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An Exclusive Interview with Benoit de Clerck, the New CEO of Zenith

9 April 2024
An Exclusive Interview with Benoit de Clerck, the New CEO of Zenith

We have interviewed with Benoit de Clerck about his career and novelties of Zenith.

An Exclusive Interview With Benoit De Clerck, The New Ceo Of Zenith

Let’s start with your journey; when did your journey at watch industry start?

I started my watch journey very early in my career. In fact, with my second month salary I decided to purchase a watch (my first salary was a photographic camera)!

Did you have interest in watches for before business life?

I find a watch a very fascinating object or tool. I was always intrigued by the functioning of such a precision in such a small case. If I recall correctly, all my watches even when I was very young, were automatic!

Do you have a special watch in your collection?

Choosing and owning a watch is always an important moment in one’s life… I have a special watch that I wore for my wedding. I already prepared it for my son to wear one day… I like that tradition.

So far you have experiences in different groups of luxury world. How do you evaluate the situation of Swiss watch industry today?

The Swiss watch industry is always innovating and growing. Swiss made is a real symbol of quality and pride. At Zenith, we are very proud of making our watches 100% in house manufacture and today, this is very valuable.

Could you tell us about dynamics of Zenith as the new CEO of brand?

Zenith is a very dynamic brand, and the brand is very rich in history but most importantly strong in terms of legitimacy and its authenticity.  Zenith is celebrating its 160 years of anniversary next year and ever since we have been in Le Locle, in the manufacture that you all know today. It’s such a special place! At Zenith, we invite all travelers to come visit us in this beautiful city named Le Locle and visit our manufacture that is open to public.

What is your expectation from 2024 for Zenith?

I love that at Zenith we have a very lean collection today. I am inheriting today a really well focused collection. It is clear for the teams, clear for me, and more importantly, it is clear for the retailers and for the customers. There are very few brands that can run their business on 120 references. The clarity of the collection is a great asset. We know where we are going. Additionally, the products are superb and they offer excellent quality and value, a testament to being a fully integrated manufacture. Few brands work exclusively with their own movements. For 2024, my goal is to come meet as many friends from the industry and colleagues around the world, it’s very important for me to be close to the markets. My mission is to sustain the positive evolution of the brand on a global scale.

Could you please tell us Zenith novelties in Watches and Wonders 2024?

After a successful LVMH watch week in January, where we launched several new additions to the Chronomaster collection, at W&W Geneva we are coming back strong with Defy. In particular we have a much awaited for evolution of the Defy Skyline, with the Defy Skyline Chronograph, in black, blue or silver dial. This is a great watch for every day and a natural evolution. We are also come back with a new interpretation of the Defy Extreme Diver and a Defy Revival A3648 showing Zenith’s heritage and past in the world of Diver watches and our modern interpretation.

Which is your favorite from the novelties? And why?

I definitely would say the Defy Skyline Chronograph, in blue dial. I feel like this watch is a great size, 42mm, easy to wear every day, and the interchangeable strap system can give it a very different look in just a click. It makes me happy knowing I am wearing the Manufacture’s latest iteration of the El Primero automatic high-frequency chronograph calibre, endowed with a 1/10th of a second chronograph function. I also love the starry sky pattern on the dial, very essential and minimal but giving the watch depth and personality.

An Exclusive Interview With Benoit De Clerck, The New Ceo Of Zenith

When you were appointed to Zenith, which sides of the brand was surprise for you?

I was very positively impressed of the rich heritage and history of the Brand. It’s not so obvious from the “outside” but it became so clear to me as soon as I joined, by visiting the Grenier (attic), the manufacture, meeting the watchmakers and heritage team. We have so much material to work with that needs to be further told, explained, and exploited. There are so many true stories in this brand that make the most real and authentic marketing!

How do you evaluate the relation of Zenith with its heritage?

Zenith built a Heritage team several years ago, and it’s best decision the Brand could make. There is so much precious information that needs to be safely stored and used. We can see it when we launch novelties today, the Defy Extreme Diver for example, it’s so interesting to explore and discover what the brand used to do in its past. This is why we also have Revival models, to show the bridge between the past and the present, showing the innovation that the Brand can live up to. We are very lucky to have a strong Heritage department.