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Swatch reports good times

The world's biggest watch group Swatch on Wednesday posted a 2013 net profit rise of more than 20 percent, beating market expectations and hailing a promising start to the new year. Times look good for the company despite changes in the climate for luxury watch sales in the important Chinese market, it said. The Swiss watchmaker posted a net profit of 1.9 billion Swiss francs ($2.1 billion, 1.5 billion euros) last year, it said in a statement.

Watchmakers face dearth of craftsmen as luxury market booms

By Silke Koltrowitz GENEVA (Reuters) - Anita Porchet has a skill that Swiss watchmakers can't afford to do without. As an enamel painter, she decorates watches for the likes of Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin which can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the industry is facing a severe shortage of craftsmen and women who have mastered the techniques of enamel painting, marquetry and engine-turning - at a time when there is growing demand for high-end handmade watches.

Swatch sees sales rise in 2013 but misses targets

The world's biggest watch group Swatch saw its share price soar Friday after posting an 8.3-percent increase in sales in 2013, even though it undershot targets due to unfavourable exchange rates. The Swiss watchmaker said in a statement before its full results that its sales soared to 8.8 billion Swiss francs ($9.7 billion, 7.1 billion euros) last year, up from 8.1 billion a year earlier. Swatch, most known for its brightly coloured plastic-cased watches, thereby fell short of the 9.0 billion francs it said a year ago it aimed to generate.

B.C. museum thieves steal Bill Miner's watch; police make two arrests

VICTORIA - The Royal British Columbia Museum discovered there's no honour among thieves as a pair of bandits made off with a collection of prized watches, including a gold pocket watch that once belonged to legendary train-robber Bill Miner. Victoria Police said Thursday they recovered the watches, including Miner's 1901 model, and man and woman face theft-related charges after their arrests at an apartment in Port Alberni, B.C.

Swatch fire seen affecting other watchmakers

By Alice Baghdjian ZURICH (Reuters) - A fire that destroyed a workshop at a Swatch Group <UHR.VX> factory will affect other watchmakers it supplies more than the Swiss firm itself, as a break in production is likely to cut the availability of parts to an industry already facing bottlenecks. Sunday's fire at a part of the plant that treats metals to protect them from rust could stop production of some components for several weeks, Swatch's chief executive said on Monday.

Swatch fire strikes at "heart" of watch mechanism production

ZURICH (Reuters) - A fire has destroyed one workshop and damaged another at Swatch Group's <UHR.VX> watch mechanism subsidiary, the Swiss firm that has a near monopoly on the supply of mechanisms to other watchmakers said. Swatch Chief Executive Nick Hayek told Swiss radio on Sunday that the blaze had struck at the "heart of production" at ETA Manufacture Horlogere and the impact on output would be examined more closely on Monday. "Everything is devastated," Hayek said.

Swatch fire strikes at "heart" of watch mechanism production

ZURICH (Reuters) - A fire has destroyed one workshop and damaged another at Swatch Group's <UHR.VX> watch mechanism subsidiary, the Swiss firm that has a near monopoly on the supply of mechanisms to other watchmakers said. Swatch Chief Executive Nick Hayek told Swiss radio on Sunday that the blaze had struck at the "heart of production" at ETA Manufacture Horlogere and the impact on output would be examined more closely on Monday. "Everything is devastated," Hayek said.

TAG Heuer sees single-digit sales growth this year

By Silke Koltrowitz CHEVENEZ, Switzerland (Reuters) - Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer expects single-digit sales growth this year and is aiming to outperform market growth estimated at about 5 percent in 2014, its head told Reuters on Tuesday. "We're expecting to be in positive territory for the year as a whole," Stephane Linder, who took over as chief executive from Jean-Christophe Babin this summer, told Reuters on the sidelines of a factory opening in western Switzerland.

Swatch watch can switch down supplies to rivals

The Swiss Swatch watch group, a vital supplier of parts to rivals, is to be freed from part of this obligation, a watchdog said on Friday Swiss regulator Comco said it had approved a landmark deal with Swatch Group allowing the watchmaking giant to sell fewer mechanical movements to the rest of the sector. The decision ends years of wrangling over the world number one watchmaker's obligations on the market.

Swatch pioneer blasts Swiss watch industry

One of the pioneers behind the rise of the world's biggest watchmaking group Swatch criticised the luxury-focused industry in Switzerland on Thursday, charging it had missed the "smartwatch" train. Former executive Ernst Thomke, who ran what would become the Swatch Group from 1984 to 1991, said the Swiss watchmaking industry was so obsessed with dominating the market for super-expensive and often jewel-studded watches that it was letting other countries take the lead in the emerging market for high-tech timepieces with smartphone capabilities.
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