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Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer teams up with big tech for smartwatch

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ZURICHLVMH’s Tag Heuer became on Monday the first Swiss watchmaker to offer a “smartwatch” to customers that combines Swiss design with U.S. technology, seeking to tap a growing market for wearable devices amid flagging sales of traditional watches.

Co-developed with Google (GOOGL.O) and Intel (INTC.O), the “Tag Heuer Connected” will cost $1,500. One thousand units are immediately available in 15 stores across the United States, with Britain, Germany, and Japan following in the coming days.

With its titanium casing, black rubber strap and digital watch hands, it is designed to look like a classical watch. But Connected houses an Intel Atom processor beneath its touchscreen that lets wearers connect to the internet, stream music and run applications via Google’s Android Wear platform, from existing favourites such as Google Fit and Google Maps to customised lifestyle and sports apps designed for the watch.

Customers can also swap their smartwatch for a mechanical watch at the end of the two-year warranty period if they pay another $1,500, encouraging what the traditional industry hopes will be a trend among young smartwatch wearers to buy “real” timepieces as they mature.

“We are going after new customers … once they have bought a connected watch, they are ready to buy another watch one day,” Tag Heuer Chief Executive Jean-Claude Biver told Reuters, adding the similar looks of the new connected watch and other Tag Heuer models would make the transition easier.

Asked about potential sales of the new product, he said: “I don’t really know … I only have the gut feeling that we’re just at the beginning, and that the first (connected) watches are like the first phones we had twenty years ago.”

Makers of traditional Swiss watches have largely stayed on the sidelines of the emerging smartwatch market headed by the Apple (AAPL.O) Watch launched this year, with models ranging from $350 to $17,000 for an 18-karat gold model.

But the industry needs a boost. Swiss watch exports posted the biggest drop since 2009 in the third quarter, with a 14.5 percent slip in the 200-500 franc category fuelling concerns the Apple Watch might be taking market share.

Bank Vontobel analysts in October forecast low to mid-market watches would be affected by sales of smartwatches and other wearable devices, and 30-50 percent of quartz watches would include some smartwatch features in the long term.

Switzerland’s biggest watchmaker, Swatch Group (UHR.VX), has some connected products at its Swatch and Tissot brands, but has rejected making a “telephone” or “computer for the wrist,” as Chief Executive Nick Hayek told a paper in August.

Swatch has also eschewed big tech partnerships, which Biver said were needed to launch a smartwatch such as Connected.

“If you want to offer a smartwatch as sophisticated and complete as the Apple Watch, that is practically impossible for a Swiss company alone,” Biver said. “We cannot develop microprocessors to that level.”

“Many Swiss watch brands are not keen on partnerships. We were keen because I believed that my price range could be hit by the competition of smartwatches,” he said.

The Tag Heuer Connected is, at least initially, being produced at Intel manufacturing sites. It comes without the coveted “Swiss Made” tag, but with the label “Intel Inside” and “Swiss Engineered” on the watch case.

The partnership with Intel and Google was announced in March. Biver said the partners shared development costs, but gave no details.

(Editing by Mark Potter)


Source: R-Entertainment

After a three-year facelift, Rodin museum in Paris reopens doors

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PARISAfter three years of renovation, Paris’ Musee Rodin reopens its doors this week, with new displays of the French sculptor’s works.

Right in the middle of the French capital, the Hotel Biron and its garden were used by Auguste Rodin in the years leading up to his death in 1917 and boasts versions of his “The Thinker” and “The Kiss” – two of the world’s best-known sculptures.

The mansion attracts 700,000 visitors a year and has needed 16 million euros ($17 million) worth of renovation, including urgent repairs to the floor and overhauling its interior design.

The museum now boasts a new layout, and previously unseen works as well as paintings from Rodin’s personal collection, including paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch.

“(Visitors) will see an improved visibility of the works thanks to the (display) furniture which allows more works to be shown,” museum director Catherine Chevillot said.

The new layout and different lighting on some displays allows visitors to get very close to the sculptures, she said.

The project was partly paid by casting new bronzes from original moulds, Chevillot said.

“The (French) state made a decisive contribution, nearly half of the budget. The rest came from our own private means, the sale of bronzes by Rodin,” she said.

“We are rather unique among French museums, we own the rights of the artist to continue to make original bronzes.”

The museum reopens on Nov. 12, which would have been Rodin’s 175th birthday.

(Reporting by Reuters Television in Paris; Editing by Louise Ireland)


Source: R-Entertainment

Liberian teenager wins Children's Peace Prize for defending victims of violence, rape

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A Liberian teenager was awarded a prestigious international prize on Monday for his role in fighting for justice for child victims of physical and sexual violence in the West African country, where the legacy of wartime rape still lingers.

Abraham Keita was just nine years old when he joined a child-led protest in West Point, one of the biggest slums in Liberia’s capital, to demand justice for a teenage girl who was sexually abused and brutally murdered by her foster parents.

He later became a member of the Children’s Parliament, the driving force behind a campaign to enshrine children’s rights to education, healthcare and birth registration in law. Liberia’s 2012 Children’s Law has since been hailed as one of the most comprehensive on the continent by campaigners.

“I was inspired to do something by the murder of the girl in West Point and the terrible situation in Liberia for young girls – the victim could have been my sister or a close friend,” said Keita, now 17, who was named the winner of the annual International Children’s Peace Prize.

“Winning this award will give hope to children across Liberia, but a lot more needs to be done so they can be compared to children in cities like Amsterdam, Washington and London,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Previous winners of the prize, launched by the Dutch KidsRights Foundation in 2005, include Malala Yousafzai, the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, who was shot in Pakistan in 2012 by the Taliban for advocating girls’ rights to education.

Despite the passage of the Children’s Law in 2012, Keita said that children remain vulnerable to abuse while many perpetrators go unpunished in a country where sexual violence is rife and rape is the one of the most frequently reported crimes.

Up to three-quarters of Liberian women suffered sexual violence during 14 years of civil war in the country, while there was a spike in sexual assault and rape at the height of the Ebola outbreak, campaigners say.

Liberia launched an anti-rape campaign last year and Keita started his own movement to push for the prosecution of criminals and compensation for young victims of sexual violence.

Keita was also responsible for organising a demonstration last year after the death of 15-year-old Shaki Kamara, who was shot in the legs by armed forces after protesters had tried to break out of an Ebola quarantine in West Point.

“Children in Liberia are silenced, threatened and exposed to violence and injustice – this must change,” Keita said.

“Justice is not for the poor in Liberia … it is only for the rich. Justice must be given to children.”

(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Katie Nguyen; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)


Source: R-Entertainment

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