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Watchmaking Swatch cancels Zurich watch event over coronavirus fears

The Swatch Drive-Thru Store at the company's new headquarters in Biel, Switzerland.

The Swatch Drive-Thru Store at the company's new headquarters in Biel, Switzerland.

(Keystone / Peter Klaunzer)

Swatch Group has called off its “Time to Move” watch fair in Zurich, due to take place at the end of February, amid fears over the new coronavirus outbreak. 

“Considering the uncertainty related to the 2019-nCoV Coronavirus outbreak, and in order to guarantee the welfare of our guests, partners, and colleagues, Swatch Group has decided not to hold the Time to Move event,” Swatch told the AWP news agency on Tuesday.

A presentation to suppliers was due to be held in Zurich from February 28 to March 2, followed by a press event from March 4-6.

The Biel/Bienne-based group said it wanted to “avoid partners having to make international flights during a period of insecurity”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) last week declared the flu-like virus a global emergency. It has spread from China to 23 other countries, with 20,636 confirmed cases and 427 deaths, mostly in China. The Philippines and Hong Kong have reported the first coronavirus death outside of China. No cases have been reported in Switzerland.

In 2018, Swatch Group announced that it would no longer attend the world’s largest watch and jewellery fair Baselworld and decided to organize its own event to present its products. 

The Swiss watch manufacturer said on Tuesday that Swatch Group’s “Prestige” brands would still present their new models in regional events. “Prestige” includes brands such as Breguet, Harry Winston, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Jaquet Droz, Léon Hatot and Omega.

AWP/sb

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