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February 26, 2013

Time for Miracle on the Hudson, Part Deux?

By Chris Boyle

Jean Richard

If you are an elite traveler, probably nothing is more important to you than a pilot you trust for your plane, and when it comes to the businesses you run, having a well-qualified management team is indispensible.

So it was that modern America’s most celebrated pilot, Chesley Sullenberger, was back on the Hudson, or in this case next to the Hudson at The Standard Hotel, where he was named last night the first U.S. ambassador for JEANRICHARD. Jean Richard is a Swiss mechanical watchmaker with a history dating to 1861, so unlike US Airways flight 1549 it has had a long journey and recently a bumpy one.

Interestingly, while Sullenberger was gaining fame for bringing his A320 safely back to earth or should I say river, JEANRICHARD was also losing altitude, but not in a good way. Part of the Sowind Group – Girard-Perregaux is perhaps the better known half of the company – it has been in flux after the passing of majority shareholder Luigi Macaluso in October 2010. Now under the control of French luxury powerhouse PPR (think Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Brioni) JEANRICHARD is getting ready to take off again with former Wyler boss Bruno Grande at the helm and an able cockpit crew.

Staking a claim to be “not just a watch, but a state of mind”, Grande believes JEANRICHARD’s new look will appeal to the elite traveler who “believes in what he does” and cares about “fulfilling his duties.” Not coincidentally, Sullenberger’s New York Times best seller was titled Highest Duty and his most recent Making a Difference: Stories of Visions and Courage from America’s Leaders. It should be remembered that after landing the jet without engine power on the fast moving river and overseeing its evacuation, the hero pilot made a last walk back through the dark cabin, wading through icy water to ensure all of his passengers were off.

Choosing Sullenberger as Ambassador was actually the brainchild of Venanzio Ciampa, founder of The Promotion Factory who with Sowind U.S. President Mike Margolis has been busy raising the fortunes of GP over the past year. For those of you that follow the coaching rotation in the watch industry, Margolis and Ciampa  were the duo that piloted Hublot from near bankruptcy to its current lofty heights in the States.

While one can debate whether or not brining JEANRICHARD back to cruising altitude qualifies as a miracle, for those who are rooting for the time keeper, they would probably agree that the brand’s flight deck is as well qualified as was US Airways’ 1549 on January 15, 2009.

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