Wrist Management
Jennifer Choo 
The Swiss Army knife is one of the most recognisable icons of utility and smart design. Made exclusively in Switzerland by Victorinox since the turn of the 19th century, this tiny classic of industrial design is equipped to tackle all sorts of mundane tasks and emergency situations within a small piece of stainless steel, folded into a red plastic case and stamped with a silver cross that fits into the palm of a hand.

About 30 years ago, Victorinox diversified into watches after the harsh reality of 9/11 hit, and utility knives were banned from being taken on board flights. Watches were a natural evolution for a brand already known for its precision, quality and functionality.

Fast forward to today and Victorinox watches have established themselves as a well-regarded name in the industry. Take, for instance, the flagship I.N.O.X. range which perfectly balances design and performance, having passed at least 100 quality control tests.

According to Alexander Bennouna, CEO of Victorinox watches, the first generation of I.N.O.X. was so popular that the watches were also showing up on the wrists of the fairer sex. This led to the creation of the I.N.O.X. V range, a modern high-performance timepiece just for ladies.

“V stands for versatile, vivacious, victorious – all qualities which we believe describes the woman of today. Modern women have a very active lifestyle. When we introduced the first generation of I.N.O.X. in 2014, there were a lot of ladies wearing it so we thought we should take it a step further and design a watch more adaptable to smaller wrists,” Bennouna shares in this exclusive interview in Kuala Lumpur.

“As such, it’s a watch that is not just a reduction of a standard version but redesigned in order to give it a more sophisticated and feminine touch, especially in the profile. The proportions are different from the I.N.O.X.; it’s a little bit more round, a little bit more generous in the shape.”

While the I.N.O.X. V is smaller in size (the stainless-steel case measures 37mm), it went through a total of 130 stringent durability tests including the “handbag challenge”, a test to ensure that the watch can survive crashing about with metal keys, corrosive insect repellent, and other personal items in a typical handbag.

For additional protection, the I.N.O.X. V watches can be cleverly accessorised with a matching bumper, supplied with each piece. “Because we are making the promise of producing a crash-proof watch, not a scratch-proof watch, the bumper has the function of protecting your watch when you go into a hostile environment. Plus it gives a different look to the watch with just the change of a bumper. There are sets of bumpers in different colours and shapes to enable you to customise,” enthuses Bennouna.

Even though Victorinix as a brand has a more masculine cachet, this is not stopping the Swiss company from making its mark on the women’s timepiece market.

“We’re perceived as very masculine because of our history. We have introduced ladies’ watches in the past but this is the first time we are coming out with a unique proposition for the female wrist. Our approach used to be like most watch brands – we have a standard version, we make it a bit smaller, maybe add mother-of-pearl and diamond, and it becomes a ladies’ watch.

“With the I.N.O.X.V, we want to show that strong can be the new pretty. It’s what I call an anti-cliché approach, which is about being self-confident, a bold attitude as opposed to a Barbie attitude.”

The four different models that make up the I.N.O.X. V range acknowledge the many facets of a woman. A version with a black dial and matching rubber strap acts as the Little Black Dress of the collection. Meanwhile, the predominantly white interpretation enhanced with rose-gold details is a more elegant choice. Two other pieces come with a cool Naimakka paracord attachment, one of dark blue design with subtle red accents, and the other, a soft grey option accented with hot pink.

The all-black I.N.O.X. V

While these aesthetic embellishments are attractive, they do not diminish the true spirit of the I.N.O.X. V.

“A woman wants to make the best use of her time and that means she doesn’t want to have to spend too much time at the service centre,” Bennouna muses. “We all live a very active life and have a lot on our plates. I believe that a watch should support her quality of life and that translates into a watch that will never let her down.”

“The perspective of I.N.O.X. V is coherent with our brand and it also matches today’s experience of women being pioneers in a lot of development. There’s this French saying, ‘La femme est l’avenir de l’homme’, which means the woman is the future of a man. If we look at history, there are a lot of breakthroughs, whether cultural, historical or technological, spearheaded by women. We’re offering this valuable proposition to these strong, visionary women.”

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 243.