Watches, clocks and alarm clocks manufactured in Switzerland bear
the designation "Swiss made" (or its abbreviation "Swiss")
as well as the logo of the producer or distributor. This label ("place
of origin" in legal terms) enjoys a solid reputation throughout
the world. And globalization of trade has done nothing to diminish
its importance. On the contrary, the modern consumer is looking
for a maximum of information when he or she goes shopping for a
What lies behind this reputation ?
What does a label like this mean for the consumer ?
"Swiss made" embodies a concept of quality that
has been forged over the years. It includes the technical quality
of watches (accuracy, reliability, water-resistance and shock-resistance),
as well as their aesthetic quality (elegance and originality of
design). It covers both traditional manufacturing and new technologies
The Swiss are not the only watchmakers to manufacture high-quality
timepieces and are consequently faced with strong competition. However,
thanks to their unique infrastructure and to their know-how and
spirit of innovation, they have succeeded in maintaining their leading
The intrinsic value of the "Swiss made" label, therefore,
is the result of considerable efforts on the part of watchmaking
companies, who are ultimately responsible for maintaining its reputation.
While prestigious brand names have thrived, they have never relegated
the "Swiss made" label to a secondary place. The brand
names and "Swiss made" have always worked together in
an alliance that provides the consumer with the best of guarantees.
It is hardly surprising that this asset whets
the appetite of counterfeiters. "Swiss made" has to
be constantly protected on every market. Providing this protection
is one of the principal tasks of the FH which conducts an on-going
battle through legal and administrative channels to thwart anyone
abusing the "Swiss" name. The weapons used in this battle
are the laws of each of the countries concerned, backed by international
agreements (bi-lateral treaties signed by Switzerland with several
European countries and multi-lateral conventions drawn up by the
World Intellectual Property Organization and by the World Trade
Organization - TRIPS agreement -).
Recognizing that it must set the example, Switzerland has already
reinforced the legal instruments at its disposal. The new law on
"the protection of brand names and place of origin", passed
on 28 August 1992, introduced more severe punishments. The Swiss
customs authorities, for their part, keep a vigilant eye on all
imports, exports and merchandise in transit.
Moreover, a law "regulating the use of the name 'Swiss' for
watches" sets out the minimum conditions that have to be fulfilled
before a watch merits the "Swiss made" label.
law is based on a concept according to which Swiss quality depends
on the amount of work actually carried out on a watch in Switzerland,
even if some foreign components are used in it. It therefore requires
that the assembly work on the movement (the motor of the watch)
and on the watch itself (fitting the movement with the dial, hands
and the various parts of the case) should be carried out in Switzerland,
along with the final testing of the movement. It also requires that
at least 50% of the components of the movement should be manufactured
Certain regions in Switzerland have their own "place of origin"
labels. One of the most renowned is "Genève",
which identifies top-quality timepieces made in the city and canton
of Geneva. Like "Swiss made", this label is very popular
with counterfeiters and therefore benefits from continuous protection
within the framework of the FH's anti-counterfeiting programme.
The Swiss watch industry is very active in safeguarding the integrity
of "Swiss made" and its other regional labels of quality.
The vigilant consumer can also play an effective supporting role.
By choosing reputable sales points and not being tempted by deals
that are as dubious as they are outlandish, he or she will help
to thwart counterfeiters, protect his or her own interests and contribute
to the defence of fair trading.
The FH and its regional representatives will be happy to provide
further information on this subject.