PARIS — A fire has destroyed a workshop at the heart of the Swatch Group division that produces the movements used in the majority of Swiss watches, the world’s largest watchmaker said.
The blaze broke out at 8:45 a.m. on Sunday in the galvanic department located in the main building of ETA Manufacture Horlogère in Grenchen, Switzerland, where the watch parts are treated to prevent rusting.
The flames were brought under control by 9:30 a.m. and nobody was injured, but the workshop “has been entirely destroyed,” Swatch Group said. “The reasons of the incident are not yet known. The damages caused by the fire are considerable. It is nevertheless too early today to put a figure on the damage,” it added.
The Biel, Switzerland-based group, whose 19 brands range from luxury Breguet timepieces to more affordable plastic Swatch watches, produces movements for internal use, but also supplies major competitors including Compagnie Financière Richemont and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
In October, it won the right to gradually reduce deliveries of components by 2019 following a lengthy probe by Switzerland’s competition regulator, Comco. In recent years, rival watchmakers have been snapping up suppliers of movements, cases and dials to secure greater independence in anticipation of the Comco ruling.