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Alexander M. Bennouna, Chief Executive Officer (Timepieces), Victorinox chats up with Hiren Kumar Bose about Inox, a watch which can survive extremes and other issues
What does a Victorinox watch stand for? Who are its consumers and who does the brand compete with?
We are not a watch brand but a Swiss brand, making watches. It has taken us time to get our positioning right. Earlier we entered the mass market category and were volume driven, but now we have graduated to the affordable luxury segment. Our consumers are in the group of 18 to 55 years. We compete with 10- odd brands in the category.
How critical is India in your global footprint today?
India is one of the fastest growing markets for Victorinox globally. Our aim is to be amongst the largest markets for Victorinox within the next five years and at the current rate of growth, we see that as being possible. India is very critical because Asia is a very important market for us and India is very important for the Asian region.
What is the best selling Victorinox watch line?
The Chrono Classic. This is the line in which we have introduced the Chrono Classic Perpetual Calendar with 1/100th of a second. This watch is the result of a collaboration we made with Soprod. We had to improve the movement in order to meet our expectations. The design of the dial shows the discs indicating the perpetual calendar and 1/100th of a second which when needed can enable a perfect alignment. It is a calibre that already existed, but the one we are offering is the result of this improvement in engineering that we performed on the movement. For the time being, it is an exclusive of Victorinox.
What are your key launches this year?
The Chrono Classic XLS continues its evolution this year as well. New dial colours with 45mm stainless steel cases have variations including black, midnight blue and chocolate. The model is powered by the ETA G10.211 quartz movement, encased in a 41mm stainless steel case. Then we have the new Dive Master 500 which was created for Victorinox’s 25th anniversary in watchmaking. Limited to 500 pieces, the model is forged from grade two titanium. Its tough material, coupled with screw-down pushers and a helium valve at 9 o’clock, allow the timepiece to have a 500-m water resistance. The Infantry collection is about vintage-inspired timepieces that is now offered in PVD-gold-treaded stainless steel cases with chocolate-coloured dials. The 40mm case houses one of three variants; the Infantry quartz movement, the Infantry Mechanical movement or the Infantry Chronograph movement. All three variants feature a 100m water resistance and luminous hands and numerals. We have added eight new references to the Maverick Sport collection: four chronographs and four three-handwatches.
Of all the various launches, which one would you select as a watch that you’re really proud of ?
A new watch collection, called Inox. The watch has survived 130 toughness tests, including being run over by a tank, dropped onto concrete, exposed to temperature extremes and thrown into a sandstorm for a few hours. Thirty of these tests were specifically designed to prove that the timepiece is built to last. The timepiece can survive a 64-ton Swiss Army tank rolling over it and brush off two hours in a washing machine. It can stay watertight to a depth of 200m, operate in temperatures ranging from -51 °C to +71°C and be good for 12G of acceleration or deacceleration.
It’s also been tortured with corrosive chemicals like gasoline, solvent oils, cleaning products and insecticides. Victorinox has reinforced the axis and attachment of the luminescent hour and minute hands, protected the horns against warping, and solidified the crossbar. The crown is protected by a slightly elevated bezel, as is the crystal. The watch is further strengthened with a removable protective cover made of nylon and silicone.