By Michelle Graff
Philippe Charriol, founder of Swiss watch, jewelry and accessories company Charriol, died in a race car accident earlier this week at a track in the south of France. (Photo courtesy of Charriol)
Marseille, France—Philippe Charriol, the French-born founder of Swiss luxury goods brand Charriol, was killed in a race car accident Tuesday at a track in the south of France, his company announced Thursday.

A known racing enthusiast, Charriol was driving his car on the Circuit Paul Ricard, the same track that hosted the French Grand Prix Formula 1 race last year, when he got into an accident on the Mistral straight, a course spokeswoman told the AFP. He was rushed to the hospital in Marseille, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Born in 1942 and raised in Marseille, Charriol spent 15 years at Cartier as a general manager and brand president for the Asian market before branching out on his own in 1983.

He started Charriol in Geneva as a multi-product brand that made Swiss watches, jewelry, accessories, perfume and, eventually, clothing and even Charriol-branded Bordeaux.

He focused his efforts on the Far East at a time when, according to the company statement, “the nexus of Swiss watchmakers was the Place Vendôme in Paris,” establishing itself in the Asian markets ahead of other European brands.

In 2011, Charriol held an event inside Beijing’s Forbidden City for 500 celebrities and dignitaries, one of only three luxury brands ever allowed to do so, the company said.

Today, Charriol remains an independent, family-run business and has 285 boutiques and more than 3,000 other points of sale worldwide.

20190301 Philippe with familyPhilippe Charriol, center, with his son Alexandre, left, and daughter Coralie. Alexandre is Charriol’s visual director while Coralie works as creative director. (Photo courtesy of Charriol)

In both his personal and professional life, Charriol “operated at full speed every day,” running his company as well as pursuing personal passions and interests, like motorsports—he drove at an “almost professional” level for the past 25 years—architecture and the arts. He started an art foundation in Hong Kong that has been providing scholarships to young artists for the past 20 years.

“Philippe Charriol, with his incredible lust for life and audacious spirit, embodied ‘l’art de vivre la difference,’ a fitting signature for an exuberant founder. His many accomplishments and the success of his brand are a testament to the destiny that can be achieved by following one’s heart,” the company said.

On Friday, Charriol had tributes to its late founder posted on its website and had added a black ribbon to the logo on its Facebook page and Twitter account.

Charriol is survived by his wife, Marie-Olga Charriol, the company public relations director, and three children: Coralie, Charriol’s creative director; Alexandre, the visual director; and Laetitia.

He will be laid to rest next week in a family funeral service in Marseille, and his life will be celebrated in a more public memorial service scheduled to take place at the end of March in Paris.

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