Biography of Walter von Känel, President of Longines
Date of birth: September 1, 1941, in Schwerin, Germany
Marital status: Married, 2 children
Education: Commercial studies and apprenticeship with Nusslé SA, La Chaux-de-Fonds
Hobbies: Target shooting, walking, regional history
Professional Career1960 - 1963 Federal administration at Chaux-deFonds, Bienne and Brigue
Swiss customs Technical officer
1963 - 1969 Jean Singer Ltd., La Chaux-de-Fonds (dial manufacturer)
Various duties in the Industrial Accounts, Logistics and Sales Departments
1969 - 1988 Longines Watch Co. Francillon Ltd., Saint-Imier
Sales Executive, Sales Department Manager, Sales and Marketing Manager
As of 1988 Longines Watch Co. Francillon Ltd., Saint-Imier
Walter von Känel, a keen fan of the Saint-Imier watch-making tradition
“Watchmaking has always fascinated me,” says Walter von Känel, who spent his childhood, from 1945, at the top of the Saint-Imier Valley in the Bernois Jura, the heart of Swiss watchmaking. “When I was a boy, the great Longines company in the foothills of Saint-Imier, where most of the people of our region worked, always impressed me, and I was convinced that one day, I would work there. Already at the time, watchmaking was the thriving force of our region, and I knew that it would enable me to discover the world.”
Walter von Känel’s professional career started with the Swiss customs, where he worked as a technical officer. In 1963, he joined Jean Singer Ltd., a watch dial manufacturer in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
In 1969 he joined the Longines Watch Company Francillon Ltd. as a Sales Executive. Shortly after, he was sent to the USA for a training course with Longines’ American agent: LONGINES – WITTNAUER WATCH Co. LTD in New York. His passion for watchmaking, his abilities, his talent as a negotiator and his strong personality are all qualities that enabled him to climb the ladder quickly. In 1988, after having worked as a Sales Executive and then as a Commercial Executive (Sales and Marketing), he was entrusted with Longines’ General Management.
In 1991, Nicolas G. Hayek, Chairman of The Swatch Group Ltd., requested him to join the Group’s enlarged management.
The many years that Walter von Känel served in the Swiss Army as an officer in the militia have enabled this former Colonel commanding an Infantry Regiment to acquire ground expertise in the fields of human resources management and general organization.
Walter von Känel is also actively involved in local and regional politics, and is a member of the "Conseil du Jura Bernois".