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Pioneering watchmaker Raymond Weil dies

Raymond Weil, founder of the eponymous watchmaker

Swiss watchmaker Raymond Weil, who founded the family business that bears his name, has died in Geneva, aged 87.

Weil founded the luxury brand in 1976, when the Swiss watchmaking industry was in disarray due to the so-called “Quartz crisis” – during which electronic watchmaking methods resulted in a decline in traditional mechanical timepieces, which had been the speciality of Swiss craftsmen.

His aim had been to create luxurious but affordable watches.

In a statement the company said Weil died “peacefully” on 26 January.

Outside watchmaking, Weil was passionate about music, and named some of his first collections after famous operas and composers – such as the Amadeus collection, named after Mozart, and the Traviata collection.

Weil retired from the company’s board only last September, but was the honourary president of the brand at his death.

The company is one of the few Swiss watchmakers to remain in family hands. Weil’s son-in-law Olivier Bernheim, who joined the company in 1982, is the chair of the board, while his grandsons Elie and Pierre Bernheim are both directors.

Bernheim described Weil as his mentor. He said in a statement: ““His legacy and enthusiasm will live on through our family, his brand, its team over the world and all of those who wear the watch that bears his name.”

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