Patrick Heiniger, who headed Rolex from 1992 to 2008, died in Monaco at age 62 following an unspecified illness.
A lawyer by training, Heiniger was appointed managing director of the noted watch brand in 1992, six years after he joined as commercial director. He was also named CEO in 1997.
His father, André J. Heiniger, preceded him as CEO. When Patrick resigned in 2008 for personal reasons, he ended his family’s 45-year rule of the company.
Patrick Heiniger is credited with pushing vertical integration at Rolex, ultimately giving the company more control over its production.
In 2002, he was awarded the insignia of French Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honour; in 2005, he was appointed Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.
“Throughout his 16 years as head of the company, Patrick Heiniger was the faithful heir to the spirit of enterprise that has made Rolex an exceptional brand,” said a company statement. “He combined tradition with the demands of an ever-evolving world and his vision brought the company solidly into the third millennium.”