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  • Tue, 28 Mar 2017 10:18:00 +0000: Pricey gadgets profit from Swiss watchmaking skills - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Swiss companies are using precision mechanics from the watchmaking industry to manufacture gadgets and accessories for those with deep pockets.  What do you give a man who has everything, including a fancy Swiss watch? Perhaps you could splurge on the Emperador cigar chest manufactured by Geneva-based company Imperiali Genève. Not only do you get a climate-controlled humidor with 24 gold-leaf wrapped cigars but also a self-winding timepiece with a tourbillon at the centre. The cigar chest is made up of over 2,500 components and bills itself as a hybrid of “fine watchmaking and state-of-the-art electronics”.  “It costs CHF1 million ($1.01 million) and is targeted at buyers in the Middle East, Asia and the US,” company founder David Pasciuto said.  His company manufactures such 12 pieces every year. So far, they have managed to sell four. The cigar chest is just one of many high-end gadgets manufactured in Switzerland that have carved a niche for themselves in the ...
  • Tue, 28 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000: Evolution on a Swiss scale - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    It seems like we’re always hearing the buzzword ‘biodiversity’ and how important it is…but does it really matter if we lose a species here or there? Research on one of Switzerland’s most popular fish provides new insights into the consequences of dwindling diversity. The chances are good that a visitor to French-speaking Switzerland, famished from wandering  cobbled city streets or winding hiking trails, might dine on féra – known in English as whitefish – in a local restaurant. Affordable, versatile and mildly flavoured, this unassuming fish is a member of the salmon family, and is a common fixture on menus all around Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux, and Geneva. Although “féra” originally referred to a single native Lake Geneva fish called Coregonus féra, that species has not been seen in Switzerland since 1920 and is now believed to be extinct. Today, the name refers to 15-20 different species, which vary widely in shape, size, and habitat preference. Their considerable ...
  • Tue, 28 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000: Bern’s divisive culture centre likely headed to court - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Instead of voters, the Supreme Court could now have the final say on a rightwing proposal to close down a controversial culture venue in the Swiss capital Bern. The centre, known as the Reitschule, was recently the site of riots over squatters’ rights that caused injuries and hundreds of thousands of Swiss francs in damage. In a very rare occurrence, Bern’s cantonal parliament recently turned down a people’s initiative calling for a vote on shutting down the centre, deeming it invalid. Furious, the backers of the initiative – members of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party – announced plans to challenge the decision in court. For years, opponents mainly from the political right have been pressuring city authorities to shut the Reitschule, arguing it is a hotbed of leftwing militants and troublemakers. But their proposals to close the venue have been rejected in at least five local votes since 1990. The building, which dates back to the late 19th century, used to be a ...
  • Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:34:00 +0000: Arpa: a designer to watch - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    One of the most audacious and avant-garde designers at the Baselworld watch fair is Yvan Arpa from Geneva. Arpa collaborated with Samsung to create three concept models of the latest smartwatch from the Korean company, the Gear S3. This report shows why Arpa has been described by one watch magazine as “the most interesting man in the world”. (RTS/swisisnfo.ch)
  • Mon, 27 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000: Soontorn Leoni: from troubled childhood to successful businessman - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    He was born in Thailand, but moved to Switzerland at a young age. The 45-year-old Thai-Swiss Soontorn Leoni had a difficult start to life, but following a stay in a children’s home, eventually found his way thanks to his passion for sport. He finally made his way back to his mother’s homeland where he has become a successful businessman. Soontorn (Soony) Leoni was born as a child of the Vietnam war in Bangkok at the beginning of the 1970s. His mother had met his biological father, a highly decorated US army officer, in the Thai capital. The relationship broke up before Soony's birth, although the father remained stationed in Thailand for some years as an expert in close combat and self-defense. swissinfo.ch: You heard about your biological father's existence at the age of eight, and from 10 you actively looked for him. Did you have any initial success? Soontorn Leoni: I'm afraid not. My initial contact with the Department of Veteran Affairs in ...
  • Sun, 26 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000: Why 2017 will be about simplicity and sophistication for watch wearers - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    We’ve mined the promotional data from Baselworld, the world’s biggest watch fair, to find out what people with deep pockets may be wearing on their wrists this year.  The year 2016 was another bad year for the Swiss watch industry, with exports down by almost 10%. So, how is the watch industry reacting? We analysed over 100 press releases in English on Baselworld’s website to find out what words watch brands agree on. Gone are mentions of flashy watches in gold cases with dragons engraved on the dial. Show-off watch movements like tourbillons are out as well. If press releases are to be believed, 2017 is the year of simplicity and sophistication with words like stainless steel and black figuring regularly. “Real” watches  One of the watches that sums up what we predict watch lovers will be wearing this year is the Oris Artelier Calibre 113. The press release for the watch clocked up 19 of the 20 most frequently used words mentioned on the ...
  • Sat, 25 Mar 2017 10:00:00 +0000: Phantoms of the UN opera - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The building housing the United Nations in Geneva, the Palais des Nations - is due for a renovation. Photographer François Vermot has captured the style and furnishings from the 1930s and 70s before they are lost forever. There are no people in Vermot's series, titled 'Diplomatic Imprints'. This intentionally puts the focus on the period furnishings from a bygone age. "There are several corners of the Palais des Nations which transport the visitor into the past - the 30s or 70s, which were the periods when the building was renovated and enlarged," writes the photographer. Renovation work is expected to begin in 2023, and all that will be left will be the photographs.
  • Fri, 24 Mar 2017 20:46:00 +0000: Bruno Ganz picks up major big screen honours - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    It was a big night for Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, who won the nation's top acting award and was recognised for his life's work with the Swiss film industry's Honorary Award. In its laudatory as part of the Swiss Film Award ceremony on Friday, the 76-year-old Ganz was praised as "one of the most important German-speaking actors, a multiple award-winner starring in countless productions in international film and theatre". The 20th edition of the Swiss Film Award, held in Geneva, crowned the animated film "Ma vie de courgette" (My life as a courgette) by Valais director Claude Barras as best fiction film. It also had been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Animated Feature category. The best film music award went to Swiss jazz pop singer-songwriter Sophie Hunger of Bern, who wrote the music for the film. A special prize went to Marie-Eve Hildbrand of Lausanne for the film's casting and acting direction. German film "Die göttliche Ordnung" garnered three awards. Best ...
  • Fri, 24 Mar 2017 16:02:00 +0000: The century-old fight over an hour of daylight - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Whether to "spring forward“ or "fall back“, people in Switzerland – and many other parts of the world – either rejoice or despair in the twice-yearly time change. A look into the history books shows it’s been a hotly debated political issue for 100 years.  In early 1916, the countries surrounding Switzerland – Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy and France – adopted Daylight Saving Time and moved their clocks an hour ahead in the summer months. But Switzerland didn’t. Consultation procedure The Swiss government didn’t want to rock the boat, so it chose not to adopt Daylight Saving Time in 1916 in order to properly analyse the situation. Following a consultation procedure and a lengthy debate, cabinet definitively decided against it in March 1917. Wartime energy savings - but not in Switzerland                                           Switzerland’s neighbours adopted Daylight Saving Time in order to save energy during wartime, since coal grew scarce ...
  • Fri, 24 Mar 2017 10:53:00 +0000: Swiss watchmakers play long game as smartwatch sales slow - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    With his shaved head, black shirt and relentless optimism, Jean-Claude Biver looks as if he might own a US west coast tech start-up. In fact, Mr Biver is at the forefront of the Swiss watch industry's reaction to tech-enabled smart watches, which industry executives believe is no longer the sort of existential threat once feared.  This week, Mr Biver, president of Tag Heuer and LVMH's wider luxury watch division, passionately defended traditional watchmaking at Baselworld, the 100-year-old exhibition for Swiss timepiece manufacturers on Switzerland's border with France and Germany.  "I don't want to criticise these people," Mr Biver says of his consumer electronics rivals. "I suppose that they sell just technology, and that is not enough, because on the wrist, people want emotions, people want dreams."  Swiss watchmaking remains locked in a steep downturn. Exports fell almost 10 per cent last year - largely the result of a spluttering global economy, ...
  • Fri, 24 Mar 2017 10:00:00 +0000: Fragile but resilient EU marks low-key anniversary - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Six decades after the signing of its founding treaty, the European Union appears more fragile than ever. But a Swiss who studies European integration puts things in perspective. Few people were excited by the white paper on the future of Europe that Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, delivered in early March. His ideas on re-launching the European project, such as developing a “federal core” around Germany and France, lacked inspiration and were old, according to critics. But did Juncker have any other options? “He certainly didn’t want to walk into the lion’s den with elections set to be held in France and Germany that will have a crucial effect on the future of the EU,” René Schwok, director of the Global Studies Institute in Geneva, tells swissinfo.ch. Indeed, the momentum generated by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, French President François Mitterrand and European Commission President Jacques Delors at the end of the last century has ...
  • Fri, 24 Mar 2017 09:32:00 +0000: Train disruption throws daily life off track - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Under what passes for normal in Switzerland – highly precise and efficient transport – more than 90,000 people a day typically hurtle over the tracks in Lucerne, making it the nation’s sixth-busiest rail hub. When things go awry, it can be disorienting.  With its central location, postcard-ready surroundings and a large shopping centre open every day of the year, Lucerne’s train station ties with Geneva for the third-most users, 163,000 a day, behind Zurich and Bern (439,000 and 269,000 respectively).  So when a Eurocity train carrying 160 passengers from Milan to Basel partially derailed on Wednesday afternoon, causing minor injuries to six people, the disruption had a huge ripple effect. Travellers throughout the area had to scramble, and the train station is set to remain closed until Monday morning at the earliest to clear the area for needed repairs.  “In Switzerland, we’re used to luxury. Everything works really well. And the moment there’s an accident like ...
  • Thu, 23 Mar 2017 16:00:00 +0000: Footloose billionaires head to Switzerland - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    High quality of life and low taxes continue to lure the richest people in the world to Switzerland, now home to the second-highest number of foreign-born billionaires in the world.  Chinese-based media group Hurun Report closely follows the fortunes – and migration routes – of the wealthiest people on the planet. In the Hurun Global Rich List 2017 it reveals that while Switzerland has the sixth-highest concentration of billionaires in the world, only half are home-grown. The rest are made up of people arriving from other countries. The United States tops the list. Some of Switzerland’s best-known billionaires hail from other countries, such as AB InBev brewery magnate Jorge Paulo Lemann (from Brazil), industrialist Viktor Vekselberg (Russia) and commodities mogul Gennady Timchenko (Armenia). Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad was Switzerland’s richest resident for a long time before decamping back to his native Sweden.  Tax incentives  One of the biggest ...
  • Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:00:00 +0000: When science class produces real-world results - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    If data from school science projects doesn’t just go into the trash at the end of the day, but is instead curated and shared, it can become a unique – and powerful – resource for scientists. The streets are dry in the town of Aigle, a few kilometres off the eastern end of Lake Geneva, on the morning of March 8. But after a 20-minute ride up the funicular railway to the village of Leysin, white flakes are falling onto an already generous layer of snow. Still, the weather hasn’t prevented four international schools from around Switzerland from bringing students to the Leysin American School (LAS) third annual GLOBE Day – a science fair showcasing projects in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and citizen science. The gymnasium of the international English-language boarding school is filled with students between the ages of 12 and 18, who gather around dozens colourful posters arranged on tables draped in white cloth. “We’re going to ...
  • Wed, 22 Mar 2017 13:40:00 +0000: People are living longer. Will it mean more work? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Swiss Parliament has just increased the retirement age for women to 65 years, up from 64. This may be just a first step, since parliament has for several years mentioned the possibility of raising retirement age to 67 years for both sexes. For some, the increase in life expectancy justifies these increases in the retirement age. Others see it as an unacceptable drop in social benefits. International statistics make it possible to view the situation in context. In 1889, Otto von Bismarck, the first chancellor of the new unified German Empire, set up a revolutionary concept for the era, called the "retreat". He then established that the optimal age to stop working was at 70 years, or 25 years longer than the life expectancy of the time. The concept of retirement is universal. But if the retirement age defined by von Bismarck more than a century ago has changed little, life expectancy has taken the ascendancy almost everywhere in the world, especially since the 1960s. ...
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