‘Love’ is not something that managing directors often cite as important to their business, so it comes as some surprise when it is the first word spoken by Simon Wolf (of jewellery and watch storage specialist WOLF) during an interview with Professional Jeweller.
The company, known as the go-to brand for jewellery and watch boxes, travel cases and safes, as well as its patented watch winders, has an extensive history behind it – 187 years to be exact.
From its humble beginnings in Germany in 1834 to becoming a globally recognised brand with a plethora of trusted products offered to both end customers and retailers, WOLF has come a long way.
What, then, does Simon Wolf, managing director and fifth generation of the family to helm the company, attribute that long and successful journey to?
“Love,” he tells PJ simply. Then, explaining himself, he adds: “My great-great-grandfather, Philip Wolf II, went to Sweden in 1897 and met a girl, Ida, who became his wife. My father, Philip Wolf IV went to England to see a friend, met a girl, fell in love and after knowing each other for seven days they were married.
“Then I left England in 1988 because I loved the idea of living in America. So you could say love has something to do with how the company, in the early days, moved to a new country or region – always because of love.”
With nearly two centuries of company history riding on his success, it would be a surprise if Wolf was not feeling the pressure to some degree. “If only you knew,” he laughs when PJ asks if the pressure ever gets to him.
Giving an insight into the mindset of the Wolf family, he goes on: “My father, 85 this year, is still the person to whom I have to prove that I’ve done a good job. His adage ‘If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well,’ is a constant hum in my mind. Yes, there is a lot of pressure to make the right decisions throughout the business.”
That sort of history does come with its advantages too, though. “To have a history like we have is priceless,” the managing director asserts.
Because the WOLF brand is so trusted by the consumer, this means that, in turn, the company has a trusted bank of customers it can rely on through thick and thin – the legwork done in decades past by Simon Wolf’s forebears paying dividends for the business today.
This is only possible because the company’s ethos and aims have remained the same over the years. Wolf continues: “We have never wavered from our cause – to protect people’s legacies, the beautiful things that they have been given, that were handed down or that they bought for themselves.
“We meld our history with our cause and every time we design a product we are aiming to solve a need that our customers have. We are completely original.”
Despite his role as managing director, Simon Wolf is still very much involved in the product development side of things and his enthusiasm for the work seems as fresh as ever. PJ mentions product design and he is off, explaining how it all works.
“We start with what we know is a problem that people want solved,” says Wolf of the product design process. “It could be travelling with your watches or jewellery or safekeeping them at home.
“Beginning with a blank piece of paper, we sketch out what we think will be the best solution.
“Over the years we have added technological advancements to our products. For example our watch winders now count turns per day. We developed the patent for that and own it too. No one else can say that they accurately keep a watch wound.
“Our jewellery cases, meanwhile, have linings that are treated with LusterLoc. This solution, developed by WOLF, stops your jewellery from tarnishing for up to 35 years. We meld beauty, technology and history into all our products and that is what sets us apart.”
One of the first stages of the design process sees Simon Wolf and his team of in-house designers decide on the best materials to use for the new product they are working on.
“Once we have decided on the materials we are going to use – leather, vegan leather, suede – all those materials have to come to us so we can check for quality and consistency,” adds the managing director.
Once the materials are in, then it comes time to prepare them for use. “We skive the leathers to the correct thinness,” he says. “We cut and prepare the linings. All the component parts – locks, catches and hinges – have to be readied for our craftspeople to start the complex job of making the jewellery box. Hundreds of steps and they all have to be perfectly executed.”
It is not difficult to see why the WOLF brand is held in such high regard in the jewellery and watch storage segment.
With such care and attention to detail it is no surprise its boxes, travel cases, safes and other items are so robust in their design. Simon Wolf sums it up nicely, saying: “We are a brand that cares: we care about your jewellery, we care about your watch. Your legacies become our responsibility.”
Like ‘love’, ‘legacy’ is another important word at WOLF headquarters. It is something the company talks about internally and externally.
Last year, as part of the My Legacy campaign, it asked customers to share stories of their own legacies – the jewellery and watches they protect with WOLF products.
Each customer who did received a watch or jewellery roll usually worth almost £80.
Managing director Simon Wolf, who has spent a lot of time thinking about the word, explains: “Perhaps one’s true legacy is one’s children – it is through them that we live on. On a more material level, however, we have things; we love, covet and cherish jewellery.
“It doesn’t matter whether it cost a little or a lot; it is what it means that is important. We at WOLF have the heady responsibility of looking after those legacies and so legacy is something, for us, that is of the utmost importance.”
So what has WOLF been doing to further its own already noteworthy legacy? It has not allowed the pandemic to slow its product output in anyway, nor was Wolf’s talk of the brand’s intricate design process nothing but empty words.
On the contrary, the company’s output of late has been impressive to say the least. “We recently did a refresh of the colours of the Palermo collection, adding anthracite, rose gold and red,” Wolf tells PJ.
“Maria was launched as an all-travel collection in mustard, navy and white. Both of these collections have been great successes.”
Looking ahead, he adds: “Later this year we have two new jewellery case collections launching but I have to keep that under wraps for just a while longer.”
PJ pushes for more details but the managing director remains tight-lipped. For now we’ll have to protect our legacies, the precious pieces that we love, with WOLF’s already excellent range of jewellery boxes, travel cases and safes.
Discover WOLF: WOLF