Luxury watch manufacturers will be probed by European Union antitrust regulators over allegations they refused to supply spare parts to independent watch menders.
The European Commission said it will investigate a 2004 complaint by the European Confederation of Watch & Clock Repairers’ Associations, or CEAHR, after an EU court ruled that regulators were wrong to dismiss the group’s concerns.
Swatch Group AG (UHR), the world’s biggest watch maker, was targeted by the probe which “concerns almost the entire watch industry,” it said in a statement. “We are confident regarding the outcome of this investigation.”
The start of EU formal antitrust proceedings “means that the commission will investigate the case as a matter of priority,” regulators said in an e-mailed statement.
Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, the maker of Cartier watches, supported EU regulators in the court case. Alan Grieve, a spokesman for Richemont, declined to comment today.
Olivier Labesse, a spokesman for LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA (MC), declined to comment. Rolex didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment. A spokesman for Patek Philippe wasn’t immediately available. CEAHR didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
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