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Swiss watchmaker ticked off with central bank

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The Swiss National Bank's decision to abandon its cap on the franc could drive exclusive Swiss timepieces towards extinction, the head of watchmaker H Moser & Cie said in a scathing open letter to the central bank's chief.

[ZURICH] The Swiss National Bank's decision to abandon its cap on the franc could drive exclusive Swiss timepieces towards extinction, the head of watchmaker H Moser & Cie said in a scathing open letter to the central bank's chief.

"I trust you have a strong plan that will help all of us in the long run," the 187-year-old watchmaker's chief executive Edouard Meylan wrote to the bank's President Thomas Jordan.

"Because otherwise, along with many other wonderful Swiss creations, H. Moser watches may just have become very, very, very rare."

The bank's move on Thursday sent the franc soaring against the euro, driving up costs for Swiss exporters.

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The U-turn, after three years of holding down the value of the franc, came out of the blue, a fact Meylan illustrated with barely-concealed sarcasm.

"As an entrepreneur in a small Swiss company, I like a challenge," he said. "Well, today, Mr President, your dramatic move helped step it up a notch: over 95 per cent of our watches are sold to people outside of Switzerland, and the first retailers called the same day to cancel orders."

Founded in 1828, H Moser & Cie manufactures just 1,000 watches a year priced between 12,506 Swiss francs and 100,000 francs a piece. The company employs 55 people in the town of Neuhausen am Rhein, close to the German border.

"In fact, I've been chasing a thought around in my head: why not just move two kilometres to Germany and do our business in the EU from now on?" Mr Meylan mused.

REUTERS

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