed for 15 years and became the chairman for the company. In 1989, he moved onto Jaeger-LeCoultre and then for Swatch group when he started at Blancpain. Just as the brand added the coaxial escapement to their timepieces, Urquhart was chosen to lead Omega.
Because of the success Urquhart has brought Omega, his retirement can seem “somewhat disappointing” to some, according to Zuzanna Pusz, an analyst at Berenberg in London. While other Swiss watch brands have seen executive changes in the past several years, Urquhart has lead Omega into success for a decade and a half. Under his management, Omega has opened more than 200 stores across the globe. In 2014, Omega’s sales were about $2.3 billion, surpassed only by Rolex’s 4.5 billion.
During his time, Urquhart has aimed to appeal to a younger crowd, luring in a new generation of watch lovers. Working starts like George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, and more recently Eddie Redmayne, he has accepted the challenges of capturing the attention of all ages with Omega timepieces. Plus, he unveiled 2 new 007 timepieces last year, and he’s peaked more interest in women by reintroducing the Omega Ladymatic.
Obviously, the next executive has some big shoes to fill, even if Urquhart is around advise the brand. But Swatch is confident about the man next in line —Raynald Aeschlimann. As a brand veteran of Omega with 20 years of experience under his belt, Omega will stay right on track with Aeschlimann.