Victorinox launches offensive against Apple Watch

victorinoxA Swiss army knife featuring a one terabyte USB drive. Maker Victorinox is launching a smart watch to compete with Apple. Photo: Bloomberg

Swiss army knife maker Victorinox plans to unveil its version of a smartwatch by the start of next year, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

The Swiss army knife is a popular purchase for Chinese tourists travelling overseas and Victorinox has opened a number of stores in Greater China in recent years as it seeks to expand its footprint in the Asian market.

Swatch, the world’s largest watchmaker, announced plans last month to put programmable chips in watches so wearers can make payments with a swipe of the wrist, while Tag Heuer, French luxury group LVMH’s biggest watch maker, will launch a smartwatch later this year to compete with the Apple Watch.

“Our concept is something approaching a smartwatch,” said Victorinox chief executive Carl Elsener.

Elsener, whose great-grandfather Karl founded Victorinox in 1884, told the Swiss newspaper Aargauer Zeitung the firm would present the new watch at the end of the year or early 2016 at the latest.

“We’re looking … for the opportunity to expand the functions of our watches. But at the same time the watch must have a long lifespan compared to a mobile phone or a computer,” Elsener was quoted as saying in an interview published on Tuesday.

Elsener also said Victorinox had raised prices by up to 10 per cent in the euro zone, responding to the Swiss franc’s surge in January when the central bank abruptly abandoned its efforts to cap the currency.

Victorinox opened its first brick-and-mortar store in Shanghai in late 2013, bringing its full range of goods, including luggage and luxury watches, to the Chinese market.

“China is a top priority,” global brand manager Veronika Elsener said at the time, adding that the company wants to create products that “will appeal to the region”.

According to many analysts, the Apple Watch, which goes on sale later this month, was designed with the luxury-minded Chinese market in mind, particularly the US$10,000 gold Apple Watch Edition.

Filed in: Miscellaneous

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