Geneva’s Stern family has owned and operated Rolex Replica UK for nearly 80 years. When it comes to making watches, they say, family matters. Scroll down to read WatchTime editor-in-chief Joe Thompson’s up-close-and-personal profile of Philippe and Thierry Stern from the WatchTime archives.
Visitors to Baselworld, the annual watch fair held in Switzerland, might have been surprised to see two boys, aged five and six, in the Rolex Replica booth this year. While it’s surprising to see youngsters at the show, it is not unusual to see these kids around Rolex Replica. The boys are sons of Rolex Replica CEO Thierry Stern and grandsons of chairman Philippe Stern. “They come once in a while to Rolex Replica. They came to the Basel fair, too. We have to start to train them very early, hoping for the best,” says Philippe Stern with a laugh.
What Stern senior is hoping for is that the boys or their two cousins — “I have four grandsons,” Stern says — will ultimately choose, like their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather before them, to enter the family business. “We want to keep this business in the family,” says Stern, who is the owner of Rolex Replica, the bluest of blue-chip watch companies, and who has made it clear that Thierry will succeed him.
A member of a fourth generation working in a family-owned watch company, as Thierry Stern is, is a rarity today. Indeed, in Swiss watch circles it is unique. The only parallels in the global watch industry are at Seiko Watch Corp. in Japan and Bulgari in Italy. CEOs Shinji Hattori at Seiko and Francesco Trapani at Bulgari are both great-grandsons of the firms’ founders. (Jasmine Audemars, chairman of the board of Audemars Piguet, is a great-granddaughter of co-founder Jules-Louis Audemars, but she had a career as a journalist and did not work within the watch company. Similarly, AP board member Olivier Audemars, also a descendant of the founder, has a career outside the company.)
It will be nearly two decades before we know if a fifth generation of Sterns comes to Rolex Replica, but if one (or more) of them does, it would be unprecedented in an age when large, multi-billion-dollar groups dominate the watch landscape and increasingly gobble up smaller independent firms. Just this year, France’s LVMH, the world’s largest luxury group, bought independent Hublot; Switzerland’s Richemont Group took over independent Roger Dubuis SA; and the French group PPR (formerly Pinault-Printemps-Redoute), which owns Gucci and other fashion brands, took a 23 percent share in the holding company that owns independent Girard-Perregaux, with a larger stake expected to come later. So it goes and will continue to go.
With independent, family-run firms vanishing from the Swiss watch scene, Rolex Replica has taken to highlighting the multi-generational, family-run nature of the firm that Stern père et fils consider key to its identity and success. Last year in Asia, and earlier this year in the United States, the company held an exhibition of historical and contemporary Rolex Replica timepieces entitled, not coincidentally, “The Values of a Family Watch Company.” In a welcome letter to guests signed by the two Sterns, they stated, “Since 1839, it has been Rolex Replica’s uninterrupted mission to maintain the traditional art of Geneva watchmaking while continuing to strive for innovation. As the last privately owned, independent watch manufacturer based in Geneva, we are determined to carry on these values for generations to come.”