The legendary manufacturer of Swiss army knives, which is today owned by Victorinox, has deserted the world of cutlery to focus on watches and travel gear. Strategy update with its General Director, Arianna Pozza.
- Arianna Pozza
- Object: WILE E. COYOTE
“I have a soft spot for Wile E. Coyote. I take this figure everywhere with me, and he sits on my desk in Delémont. He knows what he wants, and will go to any lengths to get it, even though he never succeeds in catching the Road Runner! When he fails, he starts again. That’s my philosophy: keep moving forward with new ideas – and with a smile!”
The merging of the Wenger and Victorinox watch manufacturing workshops was concluded last summer in Delémont. How does Wenger fit into this rationalisation?
It made sense to merge our watchmaking divisions, as today we have two highly complementary brands. Wenger is active in the CHF 99–300 segment, and Victorinox watches start at CHF 350. We share a DNA, a heritage and a state of mind focused on quality – and obviously Wenger has much to gain from Victorinox’s hitting power. There is collaboration on every level, from production to quality control, to our distribution networks.
What is the principal market for Wenger watches?
The Americas, without a doubt, from the United States to Mexico and down to Argentina. And after the Americas come Switzerland, Europe and Asia. Globally we have started collaboration with over 20 new distributors.
Who are your clients?
They are mainly men, although there is some demand from women, particularly for the Edge Romans model. Our aim is to offer the best value for money in the ready-to-wear category.
Are you suffering from the slowdown that other watchmakers have noted?
No. The opposite, in fact: we have seen that clients are looking for more affordable watch products. Our new collections were launched at just the right time! Previously, Wenger watches did not have a well-defined identity; the price range went from CHF 180 to 600, which was too high.
We offer a very wide range of Swiss made timpieces: we have introduced ten new product lines and a hundred new models this year! Five months ago we completely overhauled our collections and reinterpreted our historic models. We’ve moved from largely ‘outdoor’ watches to a broader ‘metropolitan‘ product range. Our main objective is to maintain the good results we had last year while overhauling our range.
What is your DNA?
Swiss made quality, a good price and a three-year guarantee! That might sound a bit old-school, but the old recipes are often the best. Now we have to find the right retailers and more distributors to take on our new models. What I’ve noticed is that word of mouth has worked well since last summer.
- WENGER ROADSTER BLACK NIGHT
What are your best sellers?
The Attitude Chrono is currently our top seller, but we have bestsellers in all of our ten product lines: there’s the Urban Metropolitan, and the Roadster, which is particularly popular with young people, to name just a couple. And we have just launched a new Roadster watch, the Black Night, which is very promising.
You are in roughly the same price bracket as smartwatches. Is this a risk or an opportunity?
An Apple Watch is still far more expensive than any of our products! In terms of their success, it’s too early to say. It is a new and potentially amazing sector. However, we have not yet decided whether or not to jump on the bandwagon. The smartwatch remains highly obsolescent, which is contrary to the values of the Swiss watch industry. But perhaps it’s just a matter of time...
Source: Europa Star Magazine December/January 2016 Magazine issue