Quartz Daily Brief—Asia edition—Apple smart watches, Barclays, Cyprus

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Euro group finance chiefs meet in Brussels to discuss aid to Cyprus and Greece. With EU members having reached agreement on a new seven-year budget Friday, the ministers are hoping to keep up the bloc’s recent momentum. One radical alternative to a full bailout of Cyprus could force losses on uninsured depositors in its banks and holders of Cypriot sovereign debt.

China continues its New Year celebrations. Markets are closed in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore. The Tokyo stock market is closed for Japan’s Foundation Day holiday.

Over the weekend

Apple is working on a smart watch device, according to several new reports. The New York Times said Apple is experimenting with devices that use glass that curves around a user’s wrist. Apple is working on designs for watches that would assume some functions of smartphones and has discussed them with manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision Industry, according to The Wall Street Journal. These are just the latest smart watch rumors, and come as consumer electronics companies search for a new device category to boost growth.

Boeing completed an uneventful flight of a test 787 Dreamliner airplane. It was the first flight since all 50 Dreamliners in service were grounded last month after a series of battery-related incidents.

Expectations grew that Barclays would announce cuts of at least £2 billion annually when it unveils details of its planned overhaul Tuesday. The Financial Times reported that investment banking in Asia and retail and commercial banking in parts of Europe were likely to be targeted.

Quartz obsession interlude

Zachary Seward on Maker’s Mark’s decision to reduce the amount of alcohol in its bourbon in order to meet rising global consumer demand. “Watering down the drink is a risky move for a brand with customers as particular as Maker’s Mark’s, which explains why it reached out to its ‘ambassadors’ to disclose the change and potentially head off a backlash….Adding a little water to the drink is an easy way to increase Beam’s margins and do more with less, but at what cost? Some customers, of course, prefer their whiskey over ice or with a splash of soda, but they would surely say that watering down the drink is their prerogative alone.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The Netherlands is the ideal market for electric cars. The country is about 100 miles east to west and gas costs about $8.50 a gallon.

Drone warfare could usher in the demise of the political order of sovereign states that has been in place since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.

The more someone’s identity is wrapped up with their profession, the less human they are.

Surprising discoveries

Barking is likely a product of dog domestication. Wolves rarely bark.

It may take as long as 300-500 years for individuals to lose the economic advantages or disadvantages of their ancestors. In other words, family history generally overrides economic mobility, and plays out over long stretches of time.

Steve Jobs told a reporter before he died that he would have liked to have built an Apple car.

Fixed-line telephone cords were originally longer in the US, but a copper scarcity led to their being shortened by about one foot.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, and thoughts on bourbon to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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