National Jeweler Network

Brand Profiles

Tiffany ordered to pay Swatch $449M in watch case

December 23, 2013

Rotterdam, The Netherlands--Following confidential arbitration, a court in The Netherlands has ruled in Swatch Group’s favor in its multi-million-dollar legal battle with Tiffany & Co. over the companies’ now-severed watch contract.

The NAI Netherlands Arbitration Institute ordered Tiffany to pay Swatch Group 402 million Swiss francs ($449.5 million) in damages plus interest and legal fees while dismissing Tiffany’s $589 million counterclaim in the case.

In a statement issued Monday, Tiffany CEO Michael J. Kowalski said the company is “shocked and extremely disappointed” with the decision.

“We firmly believe the panel’s ruling is not supported by the facts of this case or the various agreements between the Swatch parties and the Tiffany parties. While we are reviewing our options with our legal counsel, I want to assure you that we do have sufficient financial resources to pay the full amount,” he said.

In addition to the $449.5 million, Tiffany said it must pay interest dating from June 30, 2012, two-thirds of the cost of the arbitration, which is about $800,000, and two-thirds of the legal fees, about $8.8 million.

This means the total amount Tiffany will pay out in the case is about $459 million plus interest, though the New York-based jeweler points out that the award amount is only 9 percent of what Swatch Group originally filed for, as the arbitration panel sided with Tiffany in calculating damages in the case.

Swatch Group said it had no further comment on the decision.

Swatch Group had developed, produced and distributed Tiffany & Co.-branded watches via a partnership with Tiffany that started in December 2007. The watches were sold in stores worldwide, including independent retailers, and the joint company was called Tiffany Watch Co. Ltd.

In September 2011, Swatch Group announced publicly that it was terminating the partnership because of Tiffany’s “systematic efforts to block and delay development of the business.” The Swiss watch company then filed a 3.8 billion Swiss francs ($4.14 billion at the time of filing) claim for lost profits in December 2011.

Tiffany filed its counterclaim for 541.9 million ($589 million at the time of filing) Swiss francs in March 2012.