Half-brother of bin Laden launches "Aviator" watch

GENEVA Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:21am EDT

1 of 3. 'The Aviator' model of the Yeslam luxury brand is pictured in the company store in Geneva April 10, 2008. Yeslam brand belongs to Swiss businessman Yeslam BinLadin, a half-brother of Osama bin Laden.

Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters Life!) - A half-brother of Osama bin Laden has launched a Swiss luxury watch called "Aviator", which he says is the first to help pilots calculate their true airspeed when electronic instruments break down.

Yeslam Bin Ladin, a pilot himself, said he was confident his high-end clients will realize he has not had any links for decades with the Saudi born mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

"This watch will tell you the exact airspeed of an airplane," the 57-year-old businessman told Reuters Television in an interview in his Geneva luxury goods boutique.

"It is a watch made for and by pilots," he said, holding the "Aviator" whose face or dial is engraved with fan blades.

Most planes have an integrated flight computer to calculate airspeed, but electronic breakdowns are not rare, according to Yeslam, who has logged more than 3,500 hours of flight time.

The timepiece can also be used to estimate a flight's duration before take-off.

His half-brother, the al Qaeda leader believed to be hiding in Afghanistan or Pakistan, was behind the attacks which killed nearly 3,000 people when 19 suicide hijackers crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

Yeslam, a dual Swiss-Saudi national who has lived in the Geneva area for more than two decades, has repeatedly condemned the attacks and loss of life.

Asked whether he feared that people would link his watch with the deadly attacks, he replied: "I think that over time people have realized that these two things are completely unrelated. It has been many years (that) I have had nothing to do with it and I continue to carry on my life as normal."

Yeslam, who spells his family name differently from Osama, opened his luxury goods store four years ago in Geneva, which also sells "Yeslam" perfume and handbags.

Their father Mohammed, a Saudi construction magnate, had 54 children with more than 20 wives and died in a plane crash in the late 1960s.

The Aviator, which will be available in coming months, will cost between 9,500 Swiss francs ($9,472) and 24,500 Swiss francs ($24,430), depending on whether it is the steel version or made of white or rose gold.

(Writing by Stephanie Nebehay))

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