Eugen Maier, who sadly has passed away, was of the kind to devote his working life to furthering an objective; one which, over the years, grew into an ideal. Born in Pforzheim, Germany, he took his first steps in sales with a local jewellery company. From there he travelled to different countries, where he continued to hone his skills as well as satisfy his zeal for languages and other cultures. As a young professional striking out during the post-war economic boom, he was determined to put his fluency in six languages to good use. Eugen Maier was destined to travel the world. Leaving behind his native Germany, he discovered his true vocation not in jewellery but in a similar profession. Newly settled in Fleurier, Switzerland, Eugen Maier became captivated by watchmaking. He quickly learned the ins and outs of the industry, and embarked on a new position as sales director with Baume & Mercier. The job suited the man – for six months of the year, Eugen Maier travelled the world, visiting the brand’s main international markets – and clearly the man suited the job: during his eighteen-year tenure, the company’s sales took off and would exceed the landmark figure of CHF 100 million.
The importance of training
When Baume & Mercier was taken over by Cartier in 1988, CEO Alain-Dominique Perrin was well aware that one of the principal artisans of its success was none other than Eugen Maier, and so he had no hesitation in appointing him at the head of the firm. This would be a fresh challenge for a man who knew how important intelligent marketing, professionally done, was for an international brand. He also engineered the launch of the Hampton collection, which rapidly established itself as Baume & Mercier’s flagship line. While helping to integrate the brand into what would become Compagnie Financière Richemont, one of the world’s leading luxury groups, Eugen Maier joined the Association Interprofessionnelle de la Haute Horlogerie (AIHH). Established in 1992 by Franco Cologni, then chairman of Cartier International, as a complement to Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), it would grow into an association of 11 brands and close to 200 retailers. One of its most pressing tasks was to train sales staff in these early days of the mechanical watch revival – a task of such strategic importance that in 1997 Franco Cologni named Eugen Maier secretary-general of the AIHH. He served in this position until his retirement in 2004, a year before the Association was dissolved and replaced by the newly formed Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. Eugen Maier, with whom Franco Cologni would sit down to “an enjoyable meal between veterans” at each SIHH, described his role as helping brands and retailers reach “a partnership founded on excellence and ethics.” An objective he worked tirelessly to achieve.