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Rolex to raise watch prices in Japan after Swiss franc soars

[TOKYO] Rolex will raise prices of watches in Japan next month and Patek Philippe is considering doing the same after Switzerland's removal of a currency peg caused the franc to surge.

Rolex will increase the price of its steel Submariner Date with a black bezel by 8 per cent to 810,000 yen (US$6,800) from Feb 1, said a Tokyo-based spokeswoman, who asked not to be named because of the company's policy. Patek Philippe may raise prices of its timepieces by 4 per cent to 5 per cent on the same date, Tokyo-based director Izumi Otsuka said by phone today.

The privately owned watchmakers are among Swiss exporters under pressure to boost prices or risk eroding profits after the central bank ended a three-year-old euro cap on Jan 15. Switzerland's currency has jumped about 17 per cent against the yen since the Swiss National Bank's decision.

The Rolex spokeswoman said the price increase wasn't because of the central bank's move as the yen had already been weakening against the franc.

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Swatch Group AG chief executive officer Nick Hayek last week likened the monetary authority's action to a "tsunami." Shares of the maker of Omega watches have lost about 20 percent since the announcement.