For every watch enthusiast, ‘Swiss Made’ mark is synonym of quality and perfection. But can you rely on it? Does ‘Swiss Made’ mark guarantee you that your watch is made in Switzerland and is one of genuine Swiss quality?
The short answer is ‘Yes, pretty much’. The long version follows below.
What does exactly ‘Swiss Made’ mark mean?
The wording ‘Swiss Made’ is unique to the products made in Switzerland, since most other countries use the phrase ‘Made in [Country Name]’. Although the Swiss laws permit the use of the words “Suisse”, “Produit Suisse”, “Fabriqué en Suisse”, “Qualité Suisse” or the translations, “Swiss”, “Swiss Made”, or “Swiss Movement”, most of the watch manufacturers use ‘Swiss Made’ mark on their products. The Swiss law named “Ordonnance réglant l’utilisation du nom « Suisse » pour les montres”, or – in English – ‘Ordinance regulating the use of the name “Swiss” on watches’ sets the standards permitting watchmakers to label their products as ‘Swiss Made’ under certain legally defined circumstances.
According to this law, a watch is considered Swiss, if:
- Its movement is Swiss, AND
- Its movement is cased up in Switzerland, AND
- The watch is finally inspected in Switzerland.
Note that in order to meet the standard, every watch has to meet ALL THREE requirements.
According to this law, a watch movement is considered Swiss, if:
- It has been assembled in Switzerland, AND
- It has been inspected by the manufacturer in Switzerland, AND
- The components of Swiss manufacture account for at least 50 percent of the total value, without taking into account the cost of assembly (from 1st of January 2017, the law set this minimum at 60 percent).
Again, in order to meet the standard, every watch movement has to meet ALL THREE requirements.
In the case when a watch movement is made in Switzerland according to the above standard, but is intended for export and therefore will not be cased in Switzerland, the mark on the watch may say ‘Swiss Movement’, but the watch can not bear the ‘Swiss Made’ mark. A watch that says “Swiss Quartz” is considered to be a proper Swiss watch.
How To Trick The System?
Unfortunately, although it looks like the standard is pretty strict, there are ways to trick the system. The most obvious and widely used method is to outsource the production of most of the movement’s parts in Far East countries. These parts are manufactured at an incomparably smaller cost in China or Thailand and form close to (but less than) 50% of the total value of the watch.
To finally assemble the movement, the manufacturers use a small amount of Swiss-made components, mostly the ones most important for the movement, such as balance wheels, mainsprings and jewels. The the cost of these Swiss-made components plus the cost of the assembly actually outweigh the cost of all the rest of the Asian-made components, thus fulfilling the requirement of the standard.
Is This That Bad?
Actually no. Remember, we live in a global world. There is virtually no big company that does not outsource part of its production to China. Check out your iPhone or Mac – does it say ‘Made in USA’? Chances are it does not.
In case with Swiss watches, there are a few factors that actually outweight the fact of some parts and components being produced in China.
First, there is the requirement (see above) that each and every watch or watch movement has to be inspected in Switzerland.
Thus, all the Swiss watchmakers really carefully watch the balance between price and quality.
How Not To Get Fooled
Despite all said above about the trustworthiness of Swiss Made mark as a guarantee of quality and authenticity of the Swiss watches, there is one special case when Swiss Made mark on the dial of the watch means nothing.
Yes, the infamous replicas.
We at watchesunder500.com do not have much to say about replicas. We hate them and we see no reason to pay any attention to them, so we will be short.
Fortunately, it is really easy to identify the replica watch. First and most important, all these watches are replicas of the most expensive and exclusive brands, such as Rolex, Omega, Patek Phillipe, Vacheron Constantin etc. Now, everyone knows that these watches cost tens of thousands, so if you are offered to buy such a watch for $232.99 you can be 100% certain it is fake no matter how many Swiss Made marks the said watch will bear.
Enough said about the replicas.
There are a few simple things you need to look for in order to be sure that your new watch is an authentic Swiss made watch.
All Swiss made watches, even the cheap ones, come in nice looking box, along with a certificate bearing the manufacturer and sometimes online retailer stamp and signature, saying that your watch is genuine Swiss watch.
Your watch should also have manufacturer’s and/or retailer’s warranty card and should come with at least 2 years warranty and – very often – with 30 day money back warranty.
Before buying the watch, look very carefully for any imperfections in the coating, engravings, imprints or painting- these are sure sign of ingenuity. Most of the online retailers offer nice high resolution photos of their watches, so this inspection can be easily done even online.
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