The 5 Most Powerful People in the Swiss Watch Industry for 2013

Nick Hayek Jr.

Who are the movers and shakers that drive the Swiss Watch industry forward? There are probably 20 contenders but here's our picks for the five most powerful players right now. Each one will play a leading role in shaping the industry in 2013:

1. Nick Hayek Jr. This is probably the easiest choice of because Hayek (pictured above) is the most powerful person at the most powerful watch company in the world, the Swatch Group. The watchmaker produces 80 percent of the Swiss watch industry's movements (mainly via its ETA subsidiary), has a stable of iconic brands (from Breguet to Swatch), and runs more than 1,000 boutiques worldwide.

2. Jean-Daniel Pasche. The head of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) is leading the fight against counterfeiting and stricter rules for which watches carry the Swiss-made watch label.

3. Johann Rupert. Rupert is chairman and CEO of the Richemont Group, which owns Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, Piaget, Panerai, and IWC, and many other leading brands. The RIchemont Group is second only to the Swatch Group in terms of its sway and influence over the Swiss watch industry.

4. Gian Riccardo Marini. When you are the CEO of Rolex, you are always a top five player. Rolex is one of the world's most powerful brands, likely one of the most profitable, and is the single largest luxury watchmaker. It's also the best known Swiss watch brand.

5. Patrik Ducrey. Ducrey is the head of Switzerland's Competition Commission (COM-CO) which is charged with investigating whether the Swatch Group's plans to reduce movement production for third parties violates the Swiss Cartel Act. A lot of smaller manufacturers who can't afford to produce movements in-house, such as Frederique Constant, are watching how he rules very closely. Ducrey literally has the future of many companies in his hands.

What do you think of our picks? Who did we miss?

Categories: Breguet, Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, IWC, Other Swiss Watch Brands, Panerai, Piaget, Rolex, Swatch, Swiss Watch News, Swiss Watch Tips & Trivia, Vacheron Constantin.

Comments (23)

  1. Solid list. You’ve hit nail on the head.

  2. Watchfreak

    Great list. I’d probably add Patek Philippe’s Thierry and Philippe Stern if there were room.

  3. John Smithers

    I would think Marc Hayek, the CEO of Breguet, Blancpain, Jaquet Droz at the Swatch Group, might be considered

  4. I find the list amazing:
    Nick Hayek sells parts engraved Swiss made but made in China and he is killing the watchmaking trade but not selling spare parts to watchmakers.
    Johann Rupert: Charge consumers for “Complete Service” not performed and also refuse to sell spare parts to watchmakers.
    Jean-Daniel Pasche: aware of the above scams be refuse to act.

    I want to congratulate and thanks Patrik Ducrey and his office, on behalf of my-self and thousand of watchmakers, for attempting to restore honesty and sanity in the world of independent watchmakers, world that the Swatch and Richemont group is working to destroy by any mean.

  5. I have to agree with Andre, while these individuals are probably some of the most powerful people in the watch world, their power isn’t always used for good.

    As watchmakers, we need access to spare parts and the companies under these individuals control exercise restrictive and damaging parts policies which reduce the quality of service available to their customers.

  6. Aren’t these the same people who restrict watchmakers and clockmakers from access to repair material so the public can have their watches and clocks repaired by anyone they choose? I guess with power comes consequences for the consumers of their products!

  7. David Wilson

    I have to echo the sentiments of Mr. Fleury and Mr. Ficklin. While these men maybe powerful, some of them are using their power to inflict greed and arrogance on the watch industry. The restriction of spare parts harms the industry and the end consumers. Mr. Hayek and Mr. Rupert are not men we should be celebrating.

  8. Larry Reddick

    I would have to say that Patrik Ducrey would be one that is trying to move the Swiss watch forward. Those who restrict the watch parts is actually moving it backward, and hurting everyone including the customer in the process. Even powerful heads of big companies make bad decisions!

  9. Alan Lewis

    Swiss Watch Manufacturers are devastating the independent watch repair trade with their restrictive parts policies. Restricting the supply of watch parts to independent watchmakers ensures that your watch will no longer be repairable locally, leaving you, the customer, with no choice but to consult the manufacturer for repairs. They will charge you much more and take far longer to repair your watch …………………….. Powerful people indeed.

  10. David Arnold

    Perhaps if some public scrutiny is applied to this problem the customer’s need for spare parts for their watches will get some positive attention for a change. Until there is a change, I explain the situation to each watch customer who comes in with a restricting brand. Most are amazed and appalled and say they will not buy any of their watches again. I hope Mr. Hayek and Mr. Rupert will feel the sting of customer rejection in their wallets in the near future.

  11. Gregory Gasper

    Nick Hayek sells parts engraved Swiss made but made in China. WTF.

  12. Jean Claude

    I am part of that sting, however I don’t think they’re going to feel it until it’s too late. Haute horology is shooting itself in the foot. I started out collecting Rolex and Omega and gradually expanded to other brands like Glashutte Original, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Vacheron Constantin. Having been burned by these latter brands too many times on service and screw ups on their part – particularly when it comes to simple things my local watchmaker could have remedied for me quickly would they simply furnish parts – I have vowed not to buy from any of them again. Having to ship and insure my watches to send them out of the country for routine service that I am confident my watchmaker could handle beautifully for me if he had access to their case and movement parts, gets old fast. Especially when they take 6+ months to render service on a simple automatic and it keeps worse time than the vintage Rolex or modern Omega my local watchmaker serviced to look and function like new in under 3 weeks! I have sold off the majority of the watches from these brands that refuse to communicate with my watchmaker and will never be buying from any of them again.

    I used to think that fine watches were an investment. I have come to learn that that’s only true for brands like Rolex who offer dependable, local service, through third parties. Brands that mandate you must send the watch to their service center render you at their mercy. The sad reality you soon discover after owning one for a handful of years is that you don’t actually own the watch, the watch brand owns you.

  13. Scott S of Sydney

    I agree with many of the comment here about Chinese made parts, part restrictions and most important the way these companies are ripping off “their” customers, in the very poor quality material in the movement, ripping off their customers by over charging for repairs, telling their customers that they execute an overhaul when they just exchange the movement, not allowing the customer to “personalise” THEIR watch as these companies think they still own the watch. When is the Swiss watch industry going to wake up to them self’s. And lastly the Chinese make your part and soon the Chinese will have a better quality item then the Swiss.

  14. Jonathan

    With great power comes great responsibility.

  15. Jason

    @Gregory Gasper: Sadly, yes. Many of the case and bracelet parts, and even some quartz movements, for brands like Rado, Tissot, cK, Longines, and Omega (all of these being Swatch brands) are made and/or assembled in Asia.

  16. Gene Furry

    The ongoing spare parts restrictions will come back to haunt the Swiss manufacturers. Sales will suffer! The restricting companies are offending and harming their masses of unpaid ambassadors, (the independent watchmakers), but they are also causing customers to stop buying the restricting brands. I have many customers whom have said they will no longer buy a watch from a parts restricting, Swiss maker. Consumers want the freedom to choose their watchmaker, and they do not want to be told they must return to the brand for service. Many find the brand’s own service to be substantially inferior to work they can acquire from independent watchmakers. The consumer is wising up daily!

  17. Deon Brown

    Subjected to correction but under swiss law only 50% of the production is necessay on swiss territory to carry the name swiss made.

  18. David Barker

    I appeal to all watch makers in this comment. Unfortunately, we are seeing in this current economic climate, where recession is world-wide, how a very successful international manufacturing consortium of Swiss watch companies, beginning to consume itself. This is because of the apparent denial of Swiss watch manufacturers, that their industries have peaked. The watch market is saturated with new manufacturers every year who are seeking to compete in a limited market.

    Did any of you visit Basel World this year (2013)? Did anyone notice how many new companies there were?

    I regret to say this, but the major Swiss manufacturers were the ones who took advantage of the Chinese phenomenom by moving parts of their industry there. Now, the Chinese are the ones who are “cloning” Swiss movements or who are providing equivalent replacement models, especially where restrictive practices have been announced in advance.

    I believe that the changes in practices by the watch cartels, is a precursor before they begin to fall upon and consume

  19. I appeal to all watch makers in this comment. Unfortunately, we are seeing in this current economic climate, where recession is world-wide, how a very successful international manufacturing consortium of Swiss watch companies, beginning to consume itself. This is because of the apparent denial of Swiss watch manufacturers, that their industries have peaked. The watch market is saturated with new manufacturers every year who are seeking to compete in a limited market.

    Did any of you visit Basel World this year (2013)? Did anyone notice how many new companies there were?

    I regret to say this, but the major Swiss manufacturers were the ones who took advantage of the Chinese phenomenom by moving parts of their industry there. Now, the Chinese are the ones who are “cloning” Swiss movements or who are providing equivalent replacement models, especially where restrictive practices have been announced in advance.

    I believe that the changes in practices by the watch cartels, is a precursor before they begin to fall upon and consume themselves, in an ever shrinking market. The pressure on public companies to find new ways to raise and increase revenue, will always push such companies to become uncompetitive until they remove themselves from the Stock Market.

    The small, independent watch makers will not die. I am sure that they will pool their resources together to provide the means by which they can satisfy their customers needs. Even if that means them forming their own Independent Watch Manufacturers Group and Associations, to give them leverage to use against the big Cartels. There are so many watchmakers in Switzerland, Germany and elsewhere in Europe that they would be a considerable force for good in the watch industry, that they would act as a kind of counter weight to balance the Cartel Industry.

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  21. Greg Gasper

    What these “leaders” do not think of or realize, is that by moving production to Asia, they fuel the production of look alike fakes and reproductions from these places. Their “masterpiece designs” that they charge thousands for, can now be purchased for less than one third of the price, with small changes that most consumers do not care about or even notice. If it looks close enough to the original, consumers want it for the cheaper price. In the end the profits from cheaper production and quality is lost to loss of sales to the faux reproductions. I continue to see more and more fake watches on the market. Pretty soon the Swiss will just price themselves out of business and the Chinese will be the watchmakers of the world. Just keep giving them all your proprietary specifications and proceeders and your profits will go with them. It’s like telling a new chef, here is my most prized and profitable recipe. Don’t steal it. Yea, right! Ba-byyeee. You’re STUPID.

  22. Bruce Ellison

    The situation with Swiss watch companies and independent watchmakers is analogous to, imagine having a Ford and wanting to change your oil and filter (either doing it yourself or having an independent shop change it for you), only to find out that you can’t buy a filter for your car and the only way that you can get a filter to change your oil is to take your car to a Ford dealer and have them change the oil and filter for you. Oh, and buy the way, the Ford dealer is also going to charge you for a full service, even though you only need or want an oil and filter change. Sound crazy? Well that is exactly what the Swiss watch industry is doing. Imagine buying an automobile (or any product) and finding out that you had no choice in getting parts or service; your only option would be to take it to the dealer for parts, service and repair no matter how small the repair or part.
    Sounds like restrictive trade practices to me!

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