By Michelle Graff
Watch industry pioneer and entrepreneur Raymond Weil died on Sunday at age 87.
Geneva--Raymond Weil, founder of the Swiss luxury watch brand of the same name and an innovator in the industry, died Sunday. He was 87 years old.

Weil was a pioneer in the watchmaking industry, one of the first to “to look at watches as a luxurious accessory,” the company said in a statement on Monday.

He launched the Raymond Weil company in the middle of a watch industry crisis in 1976, bringing consumers high-quality timepieces at more affordable price points, and was integral to the development of the Swiss watchmaking industry at a key time when it was in need of renewal, acting as an ambassador for Geneva and Switzerland.

Weil knew how to create the personal, professional and friendly connections necessary to build the Raymond Weil international network, the company said, and he established an approach to business still used by the brand today.

Raymond Weil Genève is one of the few watch brands that still bears the founder’s name and operates as a family business. Weil’s son-in-law, Olivier Bernheim, is currently the president and CEO, while two grandsons, Elie and Pierre Bernheim, are officers at the company.

Weil retired from the company’s board last September and remained honorary president.

His contributions in the watchmaking industry included high positions in various professional organizations throughout his career, serving as president of the Geneva Watchmaker Union, vice president of the Watchmaking Industry Training Centre (CFH) and member of the Watchmaking Federation (FH).

He also was the president of the Exhibitors Committee of the Basel International Watch and Jewellery Fair until 1995.

Weil’s personal interests included his family, painting, aviation and music, as well as a passion for classical and lyrical music and contemporary art.

The watchmaker was “an extraordinary man who was kind, affable and above all sincerely generous,” the company said.

“Raymond Weil was a self-made man. He was my mentor and I learned so much from him,” Olivier Bernheim said. “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.”

Today, Raymond Weil Genève has about 200 employees and four branches outside of Switzerland.

Raymond Weil watches, which generally cost between 800 and 4,000 Swiss francs ($893 to $4,463), are sold in about 3,500 outlets across 95 countries.

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