Swiss dazzler steals the spotlight

Swiss watchmaker Hublot had the distinction of showing off the most expensive watch at this year's Baselworld watch fest in Switzerland.

The highlight of the event - which carried a price tag of $US5 million ($4.77 million) - was inlaid with more than 1,200 diamonds which included six stones that weighed more than 3 carats each.

Jean-Claude Biver, president of the watch company which is owned by French luxury giant LVMH, said it would be hard to make a more expensive watch "because the surface of the watch is limited".

The watch,which was sold this week to The Hour Glass boutique in Singapore, took 17 people 14 months to set the more than 140 carats of diamonds on the watch's white gold bracelet, said Biver.

Last year's most expensive watch sale was a 1928 Patek Philippe, which changed hands at auction for SFr3.24 million ($3.81 million).

Swiss watchmakers - the industry's barometer - said they were expecting demand for luxury timepieces in 2012 to beat figures for 2011, when exports hit a record.

"The watchmaking sector is probably a unique case," said Jacques Duchene, who heads the exhibitors' committee of the Baselworld fair, which opened last week.

According to the company Digital Luxury Group, China has become the biggest market for the luxury watch industry, topping US demand.

Some 1,815 exhibitors, including leading brands Rolex, Chopard and Omega, from 41 countries showcased their latest creations at the Baselworld fair.

About 100,000 visitors were expected to attend the show which closed on Thursday.

AFP with