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Time is money

Federal Railways keep mum on Apple clock deal

By Veronica DeVore

Hilfiker's clock is considered an outstanding example of 20th-century design (Keystone)

Hilfiker's clock is considered an outstanding example of 20th-century design


Swiss Federal Railways has declined to confirm the figure of SFr20 million ($21.09 million), reportedly paid by Apple to settle a patent dispute for use of the Swiss company’s iconic clock design in iPad and iPhone devices.

The amount of the settlement was widely reported, following a Swiss newspaper report citing undisclosed sources. “We also got the figure from the Tages-Anzeiger article,” Federal Railways told

The settlement was reached in talks held between Apple and the Federal Railways in October, following the appearance of the clock face as part of the new iPad operating system, introduced in September.

“Both parties agreed not to reveal any further information on the extent of the agreement or any other details. That has not changed,” Federal Railways wrote in an email reponse to

The Federal Railways’ well-known clock was designed in 1944 by Swiss electrical engineer and designer Hans Hilficker. Today the image is widely licenced. The watchmaker Mondaine received the exclusive rights to sell copies and watch versions to customers who wanted a replica of the design.

Mondaine was reportedly unaware of the deal the railway company had struck with Apple until after it had been agreed upon. However, Mondaine told that they are happy the design is now being seen around the world via Apple products.

“We’re proud that Apple has joined the club of good taste,” a Mondaine spokesperson said.

Apple’s new mobile operating system iOS6, introduced in September, has the Swiss station clock on the iPad to represent its first internal timekeeper, which can also serve as an alarm clock.


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