KWC Faucets Review & Rating Updated: 01/22/19
Franke Consumer Products, Inc.
800 Aviation Parkway
Smyrna, TN 37167
Footnotes:1. The term "lifetime" is not defined, and therefore will most likely be interpreted as the actual lifetime of the buyer.Download the KWC Warranty (.pdf).
This Company In Brief
Essentially a boutique faucet maker with just over 300 employees, the KWC has been remarkably astute in its marketing of contemporary faucets. As a consequence, KWC has emerged from the cloud of obscurity that envelopes most small faucet manufactures to become nearly as well known to the buying public as much larger competitors such as
The company manufactures contemporary luxury faucets for the kitchen and bath. Designed, prototyped, tested and manufactured in Unterkulm, Switzerland. KWC faucets have long been noted for their clean, crisp designs in the North German or Hanseatic tradition.
The designs are added to yearly by the seemingly inexhaustible creativity of industrial design partners Michael Lammel and Bertrand Illert, founders and owners of NOA, a design studio in Aachen, Germany. NOA, in addition to keeping the KWC at the forefront of innovative faucet design, also designs kitchen and dining ware for WMF Group, and porcelain sanitary wares for VitrA, a division of the ceramics giant, Eczacibasi Group of Istanbul, Turkey.
KWC has earned recognition for its design finesse in numerous international design competitions. The new ZOE faucet has been the recipient of an iF World Design Guide award (2016), a Good Design award (2015-2016) from the Chicago Athenaeum — the oldest and most coveted of the international design prizes — and a special German Design Award (2016). Other winning designs include the AVA, INTRO, ONO and PIANA faucets.
Many KWC designs, however, are becoming dated. Some are more than two decades old, and have been widely copied. It is increasingly possible to find more of less original KWC styles in mid-priced faucet lines such as Delta and Moen often at much less cost and with no lessening of reliability. In fact, Delta, with its Diamond Seal Technology super cartridges is probably making the most reliable faucets on the market today.
Founded in 1874 by Adolf Karrer in Switzerland to manufacture music boxes, KWC did not produce its first faucet until 1897. Music box production ended in 1902 at which time the company was renamed Karrer Weber & Cie AG. In 1984 the company was acquired by Hansa Metallwerke AG, a German faucet company headquartered in Stuttgart. The company name was shortened in 1986 to the current KWC AG.
In 2010 IK Investment Partners (formerly "Industri Kapital"), a German private equity group, acquired a controlling Interest in Hansa and in 2013 split Hansa's assets, selling KWC to its Swiss competitor, and Hansa Metalwerke to Oras Group, a Finnish manufacturer of distinctive contemporary faucets and sanitary ware. Industry watchers believe that KWC is a goof fit for Franke, a global player in the sanitary ware market with over 12,500 worldwide employees.
The KWC brand will benefit from Franke's worldwide distribution, and Franke will gain a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and access to some additional world-class design talent to supplement its own well-regarded design group.
Because of its wide name recognition and reputation as a maker of upscale, very reliable faucets, Franke will undoubtedly continue KWC as an independent brand but has already merged distribution and after-sale support.
Manufacturing will probably not be affected in the short term but expect some outsourcing. It is unlikely, however, that all production will be moved out of Switzerland.
We don't expect any reduction in the quality of the faucets as a result of this change in ownership, and may, in fact, see improvements in both brands of luxury faucets from technology crossovers.
Consolidation in the company's North American operation has been completed. The separate U.S. KWC website has been closed, and the is now a part of the German-language site. The former KWC headquarters has been abandoned, and all services moved to Franke's U.S. facility in Tennessee. Customer service has been consolidated.
There has also been a weeding of incompatible products. Franke, which sells only kitchen, prep and bar faucets to complement its main product, kitchen sinks, has announced its intention to withdraw KWC bath faucets from the North American market starting in 2018. The faucts, at least for the time being, will still be sold in Europe.
Franke will continue to provide post-sale support including handling warranty claims for KWC bath faucets and will supply replacement parts. But, it may not have the parts to supply.
Faucets for the North American market are generally adapted from metric to our quaint "customary units" involving inches and fractions of inches. When Franke stops selling bath faucets in the U.S., it will undoubtedly stop making faucets adapted to our customary units, which means it will also stop making spare parts adapted to our customary units. Parts availability will be limited to whatever is on hand. This, in turn, means Franke will eventually run out of the parts and its bath faucets will be orphaned.
A Franke company spokesperson told us that the company will supply parts for "as long as they are available". If the parts are not available, the spokesperson was non-committal other than to suggest that any parts orders would remain on file "until the part becomes available." Which may be never.
KWC has also begun pairing KWC faucets with upscale sinks. These are, of course, Franke sinks, but it looks like KWC will sell them under the KWC brand, and that brand will contain only the company's best quality sinks. This is still a program in development, so it remains to be seen how it will eventually work out. (A short video about the new program.)
Indications so far are that Franke intends to position KWC as a super premium faucet, much like the relationship between
KWC faucets have a reputation of being very reliable with a long service life free of problems. The proprietary KWC cartridge is one of the best and most KWC faucets are equipped with the incomparable Neoperl® aerator.
But, there are some limitations. All of this excellent Swiss craftsmanship is expensive, so the faucets are generally pricey as are the parts to fix the faucets should they ever break while out of warranty.
The narrow design range of KWC faucets makes most of the styles unsuitable for any but very contemporary kitchens and the very small palette of three finishes further limits the range of decors in which the faucets will fit. So, if you are on a budget, your style is traditional or your aim is to duplicate the look of a heritage kitchen, you may have to look elsewhere for your faucets.
The KWC English website does not appear to be finished. The former U.S./Canadian website (www.kwc.com) is defunct. It now redirects to the Swiss website (www.kwc.ch). Its abandonment was evidently a little premature, however, as the replacement site is still not ready for prime time. In a brief excursion through the site, we found multiple errors.
The short description of each faucet and the single 3/4 view image presented on the site is insufficient to make an intelligent faucet choice. Multiple images in color, or, better yet, a 360° viewing feature such as that used by faucets, that allows the mouse to rotate the faucet to any viewing angle, would be invaluable in fully visualizing the faucet.
The more detailed technical data and installation instruction sheets are contained in downloadable .pdf documents. There is a link on each faucet page, and a second link under the "Service" tab at "Catalogs + Downloads" by clicking on "Technical Information" to display a list of products and a link to the technical documentation about the product — unless you have a pop up blocker installed, then the list may not appear. We turned ours off but the list still did not appear about half of the time.
Once you open the technical document for a faucet, however, the information is extensive including installation instructions and an exploded parts diagram. What is missing is a dimensioned drawing to help you decide whether a faucet will fit your sink. Installation instructions are in five languages.
KWC faucets are sold only through showrooms and some internet retailers. The "where to buy" link on the company website works well but is difficult to find. Look for it under the "Service" menu. Irrespective of where you buy a KWC faucet, do not expect drastic price reduction from KWC's suggested retail price. The company enforces a minimum advertised price (MAP) policy that prohibits advertising a price more than 30% below its list price.
The company warrants its faucets for as long as the faucet is owned by the original buyer. A proof of purchase is required. Formerly not all finishes were covered by the lifetime warranty but under Franke ownership, that has changed. All three KWC finishes are covered by the limited lifetime warranty.
KWC America's customer service is responsive and knowledgable, easily passing our basic customer service tests. While the company's lifetime faucet warranty is about average for the industry in North America, the company's response to warranty claims is usually quick and helpful.
In Canada, the brand is distributed and supported by Nortesco, Inc. We have not tested Nortesco's customer support but we have heard nothing but good things about this company that specializes in the importation of up-scale designer bath products.
Faucets comparable to KWC include:
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with KWC faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.