[Luxus Magazine] François-Henry Bennahmias, Audemars Piguet’s iconoclast

After eleven years at the helm of Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet, François-Henry Bennahmias is preparing to hand over the reins to Iaria Resta – ex-Firmenich – at the end of the year. Between 2012 – the year of his appointment as CEO of the Swiss manufacture – and today, he has succeeded in quadrupling the company’s sales.

 

An avid golfer, François-Henry Bennahmias, soon to be ex-CEO of Audemars Piguet, is an outlier in the hushed, conservative world of Haute Horlogerie.

 

He joined Audemars Piguet in 1994, and with his outspokenness, audacity, taste for pop culture and management methods, has not only made the Royal Oak highly desirable, but has also established the Swiss town of Le Brassus in the minds of luxury professionals.

 

Founded in 1875, the Manufacture produces around 50,000 Oak watches a year, mainly under the Royal Oak brand, at its workshops in Le Brassus. A drop in the bucket compared to Rolex, which produces around 1 million units a year.

Audemars Piguet is nonetheless the fourth-largest Swiss watch brand in terms of revenue. The average price of an Audemars Piguet watch is around 50,000 Swiss francs.

A golf defector in luxury

 

If there’s one thing everyone agrees on, it’s that François-Henry Bennahmias does nothing like everyone else.

Whether it’s appointing a woman as his successor – in a male-dominated world – and from outside the watchmaking world, multiplying collaborations with the pop icons of his adolescence, such as the Marvel Studios, or offering mentoring programs inspired by the Star Wars saga.

 

To grow from 500 million Swiss francs in 2012 to 2 billion Swiss francs in 2022, while preserving the brand’s rarity and appeal despite increased production, is a feat that few business leaders can boast. Except, that is, François-Henry Bennahmias.

Before revolutionizing the world of watchmaking for 29 years, the current CEO came up through the world of high-level sport – his hobby – and fashion.

 

From the age of 18 to 23, he was a professional golfer but, as he admits, “didn’t earn a very good living”: 10,000 French francs a year.

 

His destiny changed when a friend pointed him in the direction of luxury goods, a sector he never left.

Click here to read the entire article on Luxus Magazine

Featured Photo: © Audemars Piguet

Picture of Victor Gosselin
Victor Gosselin
Victor Gosselin is a journalist specializing in luxury, HR, tech, retail, and editorial consulting. A graduate of EIML Paris, he has been working in the luxury industry for 9 years. Fond of fashion, Asia, history, and long format, this ex-Welcome To The Jungle and Time To Disrupt likes to analyze the news from a sociological and cultural angle.

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