Henri Stern, former long-time president of renowned Swiss luxury watch brand Patek Philippe who developed its U.S. market and international network, died Sept. 21 in Geneva, Switzerland. He was 91.
Stern was the son of the man who made dials exclusively for Patek Philippe and bought the brand in 1932.
In 1937, Henri Stern was sent to New York to oversee American distribution of the company’s products. An astute businessman, he established The Henri Stern Watch Agency—Pate Philippe’s first foreign distributor and still the brand’s American distributor—and significantly built up the company’s U.S. business.
In 1958, he returned to Geneva, the brand’s headquarters, to become president and managing director of the luxury watchmaker, overseeing its continued worldwide growth and development. That same year, he also became sole owner of the family company.
His son Phillipe, 64, joined the firm in 1966, became managing director in 1978 and succeeded his father as president in 1990. Today, Patek Philippe remains one of the very few family-owned and operated Swiss watch firms.