What’s a Swiss-made watch that comes with a three-year warranty, and costs as little as P6,000?
That’s no trick question.
Wenger, the Swiss company that used to retail its watches for up to P25,000 apiece, is repositioning itself with modern, stylish timepieces at affordable price points, but of the trademark Swiss quality.
“The price is low, but the quality isn’t cheap,” says Arianna Pozza, head of Wenger Watches. “Is the brand’s prestige affected because we lowered the prices? It has no possible comparison to the Wenger in the past. Now this is value. The look is expensive but the price is much lower.”
Wenger, creator of the Swiss Army knife, was founded in 1893 in the Jura region of Switzerland. It started making watches in 1997 with a focus on military and outdoor styles, and launched its travel gear business in 2003.
The company, which had run into financial troubles, was acquired by Victorinox in 2005, to keep the Swiss Army brand in its birthplace.
In the market, however, Victorinox and Wenger (pronounced veng-gehr) were competitors in the watch category. This year, the Victorinox Group decided to relaunch Wenger to be in a complementary position—as a metropolitan-style watch priced no more than P16,000 for its top range men’s chrono models.
“Other Swiss brands would be almost double,” says Marnie Chua, brand manager of Wenger at Lucerne, the exclusive distributor. “It has the same price point as the fashion watch brands that aren’t even Swiss-made. Now more Filipinos can afford a Swiss watch, and it’s not made of plastic. These are steel watches.”
Filipino men are also fast catching up with the women’s attitude of buying watches as an accessory, which has been a boon to the watch business, Chua adds. Wenger’s new proposition has been well received here, where it has 73 outlets.
Wenger offers a wide selection—up to 90 models a year of classic to sporty styles, both for men and women. “We want to grow the women’s segment, which is only about 15 percent,” says Pozza.
As for trends, Pozza says the blue dials are huge right now, whether in the rugged chrono styles or the classic dress watches. Women are also switching back to smaller, daintier watches, after several seasons of stealing men’s oversize styles.
The vintage Milanese bracelet—those delicate mesh-metal straps
—is again coveted, even in the luxury brands. These are what can be expected from Wenger next year, says the executive.
“Of course, we don’t phase out what the customers always want, because not all countries adapt to the trends at the same pace,” she adds. “But we’re quite happy. All the 45 markets are growing at up to 90 percent, which is quite fast.”
Wenger watches are available at its boutiques in SM Makati, SM Megamall, Harbor Point in Subic, and at all Lucerne, Chronos, Swiss Gear, Wrist_pod and L Studio branches nationwide.