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  Swiss Watch News 2007  
Strengthening Of Swiss Made
Step One Accomplished
(June 28, 2007)

Jean-Daniel Pasche, President of the FH

 At its general meeting, the FH decided to propose the strengthening of the ordinance of the Federal Council concerning use of the name Swiss for watches, the famous Swiss made ordinance.

Held at the Hôtel Elite in Biel on 28 June, the 2007 general meeting of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry was marked above all by the willingness of delegates to revise the Swiss made ordinance and their conviction that this indication of origin is of great value in the eyes of consumers around the world.

The current regulations have been subject to criticism for several years, particularly within the industry, where they are deemed to be too lax. However in legal circles, too, it is felt that they no longer fully cover the legal remit specified in the law on trademarks. Consequently, to protect the reputation and credibility of this label and to safeguard the trust the public has in it, the FH and its organs concluded that it was necessary to tighten the criteria of origin in respect of Swiss made. It was these considerations which won the approval of a large majority (87%) of FH members at the general meeting of 28 June.

While the FH is aware that this is a delicate matter, due in particular to problems concerning the supply of watch components, it sees no other solution than a tightening of existing provisions in order to uphold the value of Swiss made in a watchmaking context. A transition period is however envisaged. It will therefore be up to players in the industry to use it wisely to ensure compliance with the label once it has been revised.

It is certainly worthwhile here to sum up the projectís main provisions, which concern the definition of the Swiss watch and the Swiss movement.

With regard to the watch, the draft introduces a new aspect in the form of a value criterion. Accordingly, any mechanical watch in which at least 80% of the production cost is attributable to operations carried out in Switzerland would be considered as a mechanical Swiss watch. For other watches, particularly electronic watches, this rate would be 60%. Technical construction and prototype development would moreover need to be carried out in Switzerland. Raw materials, precious stones and the battery would be excluded from the production cost.

The Swiss movement in the existing ordinance already has a value criterion, namely the rate of 50%. Considering that here, too, the definition needs reinforcing, the draft amends these value criteria. For mechanical movements therefore, the rate would be at least 80% of the value of all constituent parts. For other movements, particularly electronic movements, this rate would be 60%. Technical construction and prototype development in Switzerland would also be a requirement in this case. The draft also stipulates other provisions concerning the definition of Swiss constituent parts and assembly in Switzerland.

The minimum rate of 60 % was not chosen at random: it corresponds to the rate used in the free-trade agreement between Switzerland and the European Union. In addition, with a rate of 80%, the FH proposes to lay particular emphasis on the mechanical watch.

Following the decision of its general meeting, the FH will now submit to Federal authorities its request to strengthen the Swiss made ordinance. FH members and readers of the Revue will naturally be informed in good time of how matters progress.

Regarding other points on the agenda, delegates approved the annual report and the 2006 accounts, and also the schedule of contributions for 2008, which remains the same. The meeting also renewed the term of office of the auditor (Fiduco SA) for a further year, and appointed two alternate members to the FH Board: Claude Vuillemez, Manufacture Cartier, Branch of Richemont International SA, La Chaux-de-Fonds, and Eckhard Frank, ETA SA Manufacture horlogère suisse, Granges Participants were also privileged to hear Robert Deillon, General Manager of Geneva International Airport, talk about the prospects and developments of the institution he runs.

The 2008 FH General Meeting will be held on 26 June in Neuchâtel.

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Last update : June 28, 2007