Patek Philippe

Interview with Thierry Stern, CEO of Patek Philippe [Video]


April 2016

In response to a questionnaire sent out by Europa Star, 50 CEOs from Switzerland, Europe, Japan and the USA reveal their strategies for dealing with the dangers and opportunities that await in 2016.

Interview with Thierry Stern, CEO of Patek Philippe

- 1. We’re cautiously confident. We’re hoping to post the same results in 2016 as in 2015, which was a good year. That will mean having to continue to work assiduously mainly in the local markets, as we’ve always done and as we’ve always encouraged our retail partners to do.

- 2. Our strategy is unchanged. It’s geared to the long term, so we’re going to continue working to ensure balanced distribution on the global markets while supporting our long established markets, more particularly in their work with their local customer base. Training, personal contacts, market presence – I personally take part in numerous events. It’s essential for us as a family business to meet our partners in person, listen to them, keep them informed and meet their customers whenever possible. And of course what’s also essential is the product, innovating at the technical and aesthetic level, working unceasingly on quality and service – in short hard work whatever the period, euphoric or tough. Our customers and partners judge us on the long term.

- 3. I can’t give an opinion as to the future of our industry, but personally I’m confident generally about the long term. Where we’re concerned, we’re in a sector where people are passionate about fine mechanical watchmaking, and what is positive and important for the future is that new passionate enthusiasts, new customers, some of them very young, are joining us. The latter often come from the digital world, and discovering our world of tradition and mechanical innovation, with its humanity and its history, can prove fascinating to these newcomers. Another promising aspect is that the new hybrid watches are finding their place on the wrists of young people who never or no longer wore a watch. It’s the beginning of a story, a habit, which might subsequently evolve towards a traditional watch.

- 4. Patek Philippe has been taking part in this event at Basel since 1931. For me and my family, it’s a crucial annual get-together with our partners from all over the world, a unique opportunity to meet them, talk with them, take the temperature of the markets and above all, present our new products to them. Being present is crucial for our relations with a long-established market, and last but not least it’s an opportunity to meet the world press, both established contacts but also numerous new contacts. It’s also a highly motivating, enriching atmosphere for all our teams, a chance to show and share the fruits of our labours and present our unique stars, our watches.


1. What are your predictions for 2016? Do you think that exports will recover, or will the markets stagnate or continue to decline after the slump we saw in 2015? And what do you think were the reasons for the downturn in 2015?

2. What are your priorities for the coming year: consolidating your existing markets, actively exploring new markets (if so, which), rationalising / consolidating / expanding your distribution network, launching new products, PR initiatives, etc.?

3. Over the longer term, do you believe that mechanical watchmaking will gradually die out, hybridise, or continue to occupy its own exclusive niche? Do you see the advent of smartwatches as a potential threat, or an opportunity for growth and diversification?

4. What exactly do you hope to achieve from your participation in Baselworld 2016? Do you feel your presence at the fair is essential to your business, or are such forums less important now than they were in the past?