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Luxury watch brand to invest heavily in Geneva

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Luxury watch brand to invest heavily in Geneva
Photo: Rama/Wikimedia Commons
22:49 CET+01:00
After issuing a veiled threat last year to leave Geneva because of high taxes, ultra-luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe has announced plans to invest 450 million francs ($442 million) on an expansion project in the canton.

The company, owned by the Stern family since 1932, announced on Wednesday its application to build a 50,000-square-metre building in Plans-les-Ouates, a suburb south of the city of Geneva, where it has most of its existing operations.

Last March, Thierry Stern, president of the firm, said he was considering relocating or selling the 175-year-old business, renowned for making the most expensive watches in the world.

He told Le Temps newspaper that Geneva’s wealth tax was making it difficult for family business owners.

It is not clear what has happened since then other than the tax concerns no longer appear to be a priority.

“We are very pleased to strengthen and sustain our business through this major project and thus reaffirm the commitment of Patek Philippe in Geneva,” Thierry and his father Philippe Stern said in a statement.

“The Geneva government and the municipality of Plan-les-Ouates have allowed this significant project to be launched in the best conditions and time frame.”

Construction on the new six-level building, with four levels below ground, is expected to start in the spring with completion in four years.

The new structure, self-financed by the company, will be used for applied research, with new laboratories for tests and quality assurance.

Part of the building will also be used to house 40 top artisanal watchmakers, as well as centralizing an area for the training of employees and for future expansion.

The company began regrouping its activities in Plan-Les-Ouates in 1996.

The expansion news came after Patek Philippe last month reopened its London shop on Bond Street after almost quadrupling its size to 420 square metres.

It joins retail showrooms the company also has on the Rue du Rhône in Geneva and Place Vendôme in Paris.

The lustre of the brand grew last November when a Patek Philippe Supercomplication pocket watch sold at a world record price of 23.2 million francs at a Sotheby’s auction.  

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