The wealth of Geneva is based mainly on servicing all this international activity, on banking, and on the manufacture of luxury watches. At a time when the Swiss watchmaking industry as a whole is depressed because of Japanese competition, the Geneva industry is booming, selling diamond-studded gold watches, the most luxurious of them for many thousands of dollars each.
Shop windows along the lakefront avenues display some watches that are so studded with jewels it is difficult to tell the time. These are designed to appeal to Arab sheiks who travel to Geneva often to check on their bank accounts and lakeside villas. According to residents here, these purchases offend the Calvinism of Geneva but not enough to keep local manufacturers from making more luxury watches.
The wealth of Geneva has attracted many immigrants in recent years. Many Italians, Spaniards, East Indians and other foreigners can be found working in the shops, hotels and restaurants. According to government statistics, 36% of the population of Geneva is made up of foreigners.