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(Bloomberg) -- Patek Philippe plans to invest 450 million Swiss francs ($440 million) in its factory in Plan-les-Ouates in Geneva, less than a year after the watchmaker’s chairman said the company may need to leave the city.

The family-owned business is seeking to construct a new building at the site, allowing it to meet training needs, intensify research in watchmaking techniques and restore older timepiece models, Patek Philippe said today in a statement.

In March, Chairman Thierry Stern told Le Temps the company may eventually need to quit Geneva or put itself for sale if its tax burden wasn’t reduced.

“We are very pleased to strengthen and sustain our business through this major project and thus reaffirm the commitment of Patek Philippe in Geneva,” Chairman Stern and President Philippe Stern said in the statement. “We can thus ensure the development and long-term future of our company.”

Patek’s investment is a sign of the record cash levels that watchmakers have on hand. Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the owner of Cartier, has reported cash of 4.28 billion euros ($5 billion) as of September, while Swatch Group AG dipped into its pile of 1.16 billion francs to buy one of the most prestigious buildings on Zurich’s main shopping street in November.

Patek said it expects the 50,000-square meter building to be finished by 2018 and it will give the 175-year-old watchmaker sufficient space for the next 20 to 30 years.

The Patek Philippe Supercomplication pocket watch fetched 23.2 million Swiss francs at Sotheby’s in Geneva in November, re-setting the record price for any timepiece in auction. It has held the record since 1999 when it sold for $11 million.

To contact the reporter on this story: Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net Paul Jarvis, Thomas Mulier

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