EUROPA STAR ARCADE - Aldo Magada - ZENITH: Reaching for the Light

January 2016

Aldo Magada’s verdict is clear: although the company is strong, the Zenith brand didn’t reach its potential yet. It must now move beyond the iconic El Primero and redeploy. The director tells us about the challenging task ahead.

Aldo Magada
Aldo Magada
“This perspex plaque with its tiny watch movement components captured inside is an interesting object. It’s a perfect illustration of Zenith’s savoir-faire. Our profession is built upon the concept of minute attention to detail, and this perspex block is a symbol of that.”

In your last interview with Europa Star (see ES March 2015) you talked about clarifying things at Zenith. What does this mean?

My predecessor Jean-Frédéric Dufour started the ball rolling by recalibrating the brand’s collections. Today we are in a position to begin to clarify our business: we can’t put more models on the market than the market can absorb. We have to begin by presenting Zenith clearly. The brand wasn’t born in 1969 with the El Primero. Today we need to move beyond the icon. Our situation is this: we have a strong manufacture, we’re focusing to increase our brand awareness and our brand image.

So, in a watch market inundated with models, Zenith is not visible enough?

No. We have begun to reclassify the brand into three discrete pillars. The El Primero collection, of course; Elite, which combines a more classic case shape with the El Primero movement; and finally the Pilot collection. We also need to talk about value, and about our history. Let me say it again: the brand didn’t reach its potential yet compared with other stronger products. We’re rethinking our communication in terms of three spheres.

Zenith ELITE
Zenith ELITE

What are they?

The first is our manufacture, and our 19th century heritage in luxury goods; that battle will be fought in the workshops. The second is the ‘classic vintage’ world based around collectors’ cars and motorcycles – watchmaking 101, if you will, timeless and very classic. It’s the minimalism and purity of the Pilot cases. The third sphere is that of legends, via our partnership with the Rolling Stones, naturally. In all three universes we see the idea of pleasure and a particular lifestyle. Zenith can be read on a number of different levels. Perhaps that’s why it’s not always been easy to understand.

How many watches do you produce each year?

Between 35,000 and 45,000. The Chinese are our main customers. Including purchases they make while travelling, China accounts for 40% to 50% of our retail sales. The Chinese appreciate things that have substance! Today we are present in 800 points of sale around the world, and we have 23 boutiques. Here too we have some work to do, in terms of increasing our visibility and presence in the United States. Our advantage is that our product has genuine appeal to a great many actors in distribution and retail.

How is 2015 shaping up?

A good year means at least 5% growth. 2015 has been a challenging year.

Source: Europa Star magazine December/January 2016