ZURICH (Reuters) - Exhibitors at Zurich's Salon du Chocolat are celebrating "Swissness" with chocolate watches and Easter egg clocks as the travelling confectionary fair opens its doors for the first time in a country renowned for its love of chocolate.
Founded in Paris in 1994, the 'Salon du Chocolat' gala has toured the world to destinations such as Tokyo, New York and Cairo, and offers smaller, independent artisans the chance to exhibit their latest wares.
One such company is Swiss-based "Chocowatch", which launched its novelty chocolate timepieces sculpted into a rock from the Swiss Alps in February this year.
Designed by Francis Gerber, who has worked as a graphic designer for Richemont's (CFR.VX) watch brand Jaeger lecoultre, the 70 percent cocoa watches come in two styles: milk chocolate and dark chocolate and retail at 14.50 Swiss francs.
His Renault car laden with the edible watches, distributor Bernard Matthey toured Swiss tourist hotspots, such as Verbier, Zermatt and Interlaken - popular with Asian visitors who are snapping up the real Swiss watches.
"We're not in Lucerne yet, because we didn't have time to stop," said Matthey's wife Mary Josee. "But we hope to get there soon."
Home to chocolate companies like Nestle (NESN.VX) and Lindt & Spruengli (LISP.S), famed for its gold foil-wrapped bunnies, the Swiss invented milk chocolate in 1875 and have been a nation of chocoholics ever since.
The Swiss consumed 94,008 tonnes of chocolate products in 2011, according to statistics from the Association of Swiss Chocolate Manufacturers.
After two years in development, Confectioner Voland, has succeeded in building a working clock mechanism into its 128 Swiss franc Easter egg. Only 18 exclusive pieces have been made for sale at the Salon du Chocolat Zurich, which runs from March. 30 until April 1.
Also playing on the Swiss theme is Geneva-based Du Rhone Chocolatier, which has produced Easter eggs embossed with chocolate Swiss franc coins for a price of 40 Swiss francs.
For more expensive tastes, Lindt & Spruengli artisans are hand-decorating three giant Easter eggs during the fair, each weighing some seven kg and costing 2,000 Swiss francs.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)