In the latest instalment of STYLE ’s series of interviews with luxury CEOs, Zenith’s Julien Tornare talks about what we can expect from the brand over the second half of 2020, how lockdown has changed how the watch industry works, and how this difficult time has nevertheless brought positives too. Work experience 2017-present: CEO, Zenith 2011-2017: managing director, Vacheron Constantin 2009-2011: international sales director, Vacheron Constantin Be flexible and be grateful for what you have … I have been lucky to be able to spend more time with my family – in fact, it has been the first time in my entire career that I have been able to eat all three meals a day with my family Julien Tornare, CEO, Zenith View this post on Instagram Always evolving. Always reaching for a higher star. Over 50 years of innovation and mastery of the chronograph have resulted in the El Primero 21 1/100th of a second automatic, high-frequency chronograph. A post shared by Zenith Watches (@zenithwatches) on Jul 22, 2020 at 1:26pm PDT 2019 was very much the year of the El Primero for Zenith; what does this year hold for Zenith fans? We launched many new references in Dubai in January including a brand-new iteration of the 36mm Defy Midnight, not to mention some exciting new developments within the frameworks of our Carl Cox and Land Rover partnerships. Lots to look forward to! We also have a number of Chronomaster revivals in the pipeline, such as the Chronomaster Revival Shadow and Manufacture edition, launched very recently. View this post on Instagram #Shadow: When you don’t need colors to stand out. The bold and monochromatic Chronomaster Revival Shadow. #Zenith #ZenithWatches #Watches #Watch #Watchesofinstagram #Watchfam #WatchoftheDay #Luxury #WatchAddict #Watchcollector #Horology #DailyWatch #ElPrimero #Chronograph #VintageWatches A post shared by Zenith Watches (@zenithwatches) on May 13, 2020 at 5:00am PDT You’ve mentioned in interviews that one of the themes of 2020 would be women’s timepieces. In your view, what aspects of women’s watches do Zenith stress most in design? I would say that versatility and ease of wear are among our top priorities when it comes to ladies’ watches. Conceived with free-spirited women in mind and effectively as much a jewel as it is a watch, the Defy Midnight is the perfect companion for the independent women of today: confident, expressive, assertive and with a style of their own. Thanks to the option of interchanging the bracelet with three additional satin and leather straps delivered with the watch, and with a quick strap change mechanism integrated directly onto the back of the straps, the Defy Midnight can be adapted to various situations, outfits, seasons and moods. You’ve also mentioned two new Defy models. Can you tell us more about those? View this post on Instagram #Defy21: This is what true collaboration looks like. The DEFY 21 Land Rover edition features an oscillating rotor shaped like the wheel of the new Defender. #Zenith #ZenithWatches #Watches #Watch #Watchesofinstagram #Watchfam #WatchoftheDay #Luxury #WatchAddict #Watchcollector #Horology #DailyWatch #ElPrimero #Chronograph #Defy #LandRover #RangeRover #Defender #SUV A post shared by Zenith Watches (@zenithwatches) on Mar 16, 2020 at 1:00pm PDT The first would be the launch of the 250-piece Defy 21 Land Rover Edition. Embodying the resilient spirit of the new Land Rover Defender which combines the ultimate in ruggedness and comfort, this is a rugged, stealthy reinterpretation of the 21st century El Primero high-frequency chronograph. Why are watches from Patek Philippe and Rolex snapped up immediately? View this post on Instagram #Defy21: Giving robustness a new face. DEFY 21 ready to take on the open road, and even places with no roads at all. #Zenith #ZenithWatches #Watches #Watch #Watchesofinstagram #Watchfam #WatchoftheDay #Luxury #WatchAddict #Watchcollector #Horology #DailyWatch #ElPrimero #Chronograph #Defy #LandRover #RangeRover #Defender #SUV A post shared by Zenith Watches (@zenithwatches) on Mar 21, 2020 at 6:00am PDT The second is the 200-piece special edition Defy 21 Carl Cox, in honour of our newest “Friend of the Brand”, world-renowned DJ and producer Carl Cox. With the sudden cancellation of Baselworld watch fair and the ensuing lockdowns, how has your launch plan for 2020 been affected? We have had to be even more flexible and innovative than we usually are, which is saying something! We have naturally had to review our launch plan which has involved moving some watches to 2021 but we still have new products lined up to come out regularly throughout this year. In support of this, we are using every possible opportunity to maximise our communication opportunities while leveraging a wide range of social media to maintain brand and corporate communication and stay in contact. We have also been working very hard to improve our e-commerce capacity. Watches & Wonders 2020: highlights of Geneva’s first digital-only fair How have you been managing the lockdowns in terms of manufacturing and how has this affected your supply chain? The health and safety of our employees has been our number one priority. We addressed this by closing our manufacturing and by enabling as many of our staff as possible to work from home. Now that some employees are back we’re catching up nicely although given the worldwide situation we have naturally experienced a few delays in product delivery. Aside from the virus, in Hong Kong for instance, it was a turbulent year even before that. How much have these events made you rethink your worldwide strategy – and in Asia in particular? We need to ensure that we are in touch with our markets’ needs and support them as much as possible. As a confessed “market man”, I am keenly aware of this. What are your thoughts on the industry’s tentative moves towards digital platforms and e-commerce? On the digital front, we are actively using social media, including Instagram for live streaming, Zoom for press and retail presentations, and e-commerce for sales. Products have been available on e-commerce, but are now also available in physical stores which are gradually reopening, as well as at the Manufacture itself once it reopens to public. Why are Koreans rushing to buy high-end labels, but ignoring local brands? Have the past few months brought you any lessons, new insights? Be flexible and be grateful for what you have! Digitise as much as possible and keep in contact with the teams to ensure that you can move forward as fast as possible. Additionally, family time is precious and despite this being a very difficult time, I have been lucky to be able to spend more time with my family, which I haven’t done in years. In fact, it has been the first time in my entire career that I have been able to eat all three meals a day with my family. View this post on Instagram #Escapment: Violet by nature. The silicon escape wheel and pallet lever of the DEFY 21 Ultraviolet make a perfect pairing with the purple-treated balance wheel bridge. #Zenith #ZenithWatches #Watches #Watch #Watchesofinstagram #Watchfam #WatchoftheDay #Luxury #WatchAddict #Watchcollector #Horology #DailyWatch #ElPrimero #Chronograph #Purple #Ultraviolet A post shared by Zenith Watches (@zenithwatches) on Jun 13, 2020 at 5:00am PDT I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that the Chinese word for “crisis” comprises the words “danger” and “opportunity”. Which word do you think best describes the situation right now and why? I am a positive man so I would say opportunity. We need to innovate constantly to make the most of the opportunities that come to us. Of course, the current situation is difficult for all brands in this industry and others, but we need to optimise all our tools to emerge on the other side as fast as possible in the best way we can. How China is reshaping luxury shopping post-Covid-19 Moving forward, how do you think luxury brands should prepare themselves for prolonged periods of uncertainty? Once again, one needs to remain flexible and open to change and above all, be positive! Not to mention fostering the start-up spirit of which we are so proud at Zenith. Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .