A Swiss watchmaker is looking at moving part of its production process to the United Arab Emirates. Under the plan, the decoration of watch movements would be undertaken by craftsmen in Dubai.
The announcement came at the conference and exhibition, "Swiss Horizons - Swiss Presence in the Gulf" in the UAE's second largest emirate, Dubai.
Peter Gschwind, president of the Biel-based watch movement maker, Progress Watch Corp, told swissinfo: "We are looking into the possibility of producing the decoration for our watch movements here. A lot of our investors come from this region."
Dubai is a global centre for jewellery production, and supplies wholesalers across Asia and the Middle East. Consequently, it has a large reserve of craftsmen specialising in jewellery design.
"The decoration of watch movements is quite similar to the decoration of jewellery," explained Gschwind. "Craftsmen come from different countries around the UAE to work here. And with the advanced infrastructure that's already here we could attract a lot of people to come and work for us - people we can't find in Switzerland."
Gschwind's relocation plan is in response to soaring demand for decorative watch movements. "Today most upmarket watches have glass backs so you can see the inside of the watch," he said. "We want to achieve a unity between the inside and the outside."
Gschwind dismisses any suggestion that his watch movements will lose the kudos associated with the "Made in Switzerland" mark, if he relocates part of the production process to another country.
"The heart of our watch movements will still be produced 100 per cent in Switzerland," he said.
by Tom O'Brien in Dubai
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