The CEO Of Longines Explains Facts With Figures

Walter von Känel gets statistical.

BY Daniel Goh | Sep 25, 2017 | Feature

We do 1.4 million pieces every year; SGD2.1 million in consolidated value, putting us at No. 4 in Switzerland. This means we sell roughly 6,000 pieces a day.

We focus on the SGD1,500 to SGD4,500 price range, which makes up 50 percent of our business. In this band, we have taken 30 percent market share out of 500 brands so I can say we dominate our segment.

I started with Longines in 1969 (the same year we introduced our first quartz movement) and after spending two-thirds of my life in this price segment, I know we are in the volume business. The strategy has always been consistency, continuation and focus. Stay in your league and, in this industry, the league means the price range.

The Master collection is still our number one collection; we do over 300,000 pieces per year and it represents 30 percent of Longines sales.

Each of our collections comes with a variety of case sizes and materials so we can effectively cover the market. Thanks to this approach, the proportion of ladies’ watches within Longines is quite high. Seven out of 12 collections have watches for women.

China is an important market for Longines; I go every four to six weeks.

The three hands calendar movement makes up 85 percent of our mechanical watches.

In 1984, we launched the first Conquest VHP and the new version is precise to plus or minus five seconds a year. We priced it under SGD1,500 for the three hands and perpetual calendar date.

When it comes to the smartwatch, it belongs to Apple, Huawei and Samsung. They can change models in three months; we cannot. I need one year or at least nine months. But still, it has not hurt my business. The Apple Watch only achieved 50 percent of its target; I know this because I know where they make their cases.

This article was first published in the print edition of Esquire Singapore, September 2017.