Swiss Watchmakers Fear That Counterfeits Will Damage Industry

For Swiss watchmakers it's the best of times—and the worst. “Swiss watch manufacturers have never had it so good, especially the major prestigious brands,” says veteran Swiss watch executive Jacques J. Duchêne, vice president of the Federation of the Swiss Watchmaking Industry FH. He called 2006 a record year for the third year running. Exports rose 10.9 percent to 13.7 billion Swiss francs (about $11.3 billion). But there's a downside: “Record numbers of counterfeits are now being made,” Duchêne says, and at a rate and quality that could threaten Swiss watches' worldwide success. The Swiss produce about 25 million watches a year, but 40 million counterfeits are made annually. “Our industry can become vulnerable at any time,” Duchêne told journalists at this year's BaselWorld. He's president of BaselWorld's exhibitors' committee. “We export 95 percent of our prod
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