Past Event: Stanford GSB Chapter of Hong Kong

Breakfast, Friday, 13 November 2015

Speaker Series:
CEO, Audemars Piguet ("AP")

And the Reason Why the Smart Watch Will Not Destroy Luxury Watches Nor Become Another Quartz Watch Crises
How the CEO of one of the World’s Most-Sought-After Luxury Watch Manufacturer Upended Conventional Wisdom, Shrunk Product Lines, and Re-captured its Retail Channel ... And the Story Behind LeBron & Those Size 56 Basketball Shoes in the Office

08:15  Registration & Informal Discussion
08:30  Remarks
09:15  Q&A
10:00  Close

Club Lusitano, 24th floor, 16 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong

Cost & Registration:
To register, please go online and CLICK HERE to RSVP and PAY NOW.

Early Bird Credit Card or PayPal Pre-Payment
of HKD 350 if made by 23:59 Wednesday night, 11 November. Cash Payment or Late Bird Pre-Payment or at the Door will be HKD 550. Please bring exact amount if paying in cash/at the door (no change will be provided). No refunds for no-shows or post-payment cancellations.

Please note space is limited
. Early Bird registration is encouraged. Questions or problems registering? Please contact Chapter VP Beatrice Wong at


Speaker's Bio
See below

Event Details:
The Stanford GSB Chapter of Hong Kong is pleased to invite you to a breakfast talk with François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet ("AP"), and the luxury watch executive who actively participated in upending how the industry approaches its brand and retail distribution strategy.

Globally, AP sells 38,000 timepieces a year and its Royal Oak remains one of the single most sought after luxury timepieces in the world (WorldWatchReport). Equally impressive, some of the world’s most valuable luxury brands like Chanel use Audemars-Piguet watch movements in their timepieces.

AP, founded in 1875 by two watchmakers in Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux in the village of Le Brassus, remains one of the “last true independents’ in an industry increasingly dominated by a handful of global luxury conglomerates (LVMH, Richemont, Kering/Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, Swatch Group). Original family members Jasmine Audemars and Olivier Audemars, respectively Chairwoman and Vice Chairman of the board, remain at the helm of the company today.

In another life, François-Henry, who did not complete his baccalaureate, might have been a golfer, turning pro in his teens, and rising to 25th ranking in France.

Starting in the fashion industry, first in inventory then in sales with the likes of Armani and Gianfranco Ferre, François-Henry was recruited by Audemars Piguet at age 30 to look after the French market. Along the way (Singapore, Switzerland, Germany, Italy…), he was put to the test in the USA, which then represented less than USD 6 MM a year in sales. Over the following 10 years, François-Henry successfully turned this backwater into USD 160 MM of annual sales (including Latin America).

During this time, he took the brand to the NBA, creating innovative tie-ups with the Atlanta Hawks, LeBron James or Shaquille O’Neal. Not to mention the birth of extraordinary relationships with other ground-breaking personalities such as Quincy Jones or Jay Z within the music industry, all the way to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Bill Clinton. Closer to Asia, Leon Lai and Michelle Yeoh have also been part of the Audemars Piguet family of ambassadors.

This US success resulted in François-Henry's promotion to CEO in 2012, the first non-Swiss in 140 years of company history.

Taking over, he immediately began to shrink product lines for a stronger and more coherent offer. And with the watch industry overall being one of the last "retail chain holdouts" going through third party vendors rather than managing their own stores, he intensified the creation of company-owned stores where the emotional connection with clients could be amplified and the customer – historically unknown to watch manufacturers – could be better understood.

Where does François-Henry see his key priorities, today? 

Despite the China slowdown, AP's sales are up 15% versus last year. 38% of AP’s sales come from Asia with it representing, along with Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, one of China’s "big three" watch brands. But with 70% of Chinese luxury spending coming from overseas travel, the BRICS and 4 Asian nations representing 50% of all global luxury timepiece sales, Asia’s rise is not without risk. How does AP address these challenges? Where does AP's digital and omnichannel strategy take the brand?

While François-Henry argues "the sky is the limit" for global penetration of a luxury watch brand where only a fraction of the consumers who can afford USD 30,000 watches actually own one, many of his competitors disagree. What will be the impact of the Smart Watch? Is the Haute Horlogerie industry about to face a new Quartz Crisis as it did in the 70s?

The Stanford GSB Chapter of HK could not be more pleased to have François-Henry share his insights, experience and unique journey from the golf links to the master craftsman links of the luxury timepiece industry. We hope you can join us.

Speaker's Bio: François-Henry Bennahmias
François-Henry Bennahmias, 51 years of age, was born in Paris where he began his career in professional sports. Ranked as number 25 on the French golf tour, he developed a keen instinct for the challenge, adventure and bold drive for excellence that mark a true champion and the highest level of perfection in any craft.

He soon realized that he needed to pursue a new challenge, one that would enable him to channel his creativity specifically in the luxury industry. Prior to commencing his career in Haute Horlogerie he took the decision to refine his experience in the luxury fashion industry, where he worked in brands including Giorgio Armani, Gianfranco Ferré, Les Copains, Reporter, Peter Hadley and Vilebrequin.

He started his career at Audemars Piguet and Haute Horlogerie, in 1994, in France. In less than three years, he was promoted to lead the brand’s operations in Singapore and took on added responsibility for Audemars Piguet in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Brunei, Australia and Malaysia.

Not long after being in his role, he was presented with a new challenge to lead and develop the brand in a new market. In 1999, he assumed the role of President & CEO of Audemars Piguet (North America), Inc. while he also advised the Audemars Piguet Group for the development of the South American market including Mexico and the Caribbean.

François-Henry Bennahmias also played an instrumental role in establishing the company’s flagship boutiques on New York City’s 57th Street (2003) and Bal Harbour Shops in Miami, Florida (2006). He once again embarked on a new challenge when in May 2012 he assumed the responsibilities of CEO ad Interim of Audemars Piguet, and most recently by becoming CEO in January 2013.