Tiffany Sets Up Swiss Watch Division, Appealing Swatch Fine

Tiffany & Co. has established a Swiss subsidiary to make and produce Tiffany-branded watches, the company announced in a March 22 SEC filing.

Establishing a watch business will “require additional resources and will involve risks and uncertainties,” the filing added.

Tiffany is also still cleaning up the mess from its first attempt to start a watch line in a joint venture with timepiece giant Swatch.

After the two companies’ deal to make Tiffany-branded watches fell apart, Swatch took the retailer to Dutch arbitration court, which resulted in Tiffany being fined $450 million. That huge fine—while less than what Swatch wanted—caused Tiffany’s fourth quarter of 2013 to show a loss instead of a profit.

Now, Tiffany is asking a Netherlands court to annul the arbitration award, claiming the tribunal violated its mandate.

“Generally, arbitration awards are final,” the filing said. “However, Dutch law does provide for limited grounds on which arbitral awards may be set aside.”

The litigation over the arbitration is expected to last another two years. If the award is set aside, it’s possible the Swatch-Tiffany case might head to court, Tiffany said, though it said it’s not clear where the case would be litigated.

JCK News Director