One Very AP Man

At the recent opening of the Audemars Piguet exhibition in Shanghai, CEO François-Henry Bennahmias sat down with HK Golfer publisher Charles McLaughlin and shared his views on golf, hip-hop and the future of the watch industry

CM: Can’t wait! You seem very excited about the future for AP. What about your future. Would you ever leave AP?

FHB: I have to say I've not been regularly chased, headhunted since I took over, but I know why. I know exactly why. First of all, because people know that I am very happy where I am. I've got a great team, Audemars Piguet takes good care of me. I've said many times in many interviews that the day I leave AP I leave the watch world. I've been with Audemars Piguet for 22 years. I'm not saying no, that nothing could happen, because you never know in life, but…

Also, I'm not a politician at all, and in these big roles you have to go through politics. I want decisions to be taken fast, and that would be an issue I know, in many places. I used to be hunted when I was in the US, by luxury companies, and I went far twice, just to test the water. And at the end even the headhunting company told me that they couldn't put me in a box. You cannot put me in a box, and that was bothering them, because I don't have a single diploma. I didn't graduate at anything, but I can deliver success.

CM: The actual brand itself, how often do suitors come after the company?

FHB: Many times, but for the last seven, eight years less so, because we've declared our will of independence so many times. And yet, every time we hear stories: "Audemars Piguet being taken over…". So, the last time that I heard the rumour, it was a year and a half ago: Someone said “Apparently Richemont is on the verge to buy Audemars Piguet!”, and I said [whispers] "No, no. You don’t understand? We are buying Cartier." And they say, "What?!". And I go "Yeah, we are buying Cartier," because it kicks off another rumor. You like that one?! [laughs]

Never a dull moment and all too quickly, it’s time to wrap up. As I get ready to head to the airport, smiling, I check my energy levels and sure enough, the “anti-dementor” has delivered again! Let’s hope we see him in Hong Kong soon, ideally presenting the winner’s trophy at Fanling - to an AP ambassador!


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