153-year-old watchmaker Zenith sets sights on millennials

"Mechanical watches are not there any more to have the primary function of indicating the time. Their role is to present part of our personality," says Julien Tornare, CEO of Zenith, a Swiss luxury watchmaker.

Zenith
Zenith CEO Julien TornareZenith

Like many traditional Swiss watchmaking companies, Zenith faces the challenge of keeping younger generations interested in mechanical watches while smartphones and smartwatches offer a wide range of alternatives.

For Tornare, the key is combining innovation with tradition: "Even most traditional brands might feel a bit stuck. The watch industry tends to repeat the past and there is a certain chance of turning it into a museum industry."

The 153-year-old company is a pioneer. In 1969, they launched what they called the most precise watch at that time — the El Primero — and last year, Zenith once again took pride in producing what has been called the "most precise mechanical watch ever made" thanks to new technology.

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Zenith Defy LabZenith

Click on the video above and take a walk in Zenith's workshop in Le Locle, a municipality traditionally dedicated to watchmaking which has been awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO.

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Script: Doloresz Katanich

Video: Sallyann Nicholls