Ulysse Nardin’s new CEO, Patrick Pruniaux, has led an interesting professional life. Watch brand executives are usually drawn from two groups: industry lifers, who have lived and breathed watches for their entire careers, and business executives, who are perhaps more prized for their acumen about protecting shareholder value than for their bred-in-the-bone love of watches and watchmaking per se. Pruniaux has had an unusually broad range of positions – he began his career with LVMH in 2000, where he first handled wine and spirits for Latin America, but then went to TAG Heuer, where he oversaw international exports.
But in 2014 he did something which you’d think would get him run out of Geneva on a rail: he joined Apple, where he first worked on something that Apple would at the time only refer to euphemistically as the Special Projects Team. Pruniaux’s move was especially daring, as Apple would not even tell him what the Special Project was – as he told me over breakfast in New York recently, he had a (vague) title and a salary offer, and was told to take it or leave it. The Special Project of course turned out to be the Apple Watch; Pruniaux headed the team launching it in the UK and Ireland. And in September of 2017 – in keeping with his apparent inclination to make surprising career moves – he left Apple to become CEO of Ulysse Nardin.
With his first SIHH as CEO behind him, Pruniaux sat down with HODINKEE to talk about his unusual career, how his time in the tech world affected his views on traditional watchmaking, and what he sees in Ulysse Nardin’s future.
You came into Ulysse Nardin from a completely different environment (at Apple).
Well … I knew what to expect, I spent nine years at TAG Heuer already, I absolutely knew what to expect. The transition was not that difficult – I must say very honestly, the excitement was immediate. When I arrived in the office for the first time [at Ulysse Nardin] I said wow … this is exactly what I signed on for. I don’t think there is one time when I regretted my decision to leave Apple. And it’s funny, because people don’t leave Apple. Unless they get fired [laughing]. I’ve known the industry and the shift …read more