Decker, Geillon Leave Franck Muller Watchland

Didier Decker, 39, the well-known chief operating officer of Swiss luxury watch mini-conglomerate Franck Muller Watchland SA, unexpectedly left the company Aug. 29. Julie Geillon, the head of human resources, also left about the same time.

The departures of Decker and Geillon were confirmed to JCK by company spokesperson Yuliana Ramirez, who said each “decided to leave the company for their own reasons.” The company provided no further explanation.

Didier hadn’t been replaced yet as COO at press time. At the company’s Rodolphe Watches & Jewellery brand, where he oversaw communications, marketing and brand development since 2006, his duties are being handled by Rodolphe Cattin, that brand’s co-founder, and Julien Mottaz, its sales manager.

This was the second unexpected change in a leading Swiss watch organization’s top management in August. The luxury watch auction house Antiquorum’s new management  dismissed its founder and president; managing director; financial director; and manager of its Geneva showroom in early August.

Decker earlier was vice president of the Swiss-based international banking service UBS. He joined Franck Muller, headquartred just outside Geneva, Switzerland, in 1998, and has been a key administrative and financial official in it since then. He became its chief operating officer in 2004 and has been a prominent representative of the luxury watch mini-conglomerate.

Franck Muller Watchland has grown rapidly in recent years, adding the luxury watch brands Rudolphe, Barthelay, and Backes & Strauss (a joint venture between Franck Muller and the London diamond company) to its brands Franck Muller, Pierre Kunz, and European Company Watch. The company, which started it own annual watch show in 1997 (the WPHH—World Presentation of Haute Horlogerie), is building an additional, large watch production/business park in Les Bois, in northwest Switzerland. It expects soon to have about 1,000 employees, most of them in Switzerland. It does about $307 million in annual sales.