The remarkable rise of an Italian at the helm of ROLEX

Gian Riccardo Marini, formerly head of ROLEX Italy (since 2000) has made his way up to the highest ranking within the company, being appointed worldwide CEO on May 3rd 2011, replacing long serving Bruno Meier.

Rolex founder Hans Wildorf first decided to distribute his watches in Italy in 1932 through Italian retailer Franco Locatelli. In 1947, Locatelli, together with Ronchi, the first Rolex dealer in Milano and Renato Marini created ROMALO.

Renato Marini’s sons Gian Riccardo and Giancarlo became involved in the 70s, with Gian Riccardo soon rising as commercial director of the company. In 1980, the Romalo company set up its first service centre, becoming a major a key international centre of Rolex for the training and formation for dealers and retailers. It was only late 1993 that Romalo became a full subsidiary Rolex Italia SpA.

Marini has been instrumental for ROLEX’s major brand associations with golf and sailing, as well as creating limited edition pieces. Speaking about the uniqueness of a ROLEX watch, Gian Riccardo Marini considers it not only an ”object of passion and luxury, but also an important personal investment”, attributes which have established the Rolex brand as one of the most solid luxury brands in the world.

When Gian Riccardo Marini  became involved in the world of sailing as part of his job, he found himself falling in love with a whole new sport. In an interview to Yacht Online, when asked whether he could explain the burgeoning interest in sailing from luxury brands in general and watch companies in particular, he said: ” I can’t really say why any other company is interested in the sector. But what is certain is that we were at the forefront in that regard: Rolex was the first watch brand in the world to launch an advertising campaign built around the sea and that was in 1926. Our watches were also the first official timepieces for the America’s Cup. The power of teamwork, cutting-edge technologies, toughness, resistance, man as protagonist: they’re all the values our company recognised in sailing and that’s why we chose it as our preferred sponsorship sport. Now, of course, everyone has gotten in on the act with testimonials, etc. but maybe that’s just because there’s very little spirit of initiative when it comes to looking for new avenues of communication.”

As CEO, Marini will likely enforce what has proven a recipe of success for the ROLEX company throoughout its recent history and that is providing continued authority for regional offices which are actively involved in key activities such as marketing and retail strategies.